Category Archives: Programming

Alexa Won’t Help If Listeners Don’t Know Who To Ask For!

Gary Berkowitz

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

Lately, you can’t pick up a trade without reading an article about Alexa and smart speakers. The consensus is that smart speakers (Amazon, Google, etc.) will bring radio back into homes where radios have been disappearing over the past decade. I support this theory 100%, but there are a few areas to carefully look at as we enter this new territory. If listeners don’t know you’re there and if they don’t know who to ask for, smart speakers will be just one more technology that we (radio) will compete with versus be a part of. With that in mind, please keep these ideas in mind.

Do more than run obligatory liners about Alexa skills. Saying, “Alexa, play Magic 106.5” may not be enough. We need to explain to listeners that we are available there and wherever they have a smart speaker, they have us. The same goes for smartphones. I have recommended to many stations the line “If you have a phone, you have a radio.” Campaigns should be developed that explain the smart speaker explosion (as well as phone apps) and how to listen to us. Be creative. Be fun. This is what radio does best. Making your station a “must listen” on smart speakers is crucial for our new found “in home” success.

I continue to hear stations (in all formats) do a poor job of on-air ID. Jocks more often than not, rush thru, mumble and do not SELL the call letters and dial position. This will have a very adverse effect on smart speakers, because, as the title of this article says, “Alexa won’t matter if they don’t know who to ask for.” Whether you’re a dairy or PPM market, it does not matter when it comes to Alexa. She is all about recall, so it’s back to the future! This all reminds me of “The Bob Morgan Mantra.” Bob was the market manager of CBS/Rochester for many years. In every meeting, Bob reminded us that we had to be “Brilliant with the Basics..” Alexa has brought that back into the forefront (not that it ever left).

Catchy, fun and memorable (sing along) jingles could have a rebirth. We have been in a very “drums and call letter” style of jingles for a while. I suggest that stations use catchy jingles to help listeners remember who they are listening to. Put aside cool and hip. Think “sing along” and “memorable” so when they say “Alexa, play … they say you because they remember you.

Talk content will need careful management to ensure that the Alexa message is clear and easy to remember. Do you want your jocks selling more listening opportunities (Alexa, Google Home) or some tertiary pop culture story (Ok, ok … take it easy on me for saying this!).

In summary. This new smart speaker technology is going to require us to go back to the basics of doing “memorable programming”, so listeners put us top of mind. So, remember, Alexa won’t matter, if listeners don’t remember who to ask for.

  • Call letters and dial position always first, last and in many cases, in-between.
  • Clever,creative promos that tell listeners that they can listen to us on their smart speaker. Go beyond the sweeper.
  • Acquire easy to remember Alexa skills.
  • Review imaging to ensure that it clearly addresses smart speaker technology.
  • Discovering jingles that are clever, memorable and excel in “sing along.”

Smart speakers are giving us the opportunity of a lifetime to be part of a technology that is exploding. Let’s not miss the train! I’m ready to get on-board. How about you?

Gary Berkowitz is President of Detroit based Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting, specializing in ratings improvement for AC radio stations. www.garyberk.com

The 5 Things Every Format Must Do For Better Ratings

Gary Berkowitz

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

Yes, this is a newsletter that is mostly focused on AC radio. But with the spring book just around the corner (March 28), I would like to review 5 things that EVERY station, regardless of format, needs to look at to give you the best shot at a good outcome when spring results are released. If you play music and have on-air personalities, this information is for you.

1. Identify your station properly and frequently. I sometimes get tired of hearing myself say this, but you cannot give your call letters and frequency enough. 85% of diary keepers report listening by entering (in the diary) the EXACT FREQUENCY. Say it slow. Say it often and sell it effectively. Have you noticed that when you ask a listener what station they listen to, they almost always say 100 POINT 3. They usually do not say “100-3…makes me wonder why some stations drop the point. Just sayin!

2. Focus your music. It’s easier than ever to find out the most important songs for your format. Discover them and play them often. Bigger is not better. It astounds me that some smaller market programmers feel that having a large playlist is important because they are in a smaller market. This makes no sense. Think about it this way. The McDonalds in Rapid City, South Dakota (market #251) is no different than the McDonalds in New York City (Market #1). Same menu. Same look. Listeners want the hits, not secondary or mediocre songs.

