Sean Spicer is from New England, someone we might refer to as a ‘normal American.’ But, as anyone would, Spicer seemed amazed and humbled by the privilege of working in the White House for the President of the United States. Lofty positions often come from humble beginnings.
“I watched my parents struggle financially,” Spicer said. You could feel there was something going on in the background. There were school trips we couldn’t afford to take. We’d planned a family vacation but dad ended up working.”
He said his parents hid things well but never missed a soccer game or baseball game. “They had a lot of love and character. If that is a form of wealth, then my parents were amazingly wealthy. I was always very clear about how we grew up.”
Spicer said he grew up near families with all the accessories of monetary wealth but said, “Looking back, it’s all about the time we spend with our kids. Experiences they won’t be able to get anywhere else.”
“That’s what we try to instill in our kids,” Spicer said. “I hope they remember when we went camping or fishing. The long and short of it is, we grew up very middle class. My mom was a homemaker for a long while, and my father sold boats.”
Spicer’s grandmother told him all good boys in Rhode Island went to Portsmouth Abbey. “I was a good kid, so I figured that’s where I’d go. It’s a Benedictine boarding and day school. I had no idea what it cost; I was a kid. My mother went to work at Brown. She managed the East Asian programming office.”
His father sold boats until that business hit the skids. Then he sold insurance. “We had what could be called a year-to-year existence,” Spicer explained.
Spicer served as assistant United States trade representative for media and public affairs in the George W. Bush administration. One year he took on the role of the Easter Bunny to entertain children at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll.
“That costume had been around since Kennedy,” Spicer explained. “If you’re the first one in the morning to use it, it doesn’t stink. I think you can’t be afraid to have fun. If you can’t laugh at yourself, what’s the point? I’ve been Santa Claus. I have an Elmo costume. I used it when my kids were younger. I’m not sure where it is now.”
Next to the Superman outfit?
Spicer is the host of “Spicer&Co” on Newsmax. He thinks his show is the only one on television that features people with skin in the game. People who have been inside the thing they’re talking about.
“I can literally look at any situation and quickly determine what was going on and why this situation was happening,” Spicer said. “Lindsay Keith has worked with technology. She’s worked the Republican convention. We have conversations with our guests that can expand on the conversation. We have fun and have conversations.”
Spicer said they play Company Quiz on Friday, a fun way to end the week.
“We’ll talk about segments we’ve done that week, about people who have been on the panel. It’s a fun way for people to wind down.”
Before his show on Newsmax in 2020, Spicer said he’d known Newsmax CEO and majority owner Chris Ruddy for a while.
“He had been at Newsmax when I left the White House,” Spicer said. “We had a conversation, and Chris said there’d be some changes in the lineup. He was building shows at that point. I was involved in some of the early growth of the channel.”
For his show, Spicer said you have to prepare and determine what you’re going to ask.
“On the flip side of that, at the White House, I had to figure out how I was going to respond to press questions. It’s a different dynamic. I’d rather be on offense than defense.”
Spicer is happy with his show. He said he wakes up every day, scans the news, and calls guests he’d like to talk with on the show. Other times, he’ll call someone to get some perspective on a story. Some of my best questions come from listening to the guest talking. You just said X; what about Y? Some of the best stuff comes out of that.
“I do that to get more background on a story so I can explain it further,” Spicer said. “I’m a news and political junky. They’re both in my wheelhouse.
I have a lot of phone numbers in my Rolodex. Between my time at the White House and on Capitol Hill, I ended up knowing a lot of people.”
If you’ve ever watched SNL parody Spicer, you probably experienced guttural laughter. McCarthy portrayed Spicer as an angry, vindictive, and aggressive man behind a mobile podium.
“I was never angry at Melissa McCarthy,” Spicer insists. “She was playing a part, and I get that. I thought the first one was funny. Then it started to get personal. She became angry and visceral. I’ve learned to not take myself so seriously. But I know how to give as well as I take.”
Spicer said he doesn’t speak negatively of anyone, particularly his former employers.
