Cacophonous Symphony



“I can’t hear you.”


That’s today’s operative phrase in the record and radio industry. A lot of people are talking…but nobody’s listening.


What a sad state of affairs, especially when you consider why most of us got into this business. We were great listeners.


Can you still remember when you first felt a desire to be a part of the music industry? What stimulated you? Was it reading about a great deal someone had pulled off? Was it hearing about an egomaniacal record company executive berating employees? Was it someone bragging about how an act was stolen from another label?




You were listening to music. It touched something deep within your soul and you wanted to be a part of it. You really didn’t know what “it” was…but you wanted to be there.


You were a great listener. Maybe you listened to the lyrics of a particular song and got hooked. Maybe it was the production. Maybe it was the whole package.


Those drawn into the music business might be ambiguous about the defining moment that shaped the course of their future, but rest assured it had something to do with “listening” to music.


It more exact with radio freaks. You remember growing up, listening to your favorite station. Maybe it was a particular jock…or one great break that made you decide you wanted to be a part of radio. You knew you could be just as cool as the guy on the air. You wanted to say hip things, be the life of the party and play your favorite songs.


That was the key. What cool job. You’re paid for “listening” to music.


So we get into the business because we’re great listeners. Those who succeed continue to listen. Remember when you first started, how you were a sponge? You couldn’t soak up enough knowledge. If someone wasn’t talking, you asked questions so you could “hear” the answers. You listened.


A funny thing happened on the way to the top. We stopped listening.


It’s easy in our business to stop doing the one thing that makes us successful. Too easy.


Record promotion people are paid to promote…paid to talk. The information available today about specific records is gargantuan. If it was chocolate, we would all be fat and pimpled. Promotion people have more useless information than ever before to bore even the most open-minded programmer.


So what do we do? We talk. And talk. And talk some more.


As easy as it is for promotion people to stop listening, it doesn’t compare to the opportunities afforded programmers. As deejays, we’re paid to talk. Hey, what a great gig! Does that mean the more I talk, the more I get paid? No, but many go on as if compensated by the word.


The difference between promotion people and programmers can’t be measured in tonnage. Both talk. But with promotion people, the subject changes with the record releases.


No so most programmers. The one topic many seem suck on is “I.” That’s sad.


I was privileged enough to spend a week the other night with a young music director who had all the answers. Not that he was answering any questions. Nobody could get a word in edgewise. Here is a person whose career is like a balloon. It can go up or down…depending on hot air.


Not only was this person not listening to anybody else…he wasn’t even listening to himself! Had he stopped and listened to his own words, he would have been embarrassed by his lack of knowledge, ashamed of his unabashed ego and afraid that he was losing his mind.


The babblings of a fool will make you question your sanity…especially when you’re the fool who’s babbling.


So what does the industry do with these two insensitive groups…promoters and PDs? We insist they work together.


How crazy are we?


Promotion people don’t listen. They’re too busy talking about their records. It is sweet irony that the people they’re paid to talk with aren’t listening either. Programmers don’t want to “listen” to what a promotion person is saying. A PD will barely listen to a record, much less the rhetoric about it.


Programmers want to talk about themselves. There is no “I” in programmer or promoter, but there is in “idiot,” which is what you are when you stop listening.


Who do you think you are? You have the audacity to believe your opinion is the only one that matters? Are you so stupid to believe that if you’re talking, it must mean something? Are you insane enough to think no one else might have a better idea than you?


If you answered “yes” to any of the above, you’re guilty. You’re also an idiot and an asshole.


Our industry has become a cacophonous symphony…filled with pontification for ego’s sake. Forget cocaine, heroin or crack, record and radio execs are hooked on extemporaneous bullshit…the drug of the 90s.


What’s really sad is the ones who are the most susceptible to diarrhea of the mouth won’t believe this Editorial is about them. They can probably talk a good 15 minutest on how it’s not about them. They’re too busy talking to stop and think.


You got where you are today by listening. The question is: Where do you want to be tomorrow?


If you listen, you might find out.

Stupidity Is Timeless


I got a note from Mark McKay last week. We worked together at KFRC San Francisco, B95 Kansas City and Y106 Orlando. Mark is on the air in Kansas City and told me he was listening to old airchecks of KFRC to find bits and breaks he could use because, as he said, “…stupidity is timeless.”


It’s the best phrase I’ve heard yet to describe the radio and record business. Nowhere is stupidity more relevant than when analyzing conventions. 

Forever, all of us in our industry have been making the tiresome trek to one convention or another that promises to deliver speakers, workshops and hardware that will make our industrial lives easier. In the entertainment business, where hyperbole is next to Godliness, no statement falls as far from its promise.


Stupidity is timeless. Witness last week’s Gavin convention. Now don’t get me wrong, my good friend Dave Sholin does a great job. The convention is well-attended. It certainly is the only large convention you should attend. R&R’s convention (speaking of stupidity being timeless) will be worthless. But large conventions are becoming more of a pain in the ass instead of brain food that is promised. 

Gavin does a good job. But its success is the very thing that serves to its detriment. It’s just too big.


And can we please have a moratorium on panels? When is the last time anyone said anything worthwhile during a panel discussion? If one of the panelists happened to drop a pearl of wisdom, would anyone in the audience be awake to hear it? 

The Top 40 panel was by far the most interesting, but my legs still went to sleep. And it wasn’t because of the speakers involved. All are knowledgeable programmers who have wisdom to share. But when five people are vying for air time, you wind up with a lot of dead air. Besides, stations and markets are so different now, what is perfect for one successful station in a major market won’t work for another station in a different place. Instead of listening to Tom Poleman and Dan Kieley on the same panel talking about apples and oranges, wouldn’t it be better to listen to Tom Poleman speak for 30 minutes about what makes Z100 successful, then have the opportunity to listen to Dan Kieley take us through the same routine with KIIS? Having both on the same panel (with two or three other successful programmers) doesn’t serve the audience…or the PDs who are involved.