3. Promote your benefits. If you have a killer morning show, promote it. If you have a two hour at work kick off, focus on it. If you play the most music in your market, let the market know. Promoting the benefits of listening to your station far outweigh the benefit of promoting what is going on in the world of say pop culture.

4. “Companionship is more important than content”. If your personalities are not companions to your listeners, it won’t work. Its not what they say as much as it is “how they say it.” Radio is all about that friendly voice coming out of the speaker. Yes, people listen on many different types of devices, but the one thing that still wins out are personalities that are inviting, welcoming and friendly to the listener.

5. Use your contesting to create additional “occurrences of listening.” Look at it the way retail does. Just ahead of big weekends or holidays, supermarkets offer, for example, Coke products for .50 for a two-liter bottle. Why so cheap? Cause they want to get you into the store. They figure they can sell the product at cost, and hopefully, you will spend additional dollars while you are there. Your contesting should do the same thing. Use it to “get them to turn you on.” Then it’s up to you to get them to spend additional time. One more thing on contesting. Forget about “forced listening.” in today’s world. It does not work.

Please think about these 5 points as they apply to all formats that play music. Put them into practice and you’ll be happy this summer when spring results are released!

Gary Berkowitz is President of Detroit based Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting, specializing in ratings improvement for AC radio stations. www.garyberk.com

To My General Manager: A few things I Would Like To Tell You…

Gary Berkowitz

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

Dear General Manager,

There are a few things that have been on my mind. Please allow me this letter to tell you.

PD’s need positive reinforcement too. Since most GM’s come from sales, they sometimes treat the PD different. If you haven’t figured this out yet, us PD’s can be a weird combination of sensitive, paranoid and “artsy-craftsy.” Yes, at times, we are not easy to manage, but that’s why you’re there. Tell me when you hear something you like or something you heard that got your attention. Positive or negative, I need to know you’re listening and paying attention.

Please know this. I understand that we are a business and I get how we make revenues. At the same time, please realize that the #1 complaint I get from listeners is not about the music. It’s that we play too many commercials. If we’re going to kill it with way too many spots, please don’t complain to me when the ratings are released and don’t look good. I may need to remind you of this conversation. “We have to add another unit, but they won’t notice.” Trust me. They notice.

When you walk around the building, please put a smile on your face. Even though things are not always perfect, its important for all of us to see you feeling good and most important, confident. You really do set the tone of the building. When (and if) the trades are buzzing (for better or worse) about our company, please address it. We dislike rumors as much as you do.

When you tell me about what your wife and her friends think, you lose credibility with me. I love input, but the “My Wife and her friends” line wears thin, quick.

Let me help with promotions. It’s my specialty. I hate it when the AE walks in trying to slam a promotion down my throat (since they have already agreed to it). Bring me into the discussion before we present and more important, commit. In most cases, we will be able to offer a better promotion that will work for the client as well as our station. I’m happy to work with the AE’s on the proposal. I know where and how it will best fit into the station brand.

The most important thing you can do for me (as your PD) is communicate what is going on. Be honest, especially when things are not good. I’m better when I know.

Change is inevitable. Everyone in the programming dept knows that. Can you be the first GM to allow air talent to say goodbye when the time comes? Why is it that when TV people leave, they usually get to say they are moving on. In radio, personalities just disappear in thin air. Listeners do not like that. I realize there are some circumstances where we cannot allow a talent to say something, but many times a quick goodbye would go over well with our audience. We’re always trying to build a relationship with listeners. Then at the end, their favorite DJ just disappears. Trust that I will know which talent can be trusted to leave in a positive way and say goodbye to the listeners.

Can it wait until after my air shift? I realize you have deadlines but discussing it with me when I’m on the air is never good. No matter what you’d like to discuss, it will most likely distract me and that’s never good. Whether I’m live or voice-tracking, please…can it wait?

Yes, I need a small “expense budget” for my airstaff. Spending time away from the station with talent is important. I would love to be able to take them out for a lunch every now and then. This will reap big rewards.

