Friday, September 26, 2008
I got this very funny song in the mail today from our good pal Tom Latourette. He has taken the new Eddie Vedder song, and replaced Eddie's words with Lee Elia's words. Listen to it here. Don't worry, it's beeped. I must say, I think this is brilliant.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Collected and Edited by Rick Kaempfer
Highlights and links to the big stories in the news this week about the media. This column appears twice a week at MEDIA NOTEBOOK
Robert Feder leaves the Sun Times
(Sun Times) This is a shocker, and it's a BIG deal to the Chicago media community. Robert Feder writes: "For close to three decades now, I've been telling you about the comings and goings of media people in Chicago. It's been quite a parade. Today I have some news to share about myself: I'll be leaving the Sun-Times in the next few weeks. There's still some paperwork to be completed and a final date to be determined, but I wanted you to hear it from me first, and I wanted to explain my decision in my own words. Thanks to a deal worked out between the Sun-Times and the union representing newsroom employees, those of us who've been here 25 years or more were offered the option to step down with a full year's pay and benefits. The more I thought about it, the more I came to see it as a great opportunity. After devoting all of my energy to covering the same beat for 28 years, I'll be able to take a break, step back and think about what else I want to do. Maybe I'll continue in journalism or maybe I'll pursue something completely different. I have no idea what's next. But I'm excited about having the luxury to take my time and see what's out there."
His readers respond to the shocking news
Chicagoland Radio & Media pays tribute
The Infinite Dial pays tribute
(Rick's note: This is not a good thing for Chicago's media community. He covered the radio and television business as a legitimate beat. I suspect he may not be replaced, and radio and television in Chicago will take one more step down in prestige. For me personally, I'm just going to miss reading him every day--which is what I e-mailed him to say.)
More on Feder's Departure
(Radio-Info.com) Tom Taylor writes: "Today’s column explains to his readers and the industry why he’s taking advantage of a buyout offer from the company, and leaving after 28 years of being the must-read TV/Radio columnist. Just think about that "28 years" for a second, because it’s literally many generations of TV and radio executives, performers and other staffers who’ve been welcomed to town and/or to their jobs, evaluated along the way, sometimes skewered when Feder (“feeder”) felt it was appropriate, and always (I think) given their due. Same for formats and strategies. The buyout allows Feder to see what other opportunities lie ahead for a superb writer and journalist. His institutional memory of the market and professionalism will be missed...The radio industry is all the poorer for losing folks like that, as newspapers try to survive in a falling media economy - but risk losing the things that make them special and 'must-have.' Doesn’t radio face the same dilemma?"
National Press and McCain campaign have major blow up
(TV Newser) This all happened on Tuesday. The McCain campaign didn't want any coverage of Palin's meeting with the Afghan president, insisting it was strictly a wordless photo op. When the press said "fine, we won't take pictures either," the campaign relented. TV Newser has the play by play of the day. Has there ever been a presidential campaign that didn't think it had to deal with the press before? Like it or not, the press represents us. If you don't answer their questions, you aren't answering ours. If you think it's right for the nation to decide whether or not to vote for someone we didn't even know a month ago (Palin) without subjecting her to questions from the press, then you don't deserve a vote. It's as simple as that. If she can't handle the press, she can't handle the job.
Watch Campbell Brown of CNN unload on McCain's sexist "protection" of Palin
Major Media Outlets fight FCC on ads
(Variety) William Triplett writes: "The MPAA, the parent companies of the Big Four nets and other biz heavyweights have told the Federal Communications Commission that there’s no need for new disclosure rules regarding product placement on the smallscreen. In a joint filing responding to a recent FCC request for public comments on the issue, 18 major media concerns argued that existing disclosure requirements, which have been in place for decades, are sufficient and well established. The group’s filing asserted that product placement has a long history in TV and that, if anything, more product placement is needed to allow nets to offset declining profit margins."
