Friday, October 12, 2018

Jim Harper explains us and a lesson for you…

George got a nice note from Detroit’s Jim Harper:

“This is the most productive and potentially “golden” advice any morning jock could ever expect to receive. And it’s free! Then again…generous. Old Pros do that…never when asked, but when you least expect it and they sincerely want to help talent. I hope jox realize that Bob’s phone call script/outline should be stolen and produced with a killer-close…tomorrow! And George’s break-by-break then repeat-outline is a million dollar secret.”
Nice work, Gentlemen.

Thanks, Jim.

George and I were chatting this morning about something that’s always irritated the hell out of both us, especially about morning show talent.
The big sports news, the news really, is Baseball’s League Championship Series have started.  Dodgers-Brewers, Red Sox-Astros. The winners go to the World Series. It’s huge, even for people who don’t avidly follow baseball or listen to sports radio,

Here’s the deal, all over the country, radio people, who know zip about baseball, will begin pontificating on baseball. It happens every year. Don’t do it, you’ll sound like a moron.

I had an afternoon talk show host, a smart, interesting guy, great numbers. He knew nothing about sports and hated baseball. We carried baseball on the station, we did it for the cume, but that’s another story.. Anyway, our team ended up in the World Series. For the Series, we set up a remote broadcast studio in the parking lot right by the main gate of the ball park. We’d move the station to the ball park every afternoon prior to the home games. The talk show host pitched a bitch because he didn’t want to sound like an idiot on the air. The solution his producer and I came up with was simple, surround him with experts. We had an ancient, regional sales manager who had been a pitcher in AAA ball for the Phillies. He was so old, he played before MLB expansion! The guy knew baseball in and out. He was always fun to go to a game with, he carried a baseball with him and explained each pitch and the grip needed to throw it. We put him with the talk show host. We found baseball writers, TV guys (even Bob Costas dropped by) and retired ball players (Gary Carter) to join our guy for his shows prior to the games. Our guy was good, he knew when to shut up and he began asking the right questions. He got the “experts” to tell their stories. He was relaxed and comfortable with baseball during those shows. He did a great job doing something he initially didn’t want to do. There was a lot of laughing and good times on the radio, just guys talking about baseball. The callers asked good questioners and the experts gave them great answers.
When the teams moved on to play in the other teams home ball park. Our once reluctant talk show host couldn’t wait to get our sports guy on the phone to talk baseball.

The Series went 7 games, when our team won it, the happiest guy in the ball park was our talk show host, who a few weeks earlier hated baseball.

Jack Cole (RIP) was a pro.

And let that be a lesson for you.

BTW, We didn’t originate the games, but we carried them and made them our own. We won numerous awards for out sports production. Our production director was at the presentation ceremony in in New York and the committee was blown away that we weren’t the originating station for Marlin’s baseball.

It’s called “Theater of the Mind”.

Personal sidebar: My first date with my wife was the 7th Game of the World Series between the Marlins and Cleveland. The Cakes hasn’t been to a baseball game since!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Funny how things happen, isn't it....

     Ray, George and I celebrating Geo's birthday a few years ago on the porch "Up in the Canyon"

It's October 3rd, my pal George's birthday. He's old like me. I've known George since the early 70's and we've celebrated a bunch of birthdays together, maybe too many. Not really, we're both glad we're still alive. This year's birthday is being celebrated in Tampa, Geo's baby daughter, college girl is throwing a party for him. I hope he can keep up with Cami and her friends. I know he'll do his best. Know Geo like I do, he'll fade.

In 1996, George and I were working together in the Fairbanks Corporate office in West Palm Beach. When our Boston stations were sold that spring, I was transferred to West Palm. I hated to leave Boston, but I needed to eat, so off I went. In short order, I was out of my relationship in Boston. 
In January of '97 I was at a charity event at a classy bar on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm. I let myself be picked up by a dazzling, British woman. In a few weeks we were a "thing". She swept me off my feet so to speak. In March, I took her to the Palm Beach Film Festival, Formal dress for the banquet, Very nice evening at the Breaker's Hotel, we had a great time. I pulled in her driveway at 1 in the morning, Sheila put her hand on my arm and said, "Love we have to take some time off." I asked "Why?" Sheila continued in her posh, Brit accent, "My husband is coming home for a few weeks and I can't let things get messy. We have an understanding between us, so you can see how this could create a problem don't you Robert? We can resume in when he leaves."

