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The Death of Mikhail Gorbachev, Remembering USSR

Anybody who has been a broadcaster for a long time has heard, “you should write a book.” Gorbachev’s passing causes me to reflect on one of the best stories from the book I’ll write someday.

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Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, the eighth and final General Secretary of the Soviet Union, passed away Tuesday at age 91. There are far better tributes to Gorbachev and his impact on the world than I could write. 

However, because of his policies of “Perestroika” (reform) and “Glasnost” (openness), I was able to experience the Soviet Union as it was going through its period of transformation after seven decades of totalitarian rule. What I saw cemented my beliefs about capitalism, communism, socialism, and democracy. 

Anybody who has been a broadcaster for a long time has heard, “you should write a book.” Gorbachev’s passing causes me to reflect on one of the best stories from the book I’ll write someday.

As the summer of 1987 began, Billy Joel was wrapping up his 11-month 100-date Bridge Tour when he announced he would play concerts in the Soviet Union. 

Although Joel wasn’t the first western musician to play behind the Iron Curtain, he would be the first American to perform a fully staged rock concert in the Soviet Union with a full sound, light, and stage show. To produce a grand spectacle with three dates in Moscow and three in Leningrad, Joel was investing $2.5 million of his own money. 

An entourage of over 100 people, including his then-wife, Christie Brinkley, their young daughter Alexa, and two-film crews, would travel with Joel and his band. Eventually, that list included me and the afternoon DJ at WYSP-FM/Philadelphia, Ed Sciaky (Shock-EE).

At the time, I was programming WYSP. We were less than one year into “Howard Stern all morning, Classic Rock all day.” We had just hired Sciaky from WIOQ for afternoon drive. 

When we hired him, Ed was doing nights at WIOQ. At the time, WIOQ was a soft-eclectic AOR station. It had an incredibly loyal audience that gave it moderately successful ratings. 

Ed was known as the DJ who first played Bruce (Springsteen – is there another?), Billy Joel, and others. Both (and again, many others) had at one time or another slept on an infamous sofa that he still owned years later. He had relationships with many big-name rock stars and tons of Classic Rock credibility, which WYSP needed at the time.

When he announced his Russian concerts, Joel said there would be broadcasts back to the U.S. We jumped into action. We started by finding out if there was already a host for whatever radio broadcasts were planned by having Ed call Billy Joel’s management. They hadn’t gotten that far. Ed offered his services, and the ball was rolling

We had a friendly relationship with the syndicator. They knew of Ed’s relationship with Billy, so they had no objections. It was starting to look like going to the U.S.S.R. with Billy Joel might be possible. There were, of course, the small matters of getting the permission of the Soviet government, our government, not to mention the company we were working for (Infinity at the time), as well as the budget to pull it off.

And so, I started making phone calls. It was Ed and me (as his producer and I’ll use the word “negotiator” – what you didn’t think I was going to let somebody else go, did you?) And as silly as it may sound, it really did require somebody with skills to navigate the maze of Soviet rules and situations that followed.

When you were young, did you ever play your mom off your dad to get something you wanted? You know, “mom, dad said it was okay with him if it was okay with you.” Then you reversed the phrase to your dad until eventually somebody actually did say okay.

For weeks that was the game; we played with the two governments and, to a lesser extent, with Joel’s management and the syndicator (because they had given us the okay). We kept telling everyone that everybody else was good, but we were waiting for their permission.

Miraculously it worked.

We received visas to the Soviet Union. We didn’t join the tour in Moscow. I arrived in Leningrad a few days before Ed to coordinate studio time. We were only granted the studio at Gosteleradio for one day – which may have been a blessing. Gosteleradio’s facilities were built before WWII, at least in appearance. 

Trying to describe the Soviet Union isn’t easy. The best single word is gray. Everything was gray. The people were enigmatic but gray. The sun shined brightly, but the sky was gray. 

From the time we got there, one strange thing after another would happen – little coincidences. 

Ed and I received visas issued for the same number of days. Since I arrived a few days earlier, my visa expired first. Once I received the visa, all communication from the Soviet officials ceased. Therefore, I departed for the U.S.S.R. with two return tickets; one for the day the visa expired and the other on the same return flight as Ed. All I could do was visit Intourist in the lobby of the Hotel Leningrad and explain that my visa came back with the wrong date and I needed to stay a few days longer as part of the Billy Joel tour.

