August 27th, 1999

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck.

Good, Bad And Ugly


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

To wit:

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

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

Ugly:  You’re in them.

Good:  You work for PolyGram.

Bad:  Your company is purchased by Seagram.

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

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

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

Ugly:  Your daughter has them.

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

Bad:  He makes the restaurant reservations.

Ugly:  The restaurant is in Paris.

Good:  Your son is finally maturing into a man.

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

Ugly:  So are you.

Good:  Your record was added at a radio station.

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

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

Good:  Your husband takes a sudden interest in fashion.

Bad:  He’s a cross-dresser.

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

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

Bad:  You lose all your money.

Ugly:  The Program Director asks you for a loan.

Good:  The postman is delivering your mail early.

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

Ugly:  You gave him nothing for Christmas.

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

Bad:  The rest of the station dropped drastically.

Ugly:  Your morning man is Howard Stern.

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

Bad:  She keeps interrupting.

Ugly:  With corrections.

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

Bad:  The station manager hires a consultant.

Ugly:  The consultant’s name is Rusty Walker.

Good:  Your wife isn’t talking to you.

Bad:  She wants a divorce.

Ugly:  She’s an attorney.

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

Bad:  He wants a check for $10,000.

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

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

Bad:  As an intern.

Ugly:  Working for the President.

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

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

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

Good:  Your four best friends are your neighbors.

Bad:  They are all good with sharp objects.

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

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

Bad:  She gets drunk at the station Christmas party.

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

Good:  Jesus Christ returns to earth.

Bad:  He wants you on the phone.

Ugly:  He’s calling from Salt Lake City.

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

Bad:  You recognize your wife’s voice.

Ugly:  And your daughter’s.

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

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

Ugly:  It’s bigger than yours.

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

Bad:  The station is sold.

Ugly:  To Heftel.

Good:  Network 40.

Bad:  Gavin.

Ugly:  R&R.

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

Bad:  Andrea Ganis is on the phone.

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


February 4th, 2000

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s all today.



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

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

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

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

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

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

When will it happen again?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That, my friends, would be Godzilla!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t even know the lizard.

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.

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.