I was stunned, I was speechless, I didn't know what to say, I simply said, "Get the fuck out of my car!" 

I drove home and drank a half a fifth of Basil Hayden and went to bed. On Sunday morning my head was pounding. I took the dog for a walk, The dog and I drove to the Palm Beach News Stand and bought the papers. I swam in my little pool, by 10 that night by hangover was gone. I decided I was finished with women. I also decided I was pretty much done with everything except work. I stopped going out, I stayed home all the time. I went to work and went home for 7 months. George and our buddy Eric would come over on Saturday night, I'd cook, we'd get drunk, smoke cigars and watch "Cops" on TV.  I just stayed home in my little house on Rutland Blvd.


For months, I read a shitload of books, made excellent meals and played with Straka the Dog. I had enough money to finally pay off my divorce attorney, my back taxes and keep up with spousal support all at the same time. No sweat when all you do is shuttle from the office to home day after day. I even saved a buck or two.

7 went by, I finally agreed to go out for dinner on George's birthday. Eric, George and I met at an Italian place on Clematis, the food was good, so was the wine. We drove over to Palm Beach, hit a few spots. Eric didn't have a jacket on, at Au Bar, they made him slip into one of their "emergency" jackets. Eric, the spitting image of John Candy, was a 50 long and they tucked his fat ass into a 42 short and portly. It was a greasy, brown, nubby wool number. It looked outstanding with his Hawaiian shirt. Eric didn't care he reveled in it. A snotty Pam Beach type, said "Nice jacket." Eric, a Harvard drop out, said, in his deep baritone voice, using his best upper class Boston accent with a wide but insincere smile on his face, "Why don't you go fuck yourself,"

                                                       Eric Chaney, RIP. One of the best.

The three of us went to another club and as usual George faded from the scene around 10:30. Eric and I felt the urgent need to smoke a cigar. The Chesterfield Hotel's Leopard Lounge was just down the road, off we went. Eric in his huge, black, early 80's Fleetwood sedan. (he bought it from a funeral home) Eric loved his old Caddys and me in my 5 Series. 

The Leopard Lounge was empty, just a piano player, a tired looking woman server, a bartender and a guy with two women sitting at the bar. Eric and I sat down, we ordered from the bartender, lit our cigars, Eric asked me, "What do you think?" I said, "I think I just saw the best looking woman I've seen since I moved to Florida."

It was Jan. She had been to a birthday dinner for her friend Susie, they ended up at the Leopard Lounge too. Jan, Susie and the guy, neither of us can remember his name, joined Eric and me, we started to chat. The stars and the moon aligned, I gave Jan a ride home. We made a date, I got a peck on the check and the rest is history.

A few weeks later George starting calling her Cakes and that's how that got started. 

We were talking about Geo's birthday last night. I said "1997." Jan said "21 years", We both rolled our eyes.We always remember George's birthday! 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Saturday, September 29, 2018

"sittin, drinkin, superficial thinkin"...

I'm the son of an alcoholic and the grandson of an alcoholic. Believe me, it was a shitty way to grow up. They both went to rehab, they both "slipped" from time to time after rehab. But, they both took charge of their lives and got much, much better.

Experiencing that and the turmoil it causes in a family, I do drink and have drank to excess over the years. I believe alcoholism is a disease and I don't have it. I've given myself every opportunity to succumb to the disease and haven't. I've worked with people and had friends who have. I've participated in interventions and driven people to rehab centers and some times it's worked and other times it hasn't.

I've been to the classes for Adult Children of Alcoholics, spent a week with my Mom during her rehab during "Family Week". Our family and others went to classes in the morning and participated in group therapy with our patients in the afternoon. I heard some incredible stories and heard a lot of bullshit too. One guy denied he was an alcoholic because he only had one drink a day, his wife said, "That's right, 16 ounces of Jack Daniels over ice."

