I had the opportunity to do a lot of radio listening over this long Labor Day Weekend.  I use the word “opportunity” loosely because, basically, I had no choice.  I was recuperating from a short visit to the hospital (thanks for those “get-well” presents) and could do nothing except lie around in a drug-induced (prescription only, mind you) euphoria and tune in the radio.

I wasn’t listening for too long before I realized the stupor I was experiencing wasn’t drug induced. It was the crap I was listening to.

After a long weekend of soaking up radio in Los Angeles, I have only one statement to make: “It sucks.”

Please don’t get me wrong. I’ve always stated that two of the best-programmed radio stations in the country are located in Los Angeles:  Alternative KROQ and Oldies KRTH. Since Dan Kieley’s arrival at KIIS, you can make it three.

These radio stations are programmed with excitement.  What happens between the records is as important as the records.  Promotions are a part of the programming.

Hello?  Is anybody out there taking notes?

I understand that if you’re a baby PD in a tiny market, some programming nuances might be a little difficult for you to grasp.  But if you’ve got the big gig in a big city, may I ask a question?

What the fuck is wrong with you?

One station in L.A. was featuring music from a particular decade.  Not a bad idea.  But there was absolutely no staging…no promotion…no excitement to get the listener involved in what was happening.  Just lame jocks reading lame liner cards twice an hour, saying how the station was featuring songs from this particular decade.


Think of the theater-of-the-mind a good programmer could have created.  News stories of that decade could have been interspersed with important facts to make the weekend fun.

“Did you know that a six-pack of Bud cost only 97 cents in 1981?” “In January of 1971, the first person walked on the moon…and  this song was #1.”

Contests could have been run that would have made the whole weekend.  Furniture and clothing from that period could have been given away.  Maybe a vintage automobile from the decade.  Plus, you could have sponsors roll back their prices to that of 10 or 20 years ago.

It could have been so much fun.

Fun.  How silly me.  Why would anyone want a radio station to sound fun?

Listening to this station made me embarrassed.  I prepared more for my college show in Jackson, Mississippi than this station did for an entire weekend.  What’s the matter with these people?

I can tell you from listening that a lot of time and care was spent assembling the music.  The mix was perfect. So why not let the audience know it?  Why not toot your own horn?

Is it “not cool?”  Are you trying too hard to be too hip?  You think promotions, staging and excitement aren’t cool?

You should be working for the phone company.

Watch television.  Look at the commercials.  Those big companies––going for the same audience as you––are throwing all of their considerable weight behind promotions that make their product top-of-mind.  Why aren’t you  doing it?

Oh, you’re too cool.

Got it.

And what about the lame disc jockeys on the weekends?  I’ve preached forever about the importance of having your best talent on the air during weekend hours.  Why?  Repeat after me, children:  Weekends are prime time to gain new listeners.  Why?  Repeat after me, children:  Most listeners are creatures of habit during the weekdays…they get to work at the same time…come home at the same time…listen to the radio at the same time.  But during the weekends, things change.  More people tune in to different stations.

So you have the opportunity to attract new listeners on a Labor Day weekend.  Yet you don’t do any promotions, produce stagers or anything like that because you’re way too cool.  You would rather let your audience find you “organically.”  And you put on part-time jocks to really make your “new” listeners feel this could be their favorite radio station.

Have you lost your mind?

Please–– work your best talent on the weekend.  Oh, they don’t want to work weekends?   They need the weekends for their own life?

The hell with them.  They’re disc jockeys.  They have no fucking lives…if they did, they certainly wouldn’t be disc jockeys.

Work their asses on weekends.  And not only work them, make them be their best.  It’s in their best interest.  It’s in your best interest. There are new listeners out there.  Charge your jocks with getting them.

If they don’t want to work on the weekends, fire them and find people who do.  This is radio.  Weekends are part of the gig.

Of course, having your disc jockeys on edge when they’re on the air means you have to have a little edge for yourself.  No promotions?  No production?  No special Programming?

No energy.

When is the last time you had a meeting with your promotion director to plan something that would sound really good on the air?  When is the last time you had a meeting with your jocks to critique their sound?  When is the last time you had a meeting with anyone to discuss what your station “sounds” like?

Are you listening?


Neither is your audience.

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