Les Moonves wants to put newspapers out of business
(Wired) Meghan Keane writes: "Leslie Moonves says the purchase of CNET instantly made CBS a major player in the digital realm -- and delights in his company's contribution to the death of the daily newspaper. CBS aims to leverage its purchase of the technology network to shift the company away from being an old media company: 'We could build over the course of a decade, or buy CNET and become instantaneously a major player,' the CBS president and CEO told an audience at MIXX 2.8, The Interactive Advertising Bureau's annnual advertising conference. The CBS CEO plans to position his company as a one stop shop for news and information, potentially eliminating the need for dead tree media. 'One of the advantages of the Internet is we’re taking money away from the newspapers,' he said gleefully."
Judge rules Dan Rather can sue CBS
(Bloomberg) Patricia Hurtado writes: "Former CBS anchorman Dan Rather can proceed with a $70 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against his former employer for firing him, a New York judge ruled. New York Supreme Court Justice Ira Gammerman in Manhattan said today that Rather can sue over claims the network damaged his reputation when it fired him as managing editor of the CBS Evening News. Gammerman ruled that Rather can't sue CBS Corp. for fraud, or the broadcaster and one-time parent Viacom Inc. on claims they interfered with his contract. 'I think the breach-of-contract claim is essentially a slam dunk, there's no defense to that,' Rather's lawyer, Martin Gold, said outside the courtroom. 'They had fiduciary obligations to Dan and they breached them.'"
Lehrer ready for the debate
(Baltimore Sun) David Zurawick writes: "One of the happiest developments in this increasingly partisan and hotly contested election is the fact that PBS' Jim Lehrer, the most trusted anchorperson on TV, will moderate the first presidential debate Friday night in Oxford, Miss. If there is anyone in TV news who serves as a model for checking your ego at the dressing room door and trying to serve the public first when you are onstage, it's the 74-year-old newsman who will be at the helm of his 10th presidential debate when he stands between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain. In an interview this week with The Baltimore Sun, Lehrer was crystal clear in his goals as moderator. He also talked about his health and concerns he has about journalists presenting ideologically charged commentary instead of verified facts and information to viewers -- especially during this once-in-a-lifetime election. 'The goal in the debate is to be a catalyst, really,' Lehrer says. 'It's about the candidates. It isn't about the moderator. It isn't about pressing the candidates. It's to make it possible for the people who are running for president to exchange their ideas rather than to bounce off mine.'"
Congress looking into PPM controversy
(Radio Ink) Sens. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) have written to Arbitron Chairman/President/CEO Steve Morris to express their concern about Arbitron's plan to expand the commercialization of the Portable People Meter. They write, "We encourage you to take all steps available, prior to rolling out the PPM system in additional markets, to ensure that the system accurately measures the listening behavior in a market and no station is unfairly harmed."
(Rick's note: This is all about the poor performance of minority radio stations using the new measuring technique. But what if the new system is more accurate, and it turns out that minority stations have been getting inflated ratings for the past twenty years? I hate to say it, but it looks like that may be the case.)
Billoreilly.com is hacked
(Wired) Kim Zetter writes: "A hacker claims to have cracked the web site of Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly and purloined a list of subscribers to the site, which includes their names, e-mail addresses, city and state, and the password they use for their registration to the site. The attack was retaliation for comments that O'Reilly made on the air this week about web sites that published e-mails obtained from the Yahoo account of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, according to a press release distributed by WikiLeaks late Friday. The hacker sent WikiLeaks a screenshot of O'Reilly's subscriber list as proof of the deed, which WikiLeaks has posted online."
The 2008 Emmy Awards: "Embarrassing"
(Chicago Tribune) Maureen Ryan writes: "Someone thought it would be a good idea for five – count 'em, five – different reality-TV hosts to come out at the start of Sunday's Emmy broadcast on ABC and talk about how they didn’t have anything to say. Whoever thought that was a good idea should be fired. Not that the winners weren’t deserving – the worthy 30 Rock, Damages and Mad Men won big, while (thank goodness) Boston Legal won nothing – but much of the rest of the ceremony was embarrassing, terrible or both. And now Rob Lowe can finally consider his 19-year-old Snow White Oscar duet forgotten. TV has a new train wreck to make fun of, in the form of the 2008 Emmy broadcast that aired on Sunday."
