Book Report


Howard Stern.

Two words that assault the senses like no others…with the possible exception of: gang rape, escaped pedophile, serial killer and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Say what you will about Howard (and most people will say a bunch), he does attract a lot of attention. Syndicated nationwide, his radio show is heard by millions. His syndicated TV show and a later stint on E! cable was watched by a rabid audience. And now, he’s written a book.

“Howard Stern, Private Parts” (Simon & Schuster) is available at your local bookstore…if they carry it…and if it isn’t sold out. Go buy a copy. It’s a must-read for everyone in radio.

It’s the fastest seller in Simon & Schuster history, something I’m sure the venerable publishing company is very proud of. And why should the book be a best seller? Howard has said the secret to a successful radio show is “lesbians.” No less than three chapters pertain to the subject, but there are other, just as titillating chapters, including: My Sex Life; Pig Virus; If you’re Not Like Me, I Hate You; Yes, I Am Fartman; You’ve Been A Bad Girl, Haven’t You and Out Of The Closet, just to mention a few.

With poetic prose like the aforementioned, who can argue? Faulkner, Hemmingway, Stern. It just rolls off your tongue.

Howard is critiqued and criticized by just about everybody, but whether you like what he does or not (I personally think he’s great), he can’t be ignored. What makes Howard different is his honesty. With Stern, what you hear is what you get. There isn’t any hype or hyperbole. It’s just Howard. That honesty comes across in his book. He is quick to point out that the fame he achieves from what he does for a living never ceases to amaze him. As he describes it, “So here I am at the top of the heap…a heap of shit! When you’re in an industry with Cousin Brucie, Zookeepers and Rush Limbaugh, what would you call your heap?”

Howard Stern is living testimonial to the truth that “it’s not brain surgery, it’s only radio.” (I wonder if brain surgeons, before performing an operation, say to each other, “Relax, it’s not radio…it’s only brain surgery.”) We all have the tendency to take everything too seriously. Take Howard’s listeners…please. Howard’s just having fun…saying things that most of the audience thinks, but won’t voice. Those who get angry are probably taking life too seriously. I mean, it’s only radio.

And just because Howard says it, does that make it mean something?


Unlike most of his listeners, I had the distinct pleasure/pain of being the object of one of Howard’s nuclear assaults. When I was programming WAPP in New York in 1985, Howard was doing afternoons on WNBC. His contract was coming to an end and WAPP’s General Manager Pat “The Rock And Roll Duck” McNally and I thought hiring him to do mornings might be a good idea. At this time, WAPP was behind both Z100 and WPLJ in the Top 40 race, so almost any change would have been an improvement.

This was shortly after I…and just about every other programmer of note…had been approached about the programming job at WNBC. I, with all the others, turned it down without a thought, even thought they offered twice the amount of money I was making. Who in his right mind wanted to be the program director of a station that featured Don Imus doing mornings and Howard Stern in the afternoons? Only someone with limited experience or a career death with! (My worst fears were quickly born out when WNBC finally did hire a PD from somewhere in Virginia. Imus called in sick and the guy had to do the morning show on his first day at work. Stern taped the show and played bits of it back in the afternoon, critiquing each break by the new “hillbilly.” It was brilliant.

Anyhow, back to the story: I had one meeting with Howard. I must tell you, he’s a great guy. The brief time I spent with him was pleasant and hysterically funny. McNally continued meeting with Stern and his agent and eventually offered him a contract. After some contemplation, our offer was turned down. Interestingly enough, the reason Howard gave was that he didn’t want to do mornings.

Gary Stevens, President of Doubleday Broadcasting at the time, wasn’t disappointed. He had been lukewarm to the idea from the beginning. When we were rejected, he declared “…the kid (Howard) would never make it.”

The day after the negotiations ended, I was on my way into the city to meet Stevens. I got caught in a massive traffic jam leading into the Midtown tunnel. Naturally, I was listening to Howard Stern. He began his program by saying he wanted to talk about “…that WOP radio station…WAPP and the punk program director who ran it…Gerry Cagle. There I was, stuck in traffic, being ripped by the master. I hunched down behind the wheel, afraid to look left or right at the other drivers. I knew they were listening to Stern and I felt they knew he was taking about me. It was a humiliating, yet somehow exciting experience.

I was relieved, if only for a moment, because Howard only tore into me for a minute. Then he switched to Stevens…berating him for being everything from a closet Jew who changed his name because he was ashamed of his heritage to being a cheap miser who wouldn’t come up with enough money to pay him. I’m leaving out some of the juicier comments, but suffice it to say that Howard carved out a new orifice or two for good measure. Howard went on to say how he could have saved WAPP from our miserable ratings, but we were too cheap to hire him.

But he didn’t stop Stevens. Next victim: Nelson Doubleday, the chairman of the company. Howard ripped the book company, the broadcasting company and the Mets. And he ended his brilliant tirade by launching into the “real” reason behind his not being hired: Nelson Doubleday’s daughter wanted to have sex with him…or something of that ilk.

It was outstanding…if a little too close to home.

When I got into Stevens’ office (hoping he hadn’t heard Stern’s program), it was evident that he had been listening. He was seated behind his desk, his shoulders slumped, a pale drawn look on his face. “I’m ruined in this town,” he moaned. I wasn’t with Stevens in his meeting with Doubleday. I can only imagine what was said.

Shortly thereafter, Doubleday sold all their stations and closed the broadcasting division. The company line was that it had nothing to do with Stern. I don’t necessarily share that opinion.

The bottom line? Doubleday made millions on the sale of their stations. Gary Stevens made a fortune by brokering the deal. He’s not the most successful radio station broker in the business today, so he wasn’t “…finished in this town.” Pat McNally is the GM of Live 105 in San Francisco. Howard (the kid) did make it.

