This week, Paradis and Dr. Swain spoke in a one-on-one interview in Part 2.
Here is the transcript of that interview:
CP: How did you make the choice to pursue academia when making the choice regarding your career path?
CS: Well, I anticipated that I would become a University professor or choose academia for a career. When I did get into college, and the job market. I was only interested in being prepared to get a well paying job and at that time I had set my ambitions on becoming a store manager at a boutique in the mall. I just assumed that I would manage a store at a mall. Growing up as a child. I can tell you that of the 12 children, my mother would say that I was the most serious. I can remember always having this unresolved tension from a feeling that there was something I was supposed to do. I never felt I fit in with my family. I was very, very shy—so shy that I would literally forget how to speak. I could be wanting, needing, something, you know, asking for a piece of bread or something and I would just be frozen. Do you know that expression ‘cat got your tongue’.. I was like a live version of cat got your tongue because if there were times when I just couldn’t formulate words, but my mother said that, I was kind of skittish—that I used to hide behind in fear of people. I don’t know why but I felt as if I had been dropped out of space. Becoming a University professor and the person I am today, that’s not something that I sat down one day and said, ‘oh, I want to become a professor, I’m going to have this media platform.’ That was the furthest thing from my mind.’
CS: I was a work study student with 10 hours, but the regular employees would not show up and they would have a crisis, and I would work nights, or weekends or whenever they had a crisis. So, the director of the library created a full-time job for me nights and weekends 40 hours a week, and I hit that job while I was getting my Bachelor’s Degree. I went to school during the day and I went to the library at night to work circulation. It was a job where there were not a lot of people using the library, I was in the library, I could bring my children there and was surrounded by all those books. That’s when I first realized that I could write a book. I looked at all those books and I realized that if those people could write a book, then I could write a book, too.
CP: And not just one book, but many successful books. You also went on to be a guest analyst or panelist for network television news, networks on both sides of the political spectrum. How did that come to fruition?
CS: I spent my life being very very shy, having the Christian conversion experience in 1999. And I felt that God removed my fear of public speaking and He impressed on my mind He’d given me a message bigger than me and that I should focus on pleasing Him in the message which enabled me to speak. So then that’s when I started doing media, and here I am today. But it started back then, God just totally lifted the fear off me.
CP: Wow. What an incredible Journey and powerful story to be able to share, and inspire and empower others.
CS: God has empowered me in ways that I never imagined and he’s taken away my fear, not only public speaking, but my fear of death. That’s why I can be bold, is because I believe God has called me to speak truth. And that’s where but the consequences to myself. That’s why I can do what I do and I think ‘how did I end up at Princeton?’ or ‘how did these things happen?’ God put certain people in my path. All kinds of people. But, at the end of the day, I feel like God elevated me to the position, and gave me the platform. And I was not even called into the Kingdom to be saved and to be a follower of Jesus Christ, until after I had been tenured at Princeton, after I had won National prizes and after I had made a splash. Then He put into motion circumstances that led to my conversion. So, the people that want to discount me or call me all sorts of names, it’s a little bit more difficult because I had their Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, and they say ‘Oh, she used to be a great scholar’ but she lost her mind, I say that because they’re the ones that gave me the awards and the prizes in general.
CP: When did that transition from Democrat to becoming more conservative and ultimately Republican begin?
CS: When I became a Christian, I gradually became more conservative, because I was a Democrat when I had my conversion experience. But, as I grew in my faith, I became more and more conservative. As I became more conservative and I started speaking out, that’s when the political left came against me. So, I would not have been tenured, won prizes, or be who I am if I had been a Christian, publically, I believe, back during the time when I was working very hard, you know to make my mark.
CP: So it’s safe to say you’ve always valued hard work?
CS: I’ve always believed, you know, in America. I’ve always been proud to be an American and I always believed that you worked hard enough that you could overcome the circumstances of your birth, and I’ve never viewed myself as handicapped because black or female, or born in poverty; never have viewed those as handicaps. I think, had I seen myself as handicapped, maybe I would not have worked as hard.
