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Ryan Gorman Laid Groundwork For Long Radio Career as a Teen

Ryan Gorman started his radio career at 16 while he was still in high school. He began interning at the legendary pop music station WFLZ in Tampa, FL.

Jim Cryns

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Ryan Gorman comes across as a man wiser than his age. Think of him as a red wine that has aged perfectly, but he’s still in a recently corked bottle. A sommeliers’ paradox. 

In January, he began hosting The Ryan Gorman Show, airing weekdays from 7-10 am ET on NewsRadio WFLA and via the iHeartRadio app. The new show breaks down the day’s biggest news and trending stories and features interviews with national, state, and local newsmakers, analysts, and experts.

Ryan’s radio career started at 16 while he was still in high school. He began interning at the legendary pop music station WFLZ in Tampa, FL. 

“When I was in high school I was all about Top 40 music,” Gorman said. “We had the local AM station, WWJB, and I just happened to walk in there. I told them I was working over at 93.3, but I was really only interning. I asked them for something to do. ”

The ruse worked. The station gave him an hour as a host at WWJB.

After Ryan graduated high school, he went on to study political science and history at the University of South Florida while continuing to work at WFLZ.  He rose from intern to weekend talent and landed his own late-night show. This was his first on-air job. At WWJB he mostly did promotions. The idea was always to get on the air. It took a little time for Gorman to figure out where he’d fit in. 

Gorman hosted USF’s top college radio show on WBUL-AM, where he focused on politics and coverage of the 2004 Presidential election. 

“It wasn’t really a political talk show,” Gorman explained. “It was more community-based. We’d talk about board meetings, who won the big game on Friday night. I couldn’t fail. They let me run with it and turn it into whatever I wanted. I can’t thank them enough for that.”

In May 2005, Ryan left the University of South Florida and FLZ to take a job as the night show host and music director for WFKS-FM in Jacksonville.

“I’d wanted to have my own night show since I was 21,” Gorman said. “It was a great experience. Everything I wanted a night show to be.” He continued to host his highly-rated night show until January 2007, when he accepted a position at WKSS in Hartford, Connecticut.

“It was mornings,” he said. “I felt mornings would be a new experience for me. It was good and we were successful. I was the co-host and a woman named Courtney was the host.”

While on the morning show, Gorman led a petition with 20,000 signatures to stop the state’s gas tax increase. The petition was brought to the state legislature floor and led to the increased proposal being voted down.

On the show, Gorman said Courtney did radio in her own way and he did it his own way. “We covered some Hollywood stuff, relationship issues.” That kind of chatter can grow stale after a while. Gorman studied political science in school and his interests surpassed the dietary habits of the Kardashians. So, back to Jacksonville. 

“When I came back it was different,” he said. “I built a different show. I’d use a lot of audio to tell a story, then build segments around that. A lot of crazy ‘Florida Man’ stuff. It was a little like Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. At least in that mindset. I loved the team in Jacksonville on the second run. Again I was given a lot of room to learn and grow.”

So on your Gorman scorecard, we’ve gone from Florida to Connecticut and back to Florida. Chicago would be next on the list. In 2010, Gorman became an afternoon show host on WKSC-FM in Chicago. “We quickly became the highest-rated afternoon show in the station’s history. We did familiar things like having special reporters for different things. Chicago winters are brutal, but Gorman stuck it out for five years.

He lived across from Soldier Field in the South Loop. “I didn’t know much about Chicago before I moved there. My family is from New York, and I knew Los Angeles. All I knew about Chicago was Michael Jordan and the Bulls. That and the Cubs never won. Oh, and Oprah. I was shocked by how big the city was. But it still had a Midwestern feel to it. The speed was different, the people were different from New York. It was a great experience.”

He’d accomplished what he’d set out for in Chicago. “We turned it into a beast,” he said. Gorman had the desire to move from the music side more toward the news side, more long-form stories.” 

Even though he did well in Chicago, something didn’t feel right. 

“The music side of radio had changed,” Gorman said. “It was much more formulaic. Talk 10-15 seconds over the music, keep things moving. There seemed to be less personality in the shows. I always wanted to branch out with other interests.”

A lot of people wouldn’t understand the idea of leaving the country’s third market in Chicago to go back to Florida.

“It’s where my career started. I worked my way back to iHeart in Tampa and slowly worked my way back up.”

Gorman made his news bones with his coverage of Hurricane Irma in 2018. 

“Grace Blazer became my mentor when it came to news and talk,” Gorman explained. “I started filing in on some morning shows. Northern Florida is what I call home. It has been so cool coming back this time around. I think the rest of the country is beginning to see how wonderful it is, the benefits of being down here. We’ve got the beaches, the great downtown areas of St. Pete and Tampa. The cities are starting to reach their true potential. I think Tom Brady going to the Buccaneers was a great public relations boost for the area.”