Panel discussions are kind of like programming by committee: There are a lot of good ideas, but by the time the ideas get out, they don’t matter any more. 

The chief complaint about conventions is that panels are boring. Yet most conventionas schedule more panels. That’s like doing call-out research and upping the rotation on songs that are showing the most burn.


Gavin manages the best large convention in our industry. But is it too large to serve the needs of those who attend? Do you not wind up seeing everyone, but spend quality time with no one? 

Can you tell I’m leading up to a point? Ah, yes: The 1998 Network 40 Summer Games in Lake Tahoe June 25-27.


There are no panels. No boring speakers. No meetings you have to doze through. And even more exciting…no awards ceremony that lasts longer than it takes to download The Beatles library on the Internet. 

There are only 200 people…100 from record companies…100 from radio. It’s a ration you can’t find in most radio station lobbies…much less the conventions.


Does that mean you learn less? Hardly. What other setting provides you the opportunity to forge relationships with your peers on a one-to-one basis? Where else can you compete in games of skill and fun with and against others in our industry? 

Would you rather listen to a boring panel discussion or ask specific, face-to-face questions to the PDs and radio executives you only glimpse from a crowd at a convention?


It’s a slam dunk. (We’ve added that to the competition this year!) 

Stupidity is timeless. For two years, we did our research to find out what the industry wanted. Last year, Network 40 took the positives, ditched the negatives and dared to do something never before attempted.


Guess what? It worked. The inaugural Network 40 Summer Games were the most successful and talked-about event of 1997. And we’re “stupid” enough to do it again this year. 

The Network 40 Summer Games is the most exclusive gathering of radio and record people in the history of our business. It’s exclusive for a reason. You can’t be all things to all people. We don’t try. By offering one-on-one opportunities with those in our industry, you have the opportunity to forge new, personal relationships that will last long after the Summer Games become history.


Those who believe relationships are made through casual dinners with 50 or more people are deluding themselves. And if there’s someone more important than you at the table, you’re totally out of luck. 

The Network 40 Summer Games provides the intimate setting that will make it easier to expand your relationships. Plus, we’ve all heard the stories about your athletic prowess. You can talk the talk…but can you walk the walk?


Stupidity is timeless. 

So is brilliance!

‘Twas The Week Before Christmas



Twas the week before Christmas and all through the nation,

Record companies shut down and stopped calling stations.

Stock options were hung on the chimney with care,

In hopes a bull market soon would be there.

I was excited, Gary was calm,

We just had come back from a bite at The Palm.

When out in the atrium there came a loud moan,

Gary said, “What in the hell’s going on?”

We dashed through the doors and what did we see,

But reindeer and Santa crashed into the tree.

We rescued the S-Man and brushed off his face,

“I can’t make it,” he said, “you must go in my place.”

“Line up the elves,” Gary yelled, getting mad.

“Come Dina,” I shouted, “Get Stephanie and Brad.”

Michelle will coordinate, Art, come along,

And Kris will be happy to say we’re all wrong.

Tiff claims a window seat so she can say,

“Bye-bye” when she throws Jeffy out of the sleigh.

EMT Greg-boy will keep us alive,

And we’ll all hear Kristen as she backseat drives.

“Don’t worry,” said Gary, “We’ll let her rip.”

We jumped in the sleigh and he cracked the whip.

“On Lazy, on Stupid…is that how it goes?”

“And Rudolph, you showboat, turn off your nose!”

“What’s in the bag?” Gary asked with a smile.

“Presents,” I answered, “for all those worthwhile.”

For Andrea and Danny, a Siamese Cat.

For Kilgo, a comparison with that of a gnat.

More money and power for cool Phill Costello.

And Father Palmese will be a rich fellow.

Curb’s crossing Country with our dear boy Ric,

A new watch for Blair…will that make him tic?

A lion for Boulos so he will be brave,

Chocolates for Lisa to help with her Crave.

A new staff and new hits for our man, Catania,

For Tipp and Reprise, another Platinum Enya.

One more big box set and a smash for Greg Thompson,

A partner for Darus so he won’t feel lonesome.

A new Island President so Joe has a boss,

More adds for Geslin, no matter the cost.

For Brenda, a baby, oops she’s got that already.

In ’98 Nancy will find her a steady.

Air conditioning for Ellis, the Mercury’s rising.

A way for Steve Leeds to stop the conniving.

For Michael, a virgin, and no, that’s not funny,

Look what’s for Stuey…the head of a bunny!

A turn that is worth it, for Ritchie-boy Bloom,

Get well to Becce, it can’t come too soon.

A computer that’s not Jive for our friend Jack Satter,

For Burt and the WORK Group, the rest of the platter.

For Karmen, our sister, an antique Whurlitzer,

And I’m going to get the coveted Pulitzer!

“That’s all well and good,” Gary laughed with much glee,

“But there’s one big question…what’s in it for me?”

I searched in the bag for any more riches,

But all I came up with was ashes and switches.

“You don’t have to worry,” through the wind Gary called,

“I don’t have a gift? Why I’ll just take them all.”

Gifts or no gifts, may I say on this date…

“Merry Christmas to all…and a great ’98!”

All She Wants To Do Is Dance


I don’t’ know what’s up with all of this Dance craze business.  Everywhere I go…every person I talk to seems to be hung up on the resurregence of Dance music.  It’s Dance this…Dance that…Dance…Dance…Dance.