I've experienced one "black out". I was in college, a woman I was dating told me she might, be pregnant, she wasn't sure, but...

A friend of my father owned a bar, I had just turned 21. It was the middle of the afternoon, I ordered a beer and told him what was going on. He said, "A man's problem calls for a man's drink and poured me a stiff whiskey and many more. I woke up the next morning on the floor by my bed. I had no recollection of how long I'd stayed at Kenny's bar or how I'd gotten home. I looked out the window down to the parking lot. My car was sitting there with the driver's door open. Luckily it didn't have a scratch on it . I didn't either. I did have a terrible hang over, but I made it to my summer job and suffered through the day.

The drinkers in my family drank to escape their demons, when they were sober the demons were still with them. Drinking doesn't ever make things better, it doesn't work that way.

Over the years, when I've had a problem to confront on a personal or professional level I don't drink. I asked a friend who is a practicing psychologist about this, over drinks, by the way. He said, "You're refusing to look for an escape from what ever is staring you in the face and that's a good thing."

I drink when I'm in a good mood, sure I've gotten belligerent and mouthy, but I'm like that when I'm sober.

I have the alcoholic genes, somehow they haven't connected for me like they did for Mom and Grandpa and I'm grateful for that

I'm speaking, not preaching, but when I watched Bret Kavanaugh act out during the hearing the other day, what I saw was behavior and an attitude that I'm all too familiar with It's called denial. I've seen it so many times in my life, I've experienced first hand.

When Senator Klobuchar asked the judge whether he'd ever blacked out?,

He shouted back at her, "Have you?" Senator Klobuchar is the daughter of an alcoholic, I doubt if she was surprised at his at his response. It was a classic denial technique from an alcoholic.

I remember sitting with my drunken Mom and her saying, "Well you drink too."

One of the AA classics is "Poor me, poor me, pour me another drink." Watch the replay, Kavanaugh hit that note and others. He ran the table with every one of the symptoms of alcoholism.

He's got the disease and by the look on his wife's face during his performance, she knows it all too well.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

What I've learned...

I had my first girlfriend at 14, little Annie and I taught each other how to kiss. Her sister got pregnant at 16, I went to the wedding, a very sad affair, a 16 year old bride, a 17 year old groom, unhappy and distraught families. After the sad little church ceremony we all went out to eat. Halfway through the meal, Annie's dad, an Ai Force Colonel, a B 52 pilot, looked at me and said, "come on outside, I need a smoke". We stepped out of the restaurant, he lit his cigarette, took a long drag and told me, "If you ever do anything like this to my Ann, I will cut your dick off and make you eat it. Do you understand me?" I got it.

A year later I was 15 and Ann was in Turkey at an  AFB, with her Mom and Dad. I was a sophomore in high school. One night a friend of mine and I had a two six packs of beer and two of our female classmates in the car, we were riding around drinking beer. The girls got smashed on a beer or two apiece. We parked and started necking. One thing led to another and I had my hand in the girl's panties, something I'd never done before, I liked it and so did she. Then she said, "Don't make me a dirty girl." I stopped, I got her message.

The next year I had a regular, girlfriend, she was smart, pretty and we got along in everyway possible. We did everything together, we loved each other's company. We were pretty hot and heavy,. We had a long conversation about whether to "go all the way" at the time of the conversation we were naked in my car. We decided we would only go so far and stop. We ended up doing everything except the "act" itself. It worked out well for both of us.

In high school, there were a couple of situations, parties that got out of hand and I heard rumors about the kind of things that happened. I know one girl who had her reputation destroyed by bragging boys. I'm not sure of what happened, but she was the loser in the equation. Another big party, another reputation ruined. I was happy I had a girlfriend I could get naked with 5 times a week.

The common denominator? The girl paid the price never the guy.

A few years later, A college girl friend's sorority sister get hammered with the help of a senior boy, she ended up "pulling a train" at a house party. The result, the girl left school on Monday without a word. The guys laughed. Later the "train conductor" began dating another of my GF's sorority sisters, my GF warned her about him. She laughed it off. a few months later the guy beat the living shit out of her. Nothing happened until her brother, an offensive lineman for the Eagles, found out from their parents, When the season ended, he got in his car and drove straight to the campus and beat the guy within an inch of his life.

