Happy New Year 1998


Did you have a nice vacation?  Were your holidays happy?  What did you do?  Do you feel rested and refreshed?  Are you wearing one of the gifts you received?  You look so nice.

Okay, now that we’ve got all of the bullshit out of the way, welcome back, Jack.  Let’s go to work!

The first few weeks of the beginning of a year are extremely important in the continued success of your company…whether it’s radio or records.  We all come back from a holiday break refreshed and anxious to make a mark.  New Year’s resolutions have been made and each of us promised to change some part of our lives for the better.  We’re all new people with new goals and a new resolve to make things different.

For about a month.

It’s up to each of us, as managers, to instill that “new” spirit and make positive changes in how we do our business.  There is no better time than the beginning of a new year to invigorate your staff and make positive changes.  But you’ve got to have more than a list of New Year’s resolutions.  Over the years, how many resolutions have you kept?

That answer alone will tell you that there’s more to making positive, continued change than mere promises to do so.

Careful planning is imperative in making any meaningful changes.  That’s why so many resolutions don’t make it to the Ides of March.  They’re made on a whim.  Most resolutions concern what we want to do or change, but we haven’t developed a plan that will make that “want to” a reality.

Here are a few tips to motivate your staff for the coming year:

First of all, you should have a major staff meeting during the month of January.  Explain to everyone your major goals for the year.  Outline how you intend to accomplish those goals.  Make sure you have at least one major promotion or idea that has no name or outline.  Ask for input from your entire staff on this event.  Maybe give some kind of a prize to the person who picks the most innovative title for it.  This way, even the entry-level people on your staff feel involved.  The meeting will make everyone believe that you feel each member is important to the company’s success.  And you know what?  It’s true.

Identify your primary department heads.  You need two or three close confidants who should be involved in making and implementing the major decisions you’ll face over the coming year.  Outline specifically what you expect from them.  Most  important:  Give them the power to implement those decisions.  Delegation is the key ingredient in the success of any major executive.  You have the final word on all major decisions, but you must give your key department heads the power to move on their own so you won’t be bogged down by minutia.  Delegating the responsibility frees you to concentrate on the big picture and invigorates your key department heads to move your company in the direction you’ve set.  Delegation doesn’t decrease your power…it increases your ability to be a better manager.  It also allows your key department heads to grow with you.  Make sure, however, that you specifically outline the ares of responsibility for each.  Tell them exactly what you expect.  Also, let them tell you what they will need to accomplish your wishes.  Continue this involvement with regular meetings throughout the year.

Schedule meetings with each member of your staff.  Let each know, in writing, the time of your meeting at least a week in advance.  Tell them that the meeting will be about their job duties for the coming year.  Ask them to prepare to discuss what they want to accomplish in the coming year.  Again, in this meeting, be specific with your expectations.  Tell each what you want and need for them in order to accomplish your goals.  Discuss salary expectations.  This lets each person know what’s in store for the coming year.  Don’t make empty promises.  Share reality.  Your staff will respect you for it in the long run.

Give each employee at least one additional duty…something the person wasn’t responsible for last year.  Outline how this job is to be performed and underline the importance of the job, no matter how menial.  Remember, no task is too small in the overall operation.  No matter the firepower, an army can’t win wars unless food is delivered and garbage is removed.  In this meeting, also discuss the goals of each staff member.  Find out what is important to them and what they want to accomplish.  Ask questions about your operation.  listen to their answers.  They might be smarter than you think.  They might have great ideas.  Have you seen the movie, Good Will Hunting?  The janitor solved a problem that was beyond the knowledge of the PhDs.  Listen and you might learn.  At the very least, by listening, you’ll convince your staff members that you care about their input.

Make sure to follow-up with a memo.  Commit to writing each point of the meeting so both you and the staff member can refer to it in the future.  By asking each staff member to outline goals, the employee can be held responsible for not achieving those goals.  Conversely,each employee will have a memo from you with your expectations outlined.

To make positive change, you must institute positive changes.  You can’t get rid of bad habits unless you replace them with good habits.  A turn-around won’t happen just because you will it.  Careful planning and preparation can make your New Year’s resolutions last…and make 1998 a banner year for you and your company.

Happy New Year.

