Turkey Shoot


It has become a tradition…a Thanksgiving Commentary on the state of the business…and the people who are in it.  It’s that time of year again, brothers and sisters. The leaves are changing colors (unless you’re in L.A. where we have no leaves), the weather is turning cold (it got down to 68 here last night…brrrr) and Christmas sales are beginning (unless you shop on Rodeo Drive, where the prices actually go up for Christmas).

However, we do have a lot to give thanks for this year, don’t we?

First, we must give thanks to the resurgence of Top 40.  Right on schedule, it came back with a vengeance.  What’s funny is that our industry finds it hard to believe.  What wise man first said that to predict the future, one only had to study the past?  It’s true in this particular case.  Top 40 has been counted out more times than Rocky Balboa, and has made as many “comebacks. “  Rock killed Top 40…then Disco…then Dance…then Crossover…then Alternative.  Hey, sports fans, Top 40 came back to conquer each one.  To exist, everything must have a center and Top 40 is the musical center.  Let’s all give thanks to its “comeback” and not be so quick to dismiss it when the next new fad hits.

And while we’re on that note, let’s all give thanks for three Top 40 programmers in particular.  Although there are many who deserve accolades, Tom Poleman of Z100 New York, Dan Kieley of KIIS Los Angeles and Todd Cavanah of B96 Chicago deserve particular recognition for bringing Top 40 to the head of the parade in the nation’s three biggest markets.  Tom and Dan breathed new life into monsters that were on life-support while Todd has continued to build B96 into Chicago’s preeminent powerhouse.

Can we also give thanks to Hanson and the Spice Girls?  These two pure Pop groups defied the odds and made Top 40 cool again.

And let me not forget the Rolling Stones.  With all the talk about “old school” being out and “new school” being in, leave it to the Stones to put everything in perspective.  Touring behind their most successful album in some time on the 30th (that’s right, 30th) anniversary of their first hit, the Stones still prove they can’t get no satisfaction.  With all the bullshit aside, the Stones are still the goods. While we’re giving thanks, perhaps we should give some to Mick.  All these years we thought Keith was looking a little tired.  Now that Mick’s catching up, he should be thankful for Keith.  Standing next to Keith takes 20 years off Mick’s appearance.

Can we all give thanks to Andrea Ganis, Danny Buch and the incredible team at Atlantic Records?  Presidents change, A&R changes, but the one thing that doesn’t change is Atlantic’s position: the #1 label three years in a row?  Unprecedented and well-deserved.

Let’s all praise Clive Davis.  Through all the format changes, the attacks on Top 40, the “new” flavors of the month, Clive has consistently found the sound that makes hits.  How many can say they signed Janis Joplin and Puff Daddy and all the other acts in between?  Only one.  Clive Davis is the man.

A special turkey leg goes to Jerry Clifton.  He’s one of the few programmers who have gotten into ownership…well, a few of us have, but not to the extent and certainly not with the success of Jerry.  I remember when he and I were the only RKO programmers who wouldn’t wear a tie.  We both knew we were right, Clifton!

What a year it has been for Network 40.  We have to give thanks for the most innovative and successful convention in record and radio history.  The Summer Games in Lake Tahoe was the first of an annual event that is being locked on everyone’s calendar for next year.  The camaraderie and competition opened doors between record executives and programmers that have long been closed.  It’s an event all of us can take pride in.

And on that note, we must also give thanks to the AIR team for setting the tone of the competition and giving all of us something to hate…if only until the Holyfield-tyson fight!  Hopefully, Kevin Weatherly and Greg Marella can share a turkey in the near future.

What would a Thanksgiving Editorial be without a big “thank you” to R&R for being so lame and making Network 40’s job much easier?  It’s tough to not get it, but R&R proves, year after year, that it’s possible.

On a personal note, I would like to give thanks to Rick Gillette, whose biting commentary has actually made me look like the “nice guy” at Network 40.  Who woulda thunk it?

Let’s all give thanks that there hasn’t been an O.J. trail in months.

I would also like to give thanks to all of the programmers and record people who helped Network 40 design a new chart system that will debut in a couple of weeks.

Thanks to the Lakers who have won 11 in a row and finally shut down those posers from the Midwest.  All of us in the entertainment business must give thanks to Marv Albert.  Marv gave us a lot to talk about plus he’s done more for women’s lingerie than Victoria’s Secret.

And can we thank Ellen for coming out of the closet?

What about Howard Stern?  He’s the only radio personality to star in his own movie, proving that he is indeed, the King of All Media.

Those who have been purchased by Hicks Muse can be thankful, so can the few who haven’t.

Thank God for Saddam Hussein. He gives us all one person to hate.

Thanks for Elton John, whose personal tribute made Princess Di’s legacy live long after her tragic death.

And on a real personal note, I must give thanks to the staff of Network 40 who make me look good week after week.  It’s an impossible job, but they do it.

Gobble gobble

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