Fat Tuesday


Fat Tuesday.  Nope, not a week when you got a lot of adds on your record, but the beginning of the end in New Orleans.  That would be The Gavin convention in the French Quarter.  Many of us will be there trying to pretend we’ve really getting a little work done.  Some will be putting on long faces in an effort to convince their bosses that they really aren’t having fun.

It’s all bullshit…the act and the convention.  Everyone knows the only convention where you can really bond with those from the business is the Network 40 Summer Games III June 24-26 in Lake Tahoe. But that’s another Editorial…or is it?

This year’s Gavin convention is full of questions.  The air is full of whispers and rumors of new mergers and further cutbacks.  It’s hard to be merry when you don’t know what’s going to happen to your company tomorrow..or is it?

If you’re looking to hide or have fun (or maybe both), you can do a lot worse than New Orleans.  So forget why you’re there…I mean, what is The Gavin, anyhow?  No Bill…no Dave Sholin…no Ron Fell.  Oh, but there’s David Dalton.  What was the original question?

Dalton tolerates me like an English lord who has to have dinner with a wealthy Irish farmer.  New money always pisses off old money…especially when there’s more new than old.  If David’s nose was a little longer, he would’t even see me.  David can’t help it.  He’s English, for God’s sake.  The English have no sense of humor.  They believe things are “cute” and “quite nice” and may give in to the occasional tight smile, but they’ll never laugh.  And certainly never at themselves.  They’re too serious.  Am I talking about the English or The Gavin?  Is there a difference?  What do I care?   I didn’t read The Gavin when Bill was alive.  I only go because Bobby Galliani gives me free passes.  And that’s really a sham.  It’s payola money he owes me from KFRC in the ‘80s.  What?  You think he managed to buy all those apartment buildings on the Atlantic local’s salary?

So, you’re wailing in New Orleans.  Can I give you a bit of advice?  Run!

There are only two things to do in New ORleans:  Eat and drink.  And there is no better place to do either.  In New Orleans, the bars are open all night, so be careful. Take it from one who grew up in the Vieux Carre, there’s nothing comparable to having fun drinking all night, then opening the door to the bar and having the morning sun slap you right in the face.  It’s the worst feeling imaginable.  Now you know why Dracula lies down long before sunrise.

Body language is extremely important at The Gavin.  Remember never to look someone in the eyes when you’re speaking with them.  Always look over their shoulder for someone more important.  It’s known as the “100-foot stare” in the business.

“The Glance” is extremely important.  When approached by someone at the convention, always glance at their name tag since there’s no chance you’ll actually know who they are.  Once they engage you in conversation, you can’t peek.  They’ll be watching for it.

And let’s not forget the language required.  Conventionese.  Is this your first convention?  You’re not familiar with the speech?  Please, allow me to help you out.  In the following paragraphs, you’ll find phrases (and the meaning) you’ll need to bob and weave your way through this, or any other, convention.

“When jagit in?”  This means I don’t know you very well, I don’t care to know you any better, we have nothing in common and I’m only talking to you because I can’t find anyone more important…right now.

“Where ‘ya stayin’?”  This means I don’t know you very well, I don’t care to know you any better, we have nothing in common and I’m only talking to you because I can’t find anyone more important…right now.

“Can I buy you a drink?” This means you’re really ignorant because nobody buys drinks at a convention except record people.

“Who does your stagers?” This immediately identifies you as a small-town PD. Even if you get an answer, you couldn’t afford it.

“Got any drugs?”  This used to signify someone who was looking to score pot, blow or LSD.  Now, it’s someone with an upset stomach looking for Zantac.

“How long is this award thing going to last?”  This means you’re an amateur.  Only those who actually win an award attend…and they’re told in advance or they wouldn’t show up.

“Want to come to dinner with us?”  This is asked by record people.

“Mind if I join you for dinner?”  This is asked by programmers, but it isn’t asked often since there aren’t many PDs at The Gavin Convention.

And the number one phrase that will be heard at The Gavin convention this year?  “When are the Network 40 Summer Games?”

June 24-26 in Lake Tahoe

Death Of A Salesman

July 23rd, 1999

I write this editorial at the height of the hype over the tragic consequences that led to the death of John F. Kennedy, Jr.  It is quite possible that by the time you read these words, the story will be old news (thankfully) and you will have passed onto something else.  That is, in fact, my hope.

Like everyone, I was saddened by the news that JFK, Jr. was lost at sea.  The thought of another tragedy befalling the Kennedy family made me pause and remember the days of his father.  John F. Kennedy didn’t change my life, but he changed the way I look at life.  His brief presidency breathed oxygen into the decaying process of politics, which was, until his ascension, dominated by fat, old men in bad suits  You could smell the stench of cigars, booze and back room deals through the flickering tv images, which were as blurred as their morals and promises.

No one will forget JFK.  Everyone from my generation can tell you where they were when notified of his death.  The loss was cataclysmic.  It made you ponder your place in life…and history.

Now, his son is gone and the media frenzy that followed his final blip on the radar screen is over the top.  Enough already.

