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Radio Has Been Good To Ron Gleason But He’s Ready For a Change

Gleason recently announced his retirement and will be stepping down in a little less than five months and has been with WBBM since November 2005

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Mark Twain said some people got it wrong about his death. If you’re one of the folks that are certain the Chicago Bears are leaving WBBM, you might end up with a Twain-esque egg on your face.

“I must tell you, WBBM losing the Bears is not official,” said Ron Gleason,  director of news and programming at WBBM in Chicago. “I can understand some are concerned from an economic standpoint, but I don’t see how keeping the Bears on WBBM would be any economic loss.”

However, Gleason did say it would hurt if the Bears did leave the station.

“Not just me, I think it will hurt Jeff Joniak, Tom Thayer, who have been calling the games on this station for 22  years,” Gleason said. “This is my 22nd year with the Bears broadcast team, and it’s still the only thing I do on the air. Radio is ingrained in all our lives. Sure, it would be hard to take.”

While the Bears leaving WBBM is expected but not etched in stone, Gleason has in fact chiseled out his departure from the station and the business.

“I love what I do,” he said. “Radio is in my blood. I’ve known I wanted to be in radio since I was 12 years old.”

Gleason recently announced his retirement and will be stepping down in a little less than five months. He’s been with WBBM since November 2005, overseeing the station’s expansion from its AM-only signal on the 780 frequency to a simulcast with 105.9 FM in 2011. Radio Ink magazine has named him one of the nation’s top 10 program directors each of the last two years.

That’s the way to do it. Go out with a bang.

“One thing most people don’t understand is that when you’re in sports media, you’re working when everyone else is at leisure,” Gleason explained. “You work nights, weekends, holidays. I can’t tell you how many Thanksgivings, kids’ soccer games, family functions I’ve missed out on, but I wouldn’t trade back for the world.”

Gleason started covering sports while still a senior at Northwestern University. 

“I was a 21-year-old kid who got season credentials to the White Sox, Bears, and Bulls. I had to take public transportation to and from the games. It was the ‘L’ train there or a bus back. We didn’t phone stuff in so I’d go back and cut up tape at the John Hancock building.” 

Following his graduation from Northwestern, Gleason spent a year in Cheboygan, Michigan at WCBY-AM and FM.

“I did tons of high school play-by-play,” Gleason said. “I would call four games each weekend, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. I chose to do a lot of them solo as you got paid $15 bucks alone and only $10 if I worked with a color man. I figured I was working 90 hours a week trying to keep the players’ nicknames straight while sitting at the top of the high school stands in light rain, trying to spot the chains. It was quite an adventure.”

Gleason worked five and a half years at WJOL and WLLI in Joliet, Illinois, before he started his career as a sports reporter and anchor at WBBM. In 1988, he accepted a sports director position at WMAQ, where he also served as backup play-by-play announcer for White Sox baseball.

He stayed three years at WMAQ, until moving to the fledgling WSCR, The Score, as the station’s first director of sports and programming in 1991. At WSCR, Gleason oversaw the station’s launch from daytime-only to 24 hours, with two frequency changes and multiple ownerships.

“When I decided to join The Score, the frequency 830 AM was dark,” Gleason explained. “I agreed to join them as program director in July of that year, but they didn’t have a license at that point. It had been dark due to the previous owner having some FCC issues, but they cleared it up before the deal was consummated.” 

WSCR went daytime on January 2nd. It was very different stuff. A lot of people were skeptical and thought it was going to be a ‘Mickey Mouse’ thing that would quickly fade. 

“Ed Sherman, then the Chicago Tribune’s college football writer, was the first guest,” Gleason said. “He and Tom Shaer discussed the split national championship of Miami and the University of Washington. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and football analyst John Madden called in later that day.”

WSCR was off to the races. 

Gleason said he became aware of all-sports stations when there were about 30 around the country, outside of Chicago. He knew WFAN, and the changes they went through. Switching frequencies, then featured Don Imus. To whet his creative juices, he’d head home.

“I’d go to California and lay on the beach with my radio next to me,” Gleason said. “I used to listen to the Mighty 690 in San Diego, where Jim Rome was a local talk show host at the time. I listened to Lee ‘Hacksaw’ Hamilton and the San Diego Chargers. I didn’t listen much to morning radio. I listened to the original Monday Night Football with Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford. I gleaned a lot listening to them on the beach.”

Comfortable with the WSCR switch, Gleason absolutely knew the format would work. 

“I had a good feeling of what we wanted to sound like,” Gleason said. “First, we wanted to be entertaining. Informational in the morning, but as the day went on we wanted to become more raucous. We felt we could bring in more than just sports. At the time our target audience was men 25-54. We could create a locker room environment with more sports talk.”

Most of the big hirings were made before Gleason arrived. 

“I’d kept in touch, listened to a ton of cassette tapes. I knew the kind of people they were looking for.”

Tom Shaer and Dan MacNeil were onboard before Gleason got there. 

“We had conversations with Brian Hanley, Dan Jiggetts. As we went along I’d put in my two cents.  We had one major slot remaining in mid-December that was still a question mark. We’d talked to a number of people. I’d been listening to tapes for a month. There was a guy named Dan Vogel out of Milwaukee. Bruce Wolf was another guy I considered. I knew Wolf was going to be a great comedic talent, but he wasn’t an X’s and O’s kind of guy so he withdrew his name.”