And me? I never did manage to make WAPP a winner. New York’s largest audience had finally heard about WAPP, if not exactly how I had planned it. But Howard Stern ripped me for a minute or two on WNBC, somehow validating my career and giving me a brief moment of fame in the Big Apple.

Howard, I love you. You make me turn on my radio. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

And the book ain’t bad either.

P.S. Could we have a picture of Robin’s breasts for Page 6?

He Didn’t Miss Much


How well did you know Ed Leffler?

That’s a question I’ve been asked a lot the past few days. The answer? Not well enough. That answer could b given by all who knew him.

Ed was one of those special people who always gave more than they took. Spending time with him was always fun…always exciting…but there was more. I always felt I learned something. Ed was so knowledgeable…so talented…so wise and kind…and most important, so willing to share all of his wisdom with those around him.

Ed Leffler was one of the good guys. In an entertainment world where the standard line is, “He’ll get back to you,” Ed always did…whether you were a record company president or the music director at a small radio station. Ed was always easy to reach. Not because he thought it was good business (it was), but because he truly cared.

If I had but one word to use to describe Ed Leffler, it would be passion. One only had to be backstage at a Van Halen concert when something went wrong to see this passion burst forth in a glorious harangue that would put Vince Lombardi’s best to shame. A consummate professional, Ed expected nothing less from those around him. And when expectations were not met, Ed was quick to remind those responsible…in truly poetic fashion…that they should get it right the next time. And they always did.

His passion for life and business made him one of the most ethical managers in history. If Ed said an ant could pull a bail of hay, you would hitch him up. His yes always meant yes…not maybe…not if it’s convenient…not if there was time…it was just, yes.

And Ed was one of the few who would tell you no. Many in his line of work try to appease…to put off…to keep you in limbo. If Ed didn’t think it was right or it wouldn’t work, he would tell you no, quickly. In a world where most try to curry favors, Ed gained more respect by saying no than the many others who would always say yes.

Special? Oh, Ed was special. You didn’t have to be one of his friends to know that. You only need to look at his roster of clients. Who else could have managed such diversified talents as the Osmonds and Van Halen? And represented each with dedicated fervor? Only Ed Leffler.

Ed Leffler’s epitaph reads: “I didn’t miss much.” It is the perfect description of his life and times. But his friends will miss him dearly.

How long did we know Ed Leffler? For all of us, the answer is the same.

Not long enough.

Rambling Editorial


Am I so unfocused that I couldn’t pick one single topic for this week’s Editorial? Are there so many important issues that I couldn’t concentrate on one? Or is the opposite true?

Anyhow, I share with you some of the thoughts from the black hole that occupies the majority of my mind.

How bad was the hotel in New York City where the Hitmakers convention took place this past weekend? To avoid the real possibility of infection, Publisher Barry Fiedel was forced to wear socks rather than do his normal “come to Jesus” talk in bare feet. It just wasn’t the same.

What about R&R? It’s now mid-October. That’s one month after the latest deadline for their vaunted on-line system to be on-line. I heard that they’ve finally got the bugs out of the tic-tac-toe game, but the connect-the-dots program is giving them fits. By the way, Bernie, my bookie, had put the odds of a September delivery at 8-to-5, but after paying off my rather substantial wager, the odds are now off the boards.

With the Spring Arbitron ratings showing substantial gains for many Top 40 stations (see Page 6), what’s going to happen to those who were singing the format’s death knell just a few months ago? (They’ll probably apply for jobs at R&R.) Ain’t it amazing what a few superstar releases will do for the format? For Top 40 to prosper, Mainstream artists have to release records. Well, they’re back. Billy Joel, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Rod Stewart, Aerosmith, En Vogue, Madonna, Tears For Fears and Duran Duran are just a few with formidable track records who are currently on the charts. Add to those dependables like Blind Melon, Toni Braxton, Haddaway, Lisa Keith, Ace of Base, Taylor Dayne and some of the others and you have the basis of the “resurrection.” The return of Meat Loaf, Earth, Wind & Fire and the Bee Gees are icing on the cake. Top 40 always grows when radio just plays the hits. It’s nice to have hits to play.

Has anyone ever seen the head of Arbitron and Don King in the same room at the same time? With the recent problems of the WBC sanctioned title fights that mysteriously ended in draws followed by weak explanations, it’s more than a little reminiscent of the continuing problems between R and R…radio and ratings. When will radio stop letting the tail wag the dog as far as ratings are concerned? Arbitron’s methodology is worse than R&R’s…and that’s really out of line. Sooner or later, radio must take control of its own destiny and demand a better ratings tool or our industry will continue to fall behind in the race for the advertising dollars.

Is it my imagination or is our industry, both on the radio and record sides, becoming more fun lately? Increased advertising dollars and better ratings are probably the reason in radio. And the success of carefully planned projects like Meat Loaf, U2, Mariah Carey, Billy Joel, Earth, Wind & Fire, Toni Braxton, Janet Jackson, John Mellencamp, Blind Melon and some others put smiles on the faces of most of those in the record business. Damned if it doesn’t seem like we know what we’re doing! It probably is a product of my highly colored imagination, but it seems like everyone’s enjoying themselves more in the latter part of the year than in the earlier part. R&R is, of course, the obvious exception.

Is Scott Shannon the funniest programmer in radio or do I just share his sense of humor? I’m sure it’s me because I also laugh at Bruce Tenenbaum and Michael Plen. That’s like saving whales, but killing porpoises.