The media has become a medium that celebrates celebrity…with a passion.  I watched, disgusted at the coverage from all networks, “broadcasting live from the  Kennedy compound in Hyannisport.” Producers scrambled to put together pieces that chronicled the “exceptional life” of JFK, Jr.  I counted 26  “close, personal friends” who were interviewed.  Each told extraordinary stories.  I tuned out when they interviewed a sad-faced man who was JFK, Jr.’s camp counselor.

Give me a break.

With all due respect to JFK, Jr., the media event that accompanied his disappearance was bigger than his life.  John was, by all accounts, a normal student.  Upon graduation from law school, it took him four tries to pass the bar exam.  He dabbled as an Assistant DA before using some of his considerable fortune to establish a new magazine. George is cute, fun and political.  The truth is, George is widely read only inside the beltway.  Circulation outside of D.C. is moderate , at best.

Let’s face it, JFK, Jr. was best known as the son of an icon and as People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive.”

This isn’t criticism, but an honest account of his life.

Yet, the media turned upside down to portray his death as a tragedy of epic proportions.  The “tragedy” will touch normal americans Americans as much the death of any good looking, wealthy young man.  It’s terribly sad.  But that’s all.

Why are we so hooked on the life and times of celebrities? What makes celebrity so great? Do you get smarter? Do you get wiser? Does it make you do more for others?  Generally, it makes you richer. And a jerk.  That’s it.

The news people who hype the death of JFK, Jr. do so more as a self-serving ritual than for any moral sense of right. Their intrusive cameras, set up across the street for a fleeting glimpse of a Kennedy through a window, are done to “capture an exclusive” rather than to give us pictures of breaking news.  Anchors line up across the street and proudly end their reports, “Live, from the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport,” only because it makes them feel important.  It makes me want to vomit.

If this tragedy and the surrounding hoopla that rises well over knee-deep doesn’t prove the point I’ve been trying to make for years.  Nothing will.  We aren’t what we do.

It’s easy to criticize.  It’s much tougher to do something about it.  So between my moods of abject hatred of vampires of the network news, I began to question my own worth.  Who am I? What do I do? If I augered a plane straight down into the ocean tomorrow, what legacy would I leave?

Who do you think you are?

What have you done that stands for something?  Don’t pretend records you worked or ratings you won count.  Those accomplishments hardly last a week until there’s another.  That’s only your job.

What about your life?

I write this editorial with mixed emotions.  There’s a lot of hypocrisy at work here. Network 40 serves as a vehicle to promote the very celebrity I’m criticizing.  But hopefully, we do it because it makes calculated business sense, not because we believe it’s our salvation.  There’s nothing wrong with harmless hype for personal gain and glory…as long as we don’t buy into the hype that what we do makes us better.  It only makes us successful.

What you do at home when nobody’s watching or listening is what ultimately matters in your life.

For those of you who don’t agree, I can only say, “Live from Hollywood. I’m Gerry Cagle.”

Crossing Over

December 3rd, 1999

Included with this regular issue of Network 40 is a special edition that salutes Crossover radio and music.  The Crossover issue has great significance to all of us at Network 40 and particularly to me, personally. The past 20 years have seen the development of Crossover from what was once considered a “niche” format into a format that stands alone.  In the past year, with the increased sucess of Top 40, Crossover has broken more records into the Mainstream than any time since the 1980’s.

I would know.

As mentioned in the Crossover issue, I was lucky enough to program what many consider to be the first Crossover station in history: KFRC in San Francisco.  When I arrived in KFRC in 1980, the station had been trending down for nearly two years.  A former AM heritage Top 40, KFRC’s audience had been badly eroded by the FM onslaught.  The station had drifted to a more AOR stance without any success. FM stations of all formats had gained bits and pieces, but no FM had gained a position of dominance, due in part to San Francisco’s hilly terrain. Few in the industry gave KFRC any chance of success.  I was just ignorant enough to believe the opposite.  Besides, I didn’t have a choice.  I had just run for Congress in Mississippi.  (My supporters said it was more like a walk.) Shortly after losing the election, I ran for the border!

After arriving in San Francisco and studying the market, it became apparent to me that there was only one way to go.  The only station in the city with positive ratings over the last two years was Urban KSOL.  Their upward trend seemed to coincide with KFRC’s decline.  When General Manager Pat Norman asked me what we should do, I said “the only way I know how to program is uptempo Top 40 with a heavy emphasis on R&B.  We’ll either win that way or drive this pig into the bay at 100 miles an hour!”

He agreed.  Then again, he didn’t have a choice.  Few people wanted to be the programmer in charge when KFRC went belly-up.

And away we went.

I would like to say I was a genius for what happened over the next four years , but it was more like a living example of the old adage.  “Necessity is the mother of all invention.”

And KFRC was a mutha!

We began adding a ton of R&B and pure Urban music to the mix and KFRC took off. The station became the powerhouse of the early 80’s.  This was also another one of those times when everyone was predicting the death of Top 40.  When “The Big 610 KFRC” began playing “Crossover” music, there wasn’t a Top 40 station in New York or Los Angeles.  All the trades screamed, “Top 40 is dead.”  Fortunately for us, few San Francisco listeners could read.