Excuse me?  I certainly don’t get it.  There is absolutely, positively nothing in my life or vocabulary that can convince me that the Dance lifestyle…which includes music, clubs and clothing…is making a comeback.

I mean, just because WKTU in New York makes a tiny move, I’m supposed to do the Hustle? I think not.

Hey, I like The Night Life as much as anyone else.  And Heaven Knows, I’m constantly surrounded by people who have, on occasion, visited the Disco Saturday Night at the Viper Room, but me…I’m completely satisfied at the Y.M.C.A.

I’m the kind of person who isn’t effected by fads and changes in musical taste. Let’s face it: I broke all those records.  And even if Dance did make a huge comeback, I Will Survive.  I remember dancing the Last dance in 1985.  Of course, the Last Contest on KCBQ San Diego about December ’63 and it wasn’t really the last radio contest, so, Heaven Knows, if Disco didn’t really die, there is a precedent.

In our industry, there is not shortage of people who are quick to say, “Express Yourself.”  The fact that most of these same people live on or over the Borderline isn’t really important…expect to their immediate family.  Then there are those who say, “We Are Family,” referring to the entire industry.  However, we know this is bullshit, because it’s all about cash.  My girlfriend is in the record business and I can vouch for the fact that She Works Hard For Her Money.

Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.  I’m the first person to swear I want to party ‘til it’s 1999.  All my friends will tell you that I love to Get Up And Boogie.  I swear I Love The Nightlife.  It’s just that all of this talk about Dance music and Disco is way too much, too soon.  Mama Used To Say that you must take things slowly and consider all sources before you make any decisions.  Of course, when Mama made her famous tuna casserole, she would say, “That’s The Way (Uh-huh, Uh-huh) I Like It.” Mama was a Dancing Queen.

It might comes as a surprise to many of you to know that I once ruled the Disco.  Yes, Columbia, Mississippi had never seen the likes of the moves I made on that slick, hardwood floor.  Long before John Travolta struck that famous pose, I was definitely in Vogue.  I’ll never forget the one moment that my world turned Upside Down.  It was the Night A DJ Saved My Life.

It was a normal evening at the Knights of Columbus Hall.  All the old vets were sitting in the parking lot, grumbling about the young people who were taking over their meeting spot.  The place was jumping…the music was pumping.  The Bad Girls were purring and my words were slurring. (Beep Beep.)

Someone said, “You Should Be Dancing,” and I was.  I was working on the great new step the Second Time Around, when I got Into The  Groove.  All My Passion began to flow.  I swear, in the depths of Mississippi, I suddenly felt like a Native New Yorker.  Suddenly, something Set It Off.  There was gun fire.  Then, there was One More Shot.

It was the one that would Ring My Bell.

My friends threw me in the back of a pickup truck to take me to the hospital.  Instead, they took me to Funky Town, where I was treated Like A Virgin.  In other words, I was touched for the very first time. Although I was a little afraid, I heard a voice shouting, “More More More.” I was Fascinated until I realized the voice was mine.

Throwing caution to the wind, I ignored my pain and decided to Get Up And Boogie.  I was Too Turned On to think about the Lucky Star that had invaded my galaxy.  I don’t know what it was, but I noticed someone shouted to Dim All The Lights.  Everybody…everybody began to Dance The Night Away.  It was Like A Prayer was answered.  Heaven Must Have Sent You From Above to Turn The Beat Around.  Billie Jean and Gloria put some Hot Stuff on my wound.  I said, “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” but they said, “Shame, Shame, Shame all you have is the Night Fever.  You better get rid of it because it’s twice as bed the Second Time Around.”

The next I knew, I was Dreamin’ Of Love.  Some Nasty Girl told me it was Ladies Night and she was going to Spank me.  We wound up at MacArthur Park.  She said, “It Takes Two.”  I didn’t want to disappoint her and let her know that it only took one, so, Knock On wood, I just Let The Music Play.  I had no idea she had Sexual Healing on her mind.

I was seconds away from being In The Bush.  I was ready to Get Into The Groove with Le Freak when I realized I was Born To Be Alive.  I felt The Power.  I was sweating like crazy.  It was, after all, Summertime, Summertime.  I heard my song On The Radio and demanded that my friends take me Right Back Where We Started From.

When I got back to the club, all I could thing of was Thank God It’s Friday.

So there you have the tale of my Bad Luck days as King of the Disco.  Hey, even if it was in a small town in Mississippi, I had happy feet and for one brief moment in time, all the girls wanted to dance with me.

There was even on big fat hillbilly that wanted to Let It Whip, but that’s another story all together.

It’s a Shame when I think back on it.  Those were the days.  It was the time of 100% Pure Love.  There was the constant Temptation to Let Me Take You Dancing.  Every night was Another Night, if you know what I mean.  There certainly weren’t any I.O.U.’s being written.  I always felt like a Macho Man.

My only regret was that I had to leave Maria, the love of my life.

But that was yesterday and yesterday’s gone.  I could go on Dreamin’ Of Love for the rest of this column, but it would be a waste of time.  Dance isn’t happening.  How could anyone think so.  Even my girlfriend would agree.  I tried to get her to help me with this column, but she was busy down at the Car Wash.

Becoming Adult


Over the past several months, Network 40 has been asking a lot of questions to a lot of different people.  In a continuing effort to expand our audience and increase our TSR (Time Spent Reading), we’ve sought your input in ways to make Network 40 even more valuable.

It wasn’t long ago when Network 40 was the new kid on the block, struggling to show our personality and make new friends.  It’s funny…early on, we were one of the last picked for the basketball team; new kids always are.  Others made jokes about us and said we looked weird…until they got to know us.  Then they found out we could hit that outside jumper and rebound pretty well, and the next thing you know, we’ve been voted “Most Popular” and “Most Likely To Succeed.”