This month’s edition of The Network Forty CD sampler contains air checks and promos of the famous “Last Contest.” This promotion was run on Top 40 KCBQ in San Diego in the mid-1970s. Although somewhat dated, it still is the perfect example of how to create excitement and set up a promotion that will make your radio station stand out from others. Conceived and produced by Jack McCoy, “The Last Contest” is something you should share with those in your programming and promotion departments.

Since R&R canceled its convention plans for 1994, the big rumor is that The Network Forty will step in with an unusual concept next year. (Editor’s note: It’s more than a rumor. Bernie has it at even money.)

With more listeners using “strange” pressures to request their favorite songs (see Page 6), are record companies now considering special “Strike Forces” to insure airplay?

It wasn’t so long ago that radio was about the only way to expose new record product. Today there are many others: MTV, VH1, The BOX, etc. Now, from out of left field, it’s Beavis And Butt-Head. Check out this week’s special feature on how these latest immortals are breaking records.

Am I the only person who doesn’t get Beavis And Butt-Head?

An ominous sign for R&R this week was the local Los Angeles weather “forecasts” of a bright sunny day on Sunday. An unexpected thunderstorm ripped through Southern California in the afternoon. And the weather center even has its computer system on-line.

Was I the only one who didn’t know they found the Mars orbiter?

And did you hear they found Jimmy Hoffa? He was on Savage Records.

So I’m playing golf with Bill Pfordresher and Les Garland. On the 10th hole, we come upon a pig that got stuck halfway through a fence, with the business end being our way. Pfordordresher says, “I wish that was Michelle Pfeifer.” I cast my vote for Demi Moore. Garland looks around and says, “Hell, I just wish it was dark!”



I received several disturbing phone calls last week. (No, they weren’t from Joel Denver. He never calls…he never writes…) The calls were from three program directors in different parts of the country. All shared basically the same story.

Their General Managers told each to play no more Rap music.

Their sentiments have been echoed by many more program directors over the past few months. It’s a situation any of you who program Rap music may have to deal with in the near future.

Hopefully, it will be a discussion, not an edict. One progam director objected to the “suggestion” was told, “If you can’t do it, I’ll bring someone in who can.”

Because of the nature of the music, it’s easy to say this is a racist reaction. Although racism, in some cases, may play a part, history proves it cuts much deeper than that. In some instances, it’s an emotional decision. In more, it’s economics.

It’s a classic contradiction: art and business. And this confrontation, although disturbing, isn’t new. It’s been with us since radio began programming popular music.

In the ‘40s, it was that psychotic revolutionary, Frank Sinatra, who shook the mainstream consciousness with “controversial” lyrics that drove teenagers crazy. Many radio stations banned his music.

In the ‘50s, it was the icon Elvis Presley who scared mothers and fathers nationwide with his “suggestive” lyrics and gyrations. Elvis was allowed to appear on The Ed Sullivan show only when he agreed to be filmed from the waist up. Stations banned his music.

In the ‘60s, we had two causes for alarm among the “suits.” Up until the early ‘60s, Black music was heard only on Black radio stations. The success of Elvis changed that and Mainstream stations made Black music a part of their playlists. Many listeners, particularly in the South, objected strenuously. I got the message up close and personal in Jackson, Mississippi when the KKK burned a cross on the lawn while I was on the air at WRBC. Other, less visible reactions, caused rumbles across the country. Then came the Beatles and John Lennon’s statement that they were more popular than Jesus. Beatle records were smashed and burned and banned nationwide.

The ‘70s saw a backlash against songs containing lyrics that advocated the use of drugs. (Wait a minute…you’re telling me Pusherman was about drugs?)

In the ‘80s, Tipper “Gored” the industry with her proposed ban against songs with lyrics advocating sex.

Now, it’s Rap music and more particularly, “Gangster” and “Street” Rap music.

Where to draw the line has always been a particular problem for programmers. We, as a group, make our living by accurately “reflecting” the culture to which we program. Radio doesn’t make music. We play what is popular. Successful programmers don’t choose music. We research what our listeners like and play it back to them. Our problem is that the line keeps moving.

In the early ‘70s, I caused a huge problem within the RKO chain when I refused to edit the word “crap” out of Paul Simon’s “Kodachrome.” Sounds tame today, but most of the other stations across the country had edited that word out of the single. Eventually, they relented and most played the song unedited. But the same problem, with different variations, remains today.

If your manager brings up this topic, hopefully, it’s for discussion and not a mandate. If it’s a mandate, you should resign on the spot. Not because of a moralistic high ground, but because the reality is that you’ll wind up being fired in the end. If you depend on a large portion of your audience that likes Rap music and you stop playing it, you’re going to lose that audience. When the audience is gone, so are you. You have a better chance finding another job if you leave with good ratings than looking for an opening when you lose. blaming it on the manager after the ratings won’t fly.

If you are fortunate and it is a discussion, you need answers for the questions you’ll be asked.

Is the station losing revenue because of your playlist? The big question: Is it perceived lost revenue or actual lost revenue? Many advertisers complain about the music on stations that carry their advertising. Whether or not these advertisers will really cancel is the key. If the advertisers who comoplain actually cancel, will the revenue be off-set by the dollars received from the ratings generated by the ratings? If these advertisers don’t cancel because you change the playlist, will they guarantee to continue advertising if the ratings go down? Wioll the local advertising (and these discussions are almost always driven by statements and threats made by local advertisers) off-set the national buys that are precipitated by ratings alone?

A general manager hires a program director to increase ratings. Ratings mean dollars. Short-term decisions effect long-term profitability. Deleting certain types of music changes the face of the radio station. It is repositioning. Taking certain types of songs off the air makes other changes inevitable. It is a change of format…however slight. It should be thought out before it is done.