KFRC began playing “unknown” artists like The Gap Band, Lakeside, Rick James, Kool and the Gang, Dazz Band, The Time, Junior, Frankie Smith and many more, including the the first rap song “Rappers Delight, “ by the Sugarhill Gang.  Sure, you’ve heard them all now, but back then, it was beyond the pale.  We even had to publish a “fay” playlist that didn’t include the R&B music we were pounding.  When advertisers complained, we would show them the list loaded with the Doobies, Boz Skaggs and Jefferson Starship.  This was before the BDS, so nobody could prove the only time you heard these songs was after midnight.

In between the music, some great radio was made.  KFRC built and operated the first mobile studio, enabling us to be a part of our audience and broadcast from all over the Bay area.  The mobile station was nicer than the real one on Bush street.  None of the jocks wanted to have to go into the station.

And who were those jocks? Some of the very best in the business.  Dr. Don Rose held down mornings.  Dave Sholin was on middays.  if you don’t believe me, ask Dwayne or Kilgo.  Other “legends” who passed through those doors during that time period include:  Harry Nelson, Mark McKay, Bobby Ocean, Big Jack Armstrong, Shotgun Tom Kelly and Bill Lee.  Keith Naftaly’s first job in radio was answering the request lines at KFRC.

Local record people who were getting their records played at KFRC haven’t done badly either.  Careers whose origins can be traced back to San Francisco include Burt Baumgartner, Brenda Romano, Jim Burruss, Bruce Hix, Jeff Trager, Bob Galliani, David Foreman and David Newmark.

How did it sound? Ask some of those whose careers were influenced like Dan Kiely, Steve Rivers or Bill Richards.

It was a special time.  We didn’t know we were making history.  We didn’t know we were inventing Crossover.  All we knew was that the music was great, We were having a blast and Ernie made a fortune!



Welcome to (The Magazine That Doesn’t Care About) Radio & Records, The Bellagio of trade publications.  You can only play if you’re in markets #125 or better. Come on in and play our wonderful games of chance.  We’ve only got one name, actually.  Craps.  Hey, #126, get away from the table.  You can’t play here anymore.  We used to let you play, but now you’re not big enough. You’re not good enough to play with us anymore.  There was a time when we pretended to like you…but those those times are gone.  We don’t like you anymore. Get out!

The controversy surrounding R&R’s alliance with Mediabase and the ultimate downsizing of their charts continues.  I get glowing praises for ‘telling it like it is.”  It’s almost sad that in our world of bullshit, the occasional honest opinion sticks out so blatantly.  We’re so politically correct.  Wouldn’t it be nice if you could always say what you really feel?  If you could tell the PD the radio station really sucks? Or if you could tell the promotion executive the record really blows?

All too often, we couch our opinions in the soft velvet cushion of political correctness instead of letting the chips fall where they may.  Jack Nicholson’s lines are never more appropriate than when used in connection with the radio or record industries: “You want the truth? You cant handle the truth!”

With the accolades for saying what needs to be said comes the occasional complaint that I go too far…that I get too personal.  Radio people understand.  When dealing with your competition, it is personal.  It’s all about counter-programming.  Can I help it if I’m a better PD than Sky or Tony? Please.

Decisions made by those in power at R&R are personal, no matter how much they profess the opposite.  Every PD knows that.  Every PD knows the agony of begging R&R to grant status, even after qualifying under the ever changing criteria.  Every PD knows that those in the executive tower at R&R are patently unfair and use the power of the position to further their private agenda.

It would be different if the self appointed dictators at R&R were actually qualified to make such judgements.  By and large, they aren’t.  Mediocrity rules at R&R.

But this isn’t an Editorial about mediocrity.  It’s about trying to make those responsible for detrimental changes in the lives and times of radio and records take responsibility for their actions.

The dictators at R&R have made a decision to change the reporting status of many of their reporters, but they aren’t telling you exactly what’s going on. Do you know why?

Could it be about money?

I don’t hold making money against any person or company.  Greed is good.  If I was against the concept, I would write more Editorials about Hits…and I don’t.  Capitalism is cool.  If Network 40 wasn’t profitable, you can be sure I wouldn’t have this forum.  You would be reading my opinions, if you cared at all, on some obscure website in cyberspace.

There are a couple of questions that haven’t been answered in my precious Editorials.  Surprised? Me, too. I thought all the ground had been covered.  But many of you have written in with questions.  I’ll continue to beat the dead horse as long as you supply the whips.

R&R says it will still care about smaller markets, even though markets below #125 won’t be used in making up the charts.  We’ve already given you our reasoning on this ridiculous concept.  The only thing more irrational than R&R making this statement are those few stations below #125 who actually believe it.

Don’t you wonder why R&R is waiting until June 11 to let you know exactly what they’re doing?  You know the dictators have already made their decisions., so why the foot-dragging in telling the rest of the industry?

