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Challenges and Chaos Can’t Derail Juliet Huddy

“Huddy is persevering and even reinventing herself with a new travelogue show.”

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Photo Credit: WABC Radio

Changes are abound at 77 WABC in New York. But one constant for the News/Talk giant is Juliet Huddy. In three years at WABC, Huddy has been a pleasant, informed voice, albeit shifted from mornings to middays and back again. But in this climate, Huddy is persevering and even reinventing herself with a new travelogue show. 

When she landed at WABC in 2018, Huddy was thankful for the opportunity presented by then-program director Craig Schwalb. She left Fox News in 2016 as one of the high-profile Bill O’Reilly sexual harassment accusers and quickly realized the industry was willing to keep her sidelined.  

“I really was freaked out that I never was going to get a job in media again,” Huddy told Barrett News Media. “I didn’t think that I would have the problems that I did when I left Fox.”

Instead, her two-decade career at Fox that included a stint at the Fox New York affiliate almost felt whitewashed from the memory of any TV executives. Whether it was network, cable, or local, there were no takers for her talents. 

“I started reducing my demands basically down to smaller markets, top 50 and then top 75,” Huddy said. 

She had faith that TV honchos would read between the lines with her departure. But after several months, it was becoming abundantly clear that she would not get another TV gig, at least for the foreseeable future. 

WABC would throw Huddy a lifeline to salvage her sinking career. Social media connected her with the station. Huddy sent a tweet based on something morning hosts Bernard McGuirk and Sid Rosenberg were talking about. 

“Sid, of course, jumped on it,” she said. 

An online conversation caught the eye of Schwalb, who invited Huddy to have a presence in the morning show. 

“I owe everything to Sid and Craig Schwalb,” Huddy said.

Although delighted to get back on the air, there were awkward feelings for the veteran broadcaster as O’Reilly was a regular weekly guest with Bernie and Sid. She also learned that another frequent morning contributor Bo Dietl, the former NYPD detective, “had been tracking me down as one of the accusers.”

Huddy said, “It was just a strange place to work.”   

Her comfort level also suffered directly from Bernie and Sid, who would show their allegiance to then-President Donald Trump. Huddy, who was a lifelong Republican, had been vocal in her opposition to Trump. 

That, and her personal-turned-very-public allegations regarding O’Reilly also gave fodder for callers. 

“I don’t know that some of the talent helped out with that, put it that way,” she admitted. “When you’re painted a certain way, you really need the time to explain yourself and talk through it with the listeners who are upset with you.”

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Curtis and Juliet 

Huddy didn’t have the platform with Bernie and Sid as the news person. Once she joined Curtis Sliwa to co-host the midday show, she had time to share her opinions but was now part of an ill-fated on-air “marriage.”  

Since Sliwa’s longtime radio partner Ron Kuby was axed by WABC in 2017, it was a constant rotation of co-hosts, usually women— including Rita Cosby and Eboni K. Williams—before Huddy got the chance to sit next to Sliwa, the Guardian Angels founder.    

“I felt very constrained. I felt like Curtis wanted me there as his sidekick, and I’m not a sidekick,” Huddy said. 

Ironically, Sliwa was instrumental teaming with Juliet, but “in his mind, being so instrumental meant that he could be the boss of me.”

A lack of chemistry is one way to put it, and Huddy, who already had been in the business for 25 years, was flabbergasted by the reception from the radio legend. 

“I never had an issue with my co-host, my colleagues, and talent. Never,” she said. 

Huddy survived longer than most in the “modern era” with Sliwa, allowing him to “drive the bus.” But as the show dragged on, she realized her voice was being suppressed by his larger ego. 

“That was when the dynamic between Curtis and [me] changed,” Huddy recalled. 

Whether it’s the Sliwa experience or dealing with angry callers for her lack of loyalty to the GOP and Trump, Huddy said she’s not adverse to fighting back. 

