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Ryan Wrecker is Embracing Being a Hired Gun…For Now

Wrecker has found the keys to being a successful fill-in host despite sometimes not living in the city of the show he’s hosting.

Jim Cryns




Getting fired from any job is unpleasant. However, if you get canned from Walmart, 100,000 people aren’t going to hear about it that morning. But, when you’re shown the door in the radio business, you can bet word will get around—fast. 

Veteran talker Ryan Wrecker said that growing up in Detroit, he recalls one of his favorite programs, The Drew and Mike Show, learning of their imminent departure amid an air shift.

“I’ll never forget hearing that show,” Wrecker said, who happened to be monitoring the station at the time. “All the local TV stations were reporting that the station hired a new morning show while the show was on the air. Drew told his audience ‘The show is not a charity. If they don’t want me around, then they don’t have to be forced to pay me.”

Wrecker was a loyal listener of the show and said he recorded a lot of them. “The Drew and Mike Show was legendary in Detroit. I guess they were a Zoo format, but a little different.” 

Drew Lane still does a podcast today, and his numbers are fantastic.

“Drew is one of the greatest personalities I’ve ever listened to,” Wrecker said. “Of course, I didn’t know that at the time, but I was learning so much from him.” His co-host Mike passed away a few years ago. They had immense ratings success, Detroit’s most listened to program.

Wrecker said he was one of those kids who had the Fisher-Price cassette recorder and listened to WRIF in Detroit when he was ten. Detroit is his home. He attended Central Michigan, which Wrecker calls one of the best radio programs in the state. 

“It was one of those curricula that let you in when you were a freshman,” Wrecker said. “Michigan State also had a good program, but you really couldn’t get deep into practice and production until your junior year. I knew as a freshman specifically what I wanted to do, and that was broadcasting.”

There are many benefits to going into the program immediately as a freshman.

“You get your hands-on experience, going into everything raw. You can make your mistakes early on, and nobody notices. The best part is you don’t get punished for your mistakes.” 

“I was able to get my reps in; at the same time, I could learn in a more natural way. Not so much coaching but trial and error. You’re doing what you’ve heard, mimicking people you fell in love with on the air. I don’t think listeners really get how much work goes into the job. You might not sound like the person you were emulating, but there’s always more work to do.” 

After college, Wrecker joined a classic rock station in Lima, Ohio. WUZZ.

He started with an afternoon shift, then moved to mid-day and eventually mornings. Like most things in radio, a lot of his career began with a seismic shift in the landscape. 

“We had a syndicated show out of Grand Rapids, and the decision was made to go local,” Wrecker explained. “They had me program the station and move to mornings. It was a four-hour solo show. I’d do three talk segments in an hour and play lots of music. It became quite a ratings success.”

Tiny Lima, Ohio, has experienced more than its share of notoriety. 

The television show GLEE was fictionally based in Lima. The town kept sending the production team props from Lima to be used in the show.

“If a radio station sent them a sticker, it would end up on the bumper of a car in the show,” Wrecker said. “The town had a local contestant on So, You Think You Can Dance. I guess it’s a pretty popular small town. We did a charity bike run with Dee Snider of Twisted Sister in 2010 for the March of Dimes Bikers for Babies Ride. We actually changed the named Cridersville to Snidersville for a day. It was awesome. Dee came in for a few days, he actually co-hosted the morning show with me, and we played heavy metal and hair all morning.” 

I started out this piece referring to how people can get fired from doing something they love, and after a while, that can be rather devastating. In May, Wrecker was released from KMOX in St. Louis. When I asked him if he held any animosity toward the station that fired him, I was surprised when he said he didn’t. 

“I didn’t take it personally when I got fired from KMOX,” Wrecker said. “I had a feeling things were not going right. The station was moving in a different direction and is in a transformation. Knowing this, I tried to move to a better fitting job in the cluster, which ultimately didn’t happen.”   

I know it’s smart not to bite the hand that either feed or fed you, as you don’t want to look like ‘that guy.’ However, if you bad-mouth a station, there’s a 100 percent chance every other station will hear about it.

“KMOX has such a great history,” Wrecker continued. “They have always had a vision as to where the station was going.”

For now, Wrecker is filling in for station hosts where he can, a hired gun, so to speak, at least on the firing range he loves. Until the new job offer, it’s one day at a time.

“I’d love to be a permanent host, for sure,” Wrecker said. “I’m still trying to figure out what that gig looks like. The way the talk landscape is today, I may be waiting a long time. I’m at the mercy of someone leaving a job, maybe starting that big talk gig in the sky.”

I focused on Wrecker’s recent fill-in gig in Milwaukee only because that was his most recent job. I asked Wrecker how he keeps word out there that he’s available. 

“I got in touch with Ryan Maguire, the director of content at WTMJ in Milwaukee,” Wrecker said. This was earlier in the year after KMOX. 