In conclusion: Programming people are like middle children. We aim to please. We get up every morning with the goal of winning by doing great radio. We’re in it because we love it. Please be our leader and know that our goal is to make the radio station successful with both our listeners and the inside people who make it happen 24/7.

Gary Berkowitz is President of Detroit based Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting, specializing in ratings improvement for AC radio stations. www.garyberk.com

2019: Does Talent Really Matter?

Tim Moore

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Tim Moore,
Managing Partner
Audience Development Group

Tim Moore will be speaking at the Great Lakes Media Show, March 5-6, 2019 in Lansing.  For more information and to register, click here.

Mega groups are struggling with capital debt which means less emphasis on performance underscored by fewer program directors who have the time or training to recruit much less coach their airstaff under the toxic presumption “listeners don’t really care about personalities.” The choice is simple; as a PD you can be an artist or a victim. “Artists” have the personal power to help make their people and products better. Victims float along with matchless strategic vacuity…and when that occurs, no matter the format, size or scope of a radio brand, it’s locked in neutral (which really means in decline).

In 2018, yours truly conducted twenty-three Focus Groups across multiple formats (something we offer our programming clients as value-added). We’ve done them from San Diego to New York and a lot of markets in between. Is there one universal, inarguable outcome regardless of format? Yes: listeners everywhere highly value personalities on the radio and each panel talks about their favorite personalities while offering anecdotal observations-even criticism-for some.

You would think with all the peripheral noise radio personalities just wouldn’t matter as much today. You would be dead-wrong. When a focus panel can talk in depth about a show’s content, its cast members and/or unusual nuances, you know they’re fully engaged. If your company doesn’t believe it or worse, doesn’t care, expressed through a favorite response: “Can’t we track it?,” you have a rugged road ahead. Here is what we know and stronger radio companies support: with the exception of Spoken Word formats, seventy-five percent of an audience will come to a radio station based on its music exclusivity, but it’s only twenty-five percent of why they leave!

This delivers us to a paradox: winning stations and their ownership know the value of “what’s between the songs.” Crossing all format boundaries to include News-Talk and Sports, Focus Group after Focus Group loudly proclaim, “talent matters a lot!” Often, we ask them to scale it: “One to ten, (ten meaning very important, ‘one’ meaning not at all important), where do you guys rank the Q-105 morning show?” Over the past year I can’t recall a ranking lower than 7.

Probing deeper with a simple question like, “What leads you guys to feel that way about Rock 95’s Morning Sickness?” We often hear very specific descriptions of why and how they’ve attached to a personality or show: “Well, they talk to us, not at us…”

As a Manager, as a Program Director, “passion” means caring enough about your art that you’ll do almost anything to share it, give it away, making it a gift to change people in your building. Whining and fear become self-fulfilling prophecies in stressed organizations, yet the greatest property in front of more than two hundred seventy-million American weekly listeners is the very basic opportunity to make a difference in someone’s day which simply can’t be done with songs alone. Focus panelists are universal in this proclamation.

When a programming person or a talent says, “I don’t have any good ideas,” I ask them, “Well do you have any bad ideas?” Eighty percent of the time they answer, “no.” They need and deserve your leadership and support.

It’s a new year; do you believe your company culture appreciates the proven critical importance of their air talent? Assuming they do, how can you collaborate to raise your talent staff’s awareness and performance? You don’t need more genius, you need more commitment. Just ask a Focus Group.

Tim Moore is Managing Partner of Audience Development Group, based in Grand Rapids, MI and Naples, FL.  Moore thrives on innovating, and the road not taken. At 29, he became Vice President for the TM Companies (Dallas), and shortly thereafter, was awarded executive VP stripes, overseeing both TM Productions and TM Programming for Roy Disney’s parent ownership, Shamrock Broadcasting.

From there Moore began buying radio stations at age 33. Building formats from the ground-up, each station became ratings and revenue success stories. In the mid 90’s he formally established Audience Development Group with colleague Alan Mason, resurrecting a name he and Jon Coleman had intended for a research company, while colleagues at TM.

With consolidation, Audience Development Group’s business plan calling for a “Mayo Clinic” cluster-approach with expertise in multiple formats resulted in a highly successful national reputation, strategically positioned to provide cluster guidance for multiple formats in markets of all sizes.