Could it be that R&R is waiting for those convention checks to clear?  You can bet on it.

Network 40, in conjunction with the Nevada Sports book, is starting an over/under betting line on the exact date when R&R will let you know how badly they intend on screwing you.  We’ll let The Monitor hold the money.

There are also parlay bets on the following: Since R&R “conviction, “ I mean convention, begins June 10, will they have the guts to show a list of the small-market losers before the event and then catch heat from those suckered into coming to the “concussion” for nothing?

Will R&R show the list at the “confession, “ but have some sort of Trojan Horse panel that shows how “virtually important” their importance is?

Or will R&R be totally gutless and withhold the list of losers until after the convention is over?

New shooter coming out.

Its R&R.

Bet the Don’t Pass.

Choo Choo

August 9th, 1999

Choo Choo.
Listen closely.
Can you hear it?
Choooo Choooo

Its not a bird.  Its not a plane.  It sure as hell ain’t Lois Lane.  Its a freight train coming from somewhere in outer space and it has nutty name like “CDXM.”  That’s right , worse than the four letter of the competitions’ call letters strewn across an Arbitron diary.

What could it be?

Hundreds of commercial free stations beamed directly into your car and home.  No fuzzy mess when approaching a skyscraper or toll booth.  No fuzzy mess as Smash Mouth wails on “All Star” while you drive I-95 from Miami to Orlando and back.  It’s absolutely crystal clear with tons of choices.

Satellite radio is steaming down the tracks.  The World Wide Web is racing into your home with another four letter word, and we’re not talking about “cume’.

It’s MPEG via cheap, high-speed cable net access in digital stereo (MP3) nonetheless! Will it be the radio terminator?  Are you going to be at McDonalds in less than one year?  Or are you going to be back?

How do traditional broadcasters with some of the most creative people in the world stop this beam from knocking our industry into oblivion? Easy.  Get off your asses now or you’re going to get stung by the Millennium bug. Y2K is coming.  Don’t become the next eight track player.

If you’re station is not on the internet:
You’re obviously smoking something the rest of us can’t buy.
You’re so old, you’re definition of the information Super Highway is a CB radio.
You’re so lost, you think Streaming Audio is a Sony Waterproof boom box floating down the river next to a tire tube filled with a keg of beer and sorority babes.

Lets’ go.  Make every contest geared toward your homepage.  The 100th email into your stations inbox, with your positioning statement correctly written, wins the weekend trip.  You just killed two birds with one webstone. Your company collected the listeners’ personal information and direct email address upon registration.  An added backdoor bonus is that you now have a database of 18-34 year-old women.

They love coupons

What do you do?

How about “Net Monday.”  Email the specific demos and have them go to your site, hit the print key and what do you know?  They have free lunch coupon from Wendy’s.  Tuesday, the same group can print a discount coupon from Blockbuster.  Wednesday?

Hey, you figure it out.

Are you getting the point? No? Well, I’ll take the extra value meal and supersize my fries.  I’m starving today!  Unleash the creative talents of your jocks.  Microsoft, MSNBC, MSTRAVEL, etc. pay millions for content. You have what the biggest worldwide corporations want: talent and content. Radio is filled with starving stars.

Lets eat!

With the advent of companies like Webradio.com and CDRadio.com, your listeners may have 50,000 choices within the next three years.  Why should they tune to your stick in the mud? Your audience may choose the Bo and Zoe show at BOZO.com because your jocks have nothing to offer.  It’s CONTENT, stupid.  Make your talent work for their money.  No more crutches.  No more bullshit.

The time and temperature is posted at every bank corner in the USA.  Lotto numbers are in every 7-Eleven window.  At BOZO.com your audience could end up living Nirvana, breathing Aerosmith, sniffing in Oxygen Clubs, surfing the net, daytrading stocks, mastering the Sony Playstation and getting wired into anything and everything else the Web has to offer.

Technology has created a lifestyle.  Unless you move quickly, the last of the dinosaurs that are commercial radio stations will be killed off by the Webosaurus and the Satellite Rex.  You need to capture your audience and create a major cult following now.

Can you do it?  Are you going to be up to the task?  10-IN-A-Row ain’t gonna cut it any longer.  Satellite will have the best quality dead air ever.  Become personality driven.  Don’t let the readable, writable more music easy path lead you down the road to destruction.  If you don’t get off your ass, the Internet will put your heavily leveraged station out of business.

It takes talent.  Do you have it? Can you motivate your staff to deliver it?  If you build the content, the audience will come.

If not, that’s fine, too. Just remember, when I pull into the drive-thru, give me the Happy Meal.  I’m feeling really good about the future.

Black And White And Green


Something happened at the Moonitor convention in Miami last week that still has people talking.  I mean, besides the fungus growing on the sheets in the hotel.  Besides the constant construction to seal the rat holes.  And besides the programmer’s wife who came in a day early and found her husband with a transvestite.

One of the panel discussions actually caused controversy.  (Makes me think about instituting panels at The Network 40 Summer Games.)  In a group gathered to discuss the differences between R&B and Rhythm stations, tempers got a little out of control.