Every day I stopped by the Intourist desk. Every day, the nice woman there robotically smiled, nodded her head, and said: “We don’t have any information. Maybe tomorrow. We shall see.”

The shows were on August 2, 3, and 5. I believe my visa required me to leave on August 4. There was still no news that morning. I packed and headed to the front desk to check out. Literally, a minute before I did, the Intourist woman approached me with news of the approval of my visa’s extension. Several situations worked out at the last moment during our trip.

Not everything in the Soviet Union made sense. There were rules, lots of rules. Across from the hotel was a part of the street where people weren’t allowed to walk. There wasn’t anything there except a police officer who waved everybody away. Ed wondered what was so mysterious there. He asked people we met why they weren’t allowed to walk there. Nobody gave him a satisfactory answer. Always anti-authority, Ed was determined to uncover the mystery. He asked people what would happen if he walked over there. The Soviets looked at him like he had three heads. Their response made Ed look at them like they had four heads: “We don’t know. Nobody has ever tried it before. Let us know what happens if you decide to try.”

A press bus took media to and from the hotel and the Petersburg Sports and Concert Complex. Ed and I missed the bus one night going to the show. We were starting to figure out where we would go to hail a taxi (which weren’t always easy to find) when a local who spoke English well appeared and realized we were in distress. We explain the situation. He told us there was no problem because a bus was coming. A minute later, a bus with an English “out of service” sign stops in front of us. Ed and I look at each other for a minute. The entire ride there, we ask each other if this is a kidnapping or not. It’s not, but we never saw the guy again to say thank you.

The underground economy was prevalent at the time. The Soviet version of work was different than in the U.S. People didn’t work eight-hour shifts, go home, and then do it over again. The Soviets worked for a day or two straight, then off for a day or two. Some jobs seemed made up to me. I guess it’s how they achieved full employment. For example, you didn’t keep your hotel key. Each floor had a key-lady that kept your key when you left your room. They certainly didn’t need to take our key to enter while we were gone.

The key ladies often fell asleep, so it wasn’t too difficult to leave with the key, although we usually left it on their desks. We saw other people asleep at their desks during their official jobs. I recall an engineer at Gosteleradio snoring loudly. I always wonder if this is how Chernobyl happened.

But don’t let that give you the wrong impression of the Soviet people. They may have slept on the clock, but on their time, they were the most industrious people I’ve ever seen.

Nearly every person we met had a side hustle. Soviet collective farms weren’t doing well, but it was amazing what they could grow on the small plots of land that were set aside for personal use. Some set up little gift shops in their flats and sold tchotchkes such as Matryoshka dolls (wooden nesting dolls) or lacquer boxes. Those who drove a car drove as a private taxis. Others exchanged money. All of the trading for American goods, especially cigarettes, blue jeans, and dollars, were huge. A pack of Marlboro reds was the surest way to flag down a private taxi in Leningrad.

We flagged down one private taxi when Ed and I wanted to visit the synagogue. We tried communicating with the driver, who explained that it would be closed for repairs. We understood what he meant when he told us it had been closed for many years. 

Through a combination of a few words in English, Russian, Yiddish, and Hebrew, we were able to communicate with our driver. He had been a doctor, persecuted because he was Jewish, and reduced to menial work. He had one son who had been able to escape to Israel, where the driver believed he was a doctor. We promised to try to find his son and contact him to let him know his father was alive if we could. We found his son in Israel when we returned. We were able to call him. We called the driver back in the Soviet Union one time. We were able to say, “We spoke to your son; he loves you,” before the line went dead. We were never able to get through again. 

While I still have extensive notes with contact info for every person we spoke with, I cannot find the names of the driver or his son. Nonetheless, it was one of the best results of our trip to the Soviet Union.

When we could not get a studio at Gosteleradio after the first two days, Ed and I had to resort to guerilla tactics so that he could broadcast back to Philadelphia. It was 1987 before there was email, let alone the internet. We came prepared with alligator clips. We took apart the phone and attached the microphone – primitive but effective!

From the hotel room, we fed breaks down the line. Ed and I discussed the television show that Billy Joel had been a guest on. We reviewed the concerts. We talked about the way the people reacted. During the first Leningrad show, the audience got so amped that they reduced several hundred wooden folding chairs in front of the stage to toothpick-size scraps.