Although...this was a highlight
The CBS Radio auction
(New York Post) Peter Lauria writes: "CBS' strategy in selling the stations is to slim down its radio unit to focus on the nation's Top 20 markets. But there are some who think CBS would be better off jettisoning the entire radio division in one shot rather than selling some stations now and deciding what to do with the others later. 'The radio business is a melting ice cube,' said RBC Capital Markets' David Bank. 'While the cash flow is valuable, CBS would be better off selling the [whole] asset today instead of waiting a couple of years and selling the rest for less.'"
Mini Interview: Bobby Skafish
(Chicago Radio Spotlight) Every week I'm featuring excerpts from my SHORE Magazine article about 14 local radio voices. This week: WDRV's Bobby Skafish
Chicago Radio Spotlight interview: Alan Cox
(Chicago Radio Spotlight) This weekend I spoke with the former "Morning Fix" co-host, Alan Cox. We talked about his noble experiment (The Morning Fix), and his plans for the future. Coming this weekend: WGN's Brian Noonan.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
By Rick Kaempfer
Last week (Sept 19th), my youngest son Sean turned six years old. (Photo: Sean, eighteen months)
When he was born, I was still the executive producer of the John Records Landecker show on WJMK Radio. Like we did with the birth of my two other sons (Tommy and Johnny), the John Landecker show followed the pregnancy on the air. I even recorded the actual birth on digital audio tape as it was happening, and then called into the radio program with a full report live from the hospital.
His brothers were both born early in the morning (Tommy at 4 AM, Johnny at 2 AM), but Bridget was in labor DURING the show for Sean. I called into the show every hour and gave updates, some of which are referenced in the transcript below. Sean was born less than an hour after the show ended that day.
This is the transcript of the call the following morning, September 20, 2002. The show members at that time were John Landecker, Leslie Keiling, and Bonnie Greene.
John: Magic 104.3, 8:14, John Records Landecker along with Leslie Keiling, that's Sister Sledge "We are Family". Rick, our producer, are you there?
Rick: I'm here.
John: You're a brand new dad.
Rick: Yes I am.
John: Bridget are you there?
Bridget: Hello. I'm here.
John: Do you have a radio at the hospital?
Bridget: No. We had one down at labor and delivery, and we were listening. The anesthesiologist thought you were really funny.
Leslie: Oh great.
John: You mean when he called him "Shakes"?
Rick: And a heroin addict, I believe.
John: Ha! So, how long do they let you stay in the hospital these days after delivery?
Bridget: 48 hours, and I'm taking every last second of it.
John: Well you sound good.
Rick: She looks good too.
John: Do you feel good too?
Bridget: Yeah. And we got a little trooper here too.
Leslie: Is the trooper in there with you?
John: No hold on a second, we're not giving anything away here. OK, so Rick. So far you have Tommy...
Rick: He'll be seven next month.
John: And Johnny...
Rick: He's 4 1/2.
John: Now people want to know. Hit it, Vinnie.
(Music: Theme song from "My Three Sons")
John: It would be my three...
John: How big was our boy?
Bridget: 7 pounds, 12 ounces.
John: How long was labor?
Bridget: I'm not exactly sure because when we got here I was already in labor.
Leslie: That's the best way isn't it?
Rick: It really wasn't that long. I think she only had to push about ten times.
Leslie: And then went to the prom.
John: Let's get to the tape. Now Rick, you taped this yourself?
Rick: I did.
John: Any problems?
Rick: None at all this time. I had the surgical gloves on, and was helping the doctor. I had a leg in one hand, and..
John: Now wait a second here. What leg were you hanging on to?
Rick: I was hanging on to one of Bridget's legs.
John: Oh. So let me get this straight. You're hanging on to Bridget's leg with one hand, and the microphone in the other hand?