Wow!  Such emotion.  Too bad they don’t exhibit the same passion for the music.

Anyhow, some valid and invalid comments were made that still have people forwarding annoying e-mails across the ethernet.

People, please.

The points I choose to address in this Editorial are the following, not necessarily in order of their importance:  Programmers of Crossover stations not returning calls from the Urban departments of record companies and being accused of racial bias; radio stations being listed under different formats by trade magazines; and credit for breaking artists given to different departments within record company.

First of all, playing the race card against programmers or promotion people is without credibility in our business.  If I was Black or Hispanic, I would probably wake up angry every morning.  The racial injustice of our world (although diminishing drastically with each year that passes) is unfair.  But anger is a wasted emotion topped only by jealousy.  The combination of the two is a combustible mixture guaranteed to burn anyone to ashes.  To single out the radio and music industries is unwarranted.

No other industry is as color blind as the music business. Nobody cares what the color is, only if it’s a hit.  If you’re really steeped in anger, you can point to the many artists who were ripped off in the ‘50s and ’60.  You would be right.  It was about color.  The color of money.

It’s about money in this business…as in every other business.  We can talk about art for art’s sake, but the bottom line is the bottom line.  Today, more than ever.  That’s why it’s called the music business.

It’s easy to hide behind the race card as a reason for your inability to do the job.  But it’s not the right card to play.  If you can’t get a programmer on the phone, perhaps it’s because he doesn’t want to talk to you.  Or doesn’t have time.  Or because he doesn’t know you.  Or any of a hundred other reasons.  PDs have every excuse in the book not to take your call.  Trust me:  Race isn’t on of them.  Dan Kieley and Scott Shannon don’t pick up every time I call.  And it isn’t because I’m white.  More likely because I’m annoying.

Blaming radio stations for format descriptions is also an empty argument.  Better to blame trade magazines that decide where to put particular radio stations. I’ve beaten this point into a pulp over the past several years.  Trade magazines have absolutely, positively no right to define a radio station’s format.

That’s up to individual radio stations.  Network 40 never has and never will assign a format to a station.  We let the stations make those decisions.  We either accept their description or we don’t take their reports.  Trade magazines that segregate should be blamed.  Most PDs don’t care what you call their radio stations…they just care that their audience listens.  Why take it out on a PD whose station is listed as Crossover, yet plays the same records as an Urban in the same market?  Record companies can’t change radio stations, but record company dollars can change how trade magazines reflect formats.  You want to be angry?  Be angry at your company for supporting trade magazines that don’t recognize your distinctions.

While we’re on record companies, let’s discuss who is responsible for breaking a Mainstream artist.  Is it the Urban department?  The Crossover department?  The Pop department?  Hold on to your seat.  It isn’t any of you.  It’s the people who listen.  Record companies spend countless millions in promotion and marketing trying to move records across formats.  Companies succeed only when the mainstream record buyers like the record.  Three cheers for those of you who take Urban product to Top 40, but if the listeners don’t like it, it isn’t a hit.  If it is a hit, the credit should goto the artist and the promotion department as a whole, not a particular division.

You want to end racial tension in our business?  Start in your own department.  Urban, Crossover and Top 40 must work together to break records…regardless of color.  Then you’ll all share equally in the glory…and the best color of them all.


Book It


No matter how much we want to pretend it doesn’t  matter, nothing shakes the world of a programmer like Arbitron.  The four scariest words in the programmer’s dictionary?  “The numbers are in.

The instant you gaze upon those numbers becomes the ultimate moment of truth.  It’s like the first kiss with a new love.  You think about it for days.  You imagine exactly how it will be.  You anticipate the feeling.  You hope for the best, yet make contingency plans for something ordinary.  When the great event arrives, it’s never what you hoped it would be.

Nothing else brings about such cataclysmic results.  Smart bombs in the Gulf War did less damage.  When those numbers hit your desk, all the air is instantly sucked out of the room.  Heat ripples through the hallways like brush fires across the dry Florida panhandle.

If you haven’t programmed, you can’t imagine it.

When you turn those first few pages, it’s impossible to breathe.  Your eyes can’t focus.  Your fingers tingle.  Your brief career flashes across your mind.

If the numbers go up, you can’t experience complete satisfaction.  It’s hardly ever enough. And even on those rare times when the numbers are higher than you imagined, your joy is short lived.  After a brief period of celebration, panic bites the back of your throat like the last shot of tequila.  How will you be able to maintain?

In a business full of bright innovative minds, with corporate spreadsheets and sparkling five-year growth plans, it’s amazing how many knee-jerk reactions are caused by a “bad” book.  Meetings are suddenly called, plans changed and promotions cancelled as massive “adjustments” are immediately considered.

It’s a shame.  It’s unnecessary.  It’s stupid.

Programming alterations should never be contemplated because of a bad book.  Any formatic adjustments must be made after considerable thought and planning with many factors weighed.  Why don’t the supposedly intelligent people in radio realize this simple point?