In 2004, Moore’s book The Motivator, a collection of leadership essays was widely read and endorsed by the Radio Advertising Bureau. He also authors the firm’s weekly E-Column Midweek Motivator, distributed to thousands of media readers each week.

Tim lives in Naples, Florida, travels coast to coast, and has addressed the NAB, RAB, Canadian Broadcasters, Conclave and countless state associations. He holds a degree in Broadcast and Cinematic Arts from CMU, and is a U.S. Navy veteran.

The Robinson Report – 12 Notes

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

Kevin Robinson

By: Kevin Robinson
Robinson Media

“Music is essentially 12 notes between any octave. It’s the same story told over and over. All any artist can offer the world is how they see those 12 notes.” –Bobby (Sam Elliot) in 2018’s A Star Is Born

The “score,” or audio, to a movie or video piece supersedes the quality of picture.

Read about that here.  View a brief demonstration here.

What you aurally consume and how that puzzle is pieced together is vital.

From hundreds of listening sessions, it’s clear that the vast majority of broadcasters pay little, if any, attention to how their brand can go from good to great.

You know it when you hear it: legendary brands like KFRC (San Francisco),  WLS (Chicago) and  KHJ (Los Angeles).

Programming magician Bill Drake produced his RKO network of brands with a “The Wall of Sound” in mind.

Mirroring Phil Spector’s “process,” Bill was in several of Spector’s Wall-Of-Sound sessions.

Read what legendary brand builder Lee Abrams has to say about it  here.

Market size matters not. Some of the very best “scored” stations are rooted in smaller markets.

For the most part, terrestrial radio allows automation to “score” their station.

The production pieces may have clarity, however air talent (even voice-tracker) can “sweeten” the pieces creating larger-than-life electricity.

Radio Friends, take the lull of the next few weeks and assess the sound of your brand.

Do music ID’s aid in the sparkle and momentum of your brand?

Are voice pieces written with imagination and produced to keep the audience engaged?

Is it tightly packaged with elements that bring real kinetic energy to your brand?

Most importantly: is it “scored” the way you hear it.

Think artist, not technician.

“All any artist can offer the world is how they see those 12 notes.”

Kevin Robinson is a record-setting and award-winning programmer. His brands consistently perform in the Top Three of the target – often times as the list leader. In his 35 years of radio, he’s successfully programmed or consulted nearly every English language radio brand. Known largely as a trusted talent coach, he’s the only personality mentor who’s coached three different morning shows on three different stations in the same major market to the #1 position. His efforts have been recognized by Radio & Records, NAB’s Marconi, Radio Ink and he has coached CMA, ACM and Marconi winning talent.  He lives in Indiana with his wife of 33 years, Monica. Reach Kevin at (314) 882-2148 or [email protected].

All Things Christmas! It’s All About How You Decorate the Station

Gary Berkowitz

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

Whether you’re an all “All Christmas” station, or just spice in Christmas music with your regular format, there are a few easy steps to make it sound as special as the holiday itself.

The on-air presentation should remain up and contemporary. Sometimes when stations go to all Christmas music, the jocks tend to “soften” or bring the presentation down. If anything, the on-air delivery should be up, fun and exciting.

The jocks should always open with a line like: B106.1 The Christmas Music Station. (Please do not refer to the music as “Holiday Music” always call it Christmas music). Other key Positioning lines to consider:

  • 100% Christmas Music
  • All Christmas Music, All the Time
  • Non-Stop Christmas Music
  • All Your Christmas Favorites all season

Reinforce these lines every time. Not just sometimes. It’s critical to drive home the “All Christmas” message.

The goal is to “dress up the station” with Christmas cheer. This is a 6-week tactic. Sound great and get all the ratings credit.

Dress the website for Christmas. Use the line “The Christmas Music Station.” It’s very important that when a listener goes to the website, it reflects what you are doing on the air. Same for Facebook pages. Do what you can with them to make it look like Christmas.

Have high production values. Use lots of holiday jingles. If you cannot get new Christmas jingles in time, take your current ones, and be creative. Add bells, chimes and ho-ho-ho’s to make them sound Christmas.