“If you look back throughout my career, I don’t think you can find a negative thing. If you can’t be trusted as a friend, colleague, family member, what good are you? You’ve got to be trustworthy. If there’s one thing somebody could say about me, it’s that I’m loyal.”
Some might say he’s loyal to a fault. To those watching on television, Donald Trump subjected Spicer to public and private humiliations that would have made any normal human being quit on the spot. Spicer didn’t quit.
“People say, ‘Oh, you’ll never turn on Trump,” Spicer said. “I don’t believe you can go work with someone who has shared strategy and confidence, and the second you leave, you’re going to tell stories about them.”
Spicer said, “It’s all about loyalty, even if you feel something else. That’s the point of a press secretary or communications officer.”
“There’s plenty of times I’ve thought someone was a jerk or couldn’t believe they said this or that,” Spicer said. “But I’m not going to betray their trust.
If I’m hired by someone, I’m going to give them the best counsel possible. I’ll say this is what I think you should do or shouldn’t do. It doesn’t always mean I agree with a policy. My goal is to try to get them in the best possible position. My job is to be their spokesperson, not convey my own beliefs.”
He’s written several books, but publishers were asking him early after his departure from the White House to write a tell-all book.
“I wanted some record of what I actually believed. They wanted something salacious, and I wouldn’t do that,” Spicer said. “When the book was being auctioned, one of the literary agents I spoke with was telling me about all the projects he’d worked on. He didn’t want me to go about it with any dignity. I refused and left a lot of money on the table. People couldn’t believe it. I don’t think it’s worth a couple of hundred grand to sell your integrity. You lose your integrity when you sell those people out.”
Spicer said at the end of the day, as a press secretary, you’re not the principal person in the situation.
“At the same time, you’re not a bump on a log,” he said. “Your name isn’t on the door. I’ll give you the best possible advice. I might say I agree with you 100 percent, 50 percent, or not at all. My job is to help them, not say, ‘don’t do that.’ I give my honest opinion, and that doesn’t always go over well.”
To Spicer, it’s all about doing the job you’re hired to do.
“Imagine you’re a batter for the Red Sox. Cora calls for a bunt, but you think, ‘I can hit this guy.’ At the end of the day, you’re the player; he’s the coach. You can make your case, but the call is his. Not every profession has that equivalency, but the concept is the same.
When the time came for Spicer to leave the White House and the tumultuous Trump, he saw the writing on the wall.
“I’ll walk you through what happened,” Spicer said. “Being White House press secretary will unequivocally go down as one of the greatest honors in my life.
At three different times, I’d been press secretary and communications director. There were times I assumed both roles. People need to understand that those are two separate jobs.”
In July of 2016, President Trump decided to name Anthony Scaramucci the White House communications director. So it’s safe to say Spicer knew it wasn’t going to end well.
“I’d known Anthony,” Spicer said. “He’s highly successful, but he’d never worked in government, media, or communications. I know what goes into these roles. I knew it wasn’t going to go well, and I was going to be the one blamed for that.”
So this was the perfect time for Spicer to go to the president. The lights were flashing, and he saw his off-ramp. So this was the time to take the exit.
“I told the president it was the right time for a reset,” Spicer explained. “You wanted Anthony to be your communications director. You should get a new press secretary as well. President Trump said, ‘No.’ He was generous to me, but it was the perfect time. It made sense to step down right then. God gives you off ramps. God might well have said, ‘Sean, here’s your off-ramp because there is a crash ahead. I got off on my own terms.’”
Spicer didn’t take Scaramucci’s hiring personally. “I guess I was shocked it only lasted ten days, but I knew it wasn’t going to last.”
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.
The State of the Radio Industry and Technology
“As the industry continues to evolve, radio broadcasters must find new ways to monetize their digital offerings and adapt to changing listener habits.”
After writing some three-dozen columns for Barrett Media, I often hear that I don’t provide a balanced view of the radio industry. Therefore, this week, I will write about the strengths and weaknesses of the radio industry. It may be a little simplistic, but it will make sense at the end. I promise.
