Saturday, September 28, 2013


Gary Theroux wrote this and it was recently in  It's spectacular.

Music radio without DJs is like listening to someone else’s very limited capacity iPod that’s been infected with commercials.
I was inspired to write this after reading yesterday’s piece (7/29) by Duane Doobie, Bring Back the Disc Jockey” in RadioInfo. OF COURSE the DJ plays an essential role in making music radio attractive. One must keep in mind that the number one reason why anyone turns on the radio — be they in their car, in the office, by the pool, on a picnic, in a hammock, in the kitchen or up a tree — is COMPANIONSHIP.

That voice you hear belongs to your unseen friend who is right there beside you, full of fun, compelling, thought-provoking, engaging things to say for you to hear. And if the entertainment they’re providing is compelling enough, after you turn into your driveway and shut the motor off, you’ll click the RADIO back on — because you’re afraid that if you don’t, you’ll miss something great. When was the last time you heard radio like that?

Music radio without DJs is like listening to someone else’s very limited capacity iPod that’s been infected with commercials. The only spoken words you hear are either the content of spots or station slogans rendered meaningless (and annoying) by endless repetition. With the element of companionship stripped out, the only remaining attraction is the music — which is showcased as if it is generic audio wallpaper unworthy of even being identified (violating one of listeners’ most frequently cited gripes: stations which fail to ID the music). Such broadcasters, viewing each track as simply filler between the commercials, act as if every song they play is simply a clone of the one before and the one that follows — which sadly enough (thanks to ultra-narrowcasting), IS too often the case. (Talk about broadcast boredom!)

So how do listeners feel about faceless, personality-free radio which is clearly designed to NOT engage them — particularly when every quarter hour sounds exactly like every other quarter hour 24/7?  They come to realize that if they tune out for an hour, a week, a month or a year THEY AREN’T GOING TO MISS A THING. Rather than being as essential to their being as their heartbeat, radio that doesn’t compel them to listen drifts in that tragic territory known as “Not Needed.”

First-rate radio DJs are both skilled entertainers and super salesmen. Through a blend of insight into the audience and the music, humor and knowing how to work their voices for maximum effect, they SELL not only the music but the audience on the idea that this is the radio station most in gear with the likes, views and interests of you the listener. Not having DJs is like stocking a store with merchandise but forgetting to hire anyone to sell it — with a friendly greeting, a genuine interest in filling the needs of each customer, building a rapport, showing them OTHER stuff they hadn’t thought of but might like to buy, closing the sale and then insuring the customer that the same great service they just enjoyed will be there for them every time they stop by. Again, note that the “sales” I am referring to is a lot more than simply what the station’s advertisers are offering. It is selling the STATION, its music and its overall personality — as expressed via the DJs’ comments, vocal tones and their individual personalities.


Saturday, September 21, 2013


This past week Zac Brown and Gary Allan started an industry wide discussion on the current state of country music.

I figured I would add my two cents.

One of the ways country radio can continue winning, is to have as much music diversity as possible and stars that have identity.

Country's boom faded in the late 90's.  Many of the new acts looked and sounded the same.  There was very little diversity and many of these new acts didn't have any memorable identity.  Couple that with the fact that Modern A/C was a bright, shiny and new format with powerful female stars that had diversity and identity and country radio got hurt.  Country radio ratings suffered, stations flipped formats and the overall national station count went down.

Then 2004 came.  So did Gretchen Wilson, Big & Rich and others.  They were different.  They had identity and ratings followed (with some help from Top 40 that was suffering and Modern A/C was on life support).

Now it's 2013 and country radio is booming.  We have diversity.  Great radio stations can have a wide variety of music in each quarter hour.  I think our stars have more identity now than in the past two decades (with some help from TV).

If the music starts sounding the same and the stars start looking the same, country radio will suffer.  We need to make sure we keep our play lists as diverse as possible.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


This week one chapter on a great radio station closed and a new one began.  It's a station that you've probably never heard of, but to me it's one of the greatest radio stations to ever hit the air.

I grew up listening to KLOG in Longview/Kelso, WA and started my radio career there in the 8th grade.  Earlier this week, KLOG (one of the last remaining AM stations in the Pacific Northwest to still play music), flipped to sports.  While I was sad to see the flip, I totally get it and it was time.

I've spent this week thinking about the seven years I spent working there.  All the forgotten memories came rushing back to me as I drove to work.

Summer of 1991 in the KLOG studio.  I'm on the left with DJ Matt Miller on the right.
I remember being in Kindergarten and my Mom listening to KLOG on my way to school.  I remember getting up early in grade school during a snow storm listening to see if school was cancelled.  I remember making my parents take me to KLOG remotes so I could see the DJ's.  I remember going there when I was 13 and asking then owner/GM Steve Hanson for a job.  He said no.  I went back.  He said no again.  I went back over and over until he hired clean the station on Saturday mornings.  I remember the first time I actually got to run the board and how exciting it was to push the button that started "Casey's Top 40."  I remember making $3.35 per hour and thinking "I can't believe I get paid for this."  I remember the power I felt the first time I put a cart in the machine and hit play.  It was Tears for Fears "Everybody Wants to Rule The World."  I remember the first time I ever cracked the mic...and I sounded awful, but thought I was great.  I remember the smoke stained ceiling tiles in the studio.  I remember the shoe box with hundreds of 3x5 cards and each one had a song on it.  That was how we created our play list.  I remember being told to "never dig deeper than five cards back."  I remember never following that rule.  I remember the format clock with the different colored stickers telling us what category of song to play.  I remember coming in early and staying late and never wanting to leave.  I remember changing worn cart pads.  I remember how excited I was the first time a "hot chick" called me on the request line.  I remember getting in trouble for spending too much time on the request line.  I remember working every holiday and loving it.  I remember how proud I was when my teachers would say "I heard someone named John Paul on the radio Saturday morning, was that you?"  I remember GM Steve Hanson's big deep laugh echoing down the hallway.  I remember how sad I was to leave in 1995 for my first PD job in Indiana.

I owe everything in my career to KLOG, Steve Hanson and PD Bill Dodd (who is still there).  They took a chance on a 13 year old kid and helped mold me into the broadcaster I am today.

While they will continue to be successful, it was sad to know that they are no longer playing music and a chapter that has lasted over 60 years is over.

Thank you, "Mighty 1490."

Saturday, September 7, 2013


By now you’ve heard about (or saw) the violent booing of Ryan Seacrest at the NFL home opener on Thursday Night.  I actually felt bad and a little embarrassed for him.

Call it over exposure.  Call it a demographic mismatch, either way you look at it, it's was a little painful to watch.

Seacrest is everywhere.  Maybe over exposure has set it a bit.  Or, it's a demographic mismatch.  Placing Seacrest on any NFL broadcast isn't a fit.  The audience doesn't expect it (or sounded like they wanted it).  I get that NBC is using him to promote Ryan's new game show on NBC, but forcing him to be a part of anything NFL just doesn't fit.  Maybe someone should read "The 22 Immutable Rules of Marketing."  I think they broke one (or maybe a couple) of the rules.

While watching Seacrest and hearing the boos, I thought about radio and making sure that everything you do is what your audience expects and wants from you.  Does your talent fit?   Is your imaging written to the demo?  Are your promotions focused on what your audience expects from you.  If not, fix it.  Give the listener what they come to you for and expect from you. 

Many times radio does things, or puts something on the air because it "may be cool" but doesn't really fit the stationality or what the audience expects from you and it backfires.  I think that's what happened to Seacrest and NBC last Thursday.

Don't let your station be a "Demographic Mismatch."