CP: You certainly have led an incredible life. As far as your role now, what message is most important to share with other Americans and how do you go about delivering that message?
CS: I believe in what I’m doing in this mission, and I believe that the American people need to awaken. And that they need to realize that our Constitution is all we have and then we stray so far from it, American will not exist. And so, those are the things that really motivate me and propel me forward. I try not to attack people. But, I try not to be ugly.
CP: I know that you’re using your voice, more than ever, with your podcast and recently, how well-received the Prager U piece and interview on Candace Owens’ show were. There have been so many positive reactions and it seemed so genuinely enjoyable for both yourself Candace.
CS: That was the first time I had anything more than an extended conversation with her. The one released on January 11, ‘Let Me Teach You About Racism’ that one got 2.3 million views very quickly, within seven days, but it got stuck at 2.3 million, the last time I looked.
That video, with Candace has million views and if you total up all my Prager work, which includes my individual videos and interviews on Prager U and shows like Candace’s, close to about 70 million people have seen me at some point. I’m speaking about issues that a number of people think are important.
CP: And you are doing the podcast now, are you enjoyIng it?
CS: I do enjoy it. And the interview is a different time of years. I mean, I’m interviewing more young people. I’m going to be interviewing an actress, Samarie Armstrong, who was under fire a few months ago. She got in trouble because she stood up for America. But, I believe I’m making a difference through my podcast, and with my show conversation. And if I was on a network, I would be concerned about getting canceled, because I had offended someone. And so, I’m building my own brand, slowly. I’m in control of it. But of course, like Twitter, particularly, Facebook could take me off, YouTube could take me out. I’m on the other platforms. I’m very much aware that we live in a time where when you speak in truth, you’re going to offend people and there’s a cost to pay. But I’ve never been tempted to get off YouTube, Facebook or Twitter because they might take me off. I don’t want to just speak to people who agree with me. I think it’s more important to reach a broader audience and it’s okay if trolls follow me, and as long as they’re not attacking me, I will respond to them when I can. I just want the dialogue.
CP: Absolutely. The ability to have the conversations that people may disagree with but tactfully without attacking those who may have a differing opinion from yours. I did want to ask about the impact that Lou Dobbs and Don Imus, either deliberately or unknowingly, had on your professional journey with the media. One of the more pivotal moments having to do with Imus. Being that it was such a significant time in your career, I wanted to ask about your experience with his program and eventually, becoming a returning panelist on network news..
CS: I had met Lou Dobbs at Vanderbilt, maybe two or three weeks before the Imus story broke, about his comment about the women’s basketball team. At the time, I had a new book, this was 2007, it was on immigration. So, I was hoping that I would be Lou Dobbs’ show about to speak about my book, but when I got the phone call from his bookers, they said, ‘Mr. Dobbs wanted us to call you about the Don Imus story. And at the time, I had almost no television experience, when they asked me about the story, and what I said, it really went viral. I said that as a black woman, I was more offended by the rappers degrading women all the time, and actually felt like because they were doing it, that Imus felt like he could do the same thing. But, I believe I was the first person to draw parallels to the rappers and how they continually degraded women. After that, Lou Dobbs, himself, called me and he told me that he wanted me to be a regular and that he was going to give me a megaphone for my voice. And I eventually became a paid contributor to CNN Lou Dobbs. That lasted for a couple of years. I was totally inexperienced, but what I did say resonated with the public, and it got picked up and, and at that time, I drew attention to the culture of rappers how they degraded black women.
CS: I was totally inexperienced at the time and I think that, you know, TV will stand by and want you to go fast, fast, fast. But more recently, I’ve been on some shows where you have more time to develop more challenging ideas. But, I don’t just want to spout off, I really want to think about what I’m saying and what it means. But, I also believe, if I have this platform, there are things that need to be spoken. What I say resonates with people, because some of them may have had the same thoughts, but they didn’t know how to express it. And so when I say it, then that’s like, it’s an aha moment for a lot of people and it crystallizes what other people feel and what they’re thinking. A lot of times, it’s not the deep gray and things I’m saying it’s more of, I can look at something that everyone’s been looking at, and I can call it out for what it is, and then they recognize that I’m right and that resonates with them.
