Determination and Innovation Led Kim Komando To The Hall of Fame
“If you don’t innovate, you’re going to evaporate,” Komando said. “The show you hear today is probably quite different than the show you heard two years ago.”
At the crossroads of broadcasting and technology, Kim Komando found her niche in radio by creating her own network. She then used that network to bring knowledge to the masses and will soon be inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
But Komando, who grew up in New Jersey, wasn’t planning a life in broadcasting.
Her connection to the tech world started with her mother who was with Bell Labs as a system analyst. Her father worked for United Airlines, giving the family plenty of free flights.
Komando’s first job out of school was for IBM. She tried her hand at television on Fox as Komando, an attractive blond, was told she had a face for the medium.
“I really didn’t like the scripted nature of it,” Komando told BNM. “I felt like I was just reading a prompter.”
However, some people would also say she had a “voice for radio,” and it all began with a Saturday late night call-in show about computers on Phoenix’s KFYI.
“As soon as I sat in front of a radio microphone, I was home,” Komando said.
At the time, Komando was selling computers for Unisys as a district manager. Komando graduated from Arizona State University at the age of 19 in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems.
By her mid-20s, she was willing to leave a $150,000 a year salary on the table. Money notwithstanding, she wasn’t happy with the job and consulted with her parents. Komando quit to forge a radio career. There was no need to find a radio name, as Komando is her given name.
“People thought, in the beginning, that I had to make that up,” she said. “But I never took my husband’s name, not even legally, because I am Kim Komando.”
Despite the notoriously low pay, Komando wasn’t discouraged. In fact, she was quite determined. She had a sense of building her brand from the start— as Komando would write syndicated newspaper columns and formed the Komando Corporation in 1992.
Around that same time, Komando sold the “Komputer Tutor” training tapes via informercial that was a “screaming success.”
She landed a deal for running a computer section on AOL (America Online), but getting radio stations for the unproven commodity would prove to be more challenging.
“None of the big companies would syndicate my show, so I did it myself,” she said. “Those were pretty humbling beginnings,” she admitted. “Quite frankly, I didn’t know what I was doing.”
Fortunately, her husband, Barry Young, a Phoenix on-air personality, did. By 1995, they had formed WestStar MultiMedia Entertainment, where ultimately her brand would come to life nationally.
“He taught me radio formatics and he built our first studio,” Komando said.
Aside from her husband, Komando didn’t look to any broadcasters for help, although she credits Fred Weber, who gave her the first radio job, with a special bond. But she always listened to radio. Komando recalls taking her Walkman with AM/FM bands on a trip and would hear stations pop in and out from different markets.
“I thought that was so slick,” she said.
At her fledgling company, Komando was the talent, but also handled affiliate relations and sales.
The Kim Komando Show
Today, Komando’s three-hour weekend show is heard on more than 400 affiliates nationwide. A daily tech update airs worldwide but she does her best to “super serve” the stations. Komando will add a localized “tag” or outro for any affiliate that requests it, so listeners think she’s part of that particular radio station’s on-air team. She even provides an assist with station imaging and records any ad copy for free.
Generating multiple pieces of online content daily, Komando also distributes to station’s websites, “so it looks like they have a tech section.”
It was a slow incline for Komando as only two stations were initially on board—one in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which is still part of the network, another in Augusta, Georgia—WGAC, which also remains loyal to Komando.
She gained traction when Tom Clendening, the former boss at KIRO in Seattle, asked for a demo tape of the show. He wanted the cassette overnighted, but Komando, paying out of pocket, didn’t want to spend extra for the sample to just sit on his desk.
After he hung up, Komando worried that she was too demanding. However, Clendening called with tape in hand the next day and enjoyed the demo so much he was willing to air the show on KIRO AM and FM, Saturdays and Sundays.
While Komando’s tech update is heard in the top market on New York’s WCBS-AM, they haven’t added her weekend show.
The show is done through barter, splitting the advertising time with affiliates. H sponsors include T-Mobile and LinkedIn.