I love this business.

Anyhow, the absolute staple of Network 40 has been…and will continue to be…our desire to be a reflection of the industry we serve. We try and find out what you want…then give it to you…It’s not brain surgery.  How could it be?  We don’t have brains.


Keep It Simple, Stupid.

We can do that.

What’s not so simple is finding a way to please all of our listeners all of the time.  Which is why Network 40 continues to add new wrinkles…that and the fact that we’re all radio people here (with the possible exception of John Kilgo).  We like to hear different promotions, fresh liners and new jingles.  That’s why we’re constantly tinkering with our sound.

Plus, our industry is constantly changing.  Lewis and Clark would have a bitch charting the course of Mainstream Top 40 and the tributaries it has spawned in the past two decades.  To continue to be successful, we at Network 40 have to keep up with the social shifts and cultural changes to stay anywhere close to the cutting edge of our industry…beside, you all know we’re a shifty bunch to begin with.

After studying the Report Cards your parents signed and returned, we’ve begun to implement the changes you requested.  Two weeks ago, we debuted the Network 40 Market Profile and the Network 40 Music Research.  You wanted more information on different stations in different markets.  You also wanted music research.  So, we got together with Media Base and created the most extensive market profiles in the business.  Network 40 and Media Base did the same with music research and we now provide the industry’s only recurrent music research broken down by format as well as the top testing new songs across the country.

This week, we’re giving you more of what you’ve requested.  On page 22, you’ll find the industry’s most definitive panel of Adult Top 40 stations.

After seeking input from our readers, we came up with a list of stations that appeal to the upper demos of Mainstream Top 40…stations that are aggressive when it comes to programming, promotions and music.  Those stations make up the initial panel for this format.  As the format and stations change, additions and deletions will be made to keep the panel reflective of today’s Adult Top 40 sound.

You’ll find individual playlists of selected Adult Top 40 stations so you can see what your favorite stations are programming.

Accompanying the chart and music information will be weekly promotions and programming information on the reporting stations compiles by Adult Top 40 Editor Tiffany Eason.

What more could a mother ask?

This is only the beginning of the changes you’ll see on the pages of Network 40.  One of the biggest requests from our listeners was to expand the amount of information we accumulate to cover other formats.  In the coming weeks, you’ll see our reaction as Network 40 begins an expansion to keep you abreast of everything that’s happening in radio.

Not to worry, our award winning (hey, we gave ourselves a Chrome Lizard Award last year) coverage of Mainstreams Top 40 and its derivatives will continue unabated.  However, many of you made valid points about needing at least a thumbnail sketch of other formats.  With the major radio companies buying more and more radio stations, many Top 40 programmers are finding themselves across the hall from their “new” sister stations.  Often, the additional stations housed in the same building share sales, promotion and other support personnel.  It’s important to have, at minimum, a working knowledge of the format that might be playing on speakers at the other end of the hall.

To this end, Network 40 will be charting the music that might very well be on the newest addition to your chain by the time you finish reading this sentence.  The radio landscape is evolving faster than a new virus.  I’m amazed that the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta hasn’t put out a bulletin about it.  Maybe next week.

With the coming Presidential elections and the promises of politicians to further ease the lax restrictions that now exist, the only thing we can count on for sure is that there will be more changes in the future.

So, how do you like our changes so far?

There are other features coming that you’ll be reading about in future issues, but we don’t want to blow the entire promotion in the summer book.  Suffice it to say that Network 40 has taken all of your suggestions and we’re working to implement them as quickly and efficiently as possible.  If we’re reflecting your wants and needs, then we’re going to keep getting our picture in the yearbook under those “Most Popular” and “Most Likely To Succeed” categories.

If we haven’t connected on issues you would like covered or changes you would like to see on the pages of Network 40, we’re only a free long-distance call away at (800) 443-4001.  Our request lines are open 24-hours, seven days a week.  However, if you’re calling to request more naked pictures on Page 6, don’t bother.

We’ve gotten that message.

Beside, that’s a 900 number.

Hold your calls, please, we have a winner!



There is a cancer among us.  A cancer growing daily for which, so far, there is no cure.

The radio and record industries have always operated on an “I need to know” basis.  Rumors and gossip have fed the entertainment business forever.  As a part of that business, both those in radio and records have been a part of it.  There’s no way to keep from it.  We feed daily on “Did you hear about…” and “What’s going on?” 

When I first entered this business, I asked a wise old veteran why this industry was so interested in rumors.  He told me, “Because most of them come true.”

The wise old crone was right.  Knowledge is a powerful thing in any business.  Inside knowledge is all powerful in our business.

Much like my politically correct (it had a different definition in those days) father, who would buy “worthless” timber land because he knew where the next highway was planned, most successful executives in our business keep one ear to the ground in anticipation of the next seismic shifts.

Taken as a part of the whole, there’s nothing wrong with “good” gossip.  It serves all of our interests from time to time.  It even got me my first major-market programming gig.  While working in Phoenix, I started a rumor that I was going to Boston to program WRKO.  At that time, no one from WRKO had contacted me and I knew no one in the RKO organization.  The rumor made the trades, the GM at WRKO read it and called me for an interview.  Bottom line:  The rumor came true.  I left Phoenix to program WRKO in Boston.

Rumors and gossip boil down into two categories: good and bad.  The good rumors are positive statements about people in our business that might be moving to better jobs.  These rumors occur daily, often, as outlined above, started by the very individuals who are seeking better positions.  Having this industry say positive things about you is like an actor’s name in lights.  How are you going to conquer the world if nobody knows your name?  I’ve always encouraged “good” rumors.  How can we go wrong by saying positive things about our colleagues?

