It’s All Small Stuff

October 8th, 1999

I read a book this weekend that struck a familiar chord, one I’ve written about before. It concerns finding out who you really are or what you do.  In our business, we become so filled with self-importance that often we can’t find our true selves…and that’s important.

The book is called “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson.  It’s been on the best seller list.  Maybe you’ve read it.  If not, pop for the cash and read it with an open mind.  If you still have one.  One of the negatives about this business is that we fill ourselves with false information and hype so often that we begin buying into it. And once you believe what you’re saying about yourself, you’re doomed.

So, I try again to beat a drum that might dent the thick skulls of those who believe they’re better than they are, not so much to criticize, but to cause change and make those who take heed, better people.

Fat chance.

As I read the book, I thought about how positive changes in the lives of a few in our business could affect the entire industry.  I chose four specific people to aim this Editorial toward, although it’s important for all.  But specifically, these four people, two in radio and two in the record industry, could benefit most from the “helpful” hints I’ve revised (plagiarized) and included in the Editorial. However, I am sure none of those four people will ever ask me is this Editorial is about them, because they won’t believe it.  They’re perfect. Do you doubt it? Ask them.

The struggle for perfection in business and life is an endless quest that will ultimately lead to depression. Perfectionists don’t have inner peace and happiness.  The desire for everything to be perfect and the search for happiness are in direct conflict.  Too often, we focus on what is wrong, rather than being satisfied about what is right.  When your focus is on negative things, you become, by definition, a negative person.

Accept the fact that things will never be perfect.  Learn to accept imperfection.  You should seek to make everything as good as it can be, but focus on the work you’ve done toward achieving perfection rather than the end result.

We need to stop believing that laid-back people can’t be super achievers.  Too often, we make our lives and jobs more hurried and stressful to fool ourselves into believing we are more productive.  This kind of thinking and acting takes a lot of energy and can drain the creativity from our lives.  Frantic work is not good work.  Working because you’re afraid of what happens if you don’t push yourself is dangerous.  Any success that you have is despite your fear, not because of it.

One of the most important parts of our success is the level of our compassion.  It’s a sympathetic feeling, something we all need to develop.  Instead of chewing out a coworker to make ourselves feel more important,  take a moment of compassion to find out how you can help the other person in his or her position.  Understanding is the first key to communication.  And communication is the key to success.

Let others have the glory. Our greatest legacy should be teaching others to fulfill our goals.  If you can’t pass along some of your expertise to those working around you, what good are you? Or maybe you just don’t have anything to offer.

Our need for excessive attention is nothing more than inflated egos. How often are you engaged in conversations when others interrupt or try and top your story when you’re finished? How often do you do that?  What makes you feel the need to focus all the attention on yourself by telling a better story or interrupting someone to show how they’re wrong?  Is your ego so huge that you can’t allow others to get a little of the glory?

Guess what? It might come as a shock, but it’s a lead pipe cinch that you don’t know everything.  Instead of waiting until a story is finished to begin your own, try this: listen.  You might be surprised.  Even if you aren’t, you’ll make the person telling the story feel a lot better about themselves if they have your complete attention.  Isn’t that what our lives should be about? Making others feel better? Or are we so egotistical that all we care about is our own feelings?

Most of what I’ve learned has come from those around me who would seem to know the least.  When I programmed radio, listeners taught me more about programming than all the seminars and consultants who pontificated their stuffy ideas.  Local record people more often have their fingers on the pulse than those in national offices.

We should listen more and talk less.

Maybe we could learn something.  Then again, maybe not.  Why should we worry anyhow?

We’re perfect aren’t we?

How Gerry Got His Groove Back


Asphalt shimmers in blurry waves.  Palm trees sag in listless surrender without the slightest hint of a breeze to rustle the fronds.  A tumbleweed rolls slowly through the intersection of Rodeo and Wilshire.  Beautiful people hide behind tinted windows in carefully controlled air conditioned environments.  Beverly Hills panhandlers beg for bottled water.

In one year, we’ve lived through 40 days and 40 nights of flooding rain, hailstorms, tornados, mudslides, earthquakes and fires.  The forces of nature have delivered a hellish blow of Biblical proportions.  But all this was just a warm-up for the drought that followed.  The butt cheeks of El Niño are hitting L.A. with a vengeance.

Payback is a bitch.

I should be used to the blistering heat that currently engulfs Hollywood like a giant sauna.  I am, after all, a child of the South where in the summertime, the living is easy…fish are jumping and the cotton is high.  I grew up in the Mississippi delta where the humidity and temperature made a daily race to 100 in a land so flat you could watch your dog run away for three days.

I’m now a hot child in the city.  And it’s different.  I’ve spent four lonely days in a brown L.A. haze mired in a funk so low it makes whale shit look like stardust.  I’ve been down so long it looks like up to me.

From the first of August through the middle of September, Los Angeles is not the place to be.  Everyone with money leaves for the beaches.  Those with none go home and abuse their families. Driving on the freeway is like being in the ring with Mike Tyson.  Everybody’s pissed off.