As the technology space has grown in the past 20 years, so has Komando’s presence.
“I have no debt. I have no investors,” she admitted.
“The show is actually more relevant today than it ever has been,” Komando said. “It affects everybody in, pretty much, every aspect of their lives.”
Cars, Homes and The Hall
In an effort to keep her show as fresh as possible, Komando reviews shows every quarter.
“If you don’t innovate, you’re going to evaporate,” she said. “The show you hear today is probably quite different than the show you heard two years ago.”
These days, a major focus for Komando is giving back to callers. A woman spoke to Komando about a man stalking her college daughter after connecting on Tinder. The investigation hit a dead end with police, so Komando stepped in.
“I called in some forensics folks, and we should be serving an arrest warrant to this guy pretty soon,” she said.
Another time, a dad and 11-year-old daughter called the show. She was starting a Disney princesses-themed podcast and asked Kim for pointers.
“I told her how to do the podcast and make sure she smiles… because that comes through. So in my inbox now is her first podcast for me to listen to and critique.”
While the brand is all Komando and she is the only voice on her product, she is mentoring three people.
“I’m hoping that at some point they can have their own podcast first,” she said.
Mentoring is new for the veteran broadcaster, as she explains how important it is to tell the story.
“This is not a TED Talk,” Komando said. “You have to be entertaining and then you can be informative.”
Radio, unlike other mediums, is an intimate way for interaction. You may be speaking to millions at any given moment, but the hosts who do it well can talk directly to one person.
“I can have a great conversation in, like, 2 to 4 minutes, that’s it,” Komando said. “If it requires help afterwards, I call them. I use my personal cell phone number. I get emails and texts. They’re all really just good people.”
As many show hosts will do, Komando, at times, will bring the audience into her own personal experiences, including discussing her mother’s battle with cancer.
“They know who I am. It’s full transparency,” she said.
However, delving into politics is one area that Komando avoids at all costs on her show.
In addition to her advice on the air and online, she also has been writing columns for USA Today for approximately 20 years.
“I probably work 40-50 hours a week. I don’t have to, but it’s just that I want to,” she said. “I could retire but I don’t want to. I still am having a ball.”
Her main studio is in Phoenix. It’s where her employees are based, although many have been working remotely since the pandemic started.
Komando is also fully equipped at her homes in Santa Barbara and Beverly Hills.
While she has reached the pinnacle of her profession, Kim says the hard work combined with expertise and personality were ingredients for success. One perk of that success is enjoying her hobby—collecting cars. She’s building a garage to hold 13 of them. Her favorite car — which she owns—the 2012 Mercedes Benz SLS.
She doesn’t like to discuss future plans until they come to fruition, but Komando is working on something “that will revolutionize the way that we’re disseminating some of the content right now and some of the broadcasting products.”
In the short term, Kim is excited to be immortalized in the National Radio Hall of Fame later this month.
“That was never a goal when I started out,” she admitted. “You start looking at all of the people who’ve been inducted, like Limbaugh, Hannity, Bing Crosby, all these stellar names. I’m up there too. How the hell did that happen? I’m very humbled.”
Looking at how far she’s come in the industry, she’s delighted to share her insight with so many listeners.
“I’ve been very blessed, I really have. By just doing a good, honest day’s work, I think everybody appreciates that,” she said. “But at the same time, it’s been a really great ride.”
Jerry Barmash has been a fixture in New York radio for decades with anchor stints on WABC Radio and Bloomberg News. Jerry was also heard on WINS, WCBS and Wall Street Journal Radio. As a media writer, Jerry’s pieces were featured in Broadcasting & Cable, NY Daily News and Watercooler HQ. Jerry also hosts the interview podcast Here Now the News. He’s on Twitter @JerryBarmash and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dagen McDowell Is Ready For A New Adventure With Fox Business
“Every decision in America is born of policy, On the show, we bring that to our show. Talk about the news of the day.”
To know Dagen McDowell, you must understand what she comes from, where she comes from. You won’t know her until you know the lessons, kindness, and determination set forth by her parents.