CP: I mean, that sounds like it’s your gift?
CS: I do believe I have a prophetic gifting. I’m able to see things before other people. So I recognize that about myself. But I know that God gave me this platform, and then I’m answering the call to speak and not worrying about the consequences, because if I’m worried about the consequences. So, I have to trust the process. I have had a few opportunities. I believe that if there’s something I’m supposed to speak on, the opportunities will come.
CP: Well, that groundedness has to provide a lot of comfort, because that is not exactly the norm in this industry. It is what makes you so stand out so much and sparkle because you do genuinely think about everything. Words have repercussions and consequences and there are messages that you don’t want that attached to your name. I think a lot of people fail to be deliberate with their words or comprehend the magnitude of what they do say.
CS: I think when a person like me has a platform, they have a responsibility to think about the implications of what they want to do and say, and this weighs on me with the media. There are some books I need to write and I want to have a more lasting impact. For me, I’m always thinking ‘okay, how can I balance what I’m doing?’ I’m currently doing my podcast, my internet TV show and I do think about radio. But, when it comes to meeting with people, and the media interviews and all these things like that, I need to carve out time that I can write, I can rest, I can exercise. I feel like my life is not always as balanced as it could be and should be. So, I’m approaching the season where I want to be able to spend more time writing, thinking and maybe relaxing.
CP: Well you’ve definitely been busy and I appreciate you giving me so much of your valuable time. I’m just going to wrap it up with a little bit of word association. So, just share the first word that comes to mind when you hear said person’s name. I can’t imagine anybody better for us to kick it off with than Candace Owens.
CP: Rush Limbaugh?
CP: Don Imus?
CP: Steve Bannon?
CP: Mike Huckabee?
CP: President Trump?
CP: Lou Dobbs?
CP: Laura Ingram?
CP: And for yourself, what would you like people to associate Dr. Carol Swain with?
CS: I think mature, speaker, transparency. I tend to be very transparent. When people say, ‘oh, you should never do this’ or ‘you should never let people know what you’re thinking..’ I believe in transparency. I want to be authentic. I want to be real. I want to be transparent. My decision to wear my hair naturally, after many years of straightening my hair and wearing wigs and weaves. I feel like to be authentic, you have to be who you are—that includes how you look.
I’m just trying to reach people using as many platforms as possible. And people can follow me as a supporter on Facebook, and Twitter and now TikTok.
CP: I will be sure to include all of the ways to follow your work at the conclusion of the interview. Are there any other projects you’ve been working on?
CS: Everything is on the website BeThePeopleNews.com. Recently, my show Conversations with Dr. Carol Swain, which is that intimate, huge Internet TV show kind of setting, has been made available as a podcast, so people that want to listen, can through any one of the platforms.
I have so many new things going on. But it’s all about communicating and getting it out. Using my voices and doing the things I believe God has called me to do. I do know that along the way, I may be shut down, but I will just keep going until it happens.
CP: Well, I love your attitude. It’s so infectious. It makes me feel like I can, you know, go out and change the world after my conversation with Dr. Carol Swain.
CS: I mean, that’s what I want to do. I love that this is happening. People have approached me about running for office. I say that I’ve had the conversation but I think about if through my various platforms, which includes my YouTube videos, you can reach young people and excite them and they can go out and change the world. I can have a great impact moment motivating people and equipping them, and maybe then, I can become a member of Congress. But if you think about my life and the impact it’s going to have, I think I can reach more people this way.
CP: Absolutely, kind of like Carol Swain’s Master Class. Thank you so very much for your time.
Follow Carol Swain on Twitter at @CarolMSwain , on Facebook, YouTube with Prager U and Dr. Carol M. Swain : Be The People News, her podcasts Be The People and Conversations with Dr. Carol Swain all of which can be located on the website BeThePeopleNews.com. And make sure to check out her brand new Tik Tok account too!