The “bad” rumors are another thing entirely.  These are ugly statements about people in our business…disparaging comments about their ability, connections, actions, looks, etc.  As much as I wish these “bad” rumors would disappear, they won’t.  Because we are in a business that feeds on itself, these “bad” rumors will continue to be a fact…just as those classified as “good.”

However, our industry has always had a built-in immune system that fought these “bad” rumors.  Most of us refuse to perpetrate these ‘bad” rumors…particularly if they are about our friends.  When these “bad rumors run into enough defense, they go away.

Unfortunately, these “bad rumors have a new carrier…one that is much harder to combat.  With the advent of the computer system, unreliable rumors and gossip are allowed to run amuck.  There is very little we can do about it.  Anyone and everyone with a modem can dial up AOL and say virtually anything and everything about others.  The cowards among us (virtually all of those using the gossip channels on AOL) are allowed to spout vile and venom without fear of reprisal.  There’s nobody there to say, “Wait a minute, that’s not true,” or “Hey, you’re talking about a friend of mine,”

We’ve become entangled in the web of the Internet.  If you’re on AOL, you’re S.O.L.

Lately, the rash of ugliness has broken across the face of the industry in big splotches.  More than one record company president was vilified to the point of predicting the demise of their careers.

Certain promotion people have been crucified for a variety of usually senseless reasons.  We’re talking drawn and quartered here.  More down was predicted.

A couple of weeks ago, a particularly nasty tirade appeared on AOL about our opposites at Hits.  Because the message was so well written (I guess I’m supposed to take that as a compliment), several of my colleagues called to ask if I was the author.

I wasn’t.  If I had written it, I would have signed my name.  Whether or not some of the comments are true is not the point.  The point is that these messages are written by cowards who hide behind anonymity.  They take shots with no fear of recrimination.

I understand that some people think this cloak of secrecy might be helpful. Because no one knows who is leaving the messages, some feel safe in commenting on people in power.  Some may use this forum to criticize their boss or their company.  Certain ugly truths may come to light that would otherwise remain hidden.  I have serious reservations.  Throwing ink into the washer with out a bottle of bleach handy can leave stains that will last forever.

Talking ugly about others or starting “bad” rumors is a fact of life in our industry.  As I mentioned before, in some cases, it is even healthy.  But talking with others always  provides a stopgap.  You might be wrong.  Someone might change your mind.  If you’re way out of line, someone might sue you.

Put simply, to write whatever you want without admitting you wrote it is chickenshit.

Network 40 doesn’t use rumors from AOL.  We don’t read them.  No one should.  It’s not right.  And there’s another reason.  Anonymity isn’t guaranteed.  Several people haven’t  covered their tracks well enough recently and have been busted.


If everyone in the industry stopped feeding the gossip-mongers on AOL, this useless bullshit would cease.  Though you can dismiss it as no big deal, it is, at the very least, time-consuming.  If someone writes something about you, you’re going to be fielding calls from people asking, “Did you read what someone wrote about on AOL?”  If something is written about your company or boss, you’ll be getting the same calls.

Of course, just by writing this column, I’m sure I’ll be the target of some nameless coward next week.  Who knows, if it’s well-written, with no mistakes or grammatical errors, maybe some of you will call Hits and ask them if they wrote it.

Everyone knows it couldn’t be R&R.

Alternative Ending


The radio was blaring, “The thrill is gone…gone away.”

She made a face. “What is that crap?”

Before I could tell her the tuner was scanning, she punched a button, twisted the volume knob and KROQ was pulsing like a bright neon light.

“Know who that is?” She asked

Fast ball.  Right down the middle.

“Nirvana,” I sneered.  “What is this, a test?”

Her eyebrows formed semi-circles as she shot me a look across the bridge of her nose.  “What does that group have to do with tonight?”

It was a test.  I hit the ball out of the park.

“The guitar player from Nirvana is in the Foo Fighters.”

She wasn’t impressed.

I brought her with me to make sure I was on the cutting edge of the Alternative scene.  As Network 40 is getting closer to the Commercial Alternative section we’ve been planning, I needed to involve myself deeper in the netherworld.  She would be my guide.  Not that I needed much guidance.  I reminded her that I had invented the format.

She still wasn’t impressed

“Put the car phone under the seat so no one will steal it,” she said.

First there was the diner at some Italian restaurant with Jeffrey, Chris and Brian from Capitol Records.  Lopes kept quoting from The Satanic Verses.  I couldn’t figure out why and didn’t try very hard.  I couldn’t talk with Jeffrey.  He was too busy hanging with his boy, Robert Woods.  Brian was talking with her.  He told her I invented the format.

She still wasn’t impressed

The trouble started at the Troubadour.  Supergrass was putting on a show and I was bogarting a warm, watery beer.

“Yo, chick, what’s up?”

I heard the voice behind me.  She rolled her eyes.

“Gerry,” she said, “this is Zandar.”

I turned around and immediately wished I hadn’t.

“Dude, it’s good to meet you,” Zandar shouted over the band.

I nodded.  There was no need to speak.

“What are you guys doing?”

She told him we were listening to the band, then heading to see the Foo Fighters.

He was impressed.

“Got any extra tickets?”

I pretended not to hear him.

“I don’t have any money, but I can give you some of this.”  He held out his palm.

I shook my head.  “Been there, done that.”

“Dude, It’ll make you see Jesus.”

I thought I was looking at him.  Except that in all the pictures I had seen, Jesus had never been depicted with fluorescent blue hair.

“I’ll take a pass on the pills, Zandar.”  I handed him a shot of tequila.  “But I’ll share a couple of these with you.”

“Far out, dude,” he shouted.  “What is it?”

“Just drink it.”  I knocked mine back.