We also talked about the official and unofficial jobs. I remember calling it the ultimate tribute to capitalism. That’s when the line went dead. An hour later, the operator told us there were problems with the overseas connections, “maybe due to weather.” It would be more than eight hours before we would get a call through to the United States. We took the hint and avoided such conversations for the rest of our stay.

These are just a smattering of the experiences that Ed and I had in Soviet Leningrad. After we returned home, I spoke with comedian Yakov Smirnoff after one of his shows. 

Just over a year earlier, WYSP participated in a charity to raise money to fight hunger, Hands Across America. It was a 15-minute event to form a human chain stretching across the country. WYSP brought in Yakov Smirnoff for our Hands Across America event, so we had spoken before.

After the show, I went backstage to talk to Yakov. I was excited to tell him these and other stories from our adventures. He said, “I know, I know. You had a fun time. What a country,” turning his trademark phrase around on his homeland. He proceeded to finish my stories, adding “KGB.”

At first, I thought he was being funny. “Yakov, what would the KGB want with us? We are completely harmless and don’t know any secrets,” I asked. Yakov filled in the gaps explaining that they weren’t there to spy on us or get information from us. They were there to ensure we had a wonderful time, and that’s what we would tell everybody back home.” It’s still the best explanation for the “coincidences.”

“Perestroika” (reform) and “Glasnost” (openness)? Da!

I wonder if others traveling to the Soviet Union during this era had similar experiences.

Mr. Gorbachev, thank you for the hospitality. R.I.P. If only Vladimir Putin were so accommodating.

Footnote: Ed Sciaky passed away from complications related to diabetes in 2004 at the age of 55. We called each other “comrade” and loved sharing these stories.

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BNM Writers

Nick Kayal Move Highlights Growing Appetite for News/Talk

Kayal moving to News/Talk is a trend that we continue to see in our business and there are several reasons why this will happen.





Sports Talk to News Talk.

The trend continued this week when Nick Kayal announced would be the next morning show host at WPHT in Philadelphia. In full disclosure, I know Nick, as I was an intern as he was an employee and growing his career at 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Nick built a very solid sports talk resume, but decided to make the move to news/politics.

As I was reading his announcement on social media this week, I felt like I was reading my own reasons for leaving sports talk for news talk on a permanent basis five years ago. Nick wrote, “Over the past 6-7 years, my apetite for political content has increased and now I finally get to voice my opinion on these subject matters.”

Expect this to be a trend that we continue to see in our business and there are several reasons why this will happen.

First off, sports talk is oversaturated. There’s just too much of it, and at some point we’ve crossed the threshold where supply has exceeded demand. There will always be room for great sports talk hosts, but jobs aren’t growing in that space, and in fact, are likely to shrink in future years.

Meantime, if we flip to the News Talk side of the business, the number of jobs expanding is admittedly also not a big part of the equation, but there is less competition in the space for those jobs when compared to Sports Talk, especially when it comes to younger hosts and employees. 

I say the following with all the love in the world for my News Talk colleagues: I was at this week’s FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform) Radio Row event, and as a 34-year-old, I felt like a college kid given that I was significantly younger than most of my fellow hosts. There’s nothing wrong with that for right now, as many of them are still sharp, on their game, and delivering great ratings and revenue for their respective stations, but if we look 5-10 years down the road, they may want to find themselves on a beach or ski slope on a more regular basis. So, the next wave of News Talk hosts may not be in the News Talk space right now, and given the greater number of employees in Sports Talk, they may very well be over there. 

This is a natural migration for both sides. The News Talk bench is not deep and as the younger Sports Talk employee gets older, their interests may change. Most 25-35 year-olds care more about sports than news and politics. But as a generation that grew up during the explosion of Sports Talk approaches and enters their 40’s, their interests and desires could shift as well.

Just as important in this conversation is the fact that we all know sports, politics and culture continue to collid, for better or for worse, and those who may have more conservative-leaning beliefs and opinions are more likely to try and make that move.

As someone who spent several years in sports talk and maintain strong relationships there, I know those who don’t pray at the “Alter of Woke” feel like their opinions aren’t welcomed and will be shunned by their colleagues and bosses. They mask it, as they like to a prefer to talk about the games anyway. But when sports and culture collide, they clam up or just toe the line. 

How long will that last? How long will they want to continue to bottle it up?

I’m not here to answer it for them, but I know that for me, there was a point where I thought I’d rather spend four hours a day talking about things that impact my city, state and country than discussing whether or not a quarterback missed an open receiver on 3rd and 10 or a pitcher was left in a game too long. 