It’s all about Christmas. All live liners and recorded sweepers refer to Christmas.

Get involved with Christmas promotions. Local sings, shows that are coming to town (Radio City Music Hall Christmas, etc.). Look at a contest tactic like “Christmas Song of the Day.”

Attention diary markets: Change your SIP. Make sure it says, “Christmas Music,” “Xmas music,” etc.

Gary Berkowitz is President of Detroit based Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting, specializing in ratings improvement for AC radio stations. www.garyberk.com

The Robinson Report – The Fire Hose

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

Kevin Robinson

By: Kevin Robinson

The Man Who Dares Waste One Hour Of Time Does Not Know The Value Of Time.—Charles Darwin

Who has the time?

Broadcasts – podcasts – bloggers – social media.

In the infancy of digital, media outlets required posts every day.

Start with the end-users’ time.

Let’s say you follow motivational speaker Darren Hardy.

And marketing genius Seth Godin.

And broadcast legend Fred Jacobs.

These brilliant minds blog every day requiring about 19 minutes of your time.

Perhaps more if you follow the ‘click through’ content.

Add your social – Facebook – Twitter – Snap Chat – Instagram – and more.

Which you check several times per day.

Also, those you may follow that publish periodically.

And that podcast you’re following?

Every day is like drinking from a digital fire hose.

If you’re a content provider (we all are  now) be purposeful about digital content.

All content.

If you have something to add, add it.

Time-wasters end up in the digital trash bin.

You will need purposeful intent – (does it add to their day?) – to ‘print’.

Anything less gets lost in the  fire hose.

Kevin Robinson is a record-setting and award-winning programmer. His brands consistently perform in the Top Three of the target – often times as the list leader. In his 35 years of radio, he’s successfully programmed or consulted nearly every English language radio brand. Known largely as a trusted talent coach, he’s the only personality mentor who’s coached three different morning shows on three different stations in the same major market to the #1 position. His efforts have been recognized by Radio & Records, NAB’s Marconi, Radio Ink and he has coached CMA, ACM and Marconi winning talent.  He lives in Indiana with his wife of 33 years, Monica. Reach Kevin at (314) 882-2148 or [email protected].

10 Tactics Diary Markets Can Steal From PPM Markets

Gary Berkowitz

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

There are many lessons diary markets can learn from PPM markets, which measure actual listening versus perceived (diary) listening. With that in mind, please consider these key points that, if implemented properly, could be the key to higher ratings this fall.

Music in the morning counts. There are only a handful of personalities who can do content that is better than an extra song. For many years, we believed that “bits” in the morning were more important than music. PPM has quickly taught us this is not the case. If you are a music station, make sure you are playing at least eight to 10 songs an hour in the morning.

8 a.m. – 4 p.m. is the “sweet spot” for adult-driven stations. In PPM markets, if you do not get the major share of listening here, you will not get it at all. This means your morning show should be winding down non-music elements by 8 a.m. as you get into a more music mode. Many ACs (in PPM markets) have dropped the 8 a.m. information package.

TSL is all about adding “occasions of listening.” Sure, song to song is important, but not nearly as critical as increasing occasions of listening. This has always been the case (in diary markets), but we see it’s more so in PPM markets. How do you increase occasions? Read the next few points.

Tactical contesting is back, and not surprisingly, cash is king! In most PPM markets, cash is proving to be a very strong tactic for increasing occasions. If it works with PPM, why wouldn’t it in diary-based markets? How much moves the meter? Call me and I’ll share the answer with you.

Commercial-free hours work. Again, it’s a great way to increase the occasions of listening.

No surprise here: too much DJ banter is a tuneout. Yes, DJs are important. They need to be warm, friendly, and inviting, but on a music station, listeners are coming for the music, so keep the DJs tight and to the point. Your jocks need to be “companions” to your listeners.

When the music starts, keep it going with very little interruption. ID and image, yes, but do it quickly, and always let the listener know the music is not stopping.

There is substantial tuneout when spots come on. In addition, PPM is teaching us that listeners appear to have a “second sense” for when we are about to stop for spots. I refer to it as the “Pavlov’s dog theory.” When they hear the jock doing a typical back-sell and station or sales promo, they know you are about to stop the music, and tuneout comes even quicker.