The radio broadcasting business continues to evolve in the digital age, with strengths and challenges to consider. One of the most significant strengths of radio is its ability to reach a broad audience. Radio waves can travel long distances, allowing local stations to reach listeners beyond their immediate area. This makes radio a powerful tool for both local and national advertisers. Radio also reaches audiences in their cars, at work, and at home, providing advertisers with multiple touchpoints. According to the Radio Advertising Bureau, radio reaches 93% of adults in the United States each week, making it one of the most widely consumed mediums. Furthermore, radio is a cost-effective form of advertising, with lower ad rates than other media forms. This allows small businesses to reach a large audience without breaking the bank.
Another strength of radio is its role in emergency communication. In times of crisis, radio can provide important information to listeners quickly and efficiently. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires all radio stations to have emergency alert systems, allowing them to disseminate critical information to the public promptly. Radio can be a lifeline for communities during natural disasters, power outages, or other emergencies, providing updates on road closures, evacuation orders, and other important information. Radio can reach remote areas where other forms of communication may not be as reliable. This makes radio a vital tool for emergency responders, who rely on it to coordinate responses and disseminate information.
Despite these strengths, the radio industry faces several challenges in the digital age. One of the biggest challenges is competition from other media outlets, such as streaming services and podcasts. The rise of these digital platforms has led to a decline in traditional radio listening, which is likely to continue.
According to a Nielsen report, traditional radio listening among adults aged 18-34 has dropped by 20% over the last decade. Additionally, many radio stations are struggling to monetize their digital offerings, which has led to a decline in revenue. However, radio has been able to adapt by incorporating streaming services, podcasts, and other digital platforms, which allows them to reach a wider audience and cater to changing listening habits.
Another challenge is the consolidation of the radio industry. In recent years, there has been a significant amount of it, with a small number of companies owning multiple stations. This has led to less programming diversity and less market competition. This can lead to a homogenization of content, with less local flavor and less opportunity for new voices in the industry. However, many smaller independent stations have survived by providing unique and localized content catering to the needs of their community.
Despite these challenges, the radio industry continues to generate significant revenue. The Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) says that radio advertising revenue in the United States reached $18.9 billion in 2019. The radio industry has been able to adapt to the changing market, with many stations now offering a combination of traditional and digital programming. The industry has also been able to monetize digital offerings by incorporating targeted advertising, sponsorships, and other revenue streams.In conclusion, the radio broadcasting business is facing challenges in the digital age, but it continues to have an enormous audience reach and role in emergency communication.
Additionally, the industry continues to generate significant revenue. As the industry continues to evolve, radio broadcasters must find new ways to monetize their digital offerings and adapt to changing listener habits.
If my analysis seems a little simplistic or this column doesn’t seem like my typical style, it’s because I didn’t write it. The column was written using artificial intelligence (AI). More specifically, by the hottest tech trend these days, ChatGPT.
How hot? Here are a couple of data points from a report in Axios.
- In June, generative AI was covered in only 152 articles. Just six months later, the topic has generated roughly 12,000 news stories, according to MuckRack data.
- At this year’s CES trade show, 579 exhibitors were listed under the show’s “Artificial Intelligence” category — more than double of those categorized as “Metaverse” (176), “Cryptocurrency” (19), and “Blockchain” (55) combined.
ChatGPT is AI technology that allows you to have regular conversations with a chatbot that can answer questions and help with tasks such as writing columns.
ChatGPT is what Siri wants to be when she grows up.
ChatGPT is currently open and free while it’s in its research and feedback collection phase. If it’s not perfect, it’s certainly a lot of fun. It is also quite helpful when researching a topic (as long as the information you need is pre-2021). It is much more efficient and precise than Google, any other search engine, or Siri. I find myself obsessed with seeing what it knows and can do. If you try it, you probably will be too.
Andy Bloom is president of Andy Bloom Communications. He specializes in media training and political communications. He has programmed legendary stations including WIP, WPHT and WYSP/Philadelphia, KLSX, Los Angeles and WCCO Minneapolis. He was Vice President Programming for Emmis International, Greater Media Inc. and Coleman Research. Andy also served as communications director for Rep. Michael R. Turner, R-Ohio. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter @AndyBloomCom.