Chrissy Paradis is a BNM columnist and veteran sports radio producer. She’s worked in Las Vegas, Washington DC, Raleigh and Hartford helping personalities such as Rob Dibble, Tim Brando, Steve Cofield, Adam Gold and Joe Ovies. You can contact her on Twitter @ChrissyParadis or by email at Chrissy.Paradis@gmail.com.
Andrea Kaye Learned Tough As Nails Attitude From Her Marine Corp Parents
“My fantasies didn’t involve radio as a kid, but they did involve my voice. And they did involve using that voice in some way to influence.”
Her mother called her ‘dynamite in a dress.’ Andrea Kaye had an explosive energy and temperament. Her mother may have been right about her daughter’s intensity, but she was wrong about the dress.
“She thought I was going to be like my older sister, in a dress, playing with dolls. I was a tom-boy as a kid,” Kaye continued. “I was riding a bike with no shoes, riding like a crazy kid, and scraped off all my toenails. Our neighbors, ‘the Reen sisters’, comforted me while Mama wrapped my feet in bandages.
“We called them the Reen sisters because all four of them had ‘Reen’ at the end of their names; Doreen, Maureen, etc. Another time I jumped off an air conditioning unit and almost bit my tongue in half. To this day, my family still laughs about that stuff.”
Her tomboy ways kept her a regular fixture at the Camp LeJeune emergency room. But even when she wasn’t getting into scrapes while playing, she got into scrapes and arguments over politics.
Also as a kid, Kaye would have intense conversations with her Uncle Jake, a Colonel at Fort Benning. “All the adults in the room would ask why he was arguing with a child,” Kaye explained. “My Uncle said, ‘Because she’s making a darn good point.’ He made me feel respected. He never treated me like a child.”
Both parents were in the Marine Corps. Kaye never seemed to shy away from being called a ‘military-brat.’ The kid was tough as nails. She brings some of that toughness to The Andrea Kaye Show, which broadcasts on Monday-Friday from 6:00-8:00 PM on The Answer San Diego.
Her mother grew up on a dairy farm in a little town near the Mississippi and Louisiana border. Not far from where Kaye went to high school, Slidell High. “Mama knew what hard work was,” Kaye explained.
Her mother worked extremely hard each day, especially after her mother Mary Lee got burned in a house fire. She had to help raise her younger sister while running the farm. “Compared to what she had to do on the farm, the Marine Corps was a vacation,” Kaye explained. “Mama has a tee-shirt that reads, ‘Not as Mean, not as Lean, but still a Marine’. Could be why she beat four cancers in three years. Not what you would call a ‘fluffy’ life.”
Kaye’s grandmother on her father’s side, worked in a textile mill in Opelika, Alabama. This was the same mill in which they filmed Norma Rae, starring Sally Field.
“With nothing but sixth grade education there weren’t many options,” Kaye said.
The work took a toll. Her grandmother lost most of her hearing and got black lung. Her dad grew up on a dirt floor and dreamed of a better life with travels to foreign lands and was thrilled to join the military as a way out. He believed in the American Dream and instilled that inspiration in Kaye.
“We’d drive around and he would show us the neighborhoods we could live in if we got an education and worked hard.”
They had a lot of love while growing up in the family, but Kaye wouldn’t call it an emotionally nurturing childhood. Marines who were battle weary and from tough and impoverished childhoods aren’t necessarily the types to coddle.
But they were the types to play lots of board games and cards, like gin rummy. Rides at amusement parks across the country were a family staple.
“We’d watch lots of movies and TV, especially musicals,” Kaye said. “Who knew two Marines could love The Sound of Music and Fiddler on the Roof so much?”
One time her mother bribed Kaye’s brother and his friends with cookies and cake if they would watch her perform songs from The Sound of Music.
“Mary Lee was my mother’s mom. She had to be tough because her husband died while my mom was in the womb,” Kaye said. “She didn’t have time to be nurturing with four kids and a dairy farm to run.”
She said Mary Lee would babysit often.
“She didn’t believe in sugar-coating for kids,” Kaye said. “One of my sisters asked her what a dead person looked like?”
