Things don’t always turn out as you hoped, so you make the best of it…
By Bob Burnham
Well, now we’re headed full steam into the holiday season now, and there’s no turning back! A year ago, I took a short trip to be at a holiday party put on by a broadcast client. The trip, however, was cut short.
This past summer, I supervised construction of a new tower / transmitter site for the same client. That trip, in a sense, was also cut short but for a different reason.
In both cases the activities were well intentioned but didn’t play out exactly as expected.
That is often the way a lot of activities go. The key is to keep a positive attitude. While they are underway, they may be mentally or financially taxing, but with a proper mental attitude, they can be kept from going into the “disaster” mode.
If you know me, you know I always have many “irons in the fire.” This is how I have always preserved my future and my career. For example, my “End of Year” promotional mailing for the old-time radio and classic TV show business was planned in the midst of the craziness. Thousands of copies sent out, and I am already working on a 2008 catalog not even knowing if the current promotion will be successful.
The process of doing this involves going through my many thousands of audio masters, and sometimes discovering stuff I didn’t know I had. The most interesting, of course, are tapes I saved from my various on-air antics. Those for my own amusement and are not marketed! Who’d care about them anyway!?
My on-air show came to WCAR in the Detroit area in 1988, before I actually became Chief Engineer at the station. I had archived the first several shows on reel-to-reel tape including the programming preceding and following my show. It is interesting to hear voices of the past who were part of the station almost TWENTY years ago.
Don Kostyu hosted an interesting talk show called “The Town Meeting” following my show. While I never really knew Don on personal basis, he was a bit of a pioneer as Rush Limbaugh was also just getting started at that point. Sadly, a few years later, Don committed suicide. Obviously, HIS life wasn’t turning out the way he wanted, and he couldn’t deal with it.
Another thing that might not be turning out as we hoped: That is, our friends, Deminski and Doyle at WXYT-FM (Formerly WKRK ‘Free FM’ which is now a sports station). Is there no hope for Detroit radio with all the out-of-town executives basically running their operation as a cut and dry business?
Their contract is up at the end of this month and last show is reportedly December 14. Is it their last show in Detroit? I’m getting that impression!
Broadcast execs that were imported from other markets obviously have no regard for the end product and especially no regard for the “End Product User.” That would be You and Me – and anyone who listens to local radio in the car, or anywhere. The only hope of maintaining any kind of listenership is through development and maintenance of high-end Content, which is primarily focused on morning shows.
Radio is completely a numbers game. Listenership numbers seem to be far less important these days than dollar numbers required to operate a radio station. I always thought the two were tied together – and in reality, THEY ARE. But the enormous economical pressures are starting to take their toll. Turning red ink into black and eliminating risk in a market with an economy that is in desperate condition has already taken some broadcast legends off the air decades before “their time,” or is at least sending some to more prosperous markets.
So if a manager comes to Detroit from New York (or anywhere) and his task is stop the station from hemorrhaging money he or she does LOGICALLY what they feel they MUST do. Maybe their actions (popular or not) will be successful in the long run, maybe not. Maybe he’s just putting off the inevitable. The fact is the pool of listeners just aren’t there they way the used to be partially because there is a lot less to KEEP THEM THERE.
So it is a vicious cycle. Hopefully it won’t be repeated too often and enough creative people will make it into management who know how to balance dollars and cents (or is that SENSE) with quality content.
Or perhaps one day, to get our talk radio fix we will be limited to people doing (and listening to) podcasts. The best of them will of course, come from RADIO backgrounds.
Good luck D & D, no matter what happens.
I want to mention my two favorite BLOG sites:
At the top of my list is Gregg Henson of Gregghenson.com fame.
Gregg offers a lot of content about Detroit radio (since he came from it himself).
He is still a talk show host himself in Austin, Texas. Gregghenson.com also includes sports and curious items in the news as frequent features. Whether you always agree or not, the guy has a perfect mixture of common sense and logic with edgy humor. The local media are always quoting items from his website. He was one half of the most successful version of 97.1 FM's Motor City Middays along with Michelle McKormick...another show where the chemistry actually worked well, but it was busted apart.
But in passing, Gregg once credited a good friend of mine, Mark Pasman (The beloved “Paz” of Motor City Blues Project fame) of WCSX as helping him in the earliest days of his career. In some of my circles, we regard Paz as “The Coolest Man on the Planet.” Obviously, he saw something worth encouraging in Gregg Henson. The fact that Henson apparently didn’t forget Paz either, is obvious proof this guy is the real deal as well. If you want the phart jokes, he’s got those as well, but there’s some real depth here folks. It’s another sad thing that Henson was also forced to leave Detroit, which is his hometown.
My other regular blog reading is Michiguide.com, which is mostly radio. The writings of “Radio’s Best Friend,” Art Vuolo as well as columnist Mike Austerman are regular features of this site. Michiguide has everything you could ever possibly want to know about radio and television stations in Michigan.
So make the best of it: Wherever D & D end up, I’m sure they will be streaming on the show on the internet. Gregg’s show from Austin is on there too. Some time back, he also did some independent internet shows featuring people from his old show in Detroit. It's all big fun and it's all good, if you don't whine and complain about how terrible things are. Do something about it yourself. Radio is changing like everything does. Go with the flow. Listen on your computer... or DON'T change and go listen to your 1905 Edison Wind-Up Gramophone!
Yes, in December ’07, there still is a Santa Claus. But he’s having to deliver more computers and computer speakers these days. Radios just aren’t as popular anymore.