“I think I strive on chaos,” she said. “So, ultimately, I think it’s been a good experience.”

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Move to Early Mornings

Prior to Sliwa’s apparent temporary departure from WABC, it became clear that Huddy could no longer work with him. Management offered a one-hour early morning news show at 5 a.m. with overnight host Frank Morano.  

“That was not something I would have chosen,” she admitted. “The situation with Curtis was just getting tenuous. It was one or the other, I guess, and that was me.” 

Huddy said the decision rested, ultimately, with Red Apple Media owner John Catsimatidis. 

“He could have gotten rid of me,” she said. “That was another option.” 

While not happy switching her body back to a pre-dawn broadcast, it did get her away from the anxiety with Sliwa, and based on the content; there was no longer a need to dump callers for using profanity toward her. 

Having said that, Huddy is in the business long enough to read the tea leaves. 

“The message was: ‘We don’t want you to have an opinion because it’s getting you into trouble, and it’s potentially alienating listeners,’” Huddy contended.  

Making the best of the situation, she enjoys working with Morano and has a setup to go live from home, although most times, you’ll find Huddy in the Third Avenue studio. Shortly after its debut, the Early News was expanded to 6:30 a.m., boosting the lead-in for Bernie and Sid. 

As part of the show that started in January, Huddy looks for stories to talk about that the “traditional” news stations would pass. 

Her new co-host is good friends with her old co-host, and she said Morano is “instrumental in Curtis’ mayoral run,” but it doesn’t cause on-air issues because “he’s so easy to work with.” 

While she “didn’t know what to make of” Morano initially, his work ethic has impressed her. 

“He’s a really hard worker. He’s an amazing interviewer,” she said. “I think he’s got such a huge future.”

Plus, Morano defends his co-host against people who complain to him about why she’s still on the radio station. 

“He’s got my back. I just really appreciate that,” Huddy said.

Within six weeks of her being taken off the midday show, Sliwa took a leave to run for mayor. Having won the Republican primary in June, at the very least, it keeps him off the air until November when he faces Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams in the general election. 

Huddy said, “I’m guessing since he’s such a close friend of Catsimatidis, there will be space made available to him.”   

Despite Sliwa’s leaving, Huddy did not make any overtures for getting her old timeslot back. 

“I don’t even think it was really a thought in their mind, frankly,” she said. “[Catsimatidis] wants to bring his people in. I just knew the writing was on the wall about having my own show,” Huddy said. 

A solo weekend show was another option, but staying on a daily work schedule, even if it meant waking up in the overnight, was more important for her not to “fade off into the oblivion.” For a full-blown return to talk radio, “I don’t know that it’s the right place or it’s the right time,” she admitted.

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Jet Set Juliet 

“I’m taking what life is giving me, and I’m making the absolute 100-percent best of it,” Huddy said. 

Her evolution at WABC includes a passion for travel with a daily segment using her moniker Jet Set Juliet on the Early News. Although Sliwa always referred to her with that name, she’s not ready to give him credit for creating it. 

“It came about while I was working with Curtis. I just don’t remember who came up with it,” she said. “I’d like to think that I did because it’s brilliant.” 

Coming soon, Huddy will host a video podcast edited from trips she takes around the world. She’ll use the station Stage 77 set with its state-of-the-art technology to incorporate the multimedia mixed with her “stand-up” introductions.  

It will get posted to the WABC website, and her social media feeds. 

“With where I am in my life, how old I am (51), where my husband is and what we want from our future, my five-year plan is: I really want to be living over in Europe, and I want to be covering travel, giving you the American’s perspective about living life like a local.”

Keeping the Red Apple Shiny 

Catsimatidis took over the legendary call letters in 2020 and quickly put his handprint all over 77 WABC. The billionaire businessman is the CEO of the Gristedes supermarket chain. The biggest difference from corporate owner Cumulus to Catsimatidis’ Red Apple Group can be found in two words: Family-run. 