Don’t get me wrong, I still love sports and love being a sports fan, but hosting a daily, local show where that is part of the job became less appealing when given alternative options. And I don’t believe I will be alone in this regard, especially as we move forward through the next several years in our business. 

Additionally, the icing on the cake is that in many towns, major sports news that a News Talk host will find interesting is, in fact, news, and will be a fit for the program. In Philadelphia, the Eagles are news on Monday after a loss to the Giants. In Kansas City, the Chiefs are news. Nothing is bigger. I do a Chiefs segment on Friday and Monday during football season. You can’t do four hours on it, but mixing it in is part of the job if you’re in a big sports town. 

Now, there is a downside. As I told Nick Kayal in a personal note after his announcement, “Be prepared to be shunned by some of your former sports colleagues”. 

A sad reality, but true, in my experience. Hey, that’s the “Tolerant Left”, right?

If you can get over that, which should be easy, then come on over. We’re having fun, making great content, and always looking for who and what is next.

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BNM Writers

Nick Kayal Transitions from Talking Sports to News/Talk

Kayal has worked almost exclusively in radio sports in Nashville, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and other cities, but made the switch to talking politics.

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Seasons change, minds change, and jobs certainly do.

Nick Kayal has worked almost exclusively in radio sports in Nashville, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and other cities. He most recently left Sports Radio 92.9 The  Game to do mornings on 1210 WPHT in Philadelphia. 

This isn’t just a job change for Kayal. It’s an entirely different animal. He’s switching from sports to news and talk. 

“Kayal and Company is the perfect show for me to host,” Kayal said. “I’ve got a multi-voiced show with an outstanding supporting cast. Greg Stocker and Dawn Stensland will have open microphones. We’ll have a guest from time to time. Some calls here and there, but it won’t be caller-heavy.”

Kayal said it will be a ‘good blend of things.’

The change has been in the works since the beginning of the year but was announced just yesterday. Former morning host Rich Zeoli will be moving to afternoons. Kayal said Zeoli has been looking forward to that.

“Rich knew the change was coming,” Kayal explained. “He was involved in the discussions. I think he really wanted to change his lifestyle. He even said so on air. Afternoons are where he started and I think he wanted to get back to that family balance. Rich is going to continue to do what made him so successful in the mornings. He does a great job at building an audience.”

Kayal said they will keep a lot of the same segments on the show. Instead of talking about Jalen Hurts of the Eagles, they’ll be talking about Joe Biden. The passion for sports and politics in Philly is the same, Kayal explained. “I don’t think my prep or delivery will change much. I want to hit on big stories, but I’m not going to filibuster on a topic.”

Getting ready for the new show, Kayal has had lunch with Stocker a few times to chat. Stocker will also serve as the show’s executive producer. The two have kept in touch through the spring and summer, and Kayal has been in Philadelphia for nearly a month.

Kayal said the response to the change has been overwhelmingly positive among listeners. 

“Twitter is usually a cesspool of negativity,” he said. “But this announcement has been 95% positive. Just a couple of negative responses here and there.

Kayal served as a host at crosstown sports 97.5 The Fanatic WPEN from 2009-2015 and doesn’t think the switch of focus will cause the show to lose listeners.

“I imagine some of the people who listened to me in sports might be a little shocked to hear me dealing with news topics,” Kayal said. “Listeners hate change, by and large. After a host change some might say they’re never listening again. That station is dead to me. People have their routines and they don’t like it when somebody or something messes that up. Most usually come back. Radio is very habitual.”

He doesn’t think he’ll miss sports all that much. That isn’t to say he’ll never do sports again, or that he’s sick of sports. 

“After 15 years of talking about nothing but sports, if I spent any more four-hour cycles talking about it, I’d blow my head off.” 

The show may touch on a major sports story if it happens, especially in Philadelphia.

“We might talk for a couple minutes after a win or loss. But one of the reasons I wanted to do this was the diversity of topics. I have an interest in a lot of things, including pop culture. We’re going to be dealing with a full menu of topics.”

He said any time you’re talking conservative news and politics, it’s the best of both worlds. 

“You may not want to listen to some of the mainstream media, so you turn to conservative radio. You have liberals who will listen to call you on your mistakes, but I’m open to that. The same goes the other way.” 