Gorman said it’s important to do a talk show in a place you really care about. Your community. He said it comes across on air and makes a big difference. 

“With sports talk, I’m a diehard NY sports fan. It’s hard to take that emotion out of a broadcast. I can’t do sports from any random city with any passion. I have to feel it. We do a mix on our show. We’ll start with big state and local topics. That’s what differentiates us from the rest of the day on the station. We’ll look at some national stories, find an angle on how to cover that. We take a lighter approach as often as we can, depending on the material.”

Gorman said it’s not his job to persuade anybody of anything. I’ll give my take on certain things. “Each day the focus will go on how I believe I can make something entertaining. People are on their way to work and I don’t want to beat them over the head with a hard take all morning. There’s enough of that going on around already. I’ve had my moments when I get knee-deep in the policy. Trying to make my case.” 

A listener might hold a message longer when they enjoyed receiving it. How it was presented. Some just want to hear what they want to hear. 

“Diehard political people want Clay & Buck and Hannity. We’ll mix in Trump when we can, but won’t beat them over the head. I promise you’ll hear my opinion and I like to spout off at times. But mine is a genuine take. There are some grifters out there. I could easily have gone hard right, created a nice lane for myself, like a lot of people have done.”

Gorman also hosts iHeartRadio Communities, a national show running on nearly every iHeartRadio station. The show is dedicated to highlighting the people and organizations working to make a positive difference in communities across the country. 

“Last week I spoke with January Contreras, assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services.”
Gorman also hosts national coverage of elections and major news events for iHeartRadio news and talk affiliates and contributes to the Daytime TV Show in Tampa.

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BNM Writers

Market Still Finding 2023 Footing

After some rigorous data analysis, the thoughtful, numbers-based host was able to formulate some potential conclusions.

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While it’s hard to imagine 2023 being as painful for investors as 2022, experts still cannot say for certain we are destined for blue skies ahead. Many in the media are starting the year by sifting through the stock market tea leaves; trying to figure out what historical data can tell us about probabilities and expectations for the next twelve months.

Some think the United States is poised for a market rebound, while others remain quite bearish, feeling that negative policy implications have yet to be fully realized.

Peter Tuchman of Trademas Inc. joined Neil Cavuto on his Fox News program Friday, to offer his thoughts about where the American stock market might be headed in light of the newly-divided United States Congress.

“Markets have a sort of a gut of their own,” Cavuto opened. “Today’s a good example. We’re up 300 points, ended up down 112 points. What’s going on?”

“Markets don’t like unknowns, and markets need confidence. The investing community needs confidence,” Tuchman said. “And I think it’s going to take a lot of work to rebuild that. And as we saw the other night with what went on in the House, it feels like people should get busy governing as opposed to all this posturing.”

Six months ago, Tuchman didn’t have a solid feel for the direction of the market. And just two trading weeks into the year, he still doesn’t believe any real trend has been established.

“The market has yet to find its ground. It’s yet to find its footing,” Tuchman told Cavuto. “And still, even coming into 2023, the first week of trading we have not found our footing. We have come in on a couple of economic notes that were a little bit positive. We opened up with a little bit of irrational enthusiasm. By the end of the days we were trading down.”

Meanwhile, some financial outlets, such as CNBC, have dug into the data showing what a market rise during the year’s first week – such as what we experienced this year – potentially means for the rest of 2023. They published a story last week with the headline, Simple ‘first five days’ stock market indicator is poised to send a good omen for 2023“.

On an episode of his popular YouTube program late last week, James from Invest Answers dug into 73 years of stock market data, to test that theory and see if the first five days of yearly stock market performance are an indicator of what the market might do over the full year.

“Some analysts pay attention to this, the first five trading day performance, can it be an indicator of a good year or a bad year,” James began last week, “I wanted to dig into all of that and get the answer for myself. Because some people think yes. Some people swear blind by it. Some people think it’s a myth or an old wive’s tale. Some people think it’s a great omen.”

After some rigorous data analysis, the thoughtful, numbers-based host was able to formulate some potential conclusions.

Based on James’ analysis…

If the gains from the first five market days of the year are negative, the market rises 86 percent of the time over the full year, with an average gain of 6%.

If the first five days are positive, the market increases 92% of the time, with an average yearly gain of 16%.

Most importantly, in this year’s scenario, where the first five days saw a jump of more than 1%, the market traditionally ends positive for the year 95 percent of the time. Those years see an average yearly gain of 18%.