Mary Lee packed the kids into the car and took them to a viewing with a dead man in a coffin and said, ‘This is what a dead person looks like.’
“You asked her a question and you got an answer,” Kaye said. “Mama was the same.”
That didn’t mean her parents didn’t love them, Kaye explained.
“They didn’t believe like today’s parents that everyone should get a trophy and everyone had to be happy every day. We were raised with the pragmatic truths of life. They were all about supporting what we wanted to do. There were no barriers to those dreams. That was instilled in my sister, brother and me.”
Kaye was born at Camp LeJeune Marine Corps base, living in the base housing Tarawa Terrace, also known as “Terrible Terrace”. They moved around a bit but settled in the New Orleans area.
“I loved everything about the military,” Kaye said. “I loved the bases, uniforms, marching, the regiment, the chain of command. I loved the military bearing and authoritative presence they had at all ranks. I was mesmerized by it all. Daddy was a Vietnam vet and when he was deployed, multiple times.
“Me and my siblings and Mama went back to the dairy farm with grandma,” Kayes said. “My father never talked about his time in the service. We had no idea what he did. My sister, Donna, who we just called Sister, asked Daddy once what he did for a living. He said, I shoot the bull all day. So when she was asked once what her dad did, she told them, “He shoots bulls.”
The mystery of the military was part of the allure. Kaye was so enamored with the military, she gave some thought to how great it would be if she could attend West Point after the family had visited. Her mother and father brought the military with them when they took a break from the base.
“Even though I love the military, I had a love and hate relationship with regiment when Dad and Mom took us on a vacation,” Kaye said. “We had to get up at 4:00am. It wasn’t like my father was harsh like the pilot Bull Meecham in The Great Santini. Still, we had a very specific way of doing things. I learned to fold clothes according to regulation”
Kaye was always interested in going to college, imagining where she might enroll. She ended up choosing Louisiana State University to study political science.
“LSU was an amazing experience,” she said. “Louisiana is like being in another country. The language, food, culture. LSU is the perfect educational community of the unique culture. I embraced every aspect possible. I joined a sorority and lived in the house. Spent Saturday nights in the famous Tiger Stadium called Death Valley, and ate my weight in crawfish. I wanted the big university experience, and I got it.”
She’d thought about becoming a lawyer, perhaps a Supreme Court justice.
“I became obsessed with politics during my teen years,” Kaye explained. “I studied political science at LSU, admitted as a 17 year-old. I also gave some thought to becoming an attorney. In my family there was a constant theme of justice, of right and wrong. I have always been fascinated by true-crime.”
Kaye said her parents were always concerned about justice, committed to their beliefs of right and wrong. Always looking to improve her circumstances, instead of working her normal summer job at Fasulo Drugs in Slidell, she got a job in the French Quarter selling timeshares.
“I was able to make more money in six or eight weeks over the summer than I’d make all year working at the drugstore,” Kaye explained.
It was then Kay recognized she had an aptitude for sales. During her third year at LSU, she decided to switch her major to business. “I’m glad I did. There’s such an intersection between politics and business. I already loved politics and needed to learn more about business.”
She visited La Jolla, California after she graduated from LSU. It was a quick vacation but she fell in love with the area, and state. After graduation she started her first corporate job with No Nonsense panty hose.
“I was going around to K-Marts and other retail stores around Louisiana,” Kaye said. “I traveled around the state. It was a great first out of college job, but not a life choice. I earned my bones at No Nonsense. It was a grind.”
She couldn’t shake her love for La Jolla and San Diego, so she quit her job at No Nonsense and moved to San Diego, where she was hired by Xerox.
“Xerox sent me to Las Vegas, a branch of the San Diego office,” she said. “You have no idea how hot it is to be in a suit in Las Vegas when the temperature is 115-degrees. Still, I’d take it over the Florida heat and the mosquitos in New Orleans.”
After a year in Vegas, Xerox relocated her to San Diego. Xerox is where she made her bones, working in one of the toughest industries, and for a legendarily tough company.
Kaye said she may live in California, but her soul is on the New Orleans Bayou.