“That can be great, and that can be bad,” Huddy said. “One day you can have a great relationship with your boss, and then next day it might not be that great. That’s a lot different than the corporate environment.”

Right-wing talk is on the weekday lineup, but it is music that fills the frequency on Saturday and Sunday evenings. 

Within months of Catsimatidis’ purchase, Bruce Morrow “Cousin Brucie” was brought back to WABC decades after leaving. Tony Orlando is also spinning classic hits and 970 WNYM host, and Saturday Night Live alum Joe Piscopo does a weekly Frank Sinatra. 

“I know Catsimatidis loves that type of music,” Huddy said. “It’s his baby. He can do whatever he wants to it.”

That is another change from the Cumulus regime, freeing the schedule of brokered shows to beef up original WABC content on weekends. 

The station just expanded the Rat Pack programming with Dean Martin’s daughter Deana and one-time American Idol finalist Constantine Maroulis, a Tony Award nominee, who grew up in Brooklyn to Greek parents. Huddy thinks the family heritage endears him with Catsimatidis. 

“I’m sure they love each other probably because of that connection,” Huddy said.

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Incidentally, Huddy, a self-proclaimed “music freak,” proposed doing her own 1980s show. Nothing was offered by WABC brass. 

While WABC under Catsimatidis has shown deep pockets, one area where they have gotten tight is in the news department. They abruptly ended a deal recently for iHeart to provide weekday newscasts. Curiously, program director Dave Labrozzi took over the midday anchor shift. Likely to keep it under the radar, Labrozzi briefly chose the on-air name, Rocco Lorenzo, before dropping any name altogether. 

“It’s an unusual way to do things,” Huddy said. “But I’m not running a radio station. I never would want to, and I would never want to be a boss. I’m the last person to judge decisions being made like this. All the power to them. It could be an incredible trend.”

More conservative moves are on the talk front, led by Greg Kelly, who was plugged into (most of) Sliwa’s slot. The former Fox 5/WNYW morning co-host went right-wing with a popular Newsmax show. 

“I’m just surprised at how right he has become,” she said of her former Fox colleague. “I never got that from him. Is he doing this for effect? Is he doing it to be more of an entertainer than journalist? I think when you’re working for Newsmax, you’ve got to look at people and think ‘that’s not necessarily journalism.’ I’m not sure where his head is.” 

Station management and/or Catsimatidis himself will have a decision to make should Sliwa, 67, lose, as predicted, in the mayoral race.

“You’d have to look at the ratings to see who did better, as I’m guessing that’s what will dictate whether he’ll return to those hours or not,” Huddy said.  

Kelly’s narrative is a perfect fit alongside the other station hosts. However, Huddy would like them to loosen up on the barrage of right-leaning talk by tapping into the growing number of Independents.

“I would hope that they would realize that, and they would start to maybe pick up on that,” she suggested.

Personally for Huddy, the working relationship with program director Labrozzi has improved since the Curtis fiasco ended. 

“I don’t think he had a real understanding of who I was,” she admitted. “I don’t know why that was exactly. I have my ideas. We have a much closer relationship and camaraderie than we did before.”

By comparison, she misses working with Craig Schwalb, who took a flier on her and will “always have a ton of love for him.” 

Her strong feelings for television aren’t going away either. 

“I literally have dreams about it and it hurts my heart [when] I see a breaking news story and people that I used to work with covering it,” Huddy admitted. “It still gets me every single time.” 

BNM Writers

Nick Kayal Move Highlights Growing Appetite for News/Talk

Kayal moving to News/Talk is a trend that we continue to see in our business and there are several reasons why this will happen.

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Sports Talk to News Talk.

The trend continued this week when Nick Kayal announced would be the next morning show host at WPHT in Philadelphia. In full disclosure, I know Nick, as I was an intern as he was an employee and growing his career at 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Nick built a very solid sports talk resume, but decided to make the move to news/politics.