Get back to the music as soon as possible. Once the stopset is over, get back to the music quickly.

Listener availability is not always there 7 p.m. – midnight. Many PPM-market ACs are struggling with this, as they were used to huge night numbers in diary. PPM is showing us that AC listeners don’t listen from 7-12 in the evening. Take advantage of that in diary markets.

In conclusion: Yes, there are differences between PPM and diary measurement, but there is a lot to be learned from a system that measures actual listening and behavior. PPM is clearly illustrating that listeners want a music-heavy radio station that does not interrupt too much. When it comes to non-music elements, use moderation. Jocks, yes, but keep them tight and moving. Contesting, yes, but make sure you are offering something that interests listeners. Information, yes, but keep it short and to the point.

Gary Berkowitz is President of Detroit based Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting, specializing in ratings improvement for AC radio stations. www.garyberk.com

The Robinson Report – Highlight Reel

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

Kevin Robinson

By: Kevin Robinson

You’ve done it. We’ve all done it.

Guilty.

People will like you because of your social highlight reel.

The top line fodder you offer on social media – only the best selfies.

Or video blog.

Or Podcast.

Thing is – people want to have a connection.

Deeper.

You liked Robin Roberts as a morning television personality.

You fell in love with her – when she took you on her cancer journey.

Same with radio friend Jen Myers – and broadcast buddy Paul Cook.

On September 27th, you formed a deeper opinion of – these two.

Regardless of political persuasion.

You want to truly bind with an audience beyond being a media talent?

Let them see your beauty – and scars.

Your flaws – your family.

Sharing moments behind your curtain makes you more – like them.

You’ll race past being a ‘media talent’ and become – a human being.

Do this and watch the audience compassion – and loyalty – grow.

Kevin Robinson is a record-setting and award-winning programmer. His brands consistently perform in the Top Three of the target – often times as the list leader. In his 35 years of radio, he’s successfully programmed or consulted nearly every English language radio brand. Known largely as a trusted talent coach, he’s the only personality mentor who’s coached three different morning shows on three different stations in the same major market to the #1 position. His efforts have been recognized by Radio & Records, NAB’s Marconi, Radio Ink and he has coached CMA, ACM and Marconi winning talent.  He lives in Indiana with his wife of 33 years, Monica. Reach Kevin at (314) 882-2148 or [email protected].

It Was Always a ‘Good Day!’

Dick Taylor

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Dick Taylor,  CRMC/CDMC
DickTaylorBlog.com

When I started in professional radio, 51 years ago this week, there was a gentleman broadcasting that captivated my attention, his name was Paul H. Aurandt. The radio audience knew him better by his middle name, Harvey; Paul Harvey.

He broadcast six days a week, just like all radio personalities did back in those days. It was a time when all radio was delivered LIVE. Paul Harvey was heard over the ABC Radio Networks with his News and Comment week day mornings and middays. His Saturday noon-time broadcasts were extra special broadcasts that were always sure to surprise and delight his audience of as many as 24-million people a week. Paul Harvey News was carried by 1,200 radio stations in America, plus 400 American Forces Network stations broadcasting all over the world.

Page 2

Paul Harvey covers Election Night in 1958.

The first commercial break in each broadcast was clearly announced with the words, “Now page 2.” And it caused me to turn up my radio and give Mr. Harvey my full attention as he told me about another great product that he personally used. The ad copy, just like the news and comments, were all crafted by the mind of Paul Harvey.

I bought my BOSE WAVE radio due to Mr. Harvey telling me how wonderful music sounded coming through its speakers and baffle system design. It started me on the path to owning several BOSE products as a result.

Paul Harvey News had a waiting list of sponsors to get on his program. In 1986 his News & Comment broadcasts were rated #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5 in network radio programs when he was the focus of a CBS 48-Hours broadcast commemorating Paul Harvey’s 70th birthday.

Bob Sirott did the profile piece and it showed Paul Harvey as few ever saw him. I encourage you to watch the segment on YouTube by clicking HERE.