“Is it a good omen, does it look bullish?” James asked. “Well, yes, based on history. But remember, there are factors like inflation, interest rates, geopolitical turmoil, supply chains, slowing economy. All that stuff is in play. But history also says that the market bounces bounces back before the market even realizes it’s in a recession. That’s an important thing to know.”

On his Your World program, Cavuto wondered if the recent House speaker voting drama has added to the uncertainty facing markets.

“Historically, Wall Street definitely is a bit more friendly to a Republican administration,” Tuchman said. “We’re in new ground, there’s no playbook, Neil. And I went over it with you the last time. There’s no playbook for coming out of a pandemic. No playbook for what’s gone on over the last two and a half years. Let’s think about it. March 2020, the market sold off so radically. We had a rally of 20 percent in 2020. 28 percent in 2021, in the eyes of a global economic shutdown due to the Federal Reserve’s posturing and whatnot.

“And now we’re trying to unwind that position. In tech, and in possible recession, and inflation and supply chain issues. So, there’s no way historically to make a judgment on what the future looks like in that realm, let alone what’s going on in the dis-functionality of what’s happening in Washington. I would like to disengage what’s going on in Washington and try and rebuild the confidence in the market coming into 2023.” 

So while the data might indicate a strong year ahead, the fact is that many analysts still won’t make that definitive call amidst such economic turmoil gripping the country. 

Along with U.S. markets, they remain steadfast in their search for solid footing.

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BNM Writers

Does Radio Need A Video Star?

If there’s revenue attached, the debate is over. If there isn’t a deal on the table, and there aren’t already orders to monetize a video stream, it’s likely coming soon.

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Last week numerous stories about using video with broadcasting or audio podcasting became a hot topic of discussion.

A Morning Consult poll found that 32% of Americans prefer podcasts with video, compared with 26% who like just audio better. Among podcast listeners, 46% said they favor them with video, compared with 42% who said they would rather listen without video. It’s worth noting that these are podcast listeners, not radio listeners.

Video has become the latest trend in audio. Almost everybody is trying to do some form of video. Many shows already stream online. A few others simulcast on a television or cable channel. It seems nobody believes in pure audio anymore. It’s a wonder everybody didn’t go into television instead of radio.

Before everybody else starts adding webcams in the studio, it’s worth weighing the reasons to move ahead versus slowing down.

The first person to realize they could use video of their show may have been Howard Stern. In June 1994, Stern started a daily half-hour show on E! network, featuring video highlights from his radio show. Stern added slick production values and faster pacing on the E! show.

Don Imus started simulcasting on cable during the same month. It’s possible others that I’m not aware of started earlier.

Stern’s E! show made sense. It answered the most common questions people asked about the show, in addition to what’s he really like; the first questions people usually asked were: 1) Are the women really as good-looking as he says? 2) Do they really take their clothes off? The E! show answered those questions. In addition, it gave a backstage glimpse of the show.

The same month Stern’s E! Show began, Imus began simulcasting his show on cable networks. I would have feared losing ratings. In fact, Imus’ program director did!

I spoke to my long-time friend and colleague Mark Chernoff (Current Managing Director of Mark Chernoff Talent and on-air talent 107.1 The Boss on the NJ Shore, Former Senior VP WFAN and CBS Sports Radio, VP Sports Programming CBS Radio) about the impact simulcasting Imus’ show had on WFAN. Chernoff may have the broadest range of experiences with simulcasting radio programs with video. 

Imus began on CSPAN but shortly afterward moved to MSNBC. Chernoff told me: “When we started simulcasting Imus, I suggested we’d lose about 15% of our radio audience to TV, which we did.” Chernoff added that there was a significant revenue contribution and that the company was content with the trade-off.

WFAN had a different experience simulcasting Mike and the Mad Dog on YES in 2002. “In this case, TV was helpful, and we increased listenership,” said Chernoff. WFAN also benefited financially from this simulcast.

Imus was on in morning drive while Mike & the Mad Dog were on in the afternoon. Keep the era in mind, too. Before smartphones and high-speed streaming, it was not uncommon for people to have televisions in the bed or bathrooms and have the tv on instead of the radio as they got ready for their day. In the afternoon, fewer people would have had video access in that era.

Ratings measurement moved to Portable People Meter (PPM) by the time WFAN started streaming middays on its website. Chernoff reported streaming had no ratings or revenue impact – positive or negative – on middays. However, the company did provide an additional dedicated person to produce the video stream.

The early forays into video by pioneers such as Stern, Imus, and Mike & the Mad Dog are instructive.

There are good reasons to video stream shows. Revenue is a good reason.