A Crazy World


It’s a crazy world, but I live here…

Mac MacAnally, a friend and songwriter of some note, penned those words several years ago.  Since then, nothing has happened to prove him anything less than prophetic.  I was reminded of Mac this week when I read an article about the MIssissippi Sovereignty Commission.  Mac and I grew up near the shores of Ol’ Man River and shared many common experiences.

From the mid-1950s until 1972, an agency called the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission existed to protect the people of the state from “subversives.”  Actually, that’s a nice way to say the state government spied on its citizens to make sure they were living the good, clean, segregated life.  The commission was a secret…whispered about by many, but known about only by a chosen few.  Several years ago, under the Freedom of Information Act, the commission was officially acknowledged.  Bits and pieces were made public.  Some of this information was used to convict the murderer of Medgar Evers…documented in the movie, Ghosts of Mississippi.

All of the documents kept by the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission are about to be made public…including the names of those “sympathizers” who were spied upon and the informants who provided information.  Every person mentioned is being notified before the documents are made public.  Why are you reading about this in a Network 40 Editorial?

Because my name is supposedly listed in the documents as one who was sympathetic to the Civil Rights movement.  I was spied upon.

I find it amusing that anyone would bother spying on my “activities” as an elementary school child and teenager.  When I found the reasons why I was listed as a “sympathizer,” it became downright comical.

My parents, as most middle class families in Mississippi in the 1960s, had a house-keeper.  Lela Maye Woodson most definitely “kept” our house.  More often than not, it was Lela Maye whose approval I sought instead of my parents.  To say she “raised” me is not much a stretch.

Lela Maye had two sons and two nephews that she often brought with her to my home.  Nearly every afternoon, I was in the side yard playing some kind of sport with the Woodsons.  They played hard.  In that yard, the Woodsons didn’t teach me the difference between black and white.. I learned black and blue.  All four went to college on football scholarships and two made it in the NFL.

I recall several of the neighborhood boys objecting to playing with “coloreds.”  I didn’t.  I was always on their team and we generally won.  It was by ball…my yard…end of discussion.

I was branded a possible future subversive by the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission at the tender age of eight.  I wonder who turned me in?

Probably my brother.  He hated to lose.

In hindsight, I guess the commission was accurate in their assessment.  Who knows why…maybe through Lela Maye’s constant singing…but I was drawn early on to R&B music.  I used to lay awake late at night under the covers in my bed, tuning my little transistor to WLAC in Nashville and listening to the latest R&B songs spun by Big John R.  After he signed off, I spun the dial to XERF in Del Rio, Texas and the famous Wolfman Jack.

Something must have happened.  Years later, I was working the night shift on WRBC in Jackson.  The “RBC” in the call letters stood for Rebel Broadcasting Company and the station signed off every night with “Rebel Rouser” so you can understand it was no favorite of the Civil Rights movement.

I didn’t care.  I just liked R&B music.  So I played it…a lot of it.

My generation loved the music…of course.  I was a favorite on the campus of Jackson State University…the all black college located a few miles…and 100 years…away.

The Ku Klux Klan, however, wasn’t amused.  I got calls nearly every night from some redneck who objected to the type of music I was playing.  I wasn’t  worried.  I was young, cool and bulletproof…until one particular Friday.

The station was located on the outskirts of town, isolated in a huge field.  The control room was a fishbowl…I could see out, but others could also see in.  Since the station signed off at 1 am, I was alone in the building.

Just before midnight, I go another crank call from a particularly intelligent inbred who identified himself as an official member of the K.K.K. I asked what Kate Smith song he wanted to hear, then hung up.  He called right back.  “Boy,” he hissed, “if you don’t stop playin’ that music, we gonna fix you up.”  I told him to take his sexual aggressions out on his favorite farm animal and turned up Aretha.

A short time later, I noticed a glow coming from outside.  There, on the front lawn of the station, was a burning cross.

I called the police…who probably set the fire to begin with…and waited.  In the meantime, I went on the air live and described the scene.  Fortunately, a large group of Jackson State students came down to the station in a show of support. We even roasted marshmallows before sousing the flames.