You’re always looking for that intangible in a hire. At the same time, there are tangible needs.

“We definitely needed somebody who sounded like Chicago, who knew what they were talking about when it came to Chicago sports,” Gleason explained. 

“Whoever we brought on had to understand the Chicago landscape, know all about the teams. Their strengths, their weaknesses. What they’d like to see happen with the teams or what they were already satisfied with.”

Longtime WSCR personality Mike North was an unforeseen find. North had a hotdog business near WXRT. Their employees would go there regularly for lunch and enjoy hearing Mike spout off about sports while serving hot dogs.

“They sold time to Mike North to do what at the time would have been considered a sports handicap show,” Gleason said. “At the time, gambling on games within Illinois wasn’t legal, but you could talk about it. Mike was interesting. I had put his tape on the stereo in my condo at the time. I was with my then-fiance, now wife, and had it on in the background. Suddenly she started laughing, and I asked what she was laughing about. She told me Mike was funny, entertaining. He was talking about sports and my fiance knew nothing about sports, but still enjoyed him. It was the personality she heard. We’ve been together for 30 years now and I learned she is an excellent consumer. There was a time she worked in international books rights for a company. She’d have to look at manuscripts to determine if they should be purchased.” 

Gleason knew North was raw, but his instincts wouldn’t let him go. Gleason sat down with North and told him he’d like to bring him in as a weekend talk show host. 

“He said he appreciated that, but he told me I should hire him for his weekday job. He’d say, ‘Here’s why you should hire me for that job.’ 

Other people we were looking at weren’t right. So, they put Mike North in there without a contract. They figured if he didn’t work, we could make a change.

We decided to pair him with Dan Jigggits and hear what they sounded like,” Gleason said. “Three days after starting on the air, I knew the Jiggetts and North show was gold. We knew after three days we had something special.”

The Monsters of the Midday show, is a twist on the popular Chicago moniker, ‘Monsters of the Midway.’

Gleason knew they had won the figurative lottery. The only problem was the radio numbers didn’t reflect their confidence in this new product. Back then, Gleason said they had a diary system for ratings. But it was delayed and a month behind the date. Two months in, Gleason said the station didn’t show up in the book. 

“In the first quarter, we didn’t see much,’ Gleason said. “But we knew through January, February and March, we were lighting up the phones. Papers were writing everything about us. Conversations were generating gobs of conversation in the marketplace. The teams in the town were upset because they weren’t used to being criticized. We couldn’t understand why we weren’t showing up in the diaries, so we flew out to Laurel, Maryland. We found out a few things. It turned out Arbitron didn’t properly calculate the daytime numbers.” 

Gleason said the ratings were incorrectly correlated from the 820 frequency, which was sold to Westinghouse. 

“Right before we switched to 1160, we were number one in the 25-54 demographic. The radio industry was stunned. How was it possible for a daytime station to be number one in the target audience?” 

Gleason had the distinct pleasure of working with Walter Payton. 

“He was a playful guy, to the hilt,” Gleason said. “I would go and meet with him at his office to sign our contracts. We’d sit down with him and his associates. I reached out to shake his hand and he squeezed so hard it ached. Each ensuing time we met, I’d put out my hand to shake, then instinctively pull it back. I couldn’t go through that pain each time.”

Before going into management, Gleason covered the Bears from 1985-87 and saw the Bears players all the time. 

“I went to the post-game press conferences in a tent under the seats in Soldier Field. It was freezing, the players would come out and talk. One time I dropped something and Walter bent over to pick it up and gave it to me. 

That’s how nice he was. This is the same guy who in the locker room would walk by and pinch your butt.”

As a kid, Gleason worked full-time at night for Chicago’s Sportsphone. 

“Boy, that goes way back,” He said. “I was one of the original full-timers. There was Les Grobstein during the day. I worked with Tom Green at night. It was unbelievable training. I’d give a 60-second recording with sports updates. There was no internet, so we were the sole source. Gamblers were looking for out-of-town scores, and the only way they could get them was by calling this place. It was really cool. We also covered teams, gathered sound.” 

One of the reasons Gleason got into the business was Vin Scully. He grew up in Los Angeles and listened to him call Dodger games. He listened to Chick Hearn call games for the Lakers. Dick Enberg came out of Los Angeles, another Gleason favorite.

“I never met Vin Scully,” Gleason said. “I covered Dodger games once in a while but was a bit intimidated by him. You have to remember I was in awe of this man. I interviewed Chick Hearn for an old sportsline show on WBBM. It was a thrill because he was from Aurora, Illinois. I would listen to every single Dodger game on the air. I kept season statistics on my own, line by line. There was no other way to get that kind of information.”

Gleason is retiring, morphing from going full-throttle every day, to taking his foot off the accelerator completely. It could prove to be tricky. 

“I’m a workaholic, busy 24-7. I’ve been in this particular role for 17 years. Sports is still a part of it. I wouldn’t say I’m scared of retirement, but I don’t want to be involved in business around the clock anymore. I’d like to keep my hands in it. 

I want to be able to do what I want. I have a place in the desert in South Carolina. I also want to be able to turn something down by telling them, ‘I’m on a three-week vacation’.”

Bon Voyage 

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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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AUDACY

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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