If the change is suggest from a moralistic viewpoint, your answers will be much more complicated and might not matter in the end. Let’s face it. None of us is comfortable with all of the music we play. For whatever reason, every song is a turn-off to certain segments of the audience. Our job, as programmers, is to program the most music that is acceptable to the largest portion of hte audience at any given time. We don’t have to like every song. We certainly don’t have to agree with every lyric. But our job is to accurately “reflect” the appetite of our audience.

It is a fact that some of the artist featured on radio are not upstanding citizens. This is nothing new. Most artists, by their nature, are outlaws in some sense of the word. Should we not play music that is written and performed by those who have been imprisoned or in trouble with the law? That would cut out a good portion of the Country playlist in one fell swoop. Or maybe we should define our playlists by degree. The bigger the crime, the fewer times we will play the song.

None of us wants to program material that advocates rape, child molestation, murders, etc. It is somewhat easy to draw that line. But what about other subjects that might make portions of the audience uncomfortable? Do we throw those out also.

Because we play it, does that mean we promote doing what the lyrics say? Should w play songs that advocate sex? Should we play songs that advocate drugs? Should we lay songs that advocate violence?

Songs are poems set to music that reflect our times. They are written by people with different fiews and perceived just as differently by listeners.

Did “The Battle Of The Green Berets” make everyone who heard it joing the Armed Forces? Did “War” make everyone object to the Vietnam War? Did “Cocaine” make everyone who heard it a drug addict? Did “Mercy Mercy Me” make everyone an environmentalist? Did “Just The Way You Are” make everyone who heard it remain the same?

The answer, of course, is no. Music effects everyone differently. Tastes are radically opposite within the same demographic and psychographic sample. I have two daughers who are only three years apart. They were raised in the same house adn exposed to the same environment. One loves alternaive music and can’t stand Rap. The other loves Rap and can’t stand Alternative. Go figure.

The argument has gone on for generations. Does art cause those who view, read or listen to react according to the message? those who are offended by the art form, in spite of all evidence contrary to the fact, will say yes. Those who aren’t offended will say no.

To quote that contemporary of William Shakespeare, Burt Reynolds, in Smokey And The Bandit, “More often than not, you perception is dictated by what part of the country you’re standing in.”

The bottom line is this: Music affects different people in different ways. Music on radio causes people to do one of two things: Keep listening or switch stations.

That’s a fact.

And one that should be contemplated long and hard before playlist alterations are begun.



Since day one, even before R&R began hyping their “soon-to-be-available” vaporware (and that’s a long, long time), The Network Forty has been dedicated to improving the flow and access of information critical to radio. The Network Forty has been on the cutting edge in providing new and innovative resources to our industry.

The Network Forty Overnight Requests have been a staple of our operation from the start. It provides exclusive information on the most-requested songs from radio stations across the country. The compilation appears on radio programmers’ and music directors’ desks each weekday morning. This request information is a valuable programming tool in plotting the reaction to records in other markets.

Plays Per Week was conceived by the radio industry and first introduced in The Network Forty 16 months ago. Now it has become an industry standard that is recognized by radio in al markets and is being used, with our permission, by other trade magazines. Except one. You know why.

At the beginning of this year, The Network Forty began an in-depth analysis of our Plays Per Week information. Each week, we break out the PPW data by region so radio programmers and music directors can plot the success of specific records in their geographic area. No longer do you have to ingest national BDS data and “guess” as to how a particular record is doing in your part of the country. With the “exclusive” Network Forty PPW Breakouts, you get a clearer, more precise picture.

The Network Forty also provides the most extensive promotional resource in our industry. Each week, we list the top promotions at radio stations across the country, providing programmers with ideas generated by their peers. In addition, we preview upcoming events with our “exclusive” Monthly Promo Planner. As a part of this service, we also provide programmers a list of suggested promotions that, at the very least, could inspire you to successfully use our ideas or come up with your own.

The Network Forty’s weekly Conference Call allows our readers to share the ideas and reactions of programmers and music directors regarding specific problems that affect day-to-day operations in radio stations across the country.

The Network Forty’s in-depth music research in unparalleled in our industry today. No other publication reviews and researches new music like the staff of The Network Forty. Our Mainstream Music Meeting provides insights on music ready for Mainstream stations. Our Alternative Music Meeting focuses on music that is Alternative in nature, but will, in our opinion, cross into the Mainstream.

The Network Forty has been influential in the Rhythm Crossover field from the beginning. Our Crossover network is the most extensive in the radio industry today. Our network of Crossover programmers and music directors makes it possible for The Network Forty to plot the progress of Crossover records from the inception. It is a section of our magazine of which we are most proud.

In the past few years and particularly in the past 18 months, clubs and mix shows have become increasingly important in the development of Crossover music. Long before many records are ever serviced to radio, clubs and programmers of mix shows are aware of records that will be successful on radio. With this knowledge, The Network Forty began building our relationships with those in this arena. It became apparent that information from clubs and mix shows was invaluable as a programming tool.

The Network Forty is constantly seeking new avenues to provide research that will aid radio programmers. With this daily goal, The Network Forty is proud to announce this week our association with the Street Information Network.

For those of you familiar with S.I.N., you know how excited this I.M.A. (International Marketing Agreement) is to us. For those of you who aren’t familiar with S.I.N., let me share the excitement with you.

S.I.N. encompasses playlists and data from influential club jocks from across the country. Over 500 clubs are rated and surveyed and music information is compiled weekly. In addition, S.I.N. also compiles playlist and actual play data from mix shows that are aired on hundreds of radio stations. S.I.N. also charts weekly sales information from specialty retailers (those who don’t report to SoundScan) and record pools.