When I was 20, I checked into a hotel for the first time with a woman. I couldn't believe how experienced she was for 19. She told me she'd had an "uncomfortable" relationship with a teacher in his 30's for two years in high school. She felt it was her fault.

Years later I was dating a TV anchor, on our fourth or 5th date she told me about getting raped when she was 16. She hoped that I would understand why she wanted to take our relationship slow. She felt she needed to apologize for something she'd had no control over.

So yeah I think Bret Kavanaugh is a lying son of a bitch and he shouldn't ever be on the Supreme Court. He says he doesn't remember, or recall. Bullshit, I remember all of these things like they happened yesterday. I can still see Annie's dad and his blazing eyes, angry and sad at the same time telling me to behave myself with his daughter.

 I've been an asshole from time to time in my life. But, I have never forced myself on a woman or even had the thought of it pass my mind. My entire life, I've been repulsed by the way some men act towards women.

I'm fortunate that I learned my life lessons and remembered them. Some guys never do.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

"Go Country?...

It’s perfect early fall weather today in Los Angeles, sunny and warm, the weather is all good from the desert to the mountains, valleys and the beaches and I ruined my day by listening to KKGO, “Go Country”. 

KKGO is the only country station in LA, should be a huge advantage considering more country music and concert tickets are sold in SoCal than anywhere else in the good old US of A. With that advantage they are hanging around in the mid two share range. Here’s what I heard:

First off, Christine Martindale has a super voice, good presence, could the powers that be please let her open the mic more than three times an hour, oh and don’t write gibberish for her to read when she does, Thanks.

Christine, here’s a tip, rewrite that stuff they want you to read, you’re too good for this. You should escape, but after listening to Go Country, I don’t have any idea how you could get a decent aircheck out of the place.

When I turned “Go Country” on I had an immediate problem, I tuned in at the beginning of a 9 unit stop set, the damn thing was interminable. Not only did it seem to go on forever, every one of the commercials had a different level, some loud, some inaudible. Come on, this is basic stuff, there's a kid working on a piss whistle somewhere in Arkansas who can do better work than this, you guys are in the god damned show business capital of the world for chrissakes. Do your job, have some pride.

Finally, when the stop set ground to a halt, I heard a beat of dead air then electronics, zap, whistle, sonic sounds and a filtered(?) voice…it’s loud and irritating, then into a soft intro song. An audio train wreck if I ever heard one. I think maybe I heard an honest mistake, people screw up right? I keep listening.

Man was I wrong! “Go Country” is madly in love with electronic sounds, filtered voices, especially if they are hard and loud and really compressed. The sweepers and produced liners are probably, at minimum, 25% louder than the music. Does anybody in the building ever listen to the station? 

Here I am enjoying some of today’s country, a song about  "drinkin"  or was it about a pickup? Probably both. Anyway, I’m enjoying the song, it dwindles out, a bit of dead air and you guys play something that slaps me across the face so hard, my ears are ringing. Why do you do that? Try this, let Christine say what the annoying filter guy says. I know she could sell the station better and do a smooth transition to the next low audio song in the set.

Here's an idea, you guys are right next to the 405, take the person who records your library over to the window, point at the Freeway and say, “Hit it!” Then find the kid in Arkansas who can do a better job of dubbing your music, he'll be so happy to be in LA he'll work himself to death for you!

With today’s digital equipment and music systems keeping a station on an even audio keel, levels shouldn’t be a problem, somehow on Go Country they are. What’s the old line in the tech world? Oh yeah, it’s “garbage in, garbage out” you’ve got that garbage thing down pat. Good job!
 I'm saying,“What in the hell is the matter with you?” out loud in the car with the windows open. I'm in heavy traffic on the 10. People think I'm nuts. It's your fault, "Go Country"!

I got so irritated by being tossed around by your audio, I can’t even comment on your music mix. Somehow everything on Go Country has been turned into an irritant, the only exception is poor Christine, it must be terrible for her to spend her days inside the torture chamber of “Go Country”. 