Her parents operated a small grocery store, LW Roark and Company. Charles and Joyce McDowell were high school sweethearts and both went to college but decided to go back home and open a business. “This is in the middle of nowhere,” McDowell said. “It was a wholesale grocery store. They sold it in the late 90s.”
She said her parents were smart, encouraging, and took every opportunity to teach McDowell and her brother.
“They’d constantly talk up people who came into the store. Both of them have and had an insatiable curiosity about everything. They felt they learned things through their customers. It was more fun to learn about things from other people.”
McDowell’s parents never took a week off work. Never. The family took no vacations as most families would. Once while McDowell was in college at Wake Forest University, the family visited the Air and Space Museum on the Mall in D.C.
“Both of my parents were very interested in architecture and landscapes. We’d go to Williamsburg and just look at the buildings.”
McDowell joined FOX News Channel in 2003 and helped launch FOX Business Network as a founding anchor in 2007.
Her mother passed away three years ago and her father is still very much a part of her life. Her father was a constant teacher.
“One time my father, who we called Dowell McDowell, was putting up an outbuilding and asked me how long one line should be if the other line was such and such. He taught me the Pythagorean theorem when I was about 4 years old.”
McDowell was nurtured by parents with endless curiosity.
“I was raised by parents who would always debate and converse around the dinner table. We shared breakfast and dinner together every day. They loved learning, were always inquisitive, never afraid to ask a question. My parents shared a fearlessness and passed that on to me. I’ve never been embarrassed to ask people questions. I love talking to people and finding out about things.”
For a long time, McDowell had no idea what she wanted to do for a living. She knew if she worked at different jobs she’d eventually figure out what she was good at.
“I knew I was a decent writer, but I always tried to get information out of people, what they were doing. Ask if they were fulfilled and happy.”
At Wake, Forest McDowell majored in art history and had every intention of working in a museum, possibly as a curator.
“I interned at the Center for Contemporary Arts. I lived in Venice, Italy for a while. Wake Forest owns a house in Venice.”
After that it was Colorado. She moved back to New York during the recession of 1991 with a duffel bag. She took the Amtrak to New York City and sublet an apartment for six months.
“I had no TV, just a radio. I knew I could find something good to do in New York, there were so many jobs. I always wanted to live in the city. Either the city or way out in the country. Nowhere in between.”
She said being in New York made her feel anything was possible. This was January in 1994 when job ads were still in the physical newspaper, like the New York Times. McDowell interviewed at Institutional Investor through a referral from a friend.
“It was a brilliant magazine with terrific writing,” McDowell explained. “Very prominent in the industry. They were looking for someone to work with the newsletter written for the financial community.”
She’d cover topics like the bond business, Wall Street, and money management. The magazine made her take a reporting test where you’d make up a story and write it. She was offered a job and worked there for three years.
“I learned to be a journalist there,” McDowell said. “I could write but I became a better journalist. We’d break news, create our sources, and learn more and more about finance. People love to talk about what they do if you show interest.”
The next big job was SmartMoney.com, a resource and web newspaper for private investors. There McDowell wrote a personal finance column. She started doing commentary on television shows, the way a lot of people in different professions tend to do. “Then I started making more appearances on weekend financial or business shows,” McDowell said.
She got a call from Neil Cavuto about 20 years ago and he told McDowell, ‘Kid, you want a job? I know you don’t have much professional TV experience. We’ll give you some training and you’ll figure it out. If you do, you stay. If not, you go.’
McDowell said she was glad she was a writer first before she arrived at Fox. She writes her own scripts and has a background in finance and business writing.
“Before the business network was launched, they had only one business reporter and two senior business correspondents,” she said. “I’ve gotten to do so many different jobs, use different muscles, so to speak. As the years have passed I’ve discovered other talents I may have and I’m incredibly grateful for that.”
There’s a new show in town. McDowell and Sean Duffy will co-host The Bottom Line which will air on weeknights from 6-7:00 PM ET.
McDowell said she and Duffy come from extremely similar backgrounds. Duffy is from rural Wisconsin and McDowell is from Virginia.