Every radio programmer and most GMs will admit that Arbitron results aren’t accurate.  Hell, even the majority of advertising buyers will agree.  To have an industry rely on inaccurate methodology to dictate the spending and earning of billions of dollars is a premise on which no Hollywood company would make a movie.  But this Editorial isn’t about Arbitron’s methodology.  Many and better people than I have jousted against that windmill and come up short.  It is what it is.  And until radio companies demand better, we’re destined to live under its dark cloud.  We can’t effect a change in Arbitron, but we can change how we react.

Pat Norman was the best General Manager in radio history.  I had the good fortune to work with him at KFRC in San Francisco.  Pat knew and understood Arbitron.  What he knew best was that we couldn’t control the methodology or ultimate results.  We could only control our reactions.

We had our “Arbitron” meetings the week before we got the results.  I sat down with Pat and the sales manager and we went over all aspects of the radio station.  We looked at programming, promotions and sales and carefully analyzed what we believed were our strengths and weaknesses.  We outlined a three-month plan and created contingencies.

After meeting with the GM and sales manager, I met with the talent.  We went through the same process.  As in the earlier meeting, we talked about the Arbitron ratings, but we didn’t base our decisions on those results.  We made plans before we had the numbers.

For five years, KFRC was the number one music station in San Francisco.  Maybe this was because I was a creative genius and the best programmer that ever lived.  Maybe it was because of our outstanding air talent.  It certainly wasn’t because of a superior signal.  KFRC was on AM.

I’m convinced it was because Pat Norman insisted we perform our duties outside the uncontrollable Arbitron numbers.  We executed our ideas in accordance with our plans.  We trusted our programming and promotional judgments.  And guess what?  Our Arbitron numbers were always healthy.  Over the long haul, Arbitron will reward superior programming and promotion presentation.  If you are confident in your programming judgement, why would you make changes based on a system that isn’t programming friendly?  PDs must program through Arbitron’s methodology to their audience…not make changes because of Arbitron’s results.

At KFRC, we refused to use Arbitron as our ultimate yardstick.  We never gave a jock a raise because of a good book and never fired anyone because of a bad one.  We made rate adjustments regularly, with no regard to Arbitron’s delivery dates.  The only time we ever raised our rates because of the ratings was one time when the numbers went down!  We did it just to make a point.

If GMs and PDs make formatic and promotion adjustments before the book comes out, it puts the station in an environment management can control.  And making plans based on sound programming judgement will ultimately provide better Arbitron numbers than any knee-jerk reaction.

Besides, if you’re guilty of this phenomenon, we aren’t surprised.  You didn’t need to make a jerk out of yourself.  We knew it all along.

Big Shot


You went uptown riding in your limousine in your fine Park Avenue clothes.  You had the Dom Perignon in your hand and the spoon up your nose.

We work in the most seductive industry in the universe.  If you’re a record executive or a radio programmer, the world is yours…and everything that’s in it.  We dine in the most expensive restaurants, fly first class, see the opening of any Broadway show, jet away to paradises far away, drive the sportiest cars, sit in the front rows of the biggest concerts, have our pictures taken with Rock stars, hang Gold records on our walls, take stretch limos wherever we go, drink the finest wine, smoke Cuban cigars, walk the red carpet and enjoy the high life.

We live under pressure that would crush the average human.  There’s no such thing as nine-to-five in our business.  We stay until the job is finished, then start all over again.  We can’t rest on our laurels.  There’s always another rating period, another record, another opening, another show.  We work hard.  We play hard.  Why shouldn’t we enjoy the fruits of our labor?

Because some of us actually believe we deserve it.

They were all impressed with our Halston dress and the people that you knew at Elaine’s.  And the story of your latest success kept ‘em so entertained.

What’s wrong with us?  We’ve become the epitome of those we despise the most.  We’re the biggest bores on the planet…an obnoxious group of loudmouth ingrates who actually believe the hype we’re paid to spread.  We’ve been told we’re great so many times by the sycophants who surround us that we’re buying into the bullshit hook, line and sinker….not to mention the boat that was paid for by the record company.

Who are we to take pride in our shallow success?  We’re a group of mostly uneducated over-achievers who are full of sound and fury…signifying nothing.  Had we been born a hundred years earlier, we would be little more than snake oil salespeople, traveling from town to town in a covered wagon, pimping Holy water blessed by the saints of Jerusalem to the sinners who would stumble into streets to listen.

We’re the first ones to complain about our seats to the sold-out superstar concert when we should be thankful just to be there.  After all, we didn’t pay for them. We gripe about waiting in line. We’ve pissed because someone else’s name is higher on the guest list than ours.  We go ballistic at the slightest hint of indifference.

“Don’t they know who I am?”  is the biggest catch phrase of our existence.

Well, it’s no big sin to stick your two cents in if you know when to leave it alone.  But you went over the line, you couldn’t see it was time to go home.

Before you think I’m taking shots at everyone else, I use the collective “we” because I’m just as guilty as anyone…maybe more.  Okay, what if I did set the curve?  I have no patience, I refuse to be placated, I expect the best and demand the rest.

So, what’s my point?