She wasn’t impressed.

The hype on the Foo Fighters is big.  But not big enough.  The band was, in Zander’s words, “Awesome, dude.”  We stayed through the last chord, then headed for Before Dawn, a little known after-hours club just off the strip.  She asked for the phone to check her messages.  Zander was lying on the hood, trying to catch bugs in his mouth.

We were half-way through the first set of Secret (LA’s best unsigned band) when a truly Alternative urge hit me.

“I want a tattoo.”

She looked at me.  Impressed. Finally.

“I’ll show you where I got mine.”

“Great.” I took a step back and waited for her to show me.

She made that face again.  “No, I mean the parlor.  It’s right down the street.”

I took another shot of courage.  “Let’s go.”

She and I walked into the night.  Zander was right behind.

Inside the tattoo parlor, I was met by a half-naked man with no hair.  Lot’s of tattoos, though.  She was on a first-name basis with him.

“My friend wants a tattoo.”

He looked at Zandar in disgust.

She grabbed my arm.  “No, this one.”

He gave me the once over.  “What did you have in mind?”

I shrugged.  “Something small on my butt.”

I got the look he’d just given Zandar.  “On your butt?  Then it’ll be hidden.  Why don’t you let me put a giant eagle across your chest?”

“Why don’t you kiss my ass before you put a needle in it,” I snapped.

Zandar passed out in corner.

She pulled me over to a wall covered with pictures of tattoos before the guy could put a needle in my eye.  “Let’s pick one of these.”

I passed on different variations of “Mother.”

“How about a rose?” she suggested.


She pointed to a dagger.


“Well, what do you want?”

I was about to say I didn’t know, when I saw it.  I took her hand and placed her finger on it.

She looked up at me.  Really impressed.

“That’s perfect.” A smile.  “I’ll bet you invented that.”

She was catching on.

I dropped my jeans and Dr. Frankenstein went to work.  I felt no pain.  When it was done, we left.  The tattoo guy had Zandar spread out on a table, the flying eagle stitched across his chest.

In the car, she asked for the phone to check her service again.  I fumbled under the seat for a while with no luck.

“Maybe I put it under yours.”

She searched for a minute, then sat up.  “The phone is gone,” she sang softly, “gone away.”

I was impressed.

Later we compared tattoos.  Hers was in a place where she couldn’t see it without a mirror.  But I could.  Mine was in a place where I couldn’t see it without a mirror.  But she could.

You think you’ll ever see mine?

A lot of things are going to happen…but that ain’t one of them.

Cagle For Congress


In the past two weeks, I’ve had more political discussions that when I ran for Congress. For better or worse, those of us in the radio and record industries have been dragged kicking and screaming into the political arena. And judging from the majority of those involved in these discussions, most in our business are extremely limited in our knowledge of the real power that affects our everyday lives.

It’s time to go to school.

There is no required reading, except for these Editorials. The nature of our business is that most don’t (or don’t have time to) read. However, before you engage in a political dialogue and risk embarrassing yourself, you should prepare.

Tonight, rent three videos and watch them in this order: The Candidate, starring Robert Redford; Blaze, with Paul Newman; and Clear And Present Danger starring Harrison Ford.

You’ll glean an important overview from this group, but the real truth is summed up in one scene; When an official is asked what the administration wants, he answers, “This administration wants what every new administration wants…to get reelected.”

The most important fact you need to grasp is that politics is big business. The biggest. Forget Forbes 500. Politics is the real king. Always has been. Always will be. If you look at political posturing as merely posturing, you miss the big picture.

In the beginning, it’s about morals and beliefs. I believe very few get into politics to make money. Their reasons are varied, but most begin the trek with lofty intentions. Is there one who doesn’t start out wanting to right wrongs, correct injustices and make the ultimate difference in the lives of others? I think not. But somewhere along the way, it gets twisted.

Running for office changes a person. As a record person, you can almost relate. When a PD tells you he doesn’t like your record, it’s a blot, but it’s not personal. You’re promoting a product. As a candidate, you ask people to vote for you. When they say no, because they don’t like you, it’s personal. Very personal. And it hurts. Trust me. I speak from experience.

Magnify that by an opponent who is saying nasty things about you. You’re accused of being the worst in the world…a liar, a cheat, a totally worthless person.

Somewhere in the middle of the campaign, a candidate changes. It becomes less about loft ideals and more about winning the race. You can’t implement your grandiose plans unless you’re elected. It turns into ego and power. You’re better than your opponents. You want to beat the others. It’s eat or be eaten.

And if you’re elected, the twist becomes a full-scale, supersonic, Bell helicopter spin. As a PD, you think you have pressure from record promoters? Get real. A U.S. Senator gets wined, dined and pressured by the heads of the largest companies in the nation, by the richest men in the world, by presidents of foreign countries. Compare “please play this record because we really believe in this artist” with “if you don’t vote for this foreign aid package, a million people in my country will die of starvation.” Or, “If you play this record, we’ll send two of your winners to a concert,” with “Vote for this bill and my company will open a factory in your district and employ 10,000 people. On second thought, don’t try. There is no comparison.

Politics isn’t about business…it is the business. And the money spent on directing the business is obscene. The record industry spends a fortune on promotion. It’s not even a drop in the Congressional lobbying budget Money spent lobbying Congress makes the profits of the entire record industry look like a modest tip.

To run a successful political campaign, you have to have a message, an organization and cash. Not in that order. Your message means nothing unless the voters hear it and hear it enough to believe it. And hear it one more time to stimulate them to vote. How much money? As much as it takes. And sometimes that isn’t enough.

Do you wonder why politicians pay attention to special interest groups? They get out the vote. They help politicians get elected. They make contributions. Definitely not in that order.