I take to prowling the sidewalks at midnight, searching for anything to pull me out of my manic depression.  On Monday I fell into a bar in Boys’ Town.  The bartender gave me a raised eyebrow and said, “Do you like Piña Colodas?  Making love in the rain?”  It did not cheer me up

I met my old lover on the street last night, she seemed so glad to see me I just grinned.

That was okay until she got so emotional, baby.  It didn’t take long to remember why she was my old girlfriend.

I continued my aimless wandering into the mystic.  I was looking for something, but I had no clue what.  Friends don’t help.  Emotions are funny.  When you’re in a great mood nobody is telling to get sad.  But fall into a little depression and it seems like every third person has a special formula for making you happy.

Sad songs say so much.

When I’m sad, I want to wallow in it.  Don’t try and make me smile.  And I don’t need the worry warts.  Don’t worry, baby.  Knock on wood.  I will survive.

But even I realized that I was over the edge.  This was the worst case of the droops ever.  My new name was “Mr. I Don’t Give A Damn.”  It got so bad that my kids put themselves up for adoption.  I had to find a way for Gerry to get his groove back.  Nothing from nothing leaves nothing, but you’ve got to have something if you want to be with me.

I decided to throw myself into the breach.  I would walk up to the edge of the cliff, stare down at the rocks below and determine my fate with a split-second decision.  I would step on Superman’s cape, spit into the wind, mess around with the old Lone Ranger and slap the hell out of Jim.

I walked alone into the depths of South Central at midnight on Saturday wearing black, red and blue.  This would be the test.  I would stare death in the eye.

It was too hot…to hot, baby.  The gangsters wouldn’t even come out of their houses.

I went back to my house and threw myself face down in the pool, breathing through the gills behind my ears.  I was doomed to live in a endless funk forever.   When in front of the house, there came such a clatter, I jumped out of the pool to see what was the matter.

I was struck mute. There at my front door was an angel.  She was dressed in a crazy outfit that I vaguely recognized.  It wasn’t Judy In Disguise With Glasses, but it was close.

“Hello, I love you won’t you tell me your name?”   I sang.

“Please don’t sing,” she said.  “You can’t carry a tune,”  She was right.

“I’m the 600 million dollar woman,” she continued, “and I’m selling grooves.”

“Don’t you mean the 6 million dollar woman?”  I asked.

“Adjusted for inflation,” she smiled.

“Where do I blow you up?”  I came back.

“You’re funny,” she said, “But you have a sad face.”

“I’ve lost my groove,” I frowned.

“That’s terrible,” she moaned.

“I’ve been looking everywhere for it, but I can’t seem to find it.”

She shook her hair back.  “That’s silly and a waste of time.  If you can’t find your groove, just buy another one.”

“Grooves are expensive,” I told her.  “Especially in Los Angeles.”

“That’s why I’m here,” she said.  “Hollywood isn’t the same without you.  I’ve been sent to loan you the money.”

“How will I pay you back?”  I asked.

“I’ll tell you the next time you’ve got writer’s block.  It’ll fill up another column.”

“Write on,” I grinned.

And that’s how I got my groove back.


August 27th, 1999

Last week, the Editorial dealt with the process of interviewing applicants for a job opening inside your company.  What about the flip side…when you’re the one seeking a job?

The volatile state of the record and radio industries assures just about all of us of one fact: Sooner or later, we’ll be looking for another job. It might be because you seek to improve your position.  Or you’ve been fired. The reality is that sooner or later you’ll lose your job and need employment.

Either way, a successful interview is the key to your employment future.

The first thing you need to do is give yourself an attitude adjustment.  If you’ve lost your job, get over it.  There are very few secrets in our business.  It is likely that the person who you are interviewing with is familiar with some of the circumstances surrounding your dismissal. You will probably be questioned about your former job in the interview and asked why you were dismissed.  Make your answers as positive as possible.  Lamenting how about how you “got screwed” is a waste of time and energy.  You must concentrate on your abilities, qualifications and interest in the new job, rather than dwell on the old.  If there were circumstances with your previous job that might cause your future employer concern, answer those concerns as quickly and concisely as possible.  Take time to go over this facet before the interview.  Knowing you will be asked about your previous position and the circumstances surrounding your leaving will give you time to prepare your answers before the interview.

Take comfort in the fact that you are getting an interview.  The fact that you’re in the door proves the company is interested in hiring you despite your previous situation.  The truth is, most employers are more interested in where you’re going than where you’ve been.

The same holds true if you’re trying to improve your position.  Don’t bad rap your present company.  Instead, sell your future employer on what you hope to bring to a new position.

No matter how seasoned the pro, everyone gets jitters before an interview.  Don’t panic.  Those feelings aren’t bad.  As a matter of fact, being a little nervous and excited can give you an energy boost for the interview.

Prepare in advance.  Although you can’t anticipate specific questions you will be asked, you can anticipate the general tone of the interview. Research the company.  Be ready to share your knowledge with the future employer.  If you have done your homework, there is little to fear.