The combination of The Network Forty and S.I.N. will produce data and music information unequaled in our industry today.

What does this mean to radio programmers? It means we’ll be able to provide you with even more in-depth music research in the Rhythm/Crossover/Dance arena. The combined forces of The Network Forty and S.I.N. will be able to chart the progress of “new” records earlier and more accurately than any other source.

The Network Forty continues to open new doors to increase our effectiveness in providing radio programmers with information vital to their operations. Our new affiliation with S.I.N. is another step in that direction.

Next week…a personal thing.



The phones at The Network Forty have literally been ringing off the hook the past few weeks. A lot of people in the radio and record community are expressing their opinion about various subjects and I, of course, have a few of my own.

A month ago, in a letter to the industry, publisher Bob Wilson of R&R hinted of an end to the parallel system that has created controversy since its inception. Most in both radio and records applauded the move. The only opposition seemed to come from independent promoters. R&R then ignored the consensus and decided to continue the old, easily manipulated parallel system. Why?

Three weeks ago, Joel Denver and R&R decided that radio would begin reporting “forecasts” of Plays Per Week. Joel was quick to tell anyone who would take his call that everyone in radio wanted this “new” innovation. He even claimed that he had discussed this idea in advance with many programmers. Who? What Joel actually discussed was the R&R on-line vaporware. Most in radio are anxious to see this heralded system. (Wouldn’t anyone love to witness a miracle?) Hell, we’ve been waiting for three years. But in the excitement of his hype (Joel really has his Edsel pitch down pat), he evidently forgot to mention his minor projection edit. There seems to be an R&R recession. Radio isn’t buying.

When it became evident that radio wasn’t going to bend to R&R’s latest dictate, Joel began calling programmers to say that record companies loved the “forecasts” of Plays Per Week idea. Not so. In a survey of 24 Sr. VPs, VPs and Promotion Directors, The Network Forty found 24 who did not support “forecasts” of Plays Per Week.

Who in the record community is Joel talking with?

What radio programmers are supporting “forecasts” of Plays Per Week?

The Network Forty differs from R&R in several ways, but one is most important. We are dedicated to reflecting radio’s ideas. R&R dictates decisions to their reporters. If “forecasts” of future plays were what radio wanted, we would do it…just like Plays Per Week, Overnight Requests, Promotions, Promo Planner, Stations Spotlight and Play It Say It. These features came from radio to The Network Forty, not the other way around.

Joel called those programmers who openly opposed R&R’s “forecasts” (in last issue’s Conference Call) and questioned their opposition. One suggested a 900 number so radio could vote on the issue. Joel told him it didn’t matter: R&R was going to do it anyhow.

We think it does matter. To make sure we continue to accurately reflect the opinion of those in the radio and record industries, we’ll give you the opportunity to “Voice Your Choice.” Between 6 pm Monday, September 27 and 9 am Tuesday, September 28 (PDT), you’re encouraged to participate in The Network Forty poll on “forecasts” of Plays Per Week. Those in favor vote yes, those opposed or who won’t participate vote no. The call is toll-free at 1-800443-4001. We’ll publish the results in next week’s issue. (Since all 800 calls identify the number calling, we’ll be able to disqualify those from R&R’s offices!)

Wasn’t R&R’s heralded vaporware (by the way, I would love to take credit for that term, but it, too, came from a radio programmer) promised to be in place Septermber 15? It still isn’t available, but hey, I for one, believe its coming. Maybe October 15? Novermber 15? Christmas?

And what about the monitoring system that was promised by Joel at the Conclave? It was supposed to be up and running in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago by September. Rumor has it that R&R tested the system last week in LA and it was almost totally inaccurate. Whatever, it’s almost October and the monitoring system isn’t available as promised. (Is anyone surprised?) Should we expect it in October? November? Christmas? This century?

Why does R&R make their reporting stations call in their playlists, costing time and money when other trades take information by fax? Because it’s easier for R&R?

Why doesn’t R&R open their universe and let all stations participate in the process? Why does a secret “editorial board” decide what radio stations are worthy of status? Is it because their antiquated computers system only allows them to gather information from a limited number of participants?

Why can’t R&R let radio stations determine their own identity? Who are they to tell a radio station what format parameter it falls into?

If their on-line system ever goes on-line, will radio stations be able to access the modem through a free 800 number or will stations have to pay long distance charges?

Why has R&R been for sale for months without an offer?

If Joel was listening to radio, he would know the answers to many of these questions.

R&R needs to understand that their autonomy is over. Those in the radio and record communities nationally want to be a part of decisions that affect the way they do business. What’s good for R&R is no longer good for our industry. The only ones who believe the opposite are those who work for R&R.

Can I say this one more time? It’s reality, stupid. Reflect it and I’ll shut up. And so will the industry.

Not all of my questions and comments centered on R&R. Just to show that I’m an equal opportunity basher, may I take some other, less serious shots?

I would like to thank those in the radio and record community for making The Network Forty the most copied magazine in the universe. First, R&R ripped of our Plays Per Week. Now, Billboard follows suit. They call their new Dance section “On The Tip,” a heading we’ve been using to indicate programmers’ favorite records since the inception of The Network Forty. Thanks for the flattery, Michael. We gave Plays Per Week to every other magazine (except Hitmakers…it’s a personal thing). We may not give up “On The Tip.” You should think about another title.

And Hits last week announced their new Rap Editor who, they said, came from The Network Forty. Better check that resume, guys. She never worked here. We know you can’t read your magazine, but if you get someone to read The Network Forty to you, you’ll also know we don’t have a Rap Section. Yet.