This, according to the official who called, is duly noted in the documents set for release.  I was contacted because those who are mentioned may petition to keep their names from becoming a part of public record.  I don’t have a problem being labeled as a supporter of the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi, proud of it in fact…though I like the term “subversive” much better.

And I wondered why I didn’t get elected when I ran for Congress.

“It’s a crazy world, but I live here and if you can hear me singing, so do you.  I’m turning on my nights lights feeling satisfied that there’s nothing anyone of us can do…no there is nothing any one of us can do.”

Back To The Future


A funny thing happened in San Diego last week.  According to one programmer, a Jacor power play prevented an act from participating in his promotion.  The PD, who doesn’t work for Jacor, had contacted a record company and made a deal for an act to perform for the station.  The record company first agreed, then cancelled after Jacor threatened to drop the artist…and other artists on the label…from not only the Jacor station in a competitive format…but from any or all of the six Jacor stations in the market.

All of this information was given by the PD at the competing station.  I didn’t contact anyone with Jacor to see if the story was true.  It isn’t important for this Editorial.  The point is, the general scenario will be.

Welcome to promotion and programming in the ’90s.  Promotion executives are going to have to get used to dealing with radio chains.  PDs are going to have to get used to programming within the framework of a chain…or against the strength of a chain.

You will see more chains flexing their collective muscles.  Whether or not the story about Jacor in San Diego actually happened doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that this will happen in the future…by any or all of the major chains.

I had the opportunity to work for the greatest radio chain in history…RKO.  (I know what you’re saying: “Oh, no… here he goes again, down memory lane…I don’t know if I can stand another story about the good old days.”)  This isn’t a story about how it used to be so much as it is an example of how it will be in the future.

RKO owned and/or consulted top-rated stations in 12 large markets.  Because the company chose to operate the stations as a chain, a record couldn’t break into the top 10 without airplay on the RKO chain.

This gave RKO unbelievable power.

Many of the stations were programmed identically.  The Top 40s in Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Detroit, San Francisco, San Diego and Memphis ran basically the same clocks, jingles and stopsets.  The same IDs and voicers were used on all.  Chain promotions were done at least once each quarter with identical elements on all stations.

Because the programming was similar, if not identical, every station shared research.  On Mondays, sales, request, call-out and other research were reviewed and a music conference call took place between all PDs.  This was after each PD met with the individual music directors to prepare their music suggestions.  And you needed to be prepared!  After the national picture was given, each PD “suggested” records to add to their stations.  Then the music call ended.

Tuesday morning, the RKO music coordinator would tell each PD what records would be added to the chain.  PDs could pitch for specific records for their stations…and often you could win, but chain adds were played by every station…no exception.

The RKO chain got every exclusive…every promotion…every concert…and anything else record companies could come up with.  If you were a PD in the RKO chain, you had your pick of everything record companies had to offer.

If, however, you were on the other side, the opposite was true.  Everything was brought to the RKO chain first.

Bill Drake, and later Paul Drew, the VPs of Programming for the chain, were both honorable.  If a record company offered a promotion and RKO passed, the company was free to offer the promotion to competing stations. What happened when this protocol wasn’t followed?

Now, it’s storytime.

After I left KHJ Los Angeles and the comfort of the RKO chain, I consulted KYA San Francisco…the direct competitor of RKO’s KFRC.  I came up with a fantastic promotion based around a new release by Chicago, “Another Rainy Day In New York City.”  You’ve never heard of it?  I wonder why.

Bob Sherwood, then VP promotion for Columbia, respected the idea, gave me the promotion and I jammed it up KFRC’S call letters.  Paul Drew was not amused.  He gave Sherwood the opportunity to pull the promotion and give it to RKO, or the record would never be added to the chain.

Sherwood held strong.  He said the promotion was my idea, not Columbia’s…RKO had no right to ask for it.

Drew accepted Sherwood’s answer.  The RKO chain didn’t add the record.  It peaked at #64 on the charts.

Did the power of the RKO chain keep the record from being successful?  Who knows?  Maybe it wasn’t a hit.  It certainly didn’t get a lot of airplay…none in most major markets.