Once in the interview, be yourself.  Relax.  Too many people try to be the person they think the future employer is looking for.  Don’t play this part.  You want to be hired for who you are, not for who you’ve pretended to be.  If you pretend to be someone you’re not and are hired,  you’ll probably be unhappy in the position.

Don’t think you have to agree with everything your future employer is saying.  Don’t feel the need to be a total “kiss-ass.”  If you feel the need to disagree, do so in a respectful manner.

Recognize the line between self confidence and arrogance.  Most employers want people who are self-confident.  By the same token, most don’t want arrogant employees.  State your case, make your impression, but be sure you’re not coming off as cocky.  Remember, you’re the one seeking the job.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that the person doing the interview will do a good job conducting it.  Most people aren’t good at interviewing.  Help your future employer bring out the best in you.  Don’t allow his/her inability to conduct an interview shut you out from sharing knowledge about you that might help you land the job.

Make sure to compliment the company and the job your future employer is doing.  Find a way to show how your hire will compliment his/her vision of the company.

Don’t drop names.  If there are people who will give you a good recommendation, list those in your resume.  Don’t make a pompous ass out of yourself by mentioning how tight you are with “whoever.”  If you’re so tight, why aren’t they hiring you?

Dress up for the interview.  No matter how “laid back” the company or your future is, don’t show up in jeans and a t-shirt.  There’ll be enough time for that after you’ve been hired.

Be on time.  If you’re late, you probably aren’t going to get hired for the job.

Before the interview ends, ask “Is there anything else you need to know?  Anything we haven’t covered?”  Make sure you’ve gone over over everything that will tip the interview in your favor.

After the interview,  make sure you follow up.  Don’t be a pest, but don’t get lost in the shuffle.  A short letter says it best.  Simply state that you enjoyed the oppurtunity and you’re looking forward to working for the company.

Good luck.

Good, Bad And Ugly


It wasn’t long ago when “I’ve got good news and bad news” jokes were the rage.  In the true sense of the ‘90s, or possibly a retro back to the days of Clint Eastwood in Italy, we’ve now updated the phrase to good, bad and ugly.

To wit:

Good:  Your son studies a lot in his room alone.

Bad:  You find several pornographic videos hidden in his closet.

Ugly:  You’re in them.

Good:  You work for PolyGram.

Bad:  Your company is purchased by Seagram.

Ugly:  Doug Morris wants to meet with all the key executives and you’re not on the list.

Good:  You and your husband agree to have no more children.

Bad:  You can’t find your birth control pills.

Ugly:  Your daughter has them.

Good:  The Program Director agrees to have dinner with you.

Bad:  He makes the restaurant reservations.

Ugly:  The restaurant is in Paris.

Good:  Your son is finally maturing into a man.

Bad:  He’s involved with the woman next door.

Ugly:  So are you.

Good:  Your record was added at a radio station.

Bad:  The Program Director wants the act for a station promotion.

Ugly:  The promotion is the opening of a 7-11.

Good:  Your husband takes a sudden interest in fashion.

Bad:  He’s a cross-dresser.

Ugly:  He looks better in a dress than you do.

Good:  The Program Director agrees to spend a weekend with you in Las Vegas.

Bad:  You lose all your money.

Ugly:  The Program Director asks you for a loan.

Good:  The postman is delivering your mail early.

Bad:  He’s wearing fatigues and carrying an AK-47.

Ugly:  You gave him nothing for Christmas.

Good:  Your morning ratings went through the roof on the day you scheduled a meeting with your morning personality.

Bad:  The rest of the station dropped drastically.

Ugly:  Your morning man is Howard Stern.

Good:  You have a talk about the birds and the bees with your daughter.

Bad:  She keeps interrupting.

Ugly:  With corrections.

Good:  You are the Program Director of a Top 40 station and your ratings go up.

Bad:  The station manager hires a consultant.

Ugly:  The consultant’s name is Rusty Walker.

Good:  Your wife isn’t talking to you.

Bad:  She wants a divorce.

Ugly:  She’s an attorney.

Good:  The station manager agrees to add your record to test the “Pay For Play” theory.

Bad:  He wants a check for $10,000.

Ugly:  The Program Director wants $20,000 cash.

Good:  Your daughter gets a job at the White House.

Bad:  As an intern.

Ugly:  Working for the President.

Good:  You’re sent 200 cleans of a superstar’s latest release by mistake.

Bad:  You’re called into the label president’s office to watch a video.

Ugly:  It’s a police surveillance of you selling the CDs.

Good:  Your four best friends are your neighbors.

Bad:  They are all good with sharp objects.

Ugly:  Their houses are labeled “Cell Blocks 1-4.”

Good:  You’re having an affair with your midday jock.

Bad:  She gets drunk at the station Christmas party.

Ugly:  She goes to the ladies room with your wife.

Good:  Jesus Christ returns to earth.

Bad:  He wants you on the phone.

Ugly:  He’s calling from Salt Lake City.

Good:  Your morning personality is doing a bit on mother and daughter hookers.

Bad:  You recognize your wife’s voice.

Ugly:  And your daughter’s.

Good:  A beautiful blonde drags you into a closet at the station Christmas party.