As I was reading his announcement on social media this week, I felt like I was reading my own reasons for leaving sports talk for news talk on a permanent basis five years ago. Nick wrote, “Over the past 6-7 years, my apetite for political content has increased and now I finally get to voice my opinion on these subject matters.”

Expect this to be a trend that we continue to see in our business and there are several reasons why this will happen.

First off, sports talk is oversaturated. There’s just too much of it, and at some point we’ve crossed the threshold where supply has exceeded demand. There will always be room for great sports talk hosts, but jobs aren’t growing in that space, and in fact, are likely to shrink in future years.

Meantime, if we flip to the News Talk side of the business, the number of jobs expanding is admittedly also not a big part of the equation, but there is less competition in the space for those jobs when compared to Sports Talk, especially when it comes to younger hosts and employees. 

I say the following with all the love in the world for my News Talk colleagues: I was at this week’s FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform) Radio Row event, and as a 34-year-old, I felt like a college kid given that I was significantly younger than most of my fellow hosts. There’s nothing wrong with that for right now, as many of them are still sharp, on their game, and delivering great ratings and revenue for their respective stations, but if we look 5-10 years down the road, they may want to find themselves on a beach or ski slope on a more regular basis. So, the next wave of News Talk hosts may not be in the News Talk space right now, and given the greater number of employees in Sports Talk, they may very well be over there. 

This is a natural migration for both sides. The News Talk bench is not deep and as the younger Sports Talk employee gets older, their interests may change. Most 25-35 year-olds care more about sports than news and politics. But as a generation that grew up during the explosion of Sports Talk approaches and enters their 40’s, their interests and desires could shift as well.

Just as important in this conversation is the fact that we all know sports, politics and culture continue to collid, for better or for worse, and those who may have more conservative-leaning beliefs and opinions are more likely to try and make that move.

As someone who spent several years in sports talk and maintain strong relationships there, I know those who don’t pray at the “Alter of Woke” feel like their opinions aren’t welcomed and will be shunned by their colleagues and bosses. They mask it, as they like to a prefer to talk about the games anyway. But when sports and culture collide, they clam up or just toe the line. 

How long will that last? How long will they want to continue to bottle it up?

I’m not here to answer it for them, but I know that for me, there was a point where I thought I’d rather spend four hours a day talking about things that impact my city, state and country than discussing whether or not a quarterback missed an open receiver on 3rd and 10 or a pitcher was left in a game too long. 

Don’t get me wrong, I still love sports and love being a sports fan, but hosting a daily, local show where that is part of the job became less appealing when given alternative options. And I don’t believe I will be alone in this regard, especially as we move forward through the next several years in our business. 

Additionally, the icing on the cake is that in many towns, major sports news that a News Talk host will find interesting is, in fact, news, and will be a fit for the program. In Philadelphia, the Eagles are news on Monday after a loss to the Giants. In Kansas City, the Chiefs are news. Nothing is bigger. I do a Chiefs segment on Friday and Monday during football season. You can’t do four hours on it, but mixing it in is part of the job if you’re in a big sports town. 

Now, there is a downside. As I told Nick Kayal in a personal note after his announcement, “Be prepared to be shunned by some of your former sports colleagues”. 

A sad reality, but true, in my experience. Hey, that’s the “Tolerant Left”, right?

If you can get over that, which should be easy, then come on over. We’re having fun, making great content, and always looking for who and what is next.

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BNM Writers

Nick Kayal Transitions from Talking Sports to News/Talk

Kayal has worked almost exclusively in radio sports in Nashville, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and other cities, but made the switch to talking politics.

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Seasons change, minds change, and jobs certainly do.

Nick Kayal has worked almost exclusively in radio sports in Nashville, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and other cities. He most recently left Sports Radio 92.9 The  Game to do mornings on 1210 WPHT in Philadelphia. 