“I love, love, love Louisiana,” she said. “Down to the core of my being. One of the reasons I left was because after the oil industry crashed, so did the economy. There was a not so funny billboard outside Lafayette that said, ‘Last one to leave, turn out the lights’. The economy had completely tanked.”
At the time she left for California, Kaye said she didn’t understand her soul connection with New Orleans. “I didn’t know how much I’d miss it. I try to get back at least once or twice a year and still have family and friends there.”
The transition from sales to media wasn’t all that difficult for Kaye. She said every company she worked for required her to do some kind of media work.
“When I was with No Nonsense, I would join radio stations on the air when they were doing promotions from a parking lot. They’d talk to anyone. I would say, ‘I’m Andrea from No Nonsense. Come and check us out.’ It wasn’t difficult for me. I just wormed my way in and identified myself and the product on the air.”
She has ‘acted’ in corporate industrial videos and some infomercials. Again, this came naturally. She ended up getting an agent.
“It’s different in New York and L.A.,” Kaye said. “In those cities you can get an agent for particular things. An agent for acting, and agent for modeling. In San Diego, they only had agents that were a one-stop-shop. You were required to do any medium the agent put you up for. You’d be called upon to audition for commercials on TV, or a model in print ads, even some acting gigs.”
Kaye appeared in one movie, Lore Deadly Obsession. The film was about real-life serial killer and cannibal Richard Chase, who killed six women and drank their blood in the late 70s. He was dubbed ‘The Vampire Killer.’
“That was the first time they used the term ‘serial killer,” she explained.
Kaye is married but never had children. “It just wasn’t my dream,” she said. “I never had the fantasy of staying home and starting a family. That was Sister’s dream, and she fulfilled it. So did my brother. My fantasies were about living a life that was different. Bigger and brighter than my folks and their folks before them. Just as each generation behind me lived a bigger and brighter life than those before.
“My fantasies didn’t involve radio as a kid, but they did involve my voice. And they did involve using that voice in some way to influence.”
Jim Cryns writes features for Barrett News Media. He has spent time in radio as a reporter for WTMJ, and has also served as an author and former writer for the Milwaukee Brewers. To touch base or pick up a copy of his book: On Story Parkway: Remembering Milwaukee County Stadium, available on Amazon, email email@example.com.
Should the Media Support Police?
BNM’s Rick Schultz writes Never has the danger to police officers been greater, and never has the thin blue line been under such attack, so where is the media?
Never has the danger to police officers been greater, and never has the thin blue line been under such attack.
So where is the media?
This past weekend, Fox News @Night hosted a discussion about public support for the police and, in doing so, highlighted a group dedicated to wounded officers and their families.
Retired Las Vegas Police Detective Lt. Randy Sutton of TheWoundedBlue.com joined host Trace Gallagher to discuss the current state of affairs from law enforcement’s perspective.
“Well, when it comes to America’s crime crisis, something appears to be missing in society and in mainstream media, covering and honoring law enforcement officers who are wounded or killed in the line of duty,” Gallagher began. “I want to know why it is that mainstream media, and that society, feels like, you know what, the war on police is not worth covering?”
“This news network is pretty much the only one that’s giving the truth out about the war on cops. Last year, 207 police officers lost their lives in the line of duty. Almost sixty thousand were physically assaulted in the line of duty, Trace,” Sutton responded. “They’ve been shot, they’ve been stabbed, they’ve been beaten. And yet, you don’t even see it in the newspapers. It’s barely covered because it’s not politically expedient for the political Left and for the mainstream media to even cover.”
Gallagher then drew attention to a graphic showing a mid-October statement from the National Fraternal Order of Police, @GLFOP, which read…
The spewing of anti-police rhetoric by some political and media figures as well as the failed policies of rogue prosecutors and judges, are placing our officers in greater danger. This culture of lawlessness must stop!
