Saturday, December 12, 2009


You will have to be in this business longer than 10 years to remember the following. When radio station’s had openings and they actually recruited for the best sounding talent available to fit the motif in place. Program Director’s would have openings and search the Country, without streaming and MP3’s to find talent. Networking and hard work applied on the employers part to find talent that fit the direction of the station. You knew you had to be of certain caliber to apply for certain jobs in radio, regardless of the format. Salaries and benefits were instinctual.

You never dictated your own level of involvement, we worked weekends and didn’t care, not one person complained. Or there was a Gerry Cagle story about a full-timer that told Cagle he didn’t want to work Sundays, he would miss football, Cagle told him (in Cagle style), you don’t have anything to worry about now, you have seven days off and fired the jock. We worked hard, we didn’t clock watch, and radio station’s had a magnetic sound, that catered to the listener and only the listeners. Sales departments and General Managers were not involved with the product identity of the stations. They sold spots and plenty of them. At KFRC on 415 Bush St, there was a drinking fountain, it was the line between business/sales/management and programming/engineering.

Now to find a job, you need to fit in, not with the sound of the station, but the game, politics and that crucial piece of the puzzle, how low will you take the job for and how close do you live to the opening without massive relocation costs. There are very little students of radio left, who can tell you about how they loved KHJ, Z-100, WMAQ, KLOS or WLS. They have been at their twenty thousand something job for 7-10 years in one market, they think the world in flat once you get passed the city limit sign. The smaller the market, the worse it is. Talent at smaller stations are worrying about everything but making the radio stations sound great. There is no welcome to the outside world and what exists at today’s winning radio stations regardless of format. I was called a “hard ass, or bull in a China cabinet” because I ask talent to be part of the process and made it my number one priority and let no one deviate from it. One GM asks me if I was ever in the military. Managers began finding sacred cows and protecting them from programmers. Thanks (added since last publishing) I was on a programming interview since this was published the first time where the Market Manager was more interested in how the applicants and the staff bonded. Great, let's let, in some cases, mundane air talent recommend the programmer that will be the least threat to the preservation of their lack of involvement. 

We loved new trends, great new ways of producing sweepers, a jingle that sounded better than the flavor of the week, Crazy-ass promos and legal ID’s. Find me someone that cares about this today and I will show you a rarity – And now ask me what is wrong with radio today. We need to stop blaming the owners and operators of radio stations and casting dispersions on the companies – Most of this problem is one we let transpire. We let talent for the last 10 years dictate their level of involvement in the process of winning radio and hid our head in the sands. Who's responsible for today's mess, not just manager and operators, but the talent and the program director's. Everyone is to blame. Now get involved in the product again, mend the fences and start creating great radio that has a street and social buzz to it.

Thanks to our friend Nikki Landry from Fresh 94.7 in Washington DC for the great reply:

"I agree with most of what you wrote. here are a few  deliminas inwhich I'm finding today. (I hear it on stations!!) Programmers are more worried about keeping their jobs, doing reports for corporate that they become disengaged in their talent. Talent needs to feel love too. Although some are high maintenance and I'll be the first to admit that at times I am gulity of that. But what you get in return is a super talent who pushes your product with excitement! What we need is to have programmers back to programming and developing talent. Get excited about your it used to be. I remember so many times a PD would LOVE to show off the jingles and the imaging/promotions of the station..they were PROUD of it..and they had every right to be so....and it was fun and it was inspiring to the talent. Now, it seems they are too busy to be excited about the station and too preoccupied to convey this to the jocks. I say bring back radio the way it was back in the 70's,80's and 90's...FUN!Stop the greed of the ole mighty dollar,  money will follow if you have a successful product.  Make radio live again, believe in what your selling and bring the listeners back...and cut the crap about liner jocks..get real radio..because radio isn't going anywhere...unless you're handing out Ipods..."


  1. "Great, let's let, in some cases, mundane air talent recommend the programmer that will be the least threat to the preservation of their lack of involvement. "

    How true. I'm a PD with a very good history, record ratings and great turnarounds in most situations. I also know I wasn't well-liked by everyone, nor everyone's good pal at these stations (meaning airstaff). But the job was done with great success due to the necessary discipline needed. Nobody likes that. Would these people invite me to party with them? Most would not, as very few seem to "get it". It's the easy way out for a lot of people.

    I believe if everyone likes you a whole lot, something's not getting done or said that needs to be, and the results probably reflect it. My previous station: down 50% in share (worse in ranking) since I left. One before that, down 40%. But hey, everyone loves the new PD's LOL. I sure I was called a**hole quite a bit behind my back while there, but the results speak for themselves. I get along fine with those who "get it" and who have a work ethic.

  2. Gina Preston Caplan commented on your note "REWIND 2009 - WHAT WENT WRONG ON OUR SIDE Chuck Geiger":

    "Here's what went wrong from my point of view:
    *deregulation allowed owners to purchase massive quantities of stations which looked like a good investment in the go-go 90s.
    *that necessitated economy of scale if they were going to pay back these massive debts. And they realized just like you don't need 5 separate receptionists, you don't need two pds for CHR and Hot AC, as they are similar, etc
    *consultants fed the fire, because without strong pds and music directors, groups were more dependant on them than ever
    *technology chipped in with satellite syndication and voicetracking and so you lost some local flavor, but massaged the rapidly shrinking bottom line as the bottom fell out of the Internet boom and budgets that went up 20% every quarter went unmet.
    *programming dug its own grave by telling the listeners commericals were bad by emphasizing ten in a row, etc.
    *listeners agreed by flocking to iPods, satellite radio and Pandora, cume and tsl hit the toilet and the economies became even more drastic
    To my mind, the only viable solution is to present content so compelling listeners will put up with spots to listen to local and talented people. Unfortunately, most of the people who can do that are syndicated (Bob and Tom, Imus) or at Sirius/XM and with the disappearance of slots in overnight and weekends, we failed to develop minor league talent. Nearly everyone I hear in Fresno has no idea where to look for content or how to frame a compelling break. Those of us who do are probably considered washed up old timers."