See, just to keep them honest, we read all trade magazines (except Hitmakers…it’s a personal thing.)



It’s over.

In the past few days, the fax machines at Radio & Records have been working overtime. Last week, Joel Denver and the other editors sent out missives to the minions asking reporting stations to “predict” the “plays per week” current records will receive. (See this week’s Conference Call to see how Top 40 programmers are reacting to this misguided request.)

This week, no less an authority than Bob Wilson, longtime publisher of R&R, tries his hand. In a letter to the industry entitled “R&R: Looking Forward While The Rest Look Back,” Wilson states that “Most programmers…have already agreed that plays per week is the way to go.”

With all due respect to Bob Wilson, who has been a friend of mine for many years (at least until I came to The Network Forty), R&R is still looking back.

The Network Forty first began using the term “Plays Per Week” in the Spring of 1992. We began compiling at “PPW” chart shortly thereafter. We coined the phrase. Radio programmers spawned the idea.

R&R is using t he oldest radio trick in the world…taking another station’s positioning statement and trying to use it as their own. All of us have done it…or had it done to us in the past. But those of us who are in touch with “today” understand that the audience knows who “owns” the phrase.

The Network Forty began basing its charts on “Plays Per Week” over a year ago. Billboard bases their chards on BDS. Why? Because it is reality. And both radio stations and record companies want reality. Finally, R&R sees the light.

Hey, better late than never.

To show our spirit of cooperation, compassion and brotherly love, instead of trying to prevent R&R from using our term “Plays Per Week,” we’ll allow it. In the months we’ve been trumpeting “Plays Per Week,” it has become an industry standard. What’s good for the industry is good for us.

So, Bob, you have my official permission to use the term “Plays Per Week.” Since you’re having a problem with many reporters supplying you with the information, you may even reprint The Network Forty PPW Chart. (As a personal favor, I would ask that you wait a while before ripping off “Overnight Requests” and the monthly “Promo Calendar.”)

As a matter of fact, we’ll allow any and all trade and other magazines to use our term “Plays Per Week” as a description of actual airplay. (Except Hitmakers…it’s a personal thing!)

Many misguided individuals have misunderstood our stance regarding R&R. Some have thought it was a personal attack. Not so. Joel Denver and I have been friends for many years (at least until I came to The Network Forty). Our criticism has been directed at the policies and politics of Radio & Records, not necessarily the personalities. If R&R has finally decided to work with the industry and not dictate to it, then we welcome the opportunity to help them open a dialogue with the individuals they’ve turned a deaf ear to for so long.

Long before I came aboard, The Network Forty worked with radio to reflect their ideas. We continue to network toward that aim. So do many of the others. If R&R would listen to the industry before deciding what’s “best” for us, then these editorials would be much harder to write.

In Wilson’s letter, he also states that “Our reporters will no longer simply be categorized by the 20-year-old Parallel 1/2/3 system.” Welcome to the 90s! For years, that archaic system has been degraded by both the radio and record industries. We’ve been editorializing about it for months. Now, according to Wilson, it is no more.

Thank you, Bob. I take back all those things I said about Joel.

However, Wilson’s letter stops short of including in the sample “all” radio stations that feature current music. The Network Forty includes all stations.

What will happen to those P-2s and P-3s that currently depend on promotional support supplied by independent promoters…support that is implied and in many cases written into contracts as being dependant upon a station’s Parallel status? Will R&R finally let all stations report and put an end to a system that lends itself to manipulation? Or will they simply redefine the parallels as A, B and C and continue to decide what stations they “allow” to report?

Common sense and conventional wisdom make the choice simple. History predicts R&R will opt for the latter.

Whatever the outcome (and isn’t it fun to try and predict), The Network Forty salutes R&R for finally recognizing the error of its ways. If it’s just by name only, R&R has ended the Parallel system. R&R has recognized that Plays Per Weeks is the way to go. And as a reward, The Network Forty will allow them to use our term.

All we ask, Bob, is that when you knock a picture off the wall, remember where it came from.

Funeral For A Friend


We are gathered here today to pay our respects to the almost departed. The roses in the window sill have tilted to one side. The life support system is being disconnected. The fat lady is singing. The National Anthem is playing. The sign-off has begun.

This is not a test.

On the opposite page is a letter to R&R reporters from Joel Denver. In a few, short sentences, Joel signifies the beginning of the end of R&R’s dominance in our industry.

Is it arrogance? Is it stupidity?

Or both?

I have a “few” problems with the letter. I know it is unlike me to point out the mistakes of R&R, but please allow me a few words to belabor the obvious.

Joel describes a “dynamic new system of music information gathering and analysis” in asking reporting stations to provide their “plays per week.”

Joel, puleeze!

The Network Forty took the lead when we began tabulating and charting our exclusive “Plays Per Week” 15 months ago. It is gratifying that R&R finally admitted that their charts are inaccurate and are making a belated attempt to right their wrongs, but to characterize their “change” as “dynamic” and “new” stretches the imagination of even the most schizophrenic in our business.

Nice try, Joel, but that dog won’t hunt.

A bigger mistake than trying to rip off the “Plays Per Week” designed and innovated by The Network Forty is the way it was done. Joel doesn’t ask radio stations for their input…he just decides what he thinks is best and demands it from the reporters.

As much as we would like to take credit for it, “Plays Per Week” wasn’t a brilliant concept developed by the staff of The Network Forty. The concept was suggested by a number of our reporting radio stations. Programmers across the country were questioned about their ideas and “Plays Per Week” came out of this networking. We constantly ask radio what we can do better to serve their needs. Unlike R&R, we know our degrees of success directly relates to our ability to reflect the needs of the radio and record communities. Besides, we know our readers are smarter than we are. We value their input.