The singles released before and directly after “Another Rainy Day In New York City.”  (with promotions gladly given by Columbia) and played by the RKO chain peaked at #5 and #1 respectively.  Coincidence?  Right…

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that Bob Sherwood…or any other Sr. VP Promotion…never gave RKO’s competition a promotion again. Who wants to find out the hard way your record won’t be a hit?

This power is too much for radio companies to ignore.  Companies are now buying multiple stations in the same market to dominate local sales.  It’s only a matter of time before a chain makes the decision to program many of its stations (in multiple markets) in identical formats to dominate sales and promotions nationally.  With the ownership limits greatly relaxed, a chain today can be even more dominant than RKO.

Strap yourself in.  It’s going to be a wild ride as we go back to the future.

Bah, Humbug


‘Tis the season to be…so let’s.  Everybody’s singing…it’s Christmas time.  Christmas is my favorite time of year.  Memories of Christmas are as deep as the snow in North Dakota…the state, not the movie.  Who can’t smile when thinking of Christmas holidays past?  My favorites?

A freezing sleigh ride in Tahoe when the idiot driver pulled under a tree to quote Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  My response to his reading wasn’t quite a poetic.

The San Francisco hot tubs with a secret Santa who I can’t talk about.  Bruce Hix would have details.  So would Bob Galiani, except he passed out and smashed his head on the floor.

But my favorite would be 1985 in New York City.  Big, wet snowflakes fell on Christmas Eve.  With Harry Nelson behind the wheel, we drove to Rockefeller Center.  I hung out of the window, yelling Merry Christmas greetings to all we passed on the sidewalk.  This greeting sent most diving into doorways.  People don’t make eye contact on the streets of New York, much less shout out Christmas cheer.  After the third pass around the ice rink, I saw a shadowy figure run toward the car.  Without warning, a snowball hit me right between the eyes.

“Merry Christmas, motherfucker! The not-so-secret Santa wished.

It was the best  Christmas I ever had!

My trip down memory lane done, let me pretend to wish some of you a happy holiday.

To Andrea Ganis: poached salmon, the Pacific Ocean on her right and two of the most beautiful blue eyes.  Let Danny Buch have a one-track mind.  Okay, if that’s asking for too much, how about a three-track mind?  Burt Baumgartner needs a lake closer to home, so he could use that new boat more.  Of course, that would mean we would have to share it with more people in the business, so better leave things as they are.  Bring Justin Fontaine a crying towel.  Make it a big one, Santa.

No moving vans for Lori Anderson, Santa.  She likes it fine just where she is.  Richard Palmese needs someone to move into his house in Palm Springs.  Network 40 could make a deal and use it as a “theme park” for the industry, but deciding on the “theme” might get us all in trouble.  Ken Lane needs nothing now that he has the perfect job.  Jim Elliot is comfortable where he is.

What about Phil Costello?  A nice hat would be the trick.  And Ritch Bloom?  Another nickname besides “Kong.”  Jeffery Blalock needs some NFL experience.  Ric Lippincott needs a LeAnn Rimes for Top 40.

How about giving Jerry Blair a new house?  Also maybe more quality time with Kiki.  And give Charlie Walk anything he wants because he’s such a saint, he looks up to everybody.  Let Lee Leipsner get out of the office more.  Season’s tickets for the Rangers to Jim Burruss.  And don’t forget Jerry Lembo just because he always forgets me.  Give Greg Thompson more golf time this year.  No one deserves it more.  MMM (More Minutes in Maui) for Bill Pfordresher.  Coddington?  A scale so he’ll know he isn’t heavy.  And for Mike Whited, a suite at the Hard Rock in Vegas.  We’re going to be there a lot in 1997!

Peter Napoliello could sure use another album like The Artist.  Ditto Michael Steele.  Craig Lambert needs bigger house upstate.  As for John Boulos, how about a map of Epic’s offices and a book matching pictures with promotion department’s names?  Let Dale Connone spend more time with Charlie Walk, Santa.  It makes him look bigger.

For Bob Catania, a bigger budget.  He’s going to need it.  For Steve Leavitt, a better haircut.  Craig Coburn needs to be called “C.C.”  Give John Fagot hit records, Santa.  No one deserves it more.  And Tim Burris? A Chauffeur. The man can’t drive, Santa.