“We know what small-town living is like, “McDowell said. “I might live in New York City but where I grew up affects the way I view the world. I’m still grounded in my hometown. On the show, we look south and west with everything we cover. You have to think of your audience. Rather than talking about them, we talk with them. That’s our shared background and vision. Sean is extremely down to earth and generous.”
McDowell said the show is not financially based, but steeped in business.
She said Duffy’s experience as a former U.S. Congressman, he understands policy as well as financial matters.
“Every decision in America is born of policy,” she said. “On the show, we bring that to our show. Talk about the news of the day.”
This is different from anything McDowell has done in the past.
“It’s a two-anchor show in the evening,” she explained. “This is not taking place during market hours. We tie all the business happenings together from the day. Again, it’s not about Washington or New York. It’s about the people we grew up with. We talk to them. Build a relationship with them on the air. For me, this is not just sitting in front of a camera. I can run off at the mouth as well as anyone, hang in there with the filibuster.”
McDowell says she is blunt, but hopes she isn’t rude. During a recent interview for the new show she used the terms ‘pig potatoes’ and ‘chapped backsides.’
“Those are terms I just made up,” she said. “I make up a lot of phrases and don’t always know what they mean. I have an entire repertoire of those kinds of phrases.”
Duffy assumed they were southern phrases he had to learn from McDowell, but she assured him she’d never heard them anywhere else.
“I’m just making stuff up,” McDowell said. “You can’t curse. Can’t say BS. At least you shouldn’t say BS on television. You don’t want to say manure. You never want to say something that makes people wince or evokes a smell.”
Dealing with people directly and bluntly seems to come from her mother.
“My mother had grit,” McDowell said. “She was also very kind, never syrupy. I used to say she had no magnolia-mouth.
That’s got to be a southern phrase.
McDowell said her mother was not a servile flatterer, but she was kind. Always there when somebody was in need.
“She had real grit. She’d stand and fight for her friends and family members.”
Her mother passed away after being diagnosed with stage-four cancer.
“She went through unimaginable pain,” McDowell said of her mother. “For nearly six years. You want to talk about somebody who was tough. There was nobody more pugnacious than my mother.”
She explained even with her illness, her mother was always on the go. Continuing to live her life. When questioned about being so active while she was ill, her mother continued to show grit.
“My mother would say she didn’t want to walk around looking like she had cancer. She asked, ‘What choice do I have? I could lay in bed and wait to die, or I can get up and do what I can .’”
McDowell said her mother’s illness taught her to be a caregiver in ways she never could have imagined. Her mother taught her to find moments of joy every single day, in the smallest of things.
“It can be as simple as telling a stranger to have a great day. Treat a perfect stranger with kindness. I do it all day long. I know it sounds corny, but I want to be known as a person who brings a casserole to a friend when they’re ill.”
A one-sheet from Fox tells you McDowell and the culmination of her background is perfect for The Bottom Line. The fact is, it’s true.
Jim Cryns writes features for Barrett News Media. He has spent time in radio as a reporter for WTMJ, and has served as an author and former writer for the Milwaukee Brewers. To touch base or pick up a copy of his new book: Talk To Me – Profiles on News Talkers and Media Leaders From Top 50 Markets, log on to Amazon or shoot Jim an email at email@example.com.
Airing The Tyre Nichols Video Was A Necessity
There were hard moments to watch in those videos, hard sounds to hear. But they aired.
Far be it for me not to address this outrageous and embarrassing instance in humanity. After the videos of Memphis police brutally beating Tyre Nichols were shown on television there really seemed to be more outrage emerging from society this time than from the media, for a change. One would think that’s how we wish things to be.
In instances like this, where the video and audio images are far from brief but are instead chaptered as they unfold, there are few options other than to let them run their course. Clocks — breaks hard and soft — are out the window, just as in live coverage.
Because that’s what this was, only the live this time was us, and as we all absorbed and reacted to actions disapprovingly familiar yet somehow foreign at the same time, the impact was still becoming apparent even though we already knew the outcome.