Joel asks stations to report their “projected” plays per week. As a programmer, you’re now required to give R&R information about what you’ll be doing next week.

So, now R&R wants to be a “tip” sheet. How interesting.

R&R asks that you give them programming information for the coming week so they may, as a privilege of being an R&R reporter, make that information available to your competition. Beautiful.

So, if you go to the trouble of plotting your music a week in advance (and we know everyone programs their music weeks ahead of schedule), what happens if, say, a superstar releases a new song on Thursday? Well, you couldn’t change your music scheduling because then you would be accused of supplying R&R with incorrect information. So, I guess, under the R&R system, you’ll just have to keep the new releases off for a week to 10 days. I’m sure the record industry will have to problem with that. Not to mention your audience, which will have to wait to hear new releases until the practice meets with R&R’s criteria. And what does it matter if your competition gets the upper had by playing the new releases before you do? As long as you’re complying with R&R’s edicts, what do you care?

How long has Joel been out of radio programming? No one schedules their music weeks in advance. There are too many things to consider: environment, promotions, remotes… and something R&R seems to care les and less about…new music. The idea is ludicrous.

No one can predict how many times a record will be played a week in advance. Radio stations have charts to s how a particular record’s strength in relation to the other records, but the exact number of plays? It’s impossible.

The Network Forty produces two Mainstream charts each week. One is our Plays Per Week chart, compiled from the number of plays records received the previous week. The other chart is derived from programmers’ forecasts of how they believe these records will perform the following week. By comparing the two charts, you can plot the past, present and future.

But predicting the exact number of plays for the new week? No way.

Other than the obvious reasons cited above, plotting next week’s music is too time consuming. Radio programmers have more than enough to do already. Should they change their working habits because of the whim of a “tip” sheet? As an industry trade magazine, it is our job to make radio’s task easier…not more difficult.

R&R doesn’t seem to care…as long as it meets their needs.

R&R seems oblivious to the obvious. BDS has become an important tool for our industry because it separates fact from fiction. BDS accurately reflects the number of plays a record receives on monitored stations. BDS doesn’t attempt to forecast. It provides an exact history…reality. Reality is what drives our industry. It’s high time R&R went along for the ride.

R&R, once the leader in our industry, is becoming, with each passing day and each new letter to its reporters, a follower. BDS creates an exciting new monitoring system. R&R has been trying to catch up with them for three years. The Network Forty begins publishing “Plays Per Week” 15 months ago. R&R tries to claim our innovation as their own.

It ain’t gonna happen.

What’s next, Joel? R&R Overnight Requests?

Sensitive Editorial


In today’s world, it is easy to be cruel, easy to be hard, it’s easy to say no. Heaven knows, The Network Forty and even I, yes, I have on occasion stopped to criticize.

From time to time, some of our readers have questioned our motives and have been concerned with the tone of selected editorials and (of course) the occasional nudity on Page 6. For those who believe we have been overly critical or mean-spirited, this editorial (and the entire magazine) is dedicated to you.

Throughout this issue of The Network Forty, you will find words, pictures and ideas that will serve as a calming influence for the hectic world in which we live. From the cover and the picture on Page 6 to the “mood page” and pie charts, we will attempt to uplift your spirits and soothe your frayed nerves. Since California is a state of mind, I would first ask that we all join in a cosmic hand-holding for 30 seconds, followed by the required group hug. (Editor’s note: If you’re reading this in Hollywood, you can end with an “air” kiss.) Now that we’ve set the mood, let me begin.

First, I would like to compliment R&R. You may pause for a few minutes here to regain your composure. For more than 20 years, this publication has been “the industry’s newspaper.” We should be grateful because our industry really needs a newspaper. What other trade publication can be used for packing plates and glasses or for wrapping the fish we catch on those spiritual retreats to our favorite lake? We love R&R. We particularly like the black print that rubs off on our hands, because when we see it, we are reminded that ll people should work together as one, without regard to race, creed or color. Although some are critical of the size of R&R’s sample of reporting stations, we should look at this as a positive. Those in the record industry can concentrate their efforts rather than call every station across the country. And the radio stations that aren’t in the sample are given a goal to shoot for. And what other publication would establish vague, yet complicated guidelines for reporting status? R&R, in its Zen-like methodology, keeps us forever praying, meditating, guessing and wondering.

When can you be a reporting station, Grasshopper? When you take the pebble from Joel’s hand.

And what about Joel? He’s such a nice guy…a genuine person who’s quick to share his beliefs with anyone who asks…even if few do. And he’s so sanitary. To insure no loose hairs ever drop into a companion’s plate of food, he wears his in a ponytail. It’s proof positive that Joel cares more about the environment than fashion.

I want this on the record: Even if I’m one, lone voice crying out in the wilderness, I believe R&R’s monitor system will be up and running in three major markets in September.

Hitmakers certainly lives up to their name. Bob Greenberg is a prince among princes and I, for one, could sit at the bare feet of Barry Fiedel and listen to him pontificate for hours.

And what can I say about Gavin that hasn’t already been said? Organized by the man who coined the phrase, “Be nice to the people who are paid to be nice to you,” the tradition continues. Two names say it all: Dave Sholin and Ben Fong-Torres. They’re linked interchangeably and will walk hand-in-hand into the Music Hall of Fame.

Billboard and BDS have formed a combination that is without parallel (no pun intended). Michael Ellis is to charts what Michelangelo is to modern art. BDS is without doubt the most accurate monitoring service this side of NASA. Their technology has indeed changed the face of our industry and unlike others who have gone before, they are quick to address any problems that have arisen.