Rick: No, I set the microphone down on the table.
John: Oh geez. I had an image in my head here...
Rick: I'm very talented.
Rick: I did test levels.
John: The first time you didn't even know the microphone was on, the third time you're testing levels.
John: OK, roll the tape.
Dr. Sabbagha: Hi, hi, there it is. Can you push a little more?
Dr. Sabbagha: Hi there. Push push.
Nurse: Hi pumpkin.
Dr. Sabbagha: God, you're beautiful. Say something, precious.
Rick: It's a purple baby. That's Johnny's favorite color.
Dr. Sabbagha: There he goes.
Rick: It's a boy!
Bridget: It's a boy?!
Rick: My three sons. Good work!
John: Rick. Guess whose crying in the studio? Oh, look, I got two of 'em crying.
Leslie: That's so beautiful.
Rick: It was soooo cool. I really got to enjoy it this time.
John: (sarcastically) Oh, and I know how hard the whole birthing process is for you.
Bridget: I actually thought he was funny this time. He made me laugh.
Bonnie: Because you hated him the other two times, right?
Rick: She kicked me in the knutchkies the first time she was so mad at me.
Bridget: I did not.
Rick: You did too.
John: Oh come on now, you two. You just had a baby.
Rick: I'm actually really proud of her. You should see her. You'd never believe she just had a baby.
Leslie: How are the boys. Are they excited?
Rick: (long pause) Uh...no.
Bridget: Tommy was so excited for about ten seconds. He came running into the room, held the baby, and then...hey what's in this cabinet?
Rick: And Johnny didn't even want to hold the baby.
Bonnie: Johnny's the middle child now.
Rick: Yup. My mom asked Johnny yesterday how his day went, and he said...Um, let's see...I went to school...I played in the park...um...She asked, 'Did anything special happen?' and he answered..."No."
John: Oh well, that will be an on-going story.
Rick: We're going to all go to a White Sox game tonight and beat up a coach. (This was the day after the William Ligue story)
John: You were gloating all morning, weren't you?
Rick: Yes I was.
John: I told you! Cubs fans are gloating all over the city. So...the name of the child is...
Rick: Sean Harrison Kaempfer
(Baby noises in the background)
John: Is that him?
Bridget: Yup. I'll put the phone up to him.
(More baby noises)
Bonnie: He sounds like a puppy.
John: OK, Sean. That's Irish for John, right?
Bridget: Yes, technically it is. S-E-A-N.
John: Harrison, I've got to guess, is...
Rick: Let's just say it's not for Harrison Ford.
John: It's for George Harrison, isn't it?
Rick: Yes it is.
John: I knew it!
Rick: But I didn't pick Sean. That was Tommy's idea.
John: And Johnny wanted to name it...
Rick: Johnny abstained.
John: Johnny threw his headphones down and walked out of the Security Council meeting!
Rick: That's right.
John: Well congratulations everybody. We now have Sean's first on-air performance on tape too.
Bonnie: Are his eyes open yet?
Leslie: He's not a kitten for Pete's sake.
Rick: Blue eyes.
Bridget: He's kind of dozing right now.
Bonnie: Poke him. Wake him up.
Leslie: Isn't it good that Bonnie doesn't have children? Have you taken him out for a walk yet?
Rick: We've got newspaper all over the floor...
John: Bonnie, it's a baby.
John: Well thanks for procreating.
Rick: My pleasure.
John: I'll bet it was. And now we have the vasectomy next.
Rick: Yes we do.
Leslie: And then we'll hear Rick making baby noises.
John: Sean Harrison Kaempfer. That's a cool name. You'll have to change your answering machine message you know.
Rick: I'll do that today.
John: Cause it says, Rick, Bridget, Tommy & Johnny can't come to the phone. Well thanks guys, and congratulations.
Bonnie: Of course, it will be awhile before Sean can come to the phone.
John: The next time we do anything with children, you don't talk.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Every Monday stop by for jokes, links to stories you might have missed, amusing photos and video, and more. Contributions and suggestions are welcome and encouraged. Click on the "Email Me" link on the right to contribute.
