Saturday, September 26, 2009


Has the remote gone the way of the cart deck? If not, maybe it ought to. As a talent, how many times have you looked at the remote calendar, and made an audible sign of displeasure…the same noise you made when your ex told you she was keeping your reel-to-reel deck… when you saw your name next to the dealership for Saturday at 10 AM? “Not another crappy car dealer appearance!”

There have been only two dealership remotes that I’ve ever done where they “got it.” The first was at a Mazda dealership in Greenville, South Carolina…John Finger Motors. The other was at Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda; a motorcycle, 4 by 4 and watercraft dealership in Dallas, Texas. They both made an event out of the remote by adding stunt riders, food vendors, and toys. Anything that could add a little zing to the event. Both of the guys that owned the dealerships are Alpha males, both are racers, and they both have big-boy toys. They put everything they owned on the lot, and combined with everything else that was going on, it looked like a circus. From the street, you couldn’t drive by without looking to see what was going on. That’s easy to promote. Tell everyone about the party. I’ve been in radio for over 30 years, and I can only recall these two places that got it right? Yep.

How many times have you been there with a couple of boxes of pizza, two trays of Hooters wings, some stickers and a couple of Darryl Worley CD’s begging for anyone besides the local prize pigs, who eat you out of house and home, to show. Worst two hours of your life isn’t it? As soon as you get there, the sales guys on the lot try and grab all of the half-dozen t-shirts that you could scrounge up. You’ve got them pissed because you tell them they’re for their customers, and now you’re on their list for the rest of the remote. Especially when you tell them that fast-talkin’, nice-smellin’, meth-snortin’ Johnny Ray can’t do all the breaks with you.

I know it’s about the money when you sell a package, but come on, after shoving these things at our listeners every weekend…sometimes 3 at-a-time…for 10 years, how can you really expect anyone to show up “So that you can spin the prize-wheel for Ted Nugent tickets!” (Sorry Teddy). There’s nothing “special” about them anymore. One joker that I worked with was selling $400 remote packages, and was talking about doing cheaper ones during the week! Even the PD has relegated them to the back end of the stopset, and remember…the board-op has strict instructions to cut you off if you’re still talking 8 seconds after the bed has run out. Bwah!

I haven’t even mentioned that location broadcasting for HD stations is a waste of time if there are actually folks there watching you. The delay has them all shaking their heads. They didn’t get it. I hated it. I was embarrassed by it when I was in Dallas, and even more so in Memphis. Our owner didn’t want to spend the money on a marty, or a hotbox, and when we stopped staffing the weekends everyone had to record all the breaks. Sad.

Here’s another thing. Some day, the folks that don’t understand at your place might have the revelation that the way the station vehicle and everything about how your event looks, goes a long way towards how your listeners view your station. On my last stop on the trail in Memphis, the station vehicle, an HHR, was my ride. I was lucky, because here was one thing that I could control. The car was always washed, the gas was topped off at Sam’s club every weekend, I maintained all the audio equipment, and I knew what station promotional items I had in stock…including a clean table cloth.

Just a thought…something you may want to consider, even if you’re a small market guy or gal. You don’t have to look that way. Have a promotional photo taken of you that includes your name, station name and your airshift on it that you can hand out at events. I’ve used a caricature that I had made when I was in Nashville over a decade ago that I use for an autograph card. You might not think that you’re a big deal, but your listeners might. You don’t know what it does for kids to have something like that to take home with them.

I’m sure you’ve seen this too. Guy shows up wearing a clean staff shirt, but it looks like it came out of the bottom of an Army duffle bag. Buy an iron! Shine your shoes! Have your own headphones and for Chrissakes wear a watch! I once worked with a 7 to midnight guy that came to his own remote without headphones and a watch. I explained to him that these were the tools of his trade. I pointed out that this was very much like a carpenter showing up for work without a hammer and a saw. I swear this is true…when I mentioned the watch he told me, “I’m not into time man.” What a tie-dyed answer! I still love the guy. One more thing because I’m running pretty long here, and I don’t want the board-op to pot me down, but please show some civility. To me, that means being respectful of the people that are there to see you. The self-portrait you present to the world comes into vivid focus in the way you treat people.

Man, I know I have the worst mouth in the world. I was in the army and spent too many seasons in this business, but I still try and watch my language. Being civil also means getting out from behind the table and pressing the flesh with the folks. I was after a gig in Birmingham, Alabama a few years ago, and while scouting the events page of the station, I noticed that the morning guy was doing a handshake tour of the city. The one thing I noticed in every photo of every town they went was that the guy never got out from behind the table. I saw it in every photo on their events page. I actually pointed that out to the PD when I was applying for the guy’s job. It was his barrier between himself and the great unwashed.

From some of the stories I’m hearing coming out of the NAB in Philly, it sounds like there are going to be many changes to our business. I think it’s time to retool the remote and rethink what we’re doing with our weekends. Bring back “special.”

The next reader to stop by my house and tell me that they read this on FTC, will get those Ted Nugent tickets!


  1. I had Rothrock Chrysler-Dodge in Allentown, they rocked and Dandale's Western Ware in Wichita.

  2. Hey Tony:

    Great article. I hope you doing well and being healthy.

    It's funny, I can remember only 2 remotes in my 35 year career that were awesome also. One was at the McDonalds in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma.

    When I arrived there, all the employees were wearing our station T-shirts, the name of the station was on the marquee' and they had the posters up announcing the station's remote....a week early!!!

    The other one was in Edgerton, Ohio. This was at a used car dealer on a Sunday. He found an older vehicle that we auctioned off at the end of the remote. We did this by sealed bid.

    I believed the car was a '68 Olds 88 that he picked up at auction. The car was in descent shape. The year was 1991.

    At the end of the remote, the Olds auctioned off for about 1900 bucks. I remarked that the dealer must have lost a bundle on that.

    The dealer said, "heck no, I only paid 6oo bucks for the car!" So he made money, paid for the remote and sold a few used cars on a Sunday!

    Yes Tony, only a few get it.......

    Scott Miller
    Chattanooga, TN

  3. I am well. Thanks Scott.