It’s happened before.
Not always like this but we’ve seen it before, police encounters shown on the news overtakes and become the news.
It takes effect as the sights and sounds are digested, dissected, and discussed, often before their potential impact could really be imagined.
In 1991, when the Handycam footage crossed screens for the first time and we learned Rodney King’s name, we didn’t know then but we had a feeling.
We were on the right track, though as newsrooms evolved and street reporting incorporated a different type of storytelling.
I was a cop in 1991. Changes came. Some.
It’s 2023, I’m no longer a cop. Changes will come again. Some.
Turning points — or the overused watershed moments — mean just as much to the news media as they do to law enforcement.
The “why’s” that make this a turning point are more society and community based this time around than they were in 1991.
At least I think so. And I don’t think it makes a bit of difference who’s involved this time.
There were hard moments to watch in those videos, and hard sounds to hear. But they aired. Where they couldn’t air, they were described in great detail; descriptions sometimes can be worse than the real thing. Sometimes, not this time.
And they should air, they shouldn’t stop airing. This is what happened and this is what people need to see and hear and this is exactly why we are here.
Warn them, provide them with a heads up that they’re not going to like what happens next. It’s life and we show life, and we show what some of us do with it when it’s someone else’s.
Overall, I would say the news platforms held their composure, even after the videos were released. I saw, read, and heard some refreshingly neutral coverage, even from outlets where I expected hard turns into the lanes on either side of the road.
Legitimate questions were asked by anchors and reporters and much of the time, the off-balance issues were raised more by those on the sidewalks and those on the other side of the cameras and microphones.
As much as I find myself in disagreement with what I often see on the cable networks — all the cable networks — I did find a sense of symmetry watching CNN’s Don Lemon speak with Memphis City Council Chair Martavius Jones in the hours after the videos were released.
Regular protocols be damned, Lemon and producers lingered patiently as Jones, visibly overcome by emotion, struggled to regain breath and composure enough to be able to speak. Rather than cut away or move to other elements, they stood fast and it became an example of what often requires no words.
There were fewer punches pulled on other platforms as well.
The sounds of the screams, the impacts, and the hate-filled commands were broadcast through car radios.
As were Tyre Nichol’s calls for his mom. They aired. They had to.
Bill Zito has devoted most of his work efforts to broadcast news since 1999. He made the career switch after serving a dozen years as a police officer on both coasts. Splitting the time between Radio and TV, he’s worked for ABC News and Fox News, News 12 New York , The Weather Channel and KIRO and KOMO in Seattle. He writes, edits and anchors for Audacy’s WTIC-AM in Hartford and lives in New England. You can find him on Twitter @BillZitoNEWS.
Does the Republican Establishment Get It?
For many it seemed that the Republican establishment stood idly by as Democrats changed the rules and worked behind the scenes to alter elections.
In a move that seemed to go against the wishes of the patriotic American grassroots, the Republican party on Friday re-elected RNC Chairperson Ronna McDaniel.
The media immediately took notice, as many on television and radio are now wondering why the party would re-elect a chairperson who has been so unpopular with the base of its party.
Grant Stinchfield discussed this issue Friday night on his program, Stinchfield Tonight, which airs on Real America’s Voice network.
“Ronna McDaniel holds on to her chairmanship of the Republican Party. By a whopping total of — what were the numbers– 111 to 54. Harmeet Dhillon only received 54 votes. Mike Lindell 4 votes. This is proof to me that the Republican establishment is dug in,” Stinchfield — formerly of Newsmax — said. “Don’t tell me they’re out of touch. See, you tell me they’re out of touch, that implies ignorance. They’re not ignorant about anything.”
As sentiment for Dhillon grew in the days leading up to Friday’s vote, many influential politicians and party donors publicly offered her their support and endorsement. These included Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), as well as donors Mike Rydin, Dick Uihlein, and Bernie Marcus.