This isn’t just a job change for Kayal. It’s an entirely different animal. He’s switching from sports to news and talk. 

“Kayal and Company is the perfect show for me to host,” Kayal said. “I’ve got a multi-voiced show with an outstanding supporting cast. Greg Stocker and Dawn Stensland will have open microphones. We’ll have a guest from time to time. Some calls here and there, but it won’t be caller-heavy.”

Kayal said it will be a ‘good blend of things.’

The change has been in the works since the beginning of the year but was announced just yesterday. Former morning host Rich Zeoli will be moving to afternoons. Kayal said Zeoli has been looking forward to that.

“Rich knew the change was coming,” Kayal explained. “He was involved in the discussions. I think he really wanted to change his lifestyle. He even said so on air. Afternoons are where he started and I think he wanted to get back to that family balance. Rich is going to continue to do what made him so successful in the mornings. He does a great job at building an audience.”

Kayal said they will keep a lot of the same segments on the show. Instead of talking about Jalen Hurts of the Eagles, they’ll be talking about Joe Biden. The passion for sports and politics in Philly is the same, Kayal explained. “I don’t think my prep or delivery will change much. I want to hit on big stories, but I’m not going to filibuster on a topic.”

Getting ready for the new show, Kayal has had lunch with Stocker a few times to chat. Stocker will also serve as the show’s executive producer. The two have kept in touch through the spring and summer, and Kayal has been in Philadelphia for nearly a month.

Kayal said the response to the change has been overwhelmingly positive among listeners. 

“Twitter is usually a cesspool of negativity,” he said. “But this announcement has been 95% positive. Just a couple of negative responses here and there.

Kayal served as a host at crosstown sports 97.5 The Fanatic WPEN from 2009-2015 and doesn’t think the switch of focus will cause the show to lose listeners.

“I imagine some of the people who listened to me in sports might be a little shocked to hear me dealing with news topics,” Kayal said. “Listeners hate change, by and large. After a host change some might say they’re never listening again. That station is dead to me. People have their routines and they don’t like it when somebody or something messes that up. Most usually come back. Radio is very habitual.”

He doesn’t think he’ll miss sports all that much. That isn’t to say he’ll never do sports again, or that he’s sick of sports. 

“After 15 years of talking about nothing but sports, if I spent any more four-hour cycles talking about it, I’d blow my head off.” 

The show may touch on a major sports story if it happens, especially in Philadelphia.

“We might talk for a couple minutes after a win or loss. But one of the reasons I wanted to do this was the diversity of topics. I have an interest in a lot of things, including pop culture. We’re going to be dealing with a full menu of topics.”

He said any time you’re talking conservative news and politics, it’s the best of both worlds. 

“You may not want to listen to some of the mainstream media, so you turn to conservative radio. You have liberals who will listen to call you on your mistakes, but I’m open to that. The same goes the other way.” 

Kayal said he won’t mind admitting if he’s wrong on the air, like some other hosts. 

“There’s going to be some guys that BS their way through everything, stick to script,” he explained. “There are times when conservatives or liberals are off base, say something I don’t agree with. I’ll call them out on that.”

Dawn Stensland will be the news anchor at the top of the hour and co-host. 

“Dawn is like the protective mom who will go to bat for you,” Kayal said. “Rich Zeoli told me that this morning and said she’d go to bat for me too.”

Kayal will have a prep sheet going into the show, but he’s not afraid to dump one thing if another is working.

“I’ll call an audible at the line of scrimmage, so to speak. I want things to be organic on the show. If people are reacting to a topic, you can always get to an item in your preparation the next day. No need to rush. You have to go hard all the way through the show, finish strong. Like every other show I’ve done. There are benchmarks you need to hit during your show. People will listen for a period of time. If they’re in the car on the way to work, they’ll hear something. Then I have to approach the next hour as though nobody has heard the news, reset on the topic like it’s the first time I’m doing it. More than likely it’s a new audience. You can’t afford to have a bad segment.”