I hope she doesn’t start "Country Drinking" to ease her pain. Don’t do it Christine, it won’t end well.

Do you people have any idea of the opportunity you have?  Sam Elliot lives a few miles up the 405, turn north on the 101 and you’ll find him. Get down on your knees, beg him to do your liners. I'll write them for you as a charitable donation and take it off my taxes.

If and when you get that accomplished, set poor, underutilized Christine free. She is the best talent you have.

One more time, “What in the hell is the matter with you?” 

Monday, September 17, 2018

It's Over...

I spent almost 49 years in radio and most of the time I loved it, I loved the business, the people and I loved our listeners.

I've listened to the radio business slide into mediocrity, sure it still has listeners, plenty of them. There are fewer every year and the entry level listener, the kids, the teens aren't listening anymore, at all. Why should they, there is nothing there for them.

I read the broadcast media, blogs. What I read is excuses, people looking for "one neat trick" or an "amazing hack" to turn things around. What I read most often is from people in a defensive posture, muttering "but, but, but..."

I spent (wasted) a couple of hours last week listening to WLTW in New York, it's the number one rated station, it was terrible. The guy on the air is required to open the mic about 4 times an hour and he couldn't even sound like he was interested. It was hotter than the hubs of hell in New York last week and he never mentioned it. The only New York thing he talked about was a swarm of bees around a hot dog cart...he read it off the internet. I know he did, I checked. I could go on, but I won't.

Not only is afternoon drive terrible, the entire station is, I listened around the other dayparts the next day. WLTW is being threatened by classic hits WCBS FM, I noticed WLTW is now playing one LOUD song an hour, think that'll work on an AC? Maybe that's the "one neat trick"? Now the defense of WLTW by radio guys, "gee that's not fair, you only listened for a couple of hours." You know what? That's all you get, if somebody tunes you in for the first time and the station sounds bad like WLTW, That's the only chance you get with them, no excuses.

When I was a young Program Director in a Top Ten Market, I'd drive to the airport and pick up the Executive VP of the company, He'd get in my car and turn on the station, if the first break he heard was bad, I knew I'd be getting my ass handed to me for the next few days, morning, noon and night. Was he fair? Yes. He made me a better PD, a lot better. Our National PD, a close friend of mine, rode to work with the guy every day in the company's home market, He hated the ride,, they'd listen to a break on the AM and then the FM, then discuss, 5 days a week. Did it make him a better group PD, sure did.

Our station was new, an FM, a CHR FM. We built it backwards. We hired the best talent for 6-10pm and 10 to 2AM. Why? We were going for teens in the beginning and that's when they were available, thousands of them. The first goal was to beat our competitor in teens, strip them away and knock their numbers down. When that happened we added better talent to the rest of the day, PMD, then Midday and finally mornings. Our demos expanded, we won 18-34 and got into 3rd place 25-54. In 6 books we won in a very tough marketplace I doubled my income through rating bonuses. One of my jocks did some research a few years ago and discovered we were the 6th biggest FM in the US at the time and the only one not in the top 3 markets

I bought my first house during this time period. I'd bought a new house, I saved money by painting it and putting the yard myself. I decided to paint the house during my vacation. I listened to the station all day, everyday from dawn to dark. I listened standing on the painting scaffold, while mixing paint and I listened while having a cold beer on my deck. Know what I found out? I found out there were a lot of things I could do to make the station better, to make it grow. When I went back to work I started to fix things. I started to sit down with the airstaff after their shifts daily. I'd even come in at night to talk to them. I never saw my wife and kids for months. The station got better because the talent got better by working hard and getting individual attention. I couldn't always keep them, but I had a pipeline of contacts and could always replace them with someone as good, better or somebody with great potential. I lost a guy to LA, found another great one in San Diego. Lost another to Philly and replaced him with a great jock from Miami and so on.

So is it fair to judge a station by listening to one break or for "only a few hours", hell yes it is. The audience will give you one shot, you better be ready and make it count.

Thanks for listening and now get back in your defensive crouch and keep looking for that "one neat trick".

BTW, take a look at your websites, they suck.