Also on board were musician and outspoken conservative John Rich, along with the state GOP of Nebraska and Washington State. Countless journalists and media personalities, such as Charlie Kirk, Miranda Divine, and Lou Dobbs, also came out publicly in support of Dhillon. Former President Donald Trump remained neutral, not making a public choice of either of the three candidates.
For many of Dhillon’s supporters, the deciding factor was public sentiment across the party’s base.
“They’re reading the same chat boards. They’re getting the same emails I’m reading. I will literally post something about this race when I was supporting Harmeet Dhillon. There was not one comment – not one – that supported Ronna McDaniel. Everyone wanted change,” Stinchfield said, noting that the party elite saw the same groundswell of support for change.
“Now, nobody has an issue as Ronna McDaniel is some evil kind of person. I don’t believe she is. I believe, though, that she is part of the establishment. She’s been around too long as far as the establishment goes. And she’s been ingrained in doing business as usual. It’s not working.”
In making their choices known, many Dhillon supporters simply pointed to the scoreboard during McDaniel’s reign.
“Think about where we are. 2018, we lost the House. 2020, we lost everything. 2022, we won the House, but we should have really steamrolled the House and we should have taken back the Senate, which we didn’t do,” Stinchfield said. “That means we’re on a real losing track since she took over. I don’t like being on a losing track. I like being on a winning track.
“Something has got to change when you talk about all of this. So how does Ronna McDaniel get 111 votes and Harmeet Dhillon only get 54 votes, when everyone, every Republican voter I talk to said it was time for change?” pondered Stinchfield.
And even more than the losses, for many it seemed that the Republican establishment stood idly by as Democrats changed the rules and worked behind the scenes to alter elections. The most recent example of which came in Arizona, where presumptive gubernatorial favorite, Kari Lake, was “defeated” when countless voting irregularities occurred in some of the state’s most deep-red areas.
“Under her watch, Democrats instituted a mail-in ballot scheme. That may be even worse than losing, when you talk about the House and the Senate and all these things. The fact that we now have a junk mail-in ballot scheme across the country under Ronna McDaniel’s watch is serious trouble. Very serious trouble,” Stinchfield said on Friday. “And so the reason it is is because the Democrats are rigging the system.”
For years – until Donald Trump descended the golden escalator and took the world by storm – the Republican party had the reputation of being the party of the rich. Rush Limbaugh used to refer to this wing of Republicans as “the country club crowd.” President Donald Trump flipped the narrative completely, offering a clear vision of hope and patriotism to working-class America.
Reputable polling — such as Richard Baris’ Big Data Poll — consistently showed Trump running well ahead of almost every Republican candidate during the 2022 mid-term election cycle. In other words, Trump still maintains considerably more support across the country than most of the individual Senate or House candidates experienced.
Many experts believe this is because voters still view Trump as an outsider, while they view the Republican party much less favorably.
“Let’s tell you how out of touch they are, how elitist they are,” Stinchfield said, calling out the GOP establishment. “This meeting that went on, do you know where it is? It’s at the Waldorf Astoria Monarch in California. One of the most expensive resorts in America. You’re lucky if you get a room for a thousand dollars a night down there on Dana Point. Now, it’s a beautiful hotel, but why is the Republican Party holding an event there? Then I went back and I looked at what RedState did. RedState went back and looked at some of the expenses that the Republican Party under Ronna McDaniel’s leadership was spending money on.
“Take a look at this. $3.1 million on private jets. $1.3 million on limousine and chauffeur services. $17.1 million on donor mementos. $750,000 on floral arrangements. Now you compare this to the Democrats. The Democrats spent $35,000 on private airfare. A thousand dollars on floral arrangements. A thousand. Not $750,000. A thousand. And the $17.1 million they spent on donor mementos, the Democrats spent $1.5 million.
“Democrats know where to put the money. It’s not giving donors gifts. Donors shouldn’t want gifts. If you give money, give money. You don’t need the fancy pin to put on your lapel.”
Following her loss, Dhillon warned her party that it must listen to the base, saying, “if we ignore this message, I think it’s at our peril. It’s at our peril personally, as party leaders and it’s at our peril for our party in general.”
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.