“A lot of people don’t know when officers get injured, not only is the officer affected. But the family and a lot of things change,” said Marcus Mason, San Bernardino Sheriff’s Deputy, who was injured in the line of duty. “I spent about a month in the hospital, so my family had to drive to and from home, daycare, dropping off children, and doing different things to get people to work to get people to come see me and things like that. A lot of financial things are a burden put on your family. And so, The Wounded Blue was there to help my family in making those things easier. Whether it’s paying for gas or the increase in groceries and things like that, and making things easier for my family to be able to come and spend time with me.”
TheWoundedBlue.com’s mission, as stated on the website, is to improve the lives of injured and disabled law enforcement officers. They place a strong focus on de-stigmatizing mental health within the law enforcement community, in addition to providing peer support and community outreach. Their emergency phone number – (702) 290-5611 – provides “immediate trust, validation, and confidentiality, which breaks down barriers when a person is in a vulnerable state.”
Vickie Speed, whose brother-in-law was “executed in the line of duty,” joined the panel to share part of her sister’s recovery story after the violent episode.
“We got involved with Randy because he actually stepped in to help her with PTSD and trauma and I saw what he did,” she said, noting that she also lost her husband to cancer. “Just losing my husband alone, I just had a real passion to give back and not just help widows, but I’ve actually run into law enforcement that’s now retired, that’s reaching out.”
Gallagher pointed out that while the group’s mission is crucial to families recovering from such tragedies, the real shame is that Wounded Blue is needed in the first place.
“My peer team, amazing people,” Sutton said. “All of my peer team are officers who have been shot, stabbed, beaten, run over. And you know what, but I fully believe this, that the American people believe in their police and want to help. They want to have an avenue to help. And now we’re giving them that avenue by supporting these wounded officers, by going to TheWoundedBlue.org and giving what they can, can make a difference. In fact, they might even save a life.”
The question posed by Gallagher, although never definitively answered, is whether the mainstream corporate media will ever reflect the widely-held sentiment of most Americans. The feeling is that law enforcement should be applauded and supported, especially on the heels of a violent attack.
Rick Schultz is a former Sports Director for WFUV Radio at Fordham University. He has coached and mentored hundreds of Sports Broadcasting students at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, Marist College and privately. His media career experiences include working for the Hudson Valley Renegades, Army Sports at West Point, The Norwich Navigators, 1340/1390 ESPN Radio in Poughkeepsie, NY, Time Warner Cable TV, Scorephone NY, Metro Networks, NBC Sports, ABC Sports, Cumulus Media, Pamal Broadcasting and WATR. He has also authored a number of books including “A Renegade Championship Summer” and “Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues”. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @RickSchultzNY.
The Power of Events and the Electronic Campfire
The past couple of months reminded me of some of the best events over a long radio career.
Of all the people who have ever played music on the radio, Jim Ladd (currently heard on SiriusXM’s Deep Trax Channel) may be the most gifted communicator. I had the opportunity to work with and get to know Ladd when I programmed KLSX-FM/Los Angeles.
Ladd referred to radio as the “electronic campfire.” Although he coined the phrase to describe FM progressive radio, it’s a terrific descriptor of radio at its best. When a radio station is firing on all cylinders, it becomes a communal experience.
I always enjoyed big station events. Surrounded by staff and listeners, in a shared communal experience that only a fantastic radio team could create, is when I truly understood Ladd’s term, “the electronic campfire.”
The past couple of months reminded me of some of the best events over a long radio career.
The Philadelphia Phillies were baseball’s Cinderella story this year, even if they turned back into a pumpkin two games short of the championship. What a ride for my Philadelphia friends and former colleagues.
The Phillies won the World Series in 2008 and earned a return trip in 2009. We had station rallies before each game and lit the WPHT tower in red light. Because Philadelphians are so sensitive about comments made by national announcers (and there are no local television broadcasts), we synced the local radio broadcast to the national broadcast. The legendary Harry Kalas called the final out in a moment etched into many Philadelphians’ minds. Those broadcasts received some of the highest shares of the PPM era.
For 25 years, Philadelphia had a unique city holiday: Wing Bowl. The genius of Angelo Cataldi and Al Morganti conceived this event for the Friday before the Super Bowl at a time when the Eagles were perennial losers. What started as a chicken wing eating contest in a hotel lobby became one of the WIP’s biggest annual ratings and revenue days. The morning show broadcast live from a packed Wells Fargo Center. Combine Mardi Gras with a chicken wing eating contest, and you have some idea of what Wing Bowl was. If you don’t know, look do a quick search.