If there’s revenue attached, the debate is over. If there isn’t a deal on the table, and there aren’t already orders to monetize a video stream, it’s likely coming soon.

Another good reason is if the video can answer questions about the show, as the E! show did for Howard Stern.

On the other hand, audio companies are going to throw a lot of money at video, based on the notion that it’s what they “should” do because:

  • It’s the latest trend. Being late on this trend is different from missing the Internet or Podcasting. Industries already revolve around video; television and film come to mind.
  • Podcast listeners like it (by a slight plurality).

Before turning on webcams, see what viewers will see. The studios at many stations I’ve worked at were better not seen. Considerations include; the set, lighting, wardrobe, visuals, and a plan.

Too many video streams of studios feature the fire extinguisher prominently in the shot or the air personalities milling about during terminally long breaks.

Before going live, watch the video with no audio. Is it interesting? Compelling? Does the video draw you in, or is it dull?

With program directors now spread so thin handling multiple stations, a dedicated person to oversee streaming should be a requirement for stations streaming shows.

Other considerations:

  • How could this help us, and how could it hurt us?
  • How does the video enhance the show?
  • Will personalities do their radio show or perform for the cameras?
  • What production values are you able to add to the video?
  • What happens during those seven- eight-minute breaks if it’s a live radio show (vs. a podcast)? What will people streaming video see and hear? Does everybody on the show get along?

Do you have revenue attached? What do you expect will happen to the ratings?

WFAN earned significant revenue for two. Therefore, the company wasn’t concerned when the ratings took a hit for the first one and were surprised when they helped the second one. They didn’t see any impact on ratings or revenue the third time.

After all the budget cuts and workforce reductions over the past decade-plus, before audio companies invest in video, shouldn’t we get: people, marketing, promotion, or research monies back first?

Most of us decided to get into radio (or podcasting) instead of television or film. There’s a reason they said, “video killed the radio star.”

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BNM Writers

Streaming Platforms Cannot Be Forgotten By News/Talk Program Directors

BNM’s Pete Mundo writes that if you’re a News/Talk program director, you run two radio stations and what comes through the streaming platforms.

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If you’re a News/Talk program director, you run two radio stations. Didn’t you know that? Oh. Well, you do. 

I’m not just referring to our over-the-air broadcast but also what comes through our streaming platforms. Alexa, Google Home, apps, computers, etc., are all streaming platforms of our radio stations, which for most of us, are airing different commercial inventory than what is coming through the radio.

I understand none of us are unnecessarily looking to add to our plate, but our streaming platforms are the way we are getting more people to use our product. So neglecting, or forgetting about it, is a bad business decision, especially in the talk space. 

Across all clusters, talk radio is far more likely to have high streaming use when it comes to total listening hours. Listeners are more loyal to our personalities and often can’t get the AM dial in their office buildings during the day, or even if they can, they don’t want to hear our voices through static, so they pull up the stream. 

It’s never been easier to listen to talk radio stations, thanks to our station apps and websites (although welcoming some sites to the 21st century would be a good idea). So, given the challenges many of us face on the AM band, why not push our audience to the stream and make sure the stream sounds just as good as the over-the-air product?

The tricky part in putting together a quality stream sound is trying to balance what ads are programmatic, which ones are sold locally, where is the unfilled inventory and what is filling that gap?

And unlike your over-the-air product, where you can go into a studio, see what’s coming up, and move inventory around, that technology is not available in most cases. So yes, it’s a guessing game.

But as the talk climate continues to change, the best thing we can do to build our brand and trust with the next generation of talk radio listeners is to find them and engage them where they are, which may not always be next to a physical radio. That will be on a stream. How do I know that? Because if they have a smartphone, they have (access to) the stream.

Of course, the over-the-air product remains the massive revenue generator for our stations, as in most cases, the streaming revenue is not close to comparable. But then, if we look years down the road, that will likely start to change. 

To what degree? That’s unknown. But double-digit growth on an annual basis should not be out of the question when it comes to stream listening. It should be a very achievable goal, especially in our format. So our listeners who are P1’s, love the station and want to consume as much of the content as they can, can be on the AirPods in the gym, desk at work, or in their home office and listen to our radio stations. 

Heck, with Alexa and Google Home, they don’t even have to turn a dial! They just speak. So if they’re there, let’s keep them there.

There are simply too many media options today to lose our listeners due to sloppy streaming quality that makes us sound like a college radio station. Instead, listeners, who find us there should be rewarded with a listening experience that is just as high-quality as what they would get on the AM or FM band.

And if we play our cards right, it will be better, serving the industry incredibly well through a new generation of listeners.

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