Don’t bring Brenda Romano a damned thing, Santa.  She had such a great year, what more could she ask for?  Ditto Paula Tuggey.  Let’s concentrate on the more needy.  Joe Riccitelli wants people to stop calling him Joey.  Vicki Leben wants people to stop calling her Vic.  And Linda Murdock wants people to stop calling her.

Give Jack Satter more respect, Santa.  99% of the industry knows he deserves it.  Bankrupt the other 1%.  Skip Bishop needs a clone to attend the meetings he’s been in.  Mark Gorlick needs a tattoo and a naval ring.

Steve Ellis needs to be able to forge David Leach’s signature.  Chris Lopes got the best girl in the world…what else could he need?  Marc Benesch needs to get his Priorities straight.  Ditto Sean Lynch.

How about Butch Waugh, Santa?  Well, how about him?  Bonnie Goldner gets whatever she wants.  Let Rich Fitzgerald shoot consistently in the low 80s, Santa.  We know he won’t be satisfied, but that’s okay.  And Steve Tipp?  Let his entire family be perfectly healthy.  Give Marc Ratner two good years in a row.  It would be justice.  And give Bob Weil a personality.

Cancel Mike Becce’s Hits subscription.  What?  He already did it himself?  Then give him two Network 40s.  Steve Leeds needs less tension and more Universal happiness.  Monte Lipman wants a weekend bartender’s job.  Michael Plen needs a little spice in his life.  For Jeffery Naumann, an introduction to all the Top 40 PDs.  (Never mind, it wouldn’t matter.)  Santa, convince Al Moinet that he’s pronouncing Kilgore and Easterling’s names wrong.  And for Mike Easterling?  A little class.  Never mind, Santa, no one would notice.

Stu Cohen wants a string of hits.  And Barney Kilpatrick needs four kings.  Don’t give him aces, Santa.  Save those for me.  End the craving for Rick Bisceglia.  For Lisa Wolfe, a staff and more trips to the West Coast.

Give Val DeLong more Enclavage.  And for Bruce Schoen, Mark Kargol and Ron Geslin, good jobs.

Let Nancy Levin have a year of biting ants who spoil everyone else’s picnics.  Debby Peterson already got her wish by leaving Network 40.

And me?  How about that dream I’ve been working on?

Merry Christmas to all a good night!

The Big Bing Theory




Since its inception, music radio has been chronicled by a myriad of newspapers and magazines. Each focused on different aspects of the business, but most, if not all, were primarily concerned with either (1) how records were performing, (2) what records were being considered for airplay…or both. Over the years, these entities have included, in addition to The Network 40, other publications such as Billboard, Cashbox, Record World, The Gavin Report, Bob Hamilton’s Radio Report, Friday Morning Quarterback, Radio & Records, Bobby’ Poe’s Pop Music, Ron Brandon Report, Hits, Hitmakers and many more.


With all of the competition for readership and advertising, one magazine always rose above the rest. The industry always chose one magazine as the definitive. All others were measured against its popularity. Each one of these so-called Bibles lasted for a while, but in the end, they fell from grace for one reason or another: they got too big and just didn’t care any more; they made mistakes; they were dishonest and reported incorrect information; or time just passed them by.


Right after World War II, it was Cashbox. In the 1950s there were over 500,000 jukeboxes in the United States. Cashbox got its power and name from the coin-operated boxes. It was possible for a record to be certified “Gold” from jukebox sales alone.


As radio airplay began to replace jukebox play as the best way to sell records, Billboard became the giant. For years, record companies and radio stations looked at the “Hot 100” chart as the final determination of a record’s popularity. Billboard was always short on editorial information, but built its reputation through news, both national and international, and the all-important charts.


While Billboard maintained its popularity, Bill Gavin began the first trade publication solely dedicated to providing radio stations with informative “tips” on what records might become hits. The Gavin Report accepted no advertising and relied only on subscriptions to stay in business. A little later, Bob Hamilton created The Radio Report. This magazine combined the best of Billboard and The Gavin Report to provide its readers with radio information, industry news, charts and record information. For a brief moment in the sun…or maybe the stars…The Radio Report was the Bible.


