The following is used with permission from All Access:
1. What compelled you to get into radio? Why radio?
Hey wait! That’s TWO questions.
What compelled me was “theater of the mind”! I’ve always loved that description about radio and while I’ve also done and continue to do TV work… I am most passionate about radio. I love it and live it! Like most of us in the business, I spent my childhood running around the house talking in to anything that even remotely resembled a mic. My Mom used to tell me that she couldn’t WAIT until I got on the air somewhere, so she could ‘turn me off!” But, as soon as I did, she became — and always was — my best promoter!
2. About what are you most passionate these days?
1) Helping listeners cope with how very different life in 2009 will be from life in 2008. “Challenged” is the polite word for the rough road ahead. And technology — everyday stuff, in every room of the house, and in the car — can help folks cope.
2) Helping our affiliate stations make money. It’s hard to find another industry that’s actually growing. But, year-to-year, Consumer Electronics is… and it’s big business. $268 billion this year alone! Stations without something to sell into this category are leaving money on the table.
3. You were one of the early tech talk pioneers after doing pretty much everything in radio and TV, including serving as DJ, talk host, voice specialist, and more. What about computers and tech gadgets drew you to talk about it on the radio?
On a personal level, this is a FUN topic that I am genuinely interested in. But that alone doesn’t make this a business. I’m really following, not leading, this conversation. As he opened the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show, CEA President Gary Shapiro asked, “Imagine a day without your cell phone, PDA, computer or GPS.” It’s hard to! We sure wish he included “radio” in that list, but it’s still a pretty accurate list. So our show tries to close the loop, helping listeners understand the technology that’s changing everyday life … every single day. And the fact that I personally enjoy the conversation makes my job fun. My Team and I have a saying — especially with all the travel around the world we do for our many remote broadcasts (like from Tokyo, Berlin, Dubai, Taipei and all around the U.S.) — “If it isn’t FUN, we don’t do it!”
4. Of all the technological innovations you’ve seen since you started the show, what one of them would you say is the biggest game-changer of them all? Which one innovation or gadget has been, or will be, the most revolutionary?
Being in radio, it’s hard not to blurt out “iPod,” which has changed music radio’s model forever. But digital photography is no less revolutionary. Remember film? And the lead-time built-into seeing your photos? The thought of waiting now seems quaint. But probably the most-life-changing development is what we used to call the “cell phone.” Now, it’s everything, right there in your pocket. Turn-by-turn GPS, camera, contacts, movies and live TV… everything. For women, it’s a new measure of personal safety; for moms, it’s another means of security. Can you even imagine not having your cell phone… and its contents? Yikes!
5. What would you advise the new president to concentrate on regarding tech issues in his new administration? What is the most pressing issue in the tech industry?
The government deals with most tech-related issues further down the public policy food chain. But one issue of genuine concern to our industry — which the Executive Branch can lead in a productive way — concerns the specter of a new Fairness Doctrine. In its day, the old Fairness Doctrine sought to bring diversity to a much more limited media. Today, anyone can publish anything … instantly and have it seen or heard everywhere. Teetering on the verge of a depression, and fighting two wars, perhaps we now ought to be concentrating government on practical, rather than ideological issues. Keeping Talk radio in Free Speech mode has never been more important. And as far as the rest of the tech industry is concerned … let the market determine the future of gadgets & gizmos. Oh and keep your fingers (and eyes) crossed for the DTV Transition in February.
6. Of what are you most proud?
It’s really a couple of items including my time spent as a Police Officer here in Miami and having our show air on the Armed Forces Networks for the past 12+ years as well as our ongoing Support Our Troops campaign.
7. Who are your influences, inspirations, and mentors?
Honestly, my main influences these days are often from our broadcast consultant Holland Cooke, who convinced me that we can be even more interactive with our listeners and have an even more fun show by making several recent format changes. It works! Weekend shows like ours are far better than “Best Ofs …” and when even one sales rep realizes how easy they are to sell, it sure beats colon cleansers and other brokered programming that butchers a station on the weekend.
8. Do you find that the audience is generally getting more tech-savvy as the years pass? Are there as many or fewer people who are beginners or even Luddites about computers?
People are getting better at manipulating their devices, but the devices themselves are now a lot more people-friendly. The first time you play with an iPhone is just hypnotic. And TiVo licked an old VCR problem: most people couldn’t get the VCR to stop flashing “12:00.” (My advise back then to my listeners was to cover the clock with electrical tape and just enjoy your tapes). Tape? We’re now “LIVE to Hard Drive” and all our new interns are always blown away when we dust-off the splicing block and show them how WE edited! But yes, our audience is a bit more tech-savvy and … it’s not just a “guy thing” anymore! We get a lot of women calling in to the show and asking great questions in addition to giving great advice. We work hard at not being another “computer” show as there are a lot of those. “Into Tomorrow” covers the fun things that people are talking about. If it draws current, it’s on our show. Technology is your friend.
9. Fill in the blank: I can’t make it through the day without ___________.
…texting. Go figure. Most people now TEXT more than they TALK on their phones. And, with good reason. After the teens & tweens enjoyed not letting their parents in on all the abbreviations, the rest of us caught on and realized what the kids were into. LOL. Businesses are more productive … parents can quickly check on their kids … lovers can whisper sweet nothings … quick questions can be asked & answered. A recent Survey showed that 79% of texters do it … in the bathroom. Please, no pictures. I even use a free program for BlackBerry called Vlingo to SPEAK my text messages and Email by simply pushing a button and dictating! It beats typing on that damn little keyboard. My staff hates it because I am texting them to death now. We did one of our fun videos about Vlingo. You can see it here. Remember … no DWT (Driving While Texting)!
10. What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten? The worst?
The best? To divorce my second wife. The worst? To marry her in the first place.
As for advice about our show . . . we “play the hits.” Radio is radio, whether its music or Talk. So we make sure that every single hour includes practical information about music, photography, cell phones, HDTV, shopping tips, etc. Being as “wired” as we are into the industry is a blessing and a curse. We know what’s new and what’s next. But we need to be careful we’re not talking about leading edge developments that sound like Greek to a soccer mom. We frequently take the time to better explain things as we answer questions and talk about all the cool new stuff that everyone wants to be the first on their block to have … all the way … “Into Tomorrow.”