Paul Harvey News

On April 1, 1951, ABC Radio Network premiered Paul Harvey News and Comment. His Chicago based broadcasts were often called “the voice of the silent majority” or “the voice of Middle America.”Paul Harvey (2)

Paul Harvey was making so much money for ABC, they added a third daily broadcast to the schedule on May 10, 1976 called, The Rest of the Story. These broadcasts were written and produced by Paul’s son, Paul Harvey, Jr. for its 33-year long run.

While Paul and his son maintained this entertaining feature which was based on true stories, not all critics agreed, including urban legend expert Jan Harold Bunvand.

I know from my own personal experience of the two times Paul Harvey included stories based on my hometown of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, that Mr. Harvey played fast and loose with the facts of the events to tell a good story. It made me wonder how all the other stories I heard might have been so “massaged.”

Iowa

In 2000, I was managing a cluster of radio stations for Connoisseur and Cumulus. We carried Paul Harvey on my 100,000-watt KOEL-FM. It was the only thing, other than local news in morning drive, that stopped the flow of the best in country music.

I remember being in my car at the time Mr. Harvey’s noon-time broadcast came on the air and hitting the scan button to hear Paul Harvey News and Comment on virtually every station my car radio stopped on. In media, that’s called a “road block,” the same program or advertisement, broadcast at the same time on multiple radio or television stations.

$100 Million Dollar Contract

In November of 2000, Paul Harvey had just inked a new 10-year contract with ABC Radio Networks when a few months later he damaged his vocal cords and had to leave the air. It wasn’t until August of 2001 that Paul returned to the air waves, but only with a reduced clarity and vocal presence in his voice.

I remember this very well as I was now back in Atlantic City running a cluster of radio stations, and my AM radio station WOND-AM1400, was the Paul Harvey radio station for South Jersey.

I had been cajoling Mr. Harvey’s secretary in Chicago for months before he lost his voice for customized promotional announcements to be voiced by Paul Harvey to promote his daily broadcasts over WOND radio.

One day in the fall of 2001, a reel-to-reel tape came in an envelope from Chicago addressed to me. It contained my customized, Paul Harvey voiced, WOND announcements. I was thrilled, but just a little disappointed when we played the tape due to the hoarse, raspy sound of Paul’s voice when he recorded them.

Before the end of 2001, Paul Harvey was back to full vocal dynamics.

Touched My Heart

It was after watching the Bob Sirott piece produced for 48 Hours a second time and then sharing my personal Paul Harvey memories with the love of my life, Sue, that I found myself choking up and tearing up about the heartfelt emotional impact that this gentleman from Tulsa, Oklahoma had made on me.

Using only wire copy and his manual typewriter, Paul Harvey crafted a broadcast of words that vividly created in the mind of the listener exactly what he intended. His full vocal range, the power of the dramatic pause and dynamic inflection completed his radio magic, what most like to call radio’s “Theater of the Mind.”

Could you imagine Paul Harvey doing podcasts?

I have no doubt that they would have been as popular as the original SERIAL podcast was from NPR.

Paul Harvey didn’t use any music or sound effects.

Paul Harvey created great radio, that was welcomed into homes all across the globe by his great writing ability and vocal acting talents.

Harvey receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005

Good Day

Paul Harvey died on February 28, 2009 at the age of 90.

Three weeks after his death, ABC Radio Networks cancelled the entire News and Comment franchise.

At the time of his death, he had less than two years left on his 10-year contract.

Paul Harvey called himself a salesman, not a journalist, newsman or anything else. He loved his sponsors, saying “I am fiercely loyal to those willing to put their money where my mouth is.

He never would have promoted his broadcast as “commercial free,” as he understood that this free, over-the-air medium called radio, was a powerful way to move product for his advertisers and that it was those very folks that paid all the bills for him and the ABC Radio Networks.

Imagine that, radio ads that were as cherished to hear as the rest of the broadcast itself.

That’s the definition of “GREAT RADIO.”

Reprinted by permission.

Dick Taylor has been “Radio Guy” all his life and is a former professor of broadcasting at the School of Journalism & Broadcasting at Western Kentucky University (WKU) in Bowling Green, Kentucky and he’s currently seeking his next adventure.  Dick shares his thoughts on radio and media frequently at https://dicktaylorblog.com.