“He said they didn’t have anything but to send my tape. I sent him a couple of talk segments I’d done.”

Maguire liked the tapes enough to move the discussion ‘upstairs’ to  Steve Wexler, WTMJ’s vice president, and market manager. They agreed to bring Wrecker in for some fill-in work in early August.

Maguire told Wrecker to ‘be himself.’ He knew what Wrecker sounded like, and knew he’d be a good fit for Milwaukee, as long as he did that. 

“That doesn’t mean I couldn’t fill in for someone I really wasn’t a good fit with. Either way, I’m not going to change too much about the show.”

As the stations will do, WTMJ paid for everything during Wrecker’s fill-in period. They put him up at the boutique hotel. He was issued an Uber account to get back and forth from the hotel to the studios. 

“I got meal gift cards from Mo’s Steakhouse,” he said. “You tend to eat well every night, but you’ve got to be careful you don’t eat too much and pay for it on the air the next morning.”

In Milwaukee in August, it is almost a requirement to hit the Wisconsin State Fair. Wrecker did. “You’ve got to have self-control when you go there. It’s a whole different type of food. Much of it is fried and on a stick.” 

I wondered how a fill-in host prepares for a show in a town they’re not overly familiar with. Or at least a place you haven’t visited in a while.

“You’ve got to realize you’re not an expert on the city you’re going to,” Wrecker explained. “You do have to conduct some research. Perhaps get a better idea of how to pronounce nearby city names. Bone up on news that has affected that area. With Milwaukee, I was able to talk about the freshly announced Republican National Convention coming to the city in 2024.” 

Being more selective with your topics is part of Wrecker’s thinking. He said the RNC story was more universal, but you must keep your eye on the local news. 

“I don’t want to go into a city and try to sound like I know everything. The audience can tell if you know what you’re talking about. If you don’t feel comfortable with handling a story, omit it. The audience may question why you’re not talking about certain things. I think that’s better than spouting off about something I don’t really know.”

Wrecker said listeners would be forgiving if you make a mistake, but they can correct you if they feel they should. 

“But they don’t hate you for the mistake,” Wrecker said. “I’ll try some calls if the lines are open. In my experience, that hasn’t been a problem. When you fully know a topic, it’s okay to open the phones. Even in Milwaukee, I knew I could talk about the FBI going into Mar-a-Lago. Of course, people were talking about it non–stop. Then there are topics where I can see both sides. I like to get calls that offer different viewpoints. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  But if you’re onto something, you’ve got to prime the pump like crazy.”

Wrecker has learned part of his success has included making himself somewhat of a target on the air.

“I can maneuver a topic, make myself the good guy or bad guy on a subject. An audience will have a certain feeling about you and your stance. They’ll try to find a way to feel something about you. I may come in and tell the audience what a cheapskate I am, just to get the juices flowing. It might be funny, it might be tongue-in-cheek, but it’s a connection with them in some way.”

He said he’s always authentic, but Wrecker will certainly try to exaggerate things to make it funnier. 

“I think to myself what can I do to make a situation more entertaining? For example, I might tell a story where it’s not technically the exact way it happened, but I don’t let the audience know. I think they can tell when I’m making something up or doing a bit. They understand I’m trying to open things up.”

Constant moving in the business clearly strains emotions and family life.

“When you have a family and kids, making more money is always appealing, Wrecker said. “It’d be nice not to have to worry about money. I feel bad for my wife and the prospect of moving again. I have two kids, and I don’t like to think of them having to make new friends. It’s not appealing. You start to think there must be a more stable way to handle those things.” 

I asked Wrecker if there was a possibility to go into management and give up the microphone. 

“It’s not far-fetched to see me going that route. When I was in Fort Wayne, Indiana, I had a GM that wasn’t that good,” Wrecker said. “In a way, that spoiled me for future GMs. The hard part about programming is you become so obsessed with the station and the product. It becomes an around-the-clock job. Sometimes it’s not sustainable.” 

If he was programming his station, Wrecker said a PD must have intuition, a barometer of what works, and perhaps a small crystal ball.

“You can’t manufacture a successful team,” Wrecker said. “All you can do is bring people to the same table and hope for the best. You can’t force it. If it doesn’t happen organically, it probably isn’t going to happen.”

But how can you know? If only there were a clever way to determine if a team could work well together.

“I think they should hold auditions the way they handle speed-dating,” Wrecker said. “Let them meet and talk for 10 minutes at a pop, then move to the next table. See if they have any chemistry.”

I would be surprised if Fox weren’t working on that show at this moment. 

BNM Writers

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.”

Jim Cryns




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, 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.

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BNM Writers

Airing The Tyre Nichols Video Was A Necessity

There were hard moments to watch in those videos, hard sounds to hear. But they aired.

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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.

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BNM Writers

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.

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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.”

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