Are you getting the picture?

With all due respect to our elected officials, nobody draws a crowd like a record star. Isn’t it time we got off our collective butts and let our voices and choices be heard? If the record and radio industries came together, we would have the most effective lobbying group in history.

Radio stations should have voter registration concerts. A person need only register to vote to attend. Every record sold should have a voter registration card attached. Every concert should have voter registration booths. Radio stations should promote and recording artists perform free at events where all money raised goes to a political action committee to lobby for our rights.

Can you imagine what would happen if we all united together to promote better government? A united effort on the part of the music world…those who write and perform it, and those who enjoy it, could make the fringe groups obsolete. In our democracy, majority rules, yet because of the political system, small minorities are capable of making an impact because they do something.

We’ve got a message, but that’s not enough. Our elected officials need to hear it. I suggest we start a political action committee to promote our beliefs. Let’s unite to support politicians who reflect our perspectives. Let’s vote. Let’s help them get elected. Let’s make contributions.

Since I’m the big-mouth who came up with this idea, I’ll get off my butt and make the first move. I’ll head the group. I’ll motivate the members. I’ll file the papers. I’ll even name it: the Totally United Political Action Committee.


Are you with me?

Summer’s Coming


Okay, I know its June and maybe this column is a month or two late, but if you’ve been following along for the past couple of weeks, you know it’s been strange in Los Angeles. And that includes the weather. It was Memorial Day Weekend before the thermometer broke 85 Dees-grees and the plain truth is that our environment more closely resembles that of San Francisco than hot, sunny Southern California. So forgive me if summer came a little late to L.A. and I have been a little slow to react to this latest Heat Wave. We are all products of our environment and I’ve been too bundled u against those freezing 60-Dees-grees winds to work on my tan…or on an Editorial about summer programming.

It is a fact that summer changes everything. You can have joy, you can have fun, you can have Seasons In The Sun, but be careful that you don’t turn this summer into a Season Of The Witch. You get Hot Blooded (check it and see) and it will Make You Sweat. No other season is more anticipated than summer. Except for those who are completely whacked out of the brains anticipating the winter so they can snow ski (and I’ve never trusted anyone who looks forward to frostbite and the possibility of broken bones), everyone looks forward to summer.

It is necessary to adjust the programming of your radio station to a sound more compatible with the changes in the lifestyles of your audience. School’s Out For Summer. People are spending more time outside. Swimming, hiking, picnics and such are the norm. So you’ve got to match your radio station to the mood. That’s the reason for this Editorial, to suggest some changes that might be helpful.

So the baseball strike dulled the expectations a little, but who cares? Most of the people I know use the games as an excuse to sit in a seat, drink a lot of beer, yell at the top of their lungs for no good reason and soak up a little sun. When The Heat Is On, standings don’t mean a thing until the World Series. By then, it’s almost winter, so in reality, the strike didn’t have that much effect.

Summertime And The Living Is Easy (fish are jumping and the cotton is high). I love that song, though I never understood how the cotton being high worked for or against who or what I would be doing for the long, hot months ahead. The living is definitely easier. You want to move slower in the summer…have to move slower. If not, you might burn yourself right out…fry yourself to a crisp…spontaneously combust in front of company. I don’t really know if the fish are jumping or not. It seems like those large-mouthed bass would be hugging the bottom, looking for a cool spring to chill their gills. Maybe the lyrics are referring to the late evening hours when those same bass might take a jump or two at low-flying insects. I could buy that in a stretch, but cotton being high?

For those of you who have never had the pleasure of picking cotton, let me assure you that although the actual labor might be a touch easier if the plants are larger, there is nothing pleasant about the actual picking, be it high or low.

It is a lead-pipe cinch that you can extend yourself forever, have an Endless Summer or go full-tilt boogie All Summer Long. Just Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying. Of course, you should have been preparing when it was Almost Summer, but remember, it’s never too late to catch up.

Whether or not you program on the far West Coast and have a Palisades Park or a Sausalito Summer Night, it’s always important to have Hot Fun In The Summertime on those Sunny Afternoons. You can have all the Boys Of Summer making a Bus Top to check out the California Girls in different station promotions. The bikini, Hot Legs and wet T-shirt contest might be old, but they aren’t broke, so there’s no need to fix them.

If your mind is a little hazy, all you have to do is take yourself back to Suddenly Last Summer and you’ll remember the promotions and Things We Did Last Summer to help you out. If there’s nothing else, you can always fall back on a Summer Of Love. Just don’t get too far off in dreamland and let your ego blow the lid off. It’s good to remember When You’re Hot, You’re Hot (and when you’re not, you’re not).

When it gets Too Hot, don’t forget that it’s Summer In The City. A free concert could work to cool things off. If you plan it down to the last detail, you can have everyone Dancing In The Streets. You just never know whether this season will be as famous as the Summer of ’42 or the Summer of ’69 until we’re into it.

Just because it’s cooking in the daylight hours, don’t forget those Summer Nights. There are plenty of Night Moves to be made, especially on those Hot Summer Nights. You could turn those slow, lazy evenings into Endless Summer Nights. When the Summer Wind comes rolling in, it’s amazing what can happen in the House Of The Rising Sun. An after-dark contest Up On The Roof could be very nice, especially if it’s Sealed With A Kiss.

Make sure your programming is upbeat and happy or you could be blamed for a Cruel Summer. And no matter how nice it is, don’t forget that things could get ugly. Every doctor will tell you that there ain’t no cure for the Summertime Blues.