In the mid-‘70s, Bob Wilson created Radio & Records. In the beginning, Radio & Records was dedicated to reflecting the wants and needs of both the radio and record communities. With no small degree of hard, accurate journalism and a big help from the powerful RKO Radio chain (we’ll discuss why playlists are done on Tuesdays at another time), Radio & Records became the Bible of the industry. For a while, it was worthy of the title.


Over the past several weeks, editorials on these pages have outlined the problems confronted by Mainstream Top 40 radio stations and have advocated some changes, suggest by our readers, as solutions. Many of these problems have been directly attributable to the policies of Radio & Records. Hundreds of interested parties, from record company presidents and local promotion managers to radio station owners, managers and program directors have responded to these editorials. With few exceptions, most have agreed with what has been written.


I believe, along wit the majority of our readers, that radio in general, and Mainstream Top 40 in particular, is in trouble today because of the many restrictive policies of Radio & Records. It is tough enough just to survive in the competitive radio business without having to justify your existence to a publication with restrictive policies. Particularly when these policies are made by out-of-touch regulators who have no knowledge of the problems of today’s radio and no solutions to offer. Yet they impose nonsensical rules solely to magnify their own diminishing importance. We believe these policies are antiquated at best and dangerous at worst.


Does the saying “…living in a subjective dream world of adolescence where you can’t comprehend your own environment…” ring a bell?




If we accept Radio & Records as the Bible of our industry…and for the sake of this argument, we will accept this absurd fact as a reality…the we depend on the information provided by Radio & Records to be accurate and without manipulation. It must beor we are allowing our business to be guided by decisions made on information that is patently wrong. For the moment, we won’t ask why radio stations in the same city that don’t share on current song on their respective playlists are categorized the same. We won’t question why radio stations in certain markets are given priority reporting status while stations with similar playlists and bigger ratings in larger markets aren’t. We won’t be stupid enough to ask someone…ANYONE…to explain this week’s reporting status and apply it accurately to all stations within and without the reporting corral. And we won’t even try and discuss the researched, mathematically calculated formula that restricts the total number of reporting stations under a certain figure. (If we did, we would ask, “Do the words ‘outdated computer system’ ring a bell? And then we would say, “Bing!” But we won’t say any of that.)


Just for the sake of argument, we’ll accept the premise that the information reported by Radio & Records should we accurate and without manipulation. That is why it is the Bible. We must assume that the information is pure. And what happens, boys and girls, when we assume something? Do we make and “ass” out of “u” and “me”?




Picture, if you will, a radio station with a P-3 status reporting aiplay regularly to Radio & Records. We know this information is accurate, because Radio & Records keeps a careful watch on all its reporters. We know this because some stations are “de-listed” from time to time because they fail to comply with the rules and regulations demanded by the powers-that-be. What if a radio station reported incorrect information, but the information fell within the rules and regulations? Radio & Records, the Bible of the industry would not allow that to happen.


Or would they?




For the sake of this argument, let’s assume that there is a radio station in Wheeling, West Virginia called WOMP. Let’s further assume that this radio station is a “CHR P-3” reporter. Let’s take it one step further and assume that on January 22, R&R reported that WOMP was sold to Associated Communications Corporation, which also owns WRKY in Steubenville, Ohio. The parent company decided to simulcast WRKY’s signal on WOMP. WOMP is an R&R reporter, but WRKY is not. If all of this happened two months ago, Radio & Records still wouldn’t list WOMP as a reporter, would they?


A call to WOMP was answered by the receptionist. She told us she was the only one there. According to her, WOMP only originates the morning show from 6-10am, Monday through Friday. The rest of the programming is simulcast from WRKY. Another call to Steve Kline, program director of WRKY, verified her assertion.


Radio & Records continues to list WOMP as a P-3 reporter with no stipulation that its programming is simulcast from another station…a station that had a decidedly different lean. Although WOMP broadcasts its own programming only during morning drive, none of the playlist is stipulated as “dayparted.” WRKY, a station with no reporting status, is broadcasting its playlist on WOMP 20 hours each day.


Yet WOMP has continued to be classified as a P-3 reporter. Should WRKY have this listing?


What’s going on?


Has Radio & Records gotten so big that they just don’t care any more? Did they make a mistake? Are they knowingly reporting incorrect information?


Or is time just passing them by?