Bad:  The blonde takes off her dress and exposes her penis.

Ugly:  It’s bigger than yours.

Good:  You’re programming a station in San Diego.

Bad:  The station is sold.

Ugly:  To Heftel.

Good:  Network 40.

Bad:  Gavin.

Ugly:  R&R.

Good:  To tighten up your station’s sound, you drop several records, including two of Atlantic’s.

Bad:  Andrea Ganis is on the phone.

Ugly:  It doesn’t get any uglier than that!


February 4th, 2000

An article in this week’s Los Angeles Times by Chuck Phiilips didn’t mince words.. The Pulitzer prize winner quoted an internal memo written by Bertelsman Chairman Thomas Middlehoff which was extremely critical of the firm’s executives in the wake of the Time Warner/EMI merger.  In the memo, Middlehoff warned that the company would never reach the goal of being number one “…if executives sit back and wait to see which tactical move and strategic alliances the executive board develops in order to master the radical changes occurring in the communications marketplace.  Each and every one of you has to rise to this special challenge.  Those who still haven’t understood that time has come jeopardize both their existence and their position at Bertelsmann.”

The ominous tone of that memo was only the beginning as Bertelsmann and Sony announced that no merger between the companies’ music divisions would take place.

This is all interesting, but outside of Bertelsmann, what does it mean for you?  It means that playing the hits and getting the hits played aren’t going to be enough to solidify your job in the new millenium.

Middlehoff is justifiably angry at executives within BMG and you can rest assured that some changes will result because Time Warner beat Bertelsmann to the EMI punch.  Some executives who were comfortable with their recent success, may be looking for new jobs, not because of what they did…but what they didn’t do.

For the past five years, I’ve been screaming that continuing the status quo is not only not enough, but it puts you way behind the curve.  If you haven’t gotten the message already, it just might be too late.

Strategic planning meetings and the immediate implementation of those strategies are what will define your image and job performance in the coming months.  Relying on the things that have made you important in the past will be a waste of time.

The landscape is changing.  And rapidly.  Two plus two no longer equals four.  It may not be equal to anything.  Or it may equal everything.  It depends on your ability to look into the future and plot a course that will give you an answer.  The good news?  Even if you make a mistake, you’ll be able to fix it or act on another idea before you’re held accountable.  Your only fatal error is to do nothing.

Time is being compacted into milliseconds.  it is now possible to change the course of a business strategy within a few hours.  It once took years.  With the advent of of computers and the web, you can take an idea from creation to marketing to retail in a matter of minutes.

Soon, by the time you ask a PD, “Is it a hit?” the answer will be “it was.”

Although the skills you honed to perfection might have gotten you a job you currently have, those skills won’t be enough to keep you in the penthouse suite.  The term, “what have you done for me lately?” will take on a whole new meaning.  There is no “wait until tomorrow” in light of constant ads, realtime airplay and daily sales reports.

Part of the problem is our own fault. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” has been the mantra of radio and records (no pun intended) for years.  The new mantra is, “If it ain’t broke, break it.” Our jobs are changing.  The good news is we have the ability to define our new jobs.  Nobody really knows what they are.

In an industry that has seen little change since it’s inception, consider the following possibilities: four to six radio companies will own virtually all of the radio stations in United States.  Three to five companies will control the record industry.  Because the cost of business will continue to escalate, alliances will be formed between companies.  Promotion and marketing costs will be shared and slashed.  One promotion executive from each record company will meet with one PD.  Deals will be struck and records added and dropped at that meeting.

On the record side, retail bricks and mortar will become “clicks” and fodder.  Inventories will disappear because consumers will dictate how many “copies” of songs they want.  Acetates wont have to be pressed.  Units wont have to be ordered.  With one click, you accomplish demand, supply and fulfillment.

It is a brave new world, moving faster than the speed of light.  By the time you finish this Editorial, it’s probably out of date.  Forget your resume.  Nobody cares where you have been, only where you’re going.  Long no more for the good ol days.  They’re gone forever.  There is no tomorrow anymore.

It’s all today.



I was speaking with Paul Drew this week about the state of radio.  It’s easy for those of us who were successful in radio to critique others…particularly when we aren’t dependent on a radio station for our livelihood.  Along with our criticism, however, comes the knowledge of exactly how difficult it is for programmers to succeed in today’s climate.  We understand the nuances of programming, because we were there.

With control of stations narrowing to five or six companies, it’s a matter of time before one or more asserts power in ways that will drastically effect the industry.

To understand the future, one must consider the past.  I’m not looking back to champion the glory days, but to give examples of what is sure to occur shortly.

In the ‘70s and early ‘80s, the RKO chain of stations dominated the radio and record industries like none before or since.  So strong was the positioning of these stations, that it was impossible for a record to break the Top 10 without the chain.  The power of an RKO chain add was enormous.  By putting records directly on the most important stations in the country, the path to success became a superhighway.  The opposite, of course, was also true.  If you didn’t get the chain, you were screwed.