Our behavior has become so over-the-top that simple courtesies are ignored.  We are the rudest people in the history of industry…and it needs to stop.

I can’t make people deflate their egos, act their age and stop their ignorant behavior, but I can draw one tiny line in the sand.

Bitch about your concert seats.  Whine about your lack of respect.  Cry about industry indifference.  Don’t return phone calls.  Talk ugly about others.  Brag about yourself.

But stay off the fucking cell phone when you’re spending time with me.

What kind of gall do you exhibit by going into someone’s office or sitting down for dinner only to constantly answer your cell phone as it rings away?  Nothing shows greater contempt.

Turn the thing off.  What can’t wait for a few minutes until you’re finished with a meeting?  Are you trying to show us how important you are?

We aren’t impressed.

You had to be a big shot, didn’t you?  You had to open up your mouth.  You had to be a big shot, didn’t you?  All your friends were so knocked out.  You had to have the last word, last night, so much fun to be around.  You had to have a white-hot spotlight; you had to be a big shot last night.

I once refused to play golf with anyone who carried a cell phone.  But I let it go.  A round can take five hours.  You might need to take a call…particularly if your boss thinks you’re actually working.

But do you really need to be in instant communication when you’re meeting with someone who you pretend is important?  If you can afford a cell phone, you certainly can pop for voice mail.

I can’t stop all of the boorish behavior exhibited by many semi-important posers in our business, but I will make the commitment to end the irresponsible, childish actions of the cell phone freaks.

I’ll make this open promise to the industry…and I urge you to do the same.  Take a cell phone call while you’re meeting with me and I’ll rip it out of your hand and throw it out the window.  It’s the least I can do.

That’s one small toss for good manners and one giant throw toward responsibility.

And when you wake up in the morning with your head on fire and your eyes too bloody to see, go on and cry in your coffee, but don’t come bitchin’ to me.

Trick Or Treat


It had been a hellish week.  No move I made seemed to have been the right one.  I was mentally and physically bankrupt.  My psychological credit cards were maxed out.  That’s life.  Sometimes you eat the bear…other times the bear eats you.  Tonight, I felt chewed.

I pulled into my driveway about 30 minutes before dusk.  That’s when it hit me.  Tonight was Halloween.  I let out a tired groan.  All I wanted was to have a California night… a bottle of cold white wine and a two hour jacuzzi.  I checked my watch.  If I hurried, I could actually get wet and half toasted before the first of the goblins rang my door whining, “Trick or treat.”

It didn’t take long to make it to the tub.  And since I was on a tight schedule, I skipped right past the wine and went straight for the Jack Daniels.  No need for a pistol when I had a cannon.

I felt the warm, wet bubbles wash over my shoulders and took down the liquid stress reliever in one shot.  That made everything much better.  I ducked my head under the water and decided to double-fortify.  I had another shot.

I leaned my head back and closed my eyes.  Just five minutes of relaxation.  That’s all I needed.

I awoke with a start, the incessant ringing of the doorbell in my ears.  It was dark.  The full moon was rising over the Hollywood Hills, dripping crimson as if decked out especially for Halloween.

“Damn it,” I muttered, “I could have drowned.”

I made it to the front door in time to find two ghoulish  figures decked out in their finest costumes.  The little boy, no older than five or six, was a miniature Darth Vader.  Beside him was a tiny witch.  Brother and sister, I assumed.

“Trick or treat,” they cried in unison.

I reach for the bag of candy I had purchased earlier and put on my happiest face.  “Here’s some treats for you.”

Darth looked askance at my meager offering.  “What’s this bullshit?” he asked.

“What’s the matter with you?”  I was dumbfounded.  “Neither of you can be more than six years old and you’re using that kind of language.”

The little girl gave me a wicked grin.  “You’re wrong, Gerry.  We’re timeless.”

She waved her wand and suddenly everything turned black.  Just as suddenly, I found myself in a dark dungeon, lit only by torches stuck in the rock walls.

A huge, hideous crone, dragging one leg in a slow shuffle, approached me.  A large, crooked beak hung in the middle of her face.  Warts covered her cheeks.  Saliva dripped from a slash that passed for her mouth.  Her eyes flashed fire.

“Happy Halloween,” she muttered.

The stench from her breath washed across my face and I almost puked.

“Who are you?”  I stammered.

She showed me her yellow, pointed teeth.  “The Wicked Witch of the West.”

I was doomed.

“You’re here with your friends to pay for your sins.”

I looked around.  Burt Baumgartner was changing the tires on an 18-wheeler.

“What’s his crime?”  I asked.

“Having too many cars.”

There were more.  Richard Palmese was eating pounds of unleavened bread because he dropped out of the priesthood.  Brenda Romano was being kept apart from Chris Lopes.  John Boulos and Phil Costello were being forced to grow hair.

“They’ve all been bad and now they’re paying for their sins,” The witch cackled.

I saw Andrea Ganis wearing rags.  “Why is she dressed like that?”  I questioned.

“She’s been way too fashionable,” the witch replied.