Sure, that can be beyond stressful. But if you come in prepared, if you have an opinion, make somebody laugh, make somebody mad, you’re doing something right.

“I want listeners to get the sound of the show,” Kayal said. “You’ll tune in to hear us having an exchange, bouncing off each other. I like to think we all have an innate ability to know where something is going, but chemistry between the hosts is going to be a major thing.”

 If everyone on the show has the same vision and check our egos at the door, Kayal said they’ll have a good show. He explained a show will have great ratings periods, and there’s a chance they will fall off. But the show must always deliver the best it can. 

Kayal went to school for criminal justice and pre-law at Temple. He studied political science for about a year, then changed to pre-law during his sophomore year.  He thought he’d be a defense attorney or prosecutor. 

“Law school only lasted three months,” Kayal said. “I just knew it wasn’t for me.” 

Some of the things he learned during his undergraduate degree and stint at law school helped him craft his arguments on the air. 

“I use those skill sets and traits in a monologue or during an interview,” he said. “It taught me how to ask leading questions. We’ll talk about crime on the show. It’s really about putting on a performance. So many guys are infatuated with being right, getting ratings, and revenue. To me, it’s not all about being right. 

He’d been reading Barrett Sports Media for a long time and came across a job opening for his new station, WPHT. 

“I’d always had the desire to do political stuff,” Kayal said. “I was working for Audacy in Atlanta, so coming to Philadelphia was almost like going through a transfer portal. Going back home has been icing on the cake. The process started in January of this year. They flew me out in March, and we did a two-hour mock show off the air. They had me fill in for Rich a couple of times in April. After the third week, I could tell they were pleased, and they offered me the job in June. I had to sit on it until yesterday.”

We now know Kayal can be trusted with a secret. 

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BNM Writers

The Intersection of Radio and Politics

Anybody with a radio career longer than one rating book has witnessed a stunt or two. Stunts can be remarkably effective for calling attention to something.

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Four of the most enjoyable years of my life were spent on Capitol Hill as Communications Director for Congressman Michael R. Turner (R-OH). Mr. Turner is currently the ranking Member of the influential House Armed Services Committee. Should Republicans take back the House in November, he will likely become the committee Chairperson.

When talking to old media friends during that period, I often explained that the job wasn’t that different from broadcasting. The Congressman was like the “morning guy,” and the communications position was similar to the marketing and promotions role.

When Texas and Florida Governors Abbott and DeSantis began sending illegal immigrants, or unregistered persons for the more politically correct, from their states to Democrat strongholds, critics referred to it as a stunt. Neither of the governors seems to mind the term stunt.

Anybody with a radio career longer than one rating book has witnessed a stunt or two. Stunts can be remarkably effective for calling attention to something.

I don’t know if the “Concert for Bangladesh,” the granddaddy of benefit concerts, solved the refugee problem or if “Live-Aid” ended hunger. I am sure that these events, which were stunts when you think about them, created massive attention for important causes.

When we first put Howard Stern on WYSP-Philadelphia, we had no idea what the ratings impact would be. At the time, there was no shortage of critics who said: “it will never work.”

We couldn’t know, with certainty, whether broadcasting a show from New York would work in Philly. We were sure that doing it would get WYSP, a moribund station, a great deal of attention. At worst, it would be a “stunt.” At best, well, that’s in the history books.

Speaking of Howard, I believe Donald Trump, a regular guest on The Stern Show for approximately 20 years, ripped off “The King of All Media’s” 1980s and 90s formula to win the presidency. Think about it:

  • He never apologizes – no matter what
  • The more outrageous, the better
  • He plays to a dominantly male audience who loves and defends him
  • He does what he does for his fans
  • It’s always “us” against the world
  • He picks feuds with others and then sics his fans on the attacked
  • The only thing better than the celebrity feuds is staff in-fighting
  • His live events are huge love-fests

What else do politicians have in common with broadcasters? 