RKO used this power to its advantage.  RKO featured recording acts for concerts and client parties long before the practice became widespread.  The possibility of airplay was so big that RKO seldom had to make specific commitments.  Instead of promising to play a superstar’s record for an appearance, it was a case of making the appearance to avoid potentially angering RKO  and jeopardizing a future release.

There were other radio chains during this period of time, but none was as successful as RKO at combining power for the betterment of the company.  The others chose to run each station individually rather than as a group.  It was a strategic mistake.  By combining each station into one corporate entity, RKO was able to wield power as no other before or since.  And RKO was able to exert this power with only 12 stations, six of which were Mainstream.  That pales in comparison with today’s giants.

When will it happen again?

Soon.  The two companies best positioned to make this move are Chancellor and Jacor.  These two giants control enough important, Mainstream stations to make it happen.  But before it can work, programming within the companies would have to be restructured.  One VP Programming must have the authority to make the moves with impunity.  If records are only occasionally added to the chain or done piecemeal, it won’t work.  The power comes from one decisive move.

RKO made one to three chain adds each week.  As a PD, you were required to add these records, but you were also free to add others working in your market.  Depending on the success, these individual adds might later make it on the rest of the chain.

Some PDs and record executives resist a move of this kind because of the consolidation of power.  Their fears are misguided.  Although the power of the VP Programming is absolute, individual PDs don’t lose anything.  They actually gain in this configuration.

At RKO, the different PDs were polled each week.  Their opinions weighed heavily in making chain adds.  Individual PDs used this power to their advantage.  If a record promoter was working the Boston PD on a song and it was added to the chain, the Boston PD took credit for getting it on the chain and thereby increased his stature.  The record promoter took the same credit by claiming his work through the Boston PD resulted in the chain add.  If the record didn’t make the chain, the Boston PD could show independence by adding it locally and the promoter took a bow.  If the record didn’t get added anywhere, the Boston PD and the promoter blamed the VP Programming and everyone was off the hook!

The fears of the record companies about the absolute power of one radio group dictating chain adds are unfounded.  The VP Programming can make concert and promotion decisions for the entire chain.  This would result in a better deal for both the individual stations and the record companies involved.  It’s one-stop shopping.  Record executives complain about the high cost of promotion.  Having a record added to a chain will allow companies to find out quickly whether or not a record is a hit.  If it doesn’t make it on the chain after a few weeks, promotional dollars wouldn’t be wasted on the eternal effort to find out.

It’s only a matter of time before chain adds again become a reality.  PDs and record execs shouldn’t fear this process, but welcome it.  You don’t really have a choice.

Besides, there is a more sinister possibility out there.  Such as, when will one of the monster radio conglomerates form its own record company?  The Platform is already in place.  Instant access is available.  That’s the real 2,000 pound gorilla.

The only thing that would strike more fear into the hearts of record executives would be if one of the radio companies decided to consolidate power, begin chain adds and name me VP Programming.

That, my friends, would be Godzilla!

Frank’s Way


“Start spreading the news…I’m leaving today…”

In case you haven’t heard, Frank Sinatra died last week.  In the over-hyped world of journalism, the magnitude of print and television footage devoted to Frank’s  passing has gone way past overkill.  In an era where a worthless, ignorant nobody can garner national air time and newsprint just for refusing to pull over on a Los Angeles freeway, the passing of someone as monumental as Frank Sinatra seems somehow trivialized.  That’s too bad.

I find it sad that so many people are mourning Frank’s death.  There should be no tears for Frank.  We shouldn’t be sad that he’s gone on to that big band in the sky.  What we should be doing is celebrating his life.  Frank was “the kind.”

Let’s face it.  Frank wasn’t really a part of our generation.  He belonged to our parents…or grandparents.  At least, that was what we thought.  But Frank had the unique ability to transcend space and time.  The older we got…the better Frank sounded.  My grandfather loved Frank.  My daughter loves Frank.  Who am I to break the chain?

No matter how old you are, Frank Sinatra is cool…always was…always will be.

His music is timeless.  When you bring a date back to your house, dim the lights, light the fire and turn on Sinatra, it means only one thing.  You want to talk?  Turn up the Jazz.  You want to dance?  Try Disco.  You want to close the deal?  Put on Sinatra.

Frank always works

Frank lived a hedonistic lifestyle of the most outrageous order…and later had time to repent, reflect and become an elder statesman.  Who could ask for anything more?

Frank did it his way…asking no quarter and giving less.  It was his way or the highway…in business and pleasure.

Although glorified in The Godfather as part of the Mafia, it wasn’t true.  He had all of the positives without the downside.  Frank wasn’t a part of the mob.  He was the mob’s favorite singer.  How cool was that?

Much has been made of Frank’s friendship with Sammy Davis, Jr.  I don’t know how many specials I saw this weekend detailing the events surrounding Sammy’s plight and Frank’s rescue.  Most highlighted how Frank struck a huge blow for civil rights by refusing to perform at clubs that wouldn’t hire Sammy.