I also was involved in three of Howard Stern’s victory parties, or as Howard called them at the time, the funeral for the competition. We did it in Philadelphia and Los Angeles – which was especially fun because we tapped into special effects available from show biz fans in Hollywood. The third time was in Cleveland, where I could enjoy the spectacle mainly as a listener.
When the Smashing Pumpkins came through the Twin Cities recently, it reminded me of the biggest radio event I’ve ever seen. In 1998 we had a struggling station in Minneapolis called Rock 100.3. We were trying to put the station on the map. Summers are short in Minneapolis, and the city celebrates with a week-long festival called the Aquatennial. Friday night is called the Block Party, with music on several different stages throughout downtown, sponsored by various radio stations.
Previously the biggest act the Block Party ever featured was The Black Crowes, drawing about 35,000. We promised to do better – even if we hadn’t figured out how. After a lot of hard work and even more good fortune, we found the Smashing Pumpkins were looking to do a free unticketed show. In 1998 there was no band bigger than The Smashing Pumpkins.
We convinced then-Mayor Sharon Sayles-Belton that it would be good for the city and The Smashing Pumpkins played the Block Party in front of 125,000 fans on a 90-foot stage with a six-figure production budget on what was then a parking lot in downtown Minneapolis. If we had a two-share, every one of those listeners was at that show – and they brought a friend!
There were no significant incidents at the show, except for the inmate convicted of murder who escaped long enough to see the concert and was then taken back into custody without incident after the show.
Nothing like the free Smashing Pumpkins concert will happen again in Minneapolis. The site is now home to Mayo Clinic Square, which includes the Mayo’s Sports Medicine Clinic, the offices and practice facilities of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves and WNBA Lynx, restaurants, office and retail space for Jack Links, and the 251-room Loews Hotel.
Not every event requires a six-figure budget, the most prominent band of the era, or booking the city’s NBA/NHL facility. It’s not even necessary to finish number one in morning drive and then engage in 1980s or 90s-style radio wars.
Stations that don’t have budgets must be more imaginative in creating events. It is not an option for stations to discontinue events – at least those that hope to continue to attract an audience.
When I arrived at WIP, I found a station with a handful of morning shows. Each personality was an experienced entertainer and showperson. When we put them on the same stage together, it was magic. We did it in a public venue and held a debate about Philadelphia’s favorite topic: The Eagles. We dressed the stage like a presidential debate and followed a similar format (it was during the 2008 presidential election). It became an annual event. Over the years, everything from the podiums, timer, wardrobe, and challenge flags (yes, we even had challenge flags) became sponsored. Moments ranged from hilarious to tense.
There were two total lunar eclipses this year. How fun would it be to get an expert from a local planetarium (or even an astronomy club) and invite listeners to share an experience in the middle of the night? Depending on the station’s format playing “Dark Side of the Moon” either at the event or on the air.
Events (and personalities) build equity and loyalty for radio brands. Find a great radio brand, and you’ll find a history of great personalities and big events. When Progressive Rock radio began, some, like my friend Jim Ladd, dubbed it the “electronic campfire.”
Despite never-ending budget cuts, radio brands must continue to create events. Radio will have more commercials and compete against more narrowly targeted competitors. Podcasters, streamers, and satellite radio can’t do local events. Few, if any, will ever create communal experiences the way radio has been for over 100 years. Fire up the campfire. The combination of personalities and events remains radio’s best bang for the buck.
Andy Bloom is president of Andy Bloom Communications. He specializes in media training and political communications. He has programmed legendary stations including WIP, WPHT and WYSP/Philadelphia, KLSX, Los Angeles and WCCO Minneapolis. He was Vice President Programming for Emmis International, Greater Media Inc. and Coleman Research. Andy also served as communications director for Rep. Michael R. Turner, R-Ohio. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter @AndyBloomCom.