Joke of the Week: The top 20 things not to say to a cop when he pulls you over.
20. I can't reach my license unless you hold my beer.
19. Sorry officer, I didn't realize my radar detector wasn't plugged in.
18. Aren't you the guy from the villiage people?
17. Hey, you must have been doing 125 to keep up with me, good job.
16. I thought you had to be in relatively good physical shape to be a police officer.
15. I was going to be a cop, but I decided to finish high school instead.
14. Bad cop. No donut.
13. You're not going to check the trunk, are you?
12. Gee, that gut sure doesn't inspire confidence.
11. Didn't I see you get your butt kicked on cops?
10. Is it true that people become cops because they are too dumb to work at McDonalds?
9. I pay your salary
8. So uh, you on the take or what?
7. Gee officer, that's terrific. The last officer only gave me a warning.
6. Do you know why you pulled me over? Okay, just so one of us does.
5. I was trying to keep up with traffic. Yes, I know there is no other cars around, that's how far they are ahead of me.
4. What do you mean have I been drinking? You are the trained specialist.
3. Well, when I reached down to pick up my bag of crack, my gun fell off of my lap and got lodged between the brake and the gas pedal, forcing me to speed out of control.
2. Hey, is that a 9mm? That's nothing compared to this 44 magnum.
1. Hey, can you give me another one of those full cavity searches?
Stories you might have missed
1. A beautiful father-son moment: Ryan & Redmond O'Neal
(Arrested together for crystal meth. Awwww. Isn't it heartwarming to see that they're spending time together?)
2. Wisconsin football player: Arrested for DUI...on a moped
(Doesn't he know that the snowmobile is the proper vehicle for Wisconsin DUI arrests?)
3. What would your name be if Sarah Palin was your mother?
(Mine is "Wing")
4. Tony Kornheiser: "I took high school Spanish, either he said he's not going to be caught, or please pick up my dry cleaning tomorrow."
(Countdown to his exit from MNF begins now...)
5. GOP Delegate's hotel room tryst goes bad when he wakes up with $120,000 missing
(This is a hilarious story)
Video of the week: Look at the guys behind the reporter...
Photo of the Week: GO CUBS! Losing really is soooo last century. Right? These shirts are available here. Get yours for the playoffs.
Regarding "Chicago Radio Spotlight"
"As an old time fan of the glory days at the Loop and AM 1000, I appreciated reading about your experiences and the interviews of people who were almost like family to me. I am planning on getting your book and wish you luck on your continued success in writing and who knows about the future of radio. You, Wiser and Shemp, made things fun for all of the listeners out there. I really miss those days when it wasn't so calculated, and all of my favorites are gone, or in competition. I can listen live to Johnny B, a podcast of Dahl and occasionally catch Kevin on the web. I'm glad you keep us up to date with all of the people from days gone by. On a personal note, I actually remember calling in to the station when I was surprised to hear Greg Solk doing the Best Of Steve and Garry. He told me that your father had passed. I asked him to send my condolences, as I had done some intern work at the Loop in 1987. Reading your thank you to Mary Ann jogged my memory of that time. I know how that is as I lost my step-father a while back too. Being of German heritage myself, I felt some kind of quasi connection to you. You and I never worked together, as I was a brief flash in the pan in the times when Kevin was still doing nights, but I think you said hello to me once. I again think what you are doing here is great. I'm about to listen to Dahl via internet as I am now far from the signal in Rockford. Can't believe they carry Mancow out here (ugh!) and have lame stations with 3rd rate talent. Anyway, take care and I hope my book purchase helps out."
Regarding Suburban Man: "Welcome to broadcasting, kid"
"I just read the blog piece about Sean. I didn't realize just how far things had gone before they pulled the rug out from under him. Thank God he took it so well. Meanwhile, my heart's breaking for him. Bastards."