Those stories miss the point.  Frank wasn’t using his formidable pressure to advance the cause of civil rights.  Frank did it because Sammy Davis was his friend.  End of story.  If you liked Frank, you had to like his friends.  If you caused  one of his friends pain, Frank would be your enemy for life.  Frank didn’t care whether Sammy was black or white.  Color had no bearing on his friendship.  That says more about Frank than any civil rights message he could have delivered.

I had the good fortune to meet the man in the perfect setting…Las Vegas.  Frank was performing at Ceasars in the late ‘70s.  In  those days, when Frank headlined, high- rollers from around the world descended on Ceasars.  You couldn’t find a $5 table if your life depended on it.

I was with Wes Farrell, who was married to Frank’s daughter, Tina. After the show, Frank wanted to play blackjack.  Walking through the casino with Frank was like walking with Moses.  We were surrounded by bodyguards and the people parted like the water in the sea.  Nobody asked for autographs.  Nobody shouted, “You’re the man!”  It was if a deity was present…and indeed, one was.  The crowd was quiet and respectful.

Frank drew every ounce of energy out of that huge room.  All the focus was on him.  The dice rolled “snake-eyes” just so they could get a look.  And Frank didn’t seem to notice.  He was cool.

The three of us sat at a private table and began playing blackjack.  Frank and Wes were talking.  I didn’t say a word.  I was just happy to be there.  Unfortunately, I didn’t last long.  I was not yet 30, unseasoned in the world of finance and gambling…and way short of being cool.  I dropped the $300 in savings I brought in less than 15 minutes.

I mumbled something to Wes about just being a spectator for the rests of the evening.  Frank said,  “What’s the matter, kid? Don’t you want to play?”

I was embarrassed.  “I don’t have any more money,” I stammered.  “I’ve lost every hand.”

Frank flipped a $25 chip in front of me.  “Let’s see if this will work.”  He looked up at the dealer.  “He isn’t going to lose any more, is he, Bernie?”

I didn’t lose another hand.  I won all my money back and then some.  Frank always worked.

My other story is much less personal.  Or maybe not.  It shows how Frank’s music moves across all barriers.  Not long ago, my good friend Harry Nelson and I spent a wild Saturday night in Atlantic City.  Tapped out, blind and half-crazy, we jumped in the car at 7 am Sunday morning and headed for New York City.  We tuned in a radio station as we cruised past some tiny town.  Frank Sinatra was singing, “The Summer Wind.”

We both smiled, alone in our thoughts.  It was the perfect background to our weekend.  As the last few notes began to fade, the deejay segued into “The Core” by Eric Clapton.

I looked at Nelson.  He stared back at me.  “The Summer Wind” followed by “The Core?”  How could that work?

Five seconds later, we exchanged high-fives.  The segue was perfect.

Fore! (Part Two)

November 12, 1999

Usually, an article about golf is interesting only if you’re a player.  This Editorial, although about golf, is helpful to those who play and those who don’t.  Whether you swing a club or not, you need to be on the cutting edge of today’s terminology so you’ll be able to keep up with discussions about the sport.

Because so many of us in the industry are golfers, and because so many of us actually believe we’re good, I thought I should compile a list of record and radio terms that refer to the game.  Because we certainly play a different brand from that on tour, we must have our own descriptions of golf as we play it and say it.  We all have hit enough “fore” irons in our time.

The following terms refer to “our” game.  It’s only a beginning.  I hope you’ll contact me with more phrases that you’ve heard or invented so I can update this “primer” from time to time.

Linda Rondstadt: When you hit a ball past another in your group, as in, “That was a Linda Rondstadt.  My ball blew by you.” (Referring to her hit: Blue Bayou, for those of you who are a little slow.)

Chilliwack: When you hit a ball out of bounds, as in, “Gone, gone, gone…”

Carpenter: When you hit a ball near your partner’s, as in, “Close To You.”

Milli Vanilli: When you can’t find your ball, you wait until your opponents aren’t looking and drop another.  Since you didn’t really hit it, your partner will say, “I that a Milli Vanilli?”

U2: If you hit a ball into the rough or woods and are having trouble locating it,you tell your group to wait, you’re U2, as in, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

Peter Gabriel: When you ask your caddy for the driver, you say, “Give me The Peter Gabriel” (“Sledgegammer”).

Eddie Floyd: When you hit a ball into the trees and it bounces off a limb, It’s an Eddie Floyd, as in “Knock On Wood.”

Queen: If you hit a ball out of bounds, drop another and hit that one out of bounds too.  The second shot is called a Queen, as in, “Another One Bites The Dust.”

Dolly Parton: A person who cheats and takes less on the card than the actual strokes.  In other words, if the person changes a “9 To 5,” it’s a Dolly Parton.

Christopher Cross: A ball hit into the water, as in “Sailing.”

A Commodore or a Tony Orlando: When a person birdies a par four, as in, “Three Times a Lady” or “Knock Three Times.”

Paul Simon: If your score for nine holes is a 50, it’s a Paul Simon, as in, “50 Ways (To Leave Your Lover).”

Silver Convention: If you hit a ball that needs more distance, it’s a Silver Convention, as in, “Fly, Robin, Fly.”