Kayal said he won’t mind admitting if he’s wrong on the air, like some other hosts. 

“There’s going to be some guys that BS their way through everything, stick to script,” he explained. “There are times when conservatives or liberals are off base, say something I don’t agree with. I’ll call them out on that.”

Dawn Stensland will be the news anchor at the top of the hour and co-host. 

“Dawn is like the protective mom who will go to bat for you,” Kayal said. “Rich Zeoli told me that this morning and said she’d go to bat for me too.”

Kayal will have a prep sheet going into the show, but he’s not afraid to dump one thing if another is working.

“I’ll call an audible at the line of scrimmage, so to speak. I want things to be organic on the show. If people are reacting to a topic, you can always get to an item in your preparation the next day. No need to rush. You have to go hard all the way through the show, finish strong. Like every other show I’ve done. There are benchmarks you need to hit during your show. People will listen for a period of time. If they’re in the car on the way to work, they’ll hear something. Then I have to approach the next hour as though nobody has heard the news, reset on the topic like it’s the first time I’m doing it. More than likely it’s a new audience. You can’t afford to have a bad segment.”

Sure, that can be beyond stressful. But if you come in prepared, if you have an opinion, make somebody laugh, make somebody mad, you’re doing something right.

“I want listeners to get the sound of the show,” Kayal said. “You’ll tune in to hear us having an exchange, bouncing off each other. I like to think we all have an innate ability to know where something is going, but chemistry between the hosts is going to be a major thing.”

 If everyone on the show has the same vision and check our egos at the door, Kayal said they’ll have a good show. He explained a show will have great ratings periods, and there’s a chance they will fall off. But the show must always deliver the best it can. 

Kayal went to school for criminal justice and pre-law at Temple. He studied political science for about a year, then changed to pre-law during his sophomore year.  He thought he’d be a defense attorney or prosecutor. 

“Law school only lasted three months,” Kayal said. “I just knew it wasn’t for me.” 

Some of the things he learned during his undergraduate degree and stint at law school helped him craft his arguments on the air. 

“I use those skill sets and traits in a monologue or during an interview,” he said. “It taught me how to ask leading questions. We’ll talk about crime on the show. It’s really about putting on a performance. So many guys are infatuated with being right, getting ratings, and revenue. To me, it’s not all about being right. 

He’d been reading Barrett Sports Media for a long time and came across a job opening for his new station, WPHT. 

“I’d always had the desire to do political stuff,” Kayal said. “I was working for Audacy in Atlanta, so coming to Philadelphia was almost like going through a transfer portal. Going back home has been icing on the cake. The process started in January of this year. They flew me out in March, and we did a two-hour mock show off the air. They had me fill in for Rich a couple of times in April. After the third week, I could tell they were pleased, and they offered me the job in June. I had to sit on it until yesterday.”

We now know Kayal can be trusted with a secret. 

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BNM Writers

The Intersection of Radio and Politics

Anybody with a radio career longer than one rating book has witnessed a stunt or two. Stunts can be remarkably effective for calling attention to something.

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Four of the most enjoyable years of my life were spent on Capitol Hill as Communications Director for Congressman Michael R. Turner (R-OH). Mr. Turner is currently the ranking Member of the influential House Armed Services Committee. Should Republicans take back the House in November, he will likely become the committee Chairperson.

When talking to old media friends during that period, I often explained that the job wasn’t that different from broadcasting. The Congressman was like the “morning guy,” and the communications position was similar to the marketing and promotions role.

When Texas and Florida Governors Abbott and DeSantis began sending illegal immigrants, or unregistered persons for the more politically correct, from their states to Democrat strongholds, critics referred to it as a stunt. Neither of the governors seems to mind the term stunt.

Anybody with a radio career longer than one rating book has witnessed a stunt or two. Stunts can be remarkably effective for calling attention to something.

I don’t know if the “Concert for Bangladesh,” the granddaddy of benefit concerts, solved the refugee problem or if “Live-Aid” ended hunger. I am sure that these events, which were stunts when you think about them, created massive attention for important causes.

When we first put Howard Stern on WYSP-Philadelphia, we had no idea what the ratings impact would be. At the time, there was no shortage of critics who said: “it will never work.”

We couldn’t know, with certainty, whether broadcasting a show from New York would work in Philly. We were sure that doing it would get WYSP, a moribund station, a great deal of attention. At worst, it would be a “stunt.” At best, well, that’s in the history books.