I could spend this entire column commenting (try saying that fast 10 times in a row) on internal changes you should make…like adjusting your clocks. Maybe it’s time to give those worn stopsets a break and schedule them in other parts of the hour. Give the audience a subliminal change as their habits change so they’ll start Groovin’ (on a Sunday afternoon). I urge you to be extremely careful with your air talent. When the Blackhole Sun burns down, everyone gets a little bit crazy and if your staff is good, they’re all teetering on the brink anyhow. When the thermometer hits the high notes, it might be just little thing to make them snap. Now is the time to give your hardest workers n extra day or two off. Buy them some Cheap Sunglasses. It will keep them fresher and might stop them from taking your head off with an AK47. Take the curtains down from the control room windows and Let The Sunshine In.

I was going to suggest some song titles you should program this summer, but I’ve run out of room. I guess I’ll See You In September, just Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.

Tubing It


It is that time of year when everyone is fighting to be #1. The good news is that someone will be in the top spot. The bad news? Everyone else won’t be.

I’m not talking about the NBA playoffs where 12 multi-millionaires will try and hide their grief when they lose the playoffs and drive into the sunset in their custom cars. I’ll save any feelings of remorse for programmers when the down book hits their desks with an awful thud.

I programmed more than my share of great radio stations, and those of you familiar with my career know I was lucky to have more than my share of success, but I can say, without reservation, no other emotion can come close to the empty feeling of a down book.

Programming is weird science at best. Let’s face it…none of us really knows what we’re doing. It’s a complex crapshoot with the odds favoring the house. Although we all like to brag and pretend we know it all when the book goes up, the truth is, everyone breathes a sigh of relief when the numbers jump. With the possible exception of Steve Smith (who might actually know what he’s doing), can anyone say they haven’t experienced a down book?

Three Dog Night sang, “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do,” and they were right. If you ever pull a “one” in the book, you will be the loneliest person in the station. It won’t last long because you’ll soon be out on the street, but for a brief, frozen moment in time, you’ll find depressing fascination in total isolation.

I speak from experience. I am the genius who tubed WAPP New York down to that magic number and managed to live to tell about it. (Actually, it was a 1.7, but when it starts with a “one,” it doesn’t really matter what comes after the decimal point.) I couldn’t find anyone who would look me in the eye. My secretary went home sick, the jocks came in just minutes before their airshifts, the sales staff holed up in the local bar and the general manager refused to take my calls. I phoned my girlfriend for solace. She left a message on the answering machine that she was moving out…she got a job at Z100 answering Scott Shannon’s request lines.

You’ll only get comfort (for a while) from record company promotion people. The good ones will call immediately to tell you not to believe Arbitron, that everyone they know listens to your station. They close by hitting you up for an add, hoping they’ll get one more shot before you get blown out.

So, what do you do when you tube it? Conventional wisdom tells you to straighten your back and find the silver lining in that otherwise dark cloud. As much as we curse Arbitron, we can be thankful for the tonnage of data the company provides. Look closely and find those demos that show promise. Bolster the air staff. They’re as scared as you and need you to be strong in the face of imminent danger. March into the general manager’s office and provide an instant game plan to turn the ratings around. Accept the responsibility and take it like a champion.

Of course, that’s all conversation. It’s the right thing to do…probably the most professional way to approach it…but it won’t matter.

As a veteran of many down books, I had the time and talent to develop a strategy to face the beast and breathe fire in its face. I call it, “The 10 Tenents of Tubing.”

#1:       Blame it on a bad drop. Arbitron is famous for seeking out the exact households that hate your station. For this book, they managed to find them all. They have a personal vendetta to make sure you fail. Blame it on them.

#2:       It’s all of those terrible sales promotions you had to run. If it weren’t for the clutter, you would have been in double-digits.

#3:       Your competition out-spent you 10-to-one. If you had the budget they had, you would have gone up. Absolutely.

#4:       Demand a trip to Beltsville to personally study the diaries. You’ve heard at least three other stations had diaries and those entries tainted the results of the entire sample. All you need is three days and you’ll have the whole book recalled. (If you’re lucky, by the time you return, the bad news will have blown over and you can slink back into your office and avoid the bullet to the brain.)

#5:       It was the consultant’s fault. (My personal favorite.) Say this with a great degree of animosity and self-confidence. Blame everything on the consultant, from the music to the promotions to the format. But make sure you do this quickly. Rest assured the consultant will do the same to you. Strike quickly before you’re hamstrung.

#6:       Tearfully blame it on your evil, twin personality. Explain that there are two people inside of you…the good one and the bad one. Unfortunately, the bad one took control at the start of the book, but promise it will never happen again.

#7:       Don’t mention the book. Do, however, bring up the young thing the manager has been seeing on the sly. Explain that you would never share your knowledge with the GM’s spouse.

#8:       Leave on an extended vacation, the thought being that if they can’t find you, they can’t fire you. If you take this action, clean your personal effects from your office. They might not find you, but they can find your replacement. Six of them are already sitting in the lobby.

#9:       Immediately enter a drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic. It doesn’t matter whether you need to, but it buys you at least 30 days, the company has to pay the bills and they can’t fire you until the treatment is complete.

#10:     Quit. Be loud and be proud about it. Accept no blame or responsibility. Say the station is screwed up, the business sucks and you’re leaving to spend more time with your family. Then take the first job that is available.

If none of these work, you’re on your own. It is healthy, however, to remember we work in a business of intangibles. Much of our success depends on particulars out of our control. Don’t take too much credit when you’re doing well or you’ll get an equal amount of blame when it all goes to hell. Also, another book and another chance to succeed is only three months away.

It might be in your best interest to remember the old axiom: “There’s never a horse that couldn’t be rode and never a rider that couldn’t be throwed.” You aren’t a genius until you win the Nobel Prize.

Even with it, you’re going to be in trouble after a down book. Ask Jimmy Carter.