Billy Preston: If a person makes a putt that spins around the hole before dropping, it’s a Billy Preston, as in, “Will it Go ‘Round In Circles.”

Ode To Billy Joe:  When you hit a ball into a lake, It’s an Ode To Billy Joe, as in, “…dropped in the water off the Tallahatchie bridge.”

Jan And Dean:  When you hit a ball into the ocean, it’s Jan And Dean, as in, “Surf City.”

And it’s not all about famous artists or songs that make the rounds on the golf course.  If you play with enough people in your business, their personal habits become a part of golfing lore, particularly when their actions are consistent with others on our “tour.”

Here are but a few examples of people whose names have become synonymous with their routines.

A “Kid Leo” is when a person hits a ball out of bounds and immediately drops another.  To be a perfect “Kid leo,” the second ball must actually be in place before the first one crosses the out of bounds line.  Example: “He did a Kid Leo before the first one cleared the tee.”

“Fontaine” or “Morris” (for Justin and Rob) is any kind of intense whining.  Example: “He was Fontaining (Morrissing) so badly, I wanted to quit after the first nine.”

A “Louis Kaplan” is a very short backswing.

To hit an iron off a tee is to “Kilgo,” (John) as in, “I was afraid I would hit my driver in the trap so I Kilgoed.”

Anytime a new club is purchased during a round, it’s called a “Grierson” (Ross).

A “Kiely” (Dan) is when you improve your ball position in the rough.  Example: “I was in a hole so Kieleyed it.”

A “Fitzgerald” (Rich) is a person who takes a long time to explain the last shot, as in, “I don’t have time for the Fitzgerald, just tell me what club you used.”

Then there’s the famous “Gary Bird.”  When you take many strokes on a hole or pick up entirely and want to enter some kind of respectable score, you ask for a “Gary Bird,” as in “Gimme a six.”

And finally, when you hit a ball 300 yards right down the middle with a slight draw, thats a “Gerry Cagle.”

Footing The Bill


If you’re interested in an Editorial about the record or radio business, skip this one.  One of the nice things about writing an Editorial is I can choose whatever topic that interests me…and hope it will interest you.

One of the problems in writing an Editorial (other than coming up with a subject every week) is to hope that it’s topical.  I’m writing this in the midst of the Presidential sex scandal…what a great title for a book.  Whether or not this is still news by the time you read it is a crapshoot at best.

So what does the sex scandal have to do with the record and radio industry?  Substantially, very little.  But the effect on our lives and the lives of those around us can be profound…if only on a shallow level.

Bill Clinton is accused of having sex with an intern in the White House. Surprising?  Possibly.  Shocking?  Hardly.

Clinton has been accused of extramarital affairs for years, so this latest revelation is certainly not out of character.  Face it:  Our President is a dog.  Anyone who has trouble believing that can be sold the Brooklyn Bridge…twice in the same week.

What concerns me is the immediate feeding frenzy exhibited by the media.  I haven’t seen anything like this since Jaws.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not about to defend Bill clinton or his actions.  I believe anyone who cheats on his wife is morally bankrupt.  To betray that special trust and risk the emotional devastation that follows is unforgivable.  This statement comes from one who ended a marriage and jeopardized a family for exactly that same behavior.  Having said that, let me also say the behavior and outcome should be between the husband and wife.  Period.  It’s nobody else’s business.

Should we hold the President of the United States to a higher standard?  It’s an interesting question.  When polls show that a majority of the married people in the United States are unfaithful to their spouses, who is going to throw the first stone?

Did we agree to marry Bill Clinton or did we vote for him to be President?  Does our President have  to share our morals or should he just make decisions that impact favorably on our daily lives and our future?

Here are the $64 million-dollar questions:  Can a person who cannot be trusted by his wife be trustworthy to a nation?  Can a person who cheats on his wife be expected not to cheat on normal citizens with whom he has no personal relationship?  Can a person who acts immorally–when it comes to sex—be expected to act morally when it comes to questions of national security?

Is the soldier who cheated on his wife, yet gave his life to defend his country, a hero or a bum?

I don’t have the answers.

We all have our faults.  Nobody comes close to perfect.  Maybe that’s why we take such glee in torching someone who is accused of wrongdoing.  It makes us feel better.

It’s interesting, but it has been my experience that those doing the accusing are the ones who are usually guilty.  The ones who are blameless usually don’t care.  Hmmm…

Should Bill Clinton be having sex with a 21-year-old intern in the White House?  Of course not.  And, by the way, her age and job have nothing to do with it.  It’s just terrible judgement.  Is it too much to ask that Bill keep it zipped up for eight years?  Hey, we’re not insisting on a lifetime of monogamy, but for eight short years, with a country to run, can’t he just take cold showers?

Who is more stupid, Clinton or Castro?  You want that Cuban embargo lifted?  Don’t invite the Pope for a visit; bring Bill down.  Smoke some cigars…bring on the strippers.  And Hussein should stop refusing to allow Americans access to his palaces.  Bring Clinton to your house.  Have him take a hit off the nerve gas bong (he won’t inhale) and bring on the dancing girls.