"GOOD JOB. It may have taken you a couple tries, but you finally got a son to share your obsession with! Your other two boys aren't Sox fans, are they? I was at a graduation party a couple years ago and was introduced to a very nice couple and their children, daughter Addison Clark and son Ryne Sheffield. I kid you not, and I thought the names were the coolest things ever. I mean, most of the time, people name their dogs after their sports obsessions. These people actually named their children after their favorite team! Their son wasn't even the first "Ryne" I had encountered. My son has a friend named Ryne, and his parents are very quick to correct the person who mistakenly pronounces it "Ryan." But think about it. If the Cubs were a "normal" team and had won a pennant or championship the past 100 years, would we be this obsessive? Obsessive enough to name children Wrigley Field or Addison Clark? Yeah, there are probably lots of Brett's in Wisconsin and Peyton's in Indianapolis and Tennessee, but those are actually normal names. I can't wait until someone names their kid after Samardzija. I just hope they spell it correctly."
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Alan Cox was the host of the Morning Fix, which aired on Q-101 from 2006-2008.
1992-1994: WLUP FM/AM (intern, later ass't. producer-Jonathon Brandmeier Radio Showgram)
1993-1994: WZOK/ Rockford, IL (weekends)
1994-1995: WXRX/ Rockford, IL (weekends)
1995- 1998: WRKR/ Kalamazoo, MI (afternoons)
1999- 2006: WXDX/ Pittsburgh (afternoons, moved to mornings)
2006- 2008: WKQX/ Chicago (mornings)
Rick: How did they break the news to you that they were pulling the plug on your show at Q-101, and what reason did they give?
Alan: It was a pretty standard radio dismissal- After our August 1st show, management told me and my cohost, Jim Lynam, that they were "making some changes effective immediately" and moving the afternoon duo to our slot. They didn't give a reason, but my contract was up and they were paying me a lot of money, so I knew it was a possibility. Radio has fallen on hard times across the board. Despite assurances to the contrary, stations are simply knee-jerking over PPM- the exact wrong thing to do. PPM is just as screwy as the diaries were. Ironically, after our dismissal, our PPM numbers were the highest they'd ever been. A lot of smart people in our industry are making a lot of strange decisions.
Rick: When you started your career working as an intern for Johnny B, did you ever think that you'd be up against his show--right down the hall from him?
Alan: I definitely never thought I'd be on the air opposite him. Even though I'm not even in the same strata as Johnny, it was a complete thrill to be working down the hall from him. When I walked into his studio about a month after I had been back on the air here, his jaw dropped. He hadn't made the connection that the guy he sent to pick up hookers with a hidden microphone 15 years ago was the guy hosting mornings at Q101. My career goal was always to be doing drive time in Chicago and everything I know professionally, I learned from Johnny- drive, work ethic, creativity, stamina, perspective- everything. For a guy to still be at the top of his game and so creatively relevant, when so many others have flashed in the pan, is proof that he's unparalleled.
I was a stand-up comic before I got into radio and I crossed paths with Garry Shandling one time. He said that, other than his father, he had never wanted another man's approval more than Johnny Carson. That's how I feel about Brandmeier.
Rick: I really admire the idea of what you were trying to do with that show. It sounded like a bold experiment. Just about everyone I know in Chicago radio was tuning in to that first week to hear how it sounded. I know you rehearsed it a few times, and pre-recorded a stockpile of stuff, but in retrospect, do you wish you would have had a chance to roll it out in another time slot to get your sea legs before launching it in morning drive?
Alan: The original Morning Fix wasn't a victim of its timeslot; more a combination of a other things. We were replacing Mancow, which would have been a daunting task for any kind of show. Plus, I think there were too many moving parts and the audience couldn't get their arms around the sum total. Some listeners loved its frenetic pace and comedic tone; other people felt like it didn't give them time to breathe. Plus, radio is an interactive medium at its best. People want to call and be part of the fun. The original show was very self-contained. It's one thing to do a funny radio show; it's quite a dicey proposition to do a show that's working very hard to be funny in a specific way. The idea was sound, but it simply didn't resonate with enough listeners. The Q101 core audience is primarily into the music and wasn't really sure what to do with our show. I think it would have been more successful on a station that skewed a bit older.