Garnett March was doing the bat spin, Michael Plen was being forced to work an easy record, Dale Connone was shining shoes and Ron Geslin was only allowed to answer questions with one sentence.

“This is Hell!”  I cried.

“Wait until you see what’s in store for you,” the witch said in a menacing tone.

I shivered with dread.

“Bring her out!” the witch shouted.  Standing before me her head bowed was Cindy Crawford.  She was dressed in a sheer gown that barely concealed her body.

“Take her to the bedroom and do with her as you wish,” the witch said.

I was astounded.  “That’s my punishment?”

“No, fool,”  the witch snarled, “it’s hers.”

I awoke in the jacuzzi, my nose barely above the water.  I took a deep breath.  It had all been a dream.  Then I heard the doorbell.

“No way,” I muttered.  “They can set my house on fire before I open the door.”

Then I thought about the dream and Cindy Crawford.

“Hold on,” I shouted. “I’m coming.”

B. M.


The last thing I wanted to write about this week is Bill Clinton. I was determined to write about some jagged edge that was cutting through the entertainment business, but alas, the biggest story in radio and records is the President and the intern. Plus, everyone I ran into this past week said they couldn’t wait for my Editorial on the subject in Network 40.

I was doomed before I started.

It’s on the front page of every paper. Newscasts lead with it. People in supermarket lines are spouting their opinions on the subject. I went to my dentist and he played a record he had just produced called, “Oh Bill, Oh Monica.”  (That’s right…my dentist.  Don’t you just love L.A?)

I have no choice but to chime in with my two cents worth.

What does this have to do with our business? It’s about life…actually, lifestyle. And if this isn’t Mainstream lifestyle, I don’t know what is. Any radio station that isn’t doing promotions about Bill and Monica are way behind the curve. 15th caller for stained blue dresses.  Forget about Cuban cigars. What about Monicans? The Monica Lewinsky look-alike contest is a natural. Oval office kneepads and condoms? The beat goes on.

The release of the Starr Report changed my opinion, but not the way you think. I always believed Clinton was a liar. Who among us didn’t? But I was wrong. The Starr Report made me believe he was telling the truth…as strange as the may seem. Most say the report confirms Clinton as a liar. Consider the facts. During the campaign, Bill Clinton was asked if he ever smoked marijuana. He said he had smoked a joint, but didn’t inhale. Was there one person who believed that answer? Now I believe him. The Starr Report quotes Monica as saying she performed oral sex on the President…but he didn’t ejaculate. This confirms two things: Bill was telling the truth about not inhaling and he’s probably the sickest puppy among us.

What is the weird logic behind this act? If he didn’t come, it didn’t really happen? That’s like dropping bombs without warheads. They crash through buildings, but they won’t explode. What’s the point?

I give up, Bill. You wouldn’t ejaculate, yet you “penetrated her vagina” with a cigar. Did you really think Hillary would buy, “Honey, I didn’t come in her mouth, I just used a cigar dildo. That’s okay, isn’t it?”

I could pontificate for pages about whether or not Clinton’s actions are impeachable. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that isn’t the point. The founders of our country provided an opportunity for impeachment if the President comments acts of high crimes and misdemeanors.
How about being stupid?  Shouldn’t that be first on the list?

Not only did Bill have sex with Monica, but he wrote her letters, gave her gifts and engaged in phone sex with her. It’s insane. “Yo, baby, what are you wearing?  Oh, sorry Yeltsin, I thought you were someone else.”

Clinton is a twisted, perverted dog. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I don’t think it’s asking too much to expect a little more from the leader of our country. People say that many of us have done the same and worse. True, but we didn’t run for office. Clinton could be the most twisted person in the country…right behind Monica Lewinsky.

Many called for Clinton to apologize to Monica and her family. Hey, what about an apology from Monica? This ultimate groupie has brought down the President of our country with it. She admitted that her initial “flirting” with Clinton included her showing him her thong underwear. What happened to a wink and a smile? Why not just sell tickets and start the strip show? This sleaze should have her own stage at the Mitchell Brothers.

This bar-fly not only allows her “lover” to use her most private part as an ash tray, but then shares this intimacy with a grand jury of total strangers. What’s up with that?

And now she’s been offered $2 million to pose for Penthouse. They’ll have to come up with a new centerfold. It’ll be called the “Double Wide.”

Congress is now calling for Clinton to resign or be ready for impeachment. But Bill won’t go softly into that good night. White House aides are already digging up dirt on all those who will throw the first stones. I’m sure in the very near future we’ll be reading about who likes to dress up in latex, get tied to a wheel, greased like a pig and whipped into a frenzy. And don’t be surprised if Ken Starr is first on the list. Do you really believe nobody in his past has ever told him to squeal like a pig?

Starr has done something thousands of companies have been unable to accomplish. He’s gotten more people on the Internet than all efforts up to this point combined.

But at what cost?

Washington D.C. At least we now know what the D.C. stands for: “Disappearing Cigar” or “Didn’t Come.”

I could have reduced this Editorial to the two letters that best describe Bill and Monica.


But then you would have nothing to read when you were having one.