But I digress…

The nation is upset because not only did Clinton possibly have a sex in the White House sans Hilary, but he lied about it.  Oh, my God.  Clinton told a lie.  Five thousand reporters are jostling for position on the White House lawn.  Talk shows are being invented to provide space for special coverage.  Newspapers are printing extra pages to interview people who might have known the girl when she was in college.

Its all about space and time.

Forgive me, but am I missing something here?  Whether Clinton had sex with someone other than his wife in the White House will have absolutely no bearing on our lives.  Whether or not he told the truth about his libido won’t make one, small change in our day-to-day lives.

This is the same guy who promised that if he was elected President, he wouldn’t raise taxes.  We voted for him…and he raised taxes.

He lied.

Where were all the reporters, talk shows and newspaper when this happened?

Forget Clinton for a second.  Our values are out of whack.  Politicians habitually lie to get elected and we wind up paying the “Bill.”  We should hold them all to higher standards about the things that affect us.  We should demand credibility on issues that will make a difference in our lives…and when they don’t, let’s see the same coverage we get when the President unzips his pants for another “non-affair.”

Maybe when we begin to demand that credibility, the land of the free won’t be so expensive to those of us who live here.


I have one of the best jobs in the world.  In my position, I get to speak with the most influential people in the radio and record industries on a daily basis.  Sometimes, they even listen to what I have to say!  I have the greatest staff in the business.  Network 40 is the only trade magazine staffed by former programmers.  We’re able to give insight that other trades, top-heavy with worn out record executives, can’t comprehend.  Programmers understand Network 40 because, in another life, we were them.  We’re able to bridge the gap like no other group in history.

Every member of the Network 40 staff is a seasoned professional who is personally interested in the realities of our world.  Except for one.

The Chrome Lizard is a paradoxical riddle who lives in his own universe, sliding under rocks and swimming in the murky depths of rumors, lies, half-truths and innuendos that pervade our industry.  He (The Chrome Lizard is male, we think…who wants to look?) manages to survive the slime of the cesspool in which he resides to deliver the latest gossip in a truly unique fashion.  In short, The Chrome Lizard is a beast!

While the rest of the staff is concerned with objective professionalism, The Chrome Lizard could care less.  He is mostly interested in causing trouble.  And he succeeds very well.

Six years ago, when I became program director of Network 40, I thought it important to have an outlet for the “stories” that light the fires beneath the radio and record industries.  In a business built on communication, the people in records and radio are adept at talking.  Nothing is more important than the “latest” buzz on the street.  More often than not, rumors become truth in our business.  Once people begin talking about something, it’s hard to believe it isn’t a great idea…especially because so many people are talking about it!

It was evident Network 40 needed some kind of outlet for this talk, but I had no idea how to accomplish this daunting task.  I certainly couldn’t write a gossip column.  I must maintain my intellectual status.  How could I disappoint my readers by stooping to gossip?  Besides, advertising could be cancelled.  It couldn’t be trusted to a member of my staff.  What if one of them go angry at me and started  vicious rumors about my demise?  I was at an impasse.

Only two people remain from the staff meeting years ago when The Chrome Lizard became a reality…myself and Kristen Guarino.  It was a dark and stormy night.  An evil moon glowed behind the clouds.  Thunder rumbled in the distance.  We were struggling with an answer to the question of who would write a gossip column for the outstanding, journalistic entity called Network 40 when suddenly, like magic, The Chrome Lizard appeared.  He didn’t make any promises.  He proffered no resume.  None was needed.  We didn’t know who he was (and still don’t…his identity is a closely guarded secret), but we all knew he was the one.

Over the years, The Chrome Lizard has become the prophet of gossip, rumors and lies about people and policies in our business…not to mention some over-the-line nude pictures that he managed to slip by the censors.

He’s titillated the tastes of the masses, damaged the careers of the inept, praised the deserving and cost Network 40 thousands of dollars in revenue.  He’s more than an icon…he’s the shit.

In recent months, The Chrome Lizard has become unruly.  He’s extremely dissatisfied about the censorship of his column and pissed off over the lack of nudity on his special page.

Being a lizard of the ‘90s, he’s taken matters into his own hands…er, claws.  Although it’s hard for him to speed across a keyboard with those webbed fingers, The Chrome Lizard has taken to the information super-slime-way with a vengeance.

The Chrome Lizard now has his own web page.  It’s possible to instantly access the latest gossip about the radio and record industries by merely jumping on the Internet at  Not only can you find the latest rumors rumbling through our industries, but the nude pictures are way over the line!  The Chrome Lizard even has a way for you to post your own lies.

Want to share…without having your name attached?  Do you have inside information?  Are you angry at someone and want to strike back? gives you the forum.

Don’t be left out.  Find out what’s happening instantly by becoming a personal confidant of The Chrome Lizard at  This website isn’t like any other.  You wont’ find the usual industry publicity releases.  It’s just the dirt, baby.

And by the way, if you’re a client and shares something bad about you, don’t blame me.  I’ve got nothing to do with it.

I don’t even know the lizard.