Rick: I know I'm not the only one in radio who was rooting for it to succeed.
Alan: I'm proud to have been a part of it. It was (former PD) MIke Stern's baby and it brought me back home. For all of the times people say, "Give us something different on the radio!", we did. We had immensely talented people in that incarnation, and it was a LOT of work, but the bottom line is- it's still radio. It's very difficult to change people's habits. In a market like Chicago, where you have legendary personalities up and down the dial, being an upstart show of ANY stripe is very difficult. Even more so when it's an entirely new concept.
The audience it did garner really railed against station management when they pulled the plug on the ensemble show, but I have to credit Emmis for taking that chance on really giving it a shot. The old show got 14 months, which is longer than most other stations would have given a show like that. In the largely bland radio landscape, Emmis would have been hailed as heroes had it succeeded. Most radio companies wouldn't have put the time or the resources into a show like that in the first place.
Rick: I did catch quite a few inspired moments on the show when I tuned in. What are some of your favorites?
Alan: Some of the best bits from the old show were the ones that came completely by accident. We'd all be pitching ideas and someone would riff off someone else,and so on. We did a lot of NPR-on-acid humor, like the science reporter who invariably would jumble his facts and just devolve into bragging about sleeping w other professor's wives. We did a completely strange bit called "Backseat Goat", about a goat that sat in the backseat of your car and acted like a GPS, but only through a series of animal noises that the driver inexplicably understood. We tried to balance the higher-brow with the lowbrow. A suburban school put on a play that upset some Italian-Americans, so we did a grade-school production of The Sopranos, in which the kids clumsily mimicked all the vulgar language and stereotypes. All little bits of twisted humor that were unlike anything else on the dial.
Rick: When most of the show was let go, and you were asked to carry on, what was that like the last few months? Did you feel like they were giving you a legitimate shot?
Alan: At the very beginning, they just wanted us to babysit the music. Between Mancow (photo) and the old Morning Fix, they hadn't had music in morning drive for almost ten years and they wanted to regain that position with the Q101 audience. Understandable. But I walked into management and said, "if we're keeping the seat warm for a new show, tell me now." I'm a pro, I get it- but be upfront if we're just leftovers. They assured me that we had a shot, and I believe that they at least wanted to see what we could do. So we played more music and slowly introduced more personality pieces into the format. We had lots of callers, lots of sports, lots of good guests, lots of solid quirky comedy- we were gunning for that male 18-34 demo, and getting it. We had a fiercely loyal audience, with no marketing and no promotion. It was word- of- mouth. But the pressure to deliver overnight is so immense, albeit completely unrealistic. My regret is that our show only got seven months, and we were at the top of our demo. That's why I chalk it up to a financial decision.
Rick: With your background in radio, I'm sure there are lots of different paths your future career could take you. What are you most interested in pursuing at this time?
Alan: I'll be trying my hand at voiceovers to pay the bills, but I love the medium of radio. I reject, on principle, the notion that it's a dying ART form. Commerce dictates that music formats seemingly regard talent now as a necessary evil, but I've always felt particularly suited for talk radio. I think there is a big hole in that format for a younger, politically savvy, edgy, engaging personality like myself. I've also been a columnist and a PBS TV contributor during my radio career, so I've never been content to have a limited skill set. I grew up listening to Larry Lujack and Steve & Garry, Brandmeier and Bob Collins. I'm a big Roe Conn fan. And, though I disagree with them on many things, I admire guys like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck for successfully crossing over as talk hosts who understand it's still entertainment. I want talk radio to be my next thing.
Rick: Anything you'd like to say to the fans of your show?
Alan: None of us would be here without listeners, and I have had some of the best. Many of them have gone from being faceless to being great friends, and that's a rare thing. I'm grateful for anyone who listened, and I hope they'll return to me when I'm back on the air.