Arbitron. I will adhere to the old expression, “If you can’t say something good, don’t say anything at all.”

In is my sincere hope that you get half as much joy out of reading this editorial as I got in composing it. Can’t we all be friends? Can’t we come together and do good? Is it possible, in today’s day and age, to work together for a positive universe?

If we try, we can do it.

This next week, smile. Help your brother or sister when they are down. Give food or shelter to the homeless. Pledge your help to the flood victims. Spare some change.



God bless us, everyone.

(Editor’s Note: Gerry Cagle wrote this editorial under a doctor’s care while visiting an Oregon ashram. He was also, we assume, under heavy medication. He is schedule for release later this week and expected to be his vociferous self by next week’s edition.)

Freedom Of Choice


The winds of change are blowing…stronger every day. Those who can’t feel them are living in a dream world.

For years, R&R reporting status dictated a radio station’s importance with record companies. Dinners, concert tickets, product service and promotions were only a few of the spoils that came with the prize. Pride from acknowledgement of one’s peers was also garnered by one’s upward movement within the parallels.

The results of R&R’s changes in reporting stations were once anticipated with dread or excitement. Now the results are greeted with hoots of derision or, more often, a yawn of boredom…if acknowledged at all.

There’s a new Sherriff in town…and the name is BDS.

The days of paper adds, chart share and Breakers are going the way of 8-tracks and pony tails. Record companies have always been interested in exposure. Exposure equals sales. Now they can monitor the exposure and they’re using it. Like it or not, the record industry is the tail that wags the radio dog…and this dog will hunt.

Unfortunately, the record monitoring system of BDS is controlled by Billboard, which seems to be hell-bent on making the same mistakes as R&R. Billboard and BDS are intent on making millions of dollars from the radio industry without giving anything back. Like Arbitron, they initiated their own methodology and radio has no voice in the decision.

As a radio station executive, you have no choice on whether or not your station is monitored by BDS. Your station’s importance to record companies will be decided by things you cannot control. Billboard dictates your format and since BDS only monitors about 80 markets, the size of the city will be the determining factor. If you fall outside that scope, you are out of luck.

Or are you?

Record companies are relying on BDS for only one thing: honesty. If record executives could rely on the integrity of all radio stations; playlists, no monitoring system would be needed. But they haven’t been able to do that.

Billboard and The Network Forty were the first trade publications to recognize the problem and do something about it. Billboard chose to go outside the radio community. The Network Forty works within the radio community to provide Plays Per Week (PPW).

We accept Plays Per Week data from all of our reporting stations. The information is downloaded from music scheduling software. The record industry is using radio airplay to determine the importance of every station in the country. If you aren’t reflective of their growing reliance on airplay, you are in danger of being left out.

You don’t have a choice when it comes to BDS and Billboard. They decide whether or not you will be monitored and by their own admission, it doesn’t ‘matter whether you like it or not. The Network Forty gives you the choice with PPWs. If you want to be a part of the future, if you want to be important to the record companies and your peers, you need to report PPWs. Outside of BDS, it’s your only alternative.

If you aren’t reporting PPWs to The Network Forty and BDS makes mistakes in monitoring your airplay (which they do quite often), you have no recourse. If you aren’t in a market being monitored by BDS, you have no recourse. Reporting your PPWs is your only chance to ensure the exposure you give to records is recognized by record labels.

To quote on of our reporters, “PPW is BDS for the rest of us.”

We (and our reporters) believe that PPW reporting is the best alternative to monitored airplay. BDS makes mistakes. Although BDS tried to dance around it, BDS doesn’t accurately reflect the various edits of specific records. BDS constantly imprints records used in promos and commercials. And BDS imprints records that appear as a part of specialized programs, but aren’t on your playlists.

PPW reporting doesn’t make those mistakes. It’s the only accurate reflection of your airplay because it comes from your music scheduling. We’ve all had calls from record companies asking why BDS showed airplay decreasing on a specific record when it didn’t. With PPWs, you have an answer. Most important, PPW reporting is a function of radio…not some outside source. And, unlike BDS, The Network Forty pays for PPW data. Every week we’ll be mailing cash bonuses to selected radio stations for their PPW participation. It may not be much, but it’s more than you’re getting from BDS. Why should they make the money off data they’re stealing from you without giving something back?

And unlike Billboard, we don’t try and define your format. If you feature new music, you’re a part of our Mainstream panel. It’s that simple. We don’t dictate; we report. Isn’t that what a trade magazine is supposed to do?

Plays Per Week and BDS are the most accurate measures of reflecting actual airplay. But unlike other trade magazines, The Network Forty believes that charts based on playlists are also an important part of the mix. That’s why we place them side by side. Plays Per Week and BDS tell you what happened last week. Our playlist chart is a prediction of what will happen this week. Both are needed to effectively monitor a record’s progress and potential.

If you are still debating whether or not to report your actual Plays Per Week, the answer should be easy. PPW reporting gives you a comparison to BDS if you’re already monitored. PPW enables you to correctly identify the constant mistakes experienced by BDS. The PPW Charts allow record companies to chart airplay on your station without wondering whether imprints appeared in promos, commercials or specialized programming. And more importantly, you control your destiny with PPW reporting. You’re not defined by an outside source.

Plus, you’re eligible for thousands of dollars in cash and prizes!

The Network Forty is building a reputation within the radio and record communities with factual reporting. The original concept for Plays Per Week came from our reporters. Its continued growth and accuracy will come from our reporters…not from outside sources. We believe in radio.

The Network Forty is your magazine for the ‘90s and beyond.