Speaking of Howard, I believe Donald Trump, a regular guest on The Stern Show for approximately 20 years, ripped off “The King of All Media’s” 1980s and 90s formula to win the presidency. Think about it:

  • He never apologizes – no matter what
  • The more outrageous, the better
  • He plays to a dominantly male audience who loves and defends him
  • He does what he does for his fans
  • It’s always “us” against the world
  • He picks feuds with others and then sics his fans on the attacked
  • The only thing better than the celebrity feuds is staff in-fighting
  • His live events are huge love-fests

What else do politicians have in common with broadcasters? 

Ronald Reagan was called “The Great Communicator.” Reagan graduated from Eureka College in 1932. Later that year, his public career began as a WOC-AM/Davenport, Iowa sports announcer. He moved to WHO-AM/Des Moines in 1933, where he famously recreated baseball games using ticker tape reports. He went to California to cover spring training for the Cubs, which launched his Hollywood career.

Radio demands storytelling skills: The best in class in politics and radio are great storytellers. What do you know about Abraham Lincoln’s personality? He loved to tell a tale. In the opening minutes of Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” the president (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) tells a couple of free Black soldiers about the travails of barbers who have cut his hair. 

In another scene at the War Department telegraph office, Lincoln offers an anecdote about Ethan Allen, prompting an incredulous Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (Bruce McGill) to proclaim: “You’re going to tell a story! I don’t believe that I can bear to listen to another one of your stories right now.”

At his best, Joe Biden tells stories. He has always gotten confused about numbers and details, not unlike Reagan. But he effectively uses stories to make his point. That’s how he became “Scranton Joe” and why we know “Corn Pop was a bad dude.”

Positioning matters: In 1992, realizing that the recession was the top issue on voters’ minds, Bill Clinton’s campaign advisor, James Carville created the positioning statement, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Clinton stayed on message, promising to “focus like a laser beam on the economy.”

In 2008, Barack Obama simplified his positioning to a single word: Hope, to which he added the slogan, “Yes we can!” It brilliantly captured the zeitgeist and catapulted the first-term Senator to the White House.

Focus on a few big ideas at a time: Over the years, radio programmers have learned to focus on a couple of essential things at a time. When Barack Obama took office, he had a lengthy list of items that needed attention. The economy, unemployment, bank bailouts, and U.S. auto manufacturers were in trouble. Fighting continued in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bin Laden was still hiding, and the president wanted to use his popularity to pass healthcare legislation. It was too much for the public to follow, and it appeared nothing positive was happening.

A 55% to 43% margin agreed that “since he’s taken over in the White House, Obama has tried to handle more issues than he should,” in a March 2009 CNN/Opinion Research survey.

Reagan kept his agenda simple. He wanted to make the government smaller and less intrusive. He did that through tax cuts, known as “Reaganomics.” He wanted to win the Cold War by building up the military. Everything else was secondary.

Radio is a personal medium: Air personalities have always gotten out and pressed the flesh. Many figured out early in the game to use social media to build relationships with listeners.

Bill Clinton understood the power of building connections (no pun intended). Remember the first Presidential Town Hall Debate? A voter asked the candidates (Clinton, George H. W. Bush, Ross Perot) a question about how the economy (national debt) affected them personally. Clinton walked to the edge of the stage, as close to the audience as he could. Only Clinton answered in human and non-technical language in what became known as the “I feel your pain” moment. 

During the same town hall debate, Bush checked his watch. These two moments pretty much sealed the election for Clinton.

Program to your P1s: In politics, they call it “playing to your base.” Whatever your thoughts about Trump, no president has ever focused so intently on their base.

Biden ran on a “Cume” strategy. He was going to unite everybody. During the Democrat primaries, he may not have been most voters’ first choice, but he was everybody’s second choice. During the general, Biden had broader appeal. According to a Morning Consult exit poll, 44% of Biden voters said their vote was more against Trump than for Biden, compared to 22% of Trump voters who said their ballot was primarily against Joe Biden. 

The concepts behind successful radio stations and winning political campaigns are similar. During my four years on Capitol Hill, I used countless lessons learned as a program director. When I returned to radio four years later, the skills I acquired in Washington helped make me a more effective programmer.

With continuing radio “reductions in workforce,” public service provides career options. Because there’s an intersection between radio and politics, the skills are transferable. The work is rewarding, and the experiences are fantastic. 

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