Ronald Reagan was called “The Great Communicator.” Reagan graduated from Eureka College in 1932. Later that year, his public career began as a WOC-AM/Davenport, Iowa sports announcer. He moved to WHO-AM/Des Moines in 1933, where he famously recreated baseball games using ticker tape reports. He went to California to cover spring training for the Cubs, which launched his Hollywood career.

Radio demands storytelling skills: The best in class in politics and radio are great storytellers. What do you know about Abraham Lincoln’s personality? He loved to tell a tale. In the opening minutes of Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” the president (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) tells a couple of free Black soldiers about the travails of barbers who have cut his hair. 

In another scene at the War Department telegraph office, Lincoln offers an anecdote about Ethan Allen, prompting an incredulous Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (Bruce McGill) to proclaim: “You’re going to tell a story! I don’t believe that I can bear to listen to another one of your stories right now.”

At his best, Joe Biden tells stories. He has always gotten confused about numbers and details, not unlike Reagan. But he effectively uses stories to make his point. That’s how he became “Scranton Joe” and why we know “Corn Pop was a bad dude.”

Positioning matters: In 1992, realizing that the recession was the top issue on voters’ minds, Bill Clinton’s campaign advisor, James Carville created the positioning statement, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Clinton stayed on message, promising to “focus like a laser beam on the economy.”

In 2008, Barack Obama simplified his positioning to a single word: Hope, to which he added the slogan, “Yes we can!” It brilliantly captured the zeitgeist and catapulted the first-term Senator to the White House.

Focus on a few big ideas at a time: Over the years, radio programmers have learned to focus on a couple of essential things at a time. When Barack Obama took office, he had a lengthy list of items that needed attention. The economy, unemployment, bank bailouts, and U.S. auto manufacturers were in trouble. Fighting continued in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bin Laden was still hiding, and the president wanted to use his popularity to pass healthcare legislation. It was too much for the public to follow, and it appeared nothing positive was happening.

A 55% to 43% margin agreed that “since he’s taken over in the White House, Obama has tried to handle more issues than he should,” in a March 2009 CNN/Opinion Research survey.

Reagan kept his agenda simple. He wanted to make the government smaller and less intrusive. He did that through tax cuts, known as “Reaganomics.” He wanted to win the Cold War by building up the military. Everything else was secondary.

Radio is a personal medium: Air personalities have always gotten out and pressed the flesh. Many figured out early in the game to use social media to build relationships with listeners.

Bill Clinton understood the power of building connections (no pun intended). Remember the first Presidential Town Hall Debate? A voter asked the candidates (Clinton, George H. W. Bush, Ross Perot) a question about how the economy (national debt) affected them personally. Clinton walked to the edge of the stage, as close to the audience as he could. Only Clinton answered in human and non-technical language in what became known as the “I feel your pain” moment. 

During the same town hall debate, Bush checked his watch. These two moments pretty much sealed the election for Clinton.

Program to your P1s: In politics, they call it “playing to your base.” Whatever your thoughts about Trump, no president has ever focused so intently on their base.

Biden ran on a “Cume” strategy. He was going to unite everybody. During the Democrat primaries, he may not have been most voters’ first choice, but he was everybody’s second choice. During the general, Biden had broader appeal. According to a Morning Consult exit poll, 44% of Biden voters said their vote was more against Trump than for Biden, compared to 22% of Trump voters who said their ballot was primarily against Joe Biden. 

The concepts behind successful radio stations and winning political campaigns are similar. During my four years on Capitol Hill, I used countless lessons learned as a program director. When I returned to radio four years later, the skills I acquired in Washington helped make me a more effective programmer.

With continuing radio “reductions in workforce,” public service provides career options. Because there’s an intersection between radio and politics, the skills are transferable. The work is rewarding, and the experiences are fantastic. 

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