Saturday, August 05, 2006

"I don't like to lose, and that isn't so much because it is just a football game, but because defeat means the failure to reach your objective. I don't want a football player who doesn't take defeat to heart, who laughs it off with the thought, 'Oh, well, there's another Saturday,' The trouble in American life today, in business as well as in sports, is that too many people are afraid of competition. The result is that in some circles people have come to sneer at success if it costs hard work and training and sacrifice." Knute Rockne

Lester St James
(pictured above) found guilty for his involvement in the conspiracy to kill boring rock radio. Congrats to Lester, his Z92 (KEZO) team posted a 7.1 in the just released Omaha book. Lester is a clever guy, both programmer and radio star, the man has skills. Journal is the lucky owner. Love the swagger Lester! Rock on.

You have to believe in magic. No surprise to readers of this humble blog, Pat O'Neill has led his team to the top. Magic 98 (WMGN) gets an 8.8 taking first place in the Madison book. More than a bright programmer, Pat co-stars on the breakfast show. Kudos Pat, your station got exactly what it deserved, first place. My sense is the radio station is about half a dozen refinements away from double digits and you can wager, risk free, Pat will get there. Pat blogs for his listeners here. Peter Dean is the uber-fresh voice actor that paints such vivid imaging for Pat (and a former colleague of my Chicago days). My first Madison radio home, Q106 (WWQM), turned in a 6.1, again finishing as the country leader - cheers!

Magic man. Dave Klahr has passed. Dave was one of the early architects of soft AC. He started his career writing PSAs and serving as the music librarian at WFIL-AM. An accomplished programmer, Dave first helmed at WFIL-FM, POPular 102, one of the early success stories in FM radio. WFIL-FM was one of the first (if not the very first) soft rock stations. He went on to work for CBS in Boston shaping the early days of legendary soft rocker WEEI-FM before returning to Philly as the first program director of WMGK-FM, the first "Magic." It was during his watch at Magic that Dave collaborated with the legendary Bob Henabery to create what has become Lite FM. Dave's germinative body of work led the way for later successful soft AC evolutions including the brilliant work of Jhani Kaye at KOST, Mark Edward's storied WLIT and the history making craft of Kurt Johnson, first to take WLTW to #1 in the city. It was in the city that I came to know Dave, he was programming the very successful WYNY. Dave programmed YNY - the freq now of Hot 97 - for GM Dan Griffin; he served with distinction as YNY's second PD following the usually uncredited first PD Craig Simon and was succeeded by the remarkable Pete Salant. A good broadcaster, his stations always had a crisp, relevant currency. Dave was into creating strongly unique blends of music, you could tell you were listening to one of his stations within three titles or less - very distinctive. He later worked for Jim Shulke, one of the most successful and gifted FM programming syndicators. A one time station owner, he had retired in Florida. My work at Bonneville took lessons from Dave Klahr's playbook, all of us in AC studied his stations. Dave was an uncommon artist, he will be missed.

You remember 1/3 of what you read, 1/2 of what people tell you, but 100% of what you feel. Swanson's Unwritten Rules of Management, unwritten rule number 28...

"By all means, be clear and crisp, be brief, get to the point, be respectful of the time of others - but do not withdraw from those you are trying to engage.

Reach out to make the connection. Show your humanity. Tell a story. Relate it to a real situation...There is nothing more powerful than sincerely engaging others and revealing aspects of yourself. One must be secure to do this. It is this security which inspires the confidence of others. Pretend someone asked you why it matters whether you do your job well or not. If there's no feeling in your answer, you may not have an answer."

What is Jerry Lee doing? That the subject line of some recent emails. The short answer is Jerry operates a private enterprise without debt. The longer answer is Jerry is a great broadcaster, a gentleman with a deep understanding of what it takes to win, he has the will to win, he and his team care about the audience and care about their radio station and it shows. Public companies that generate free cash (operating cash flow after capital expenditures) have only five options...

  1. Pay down debt
  2. Buy back stock
  3. Pay a dividend
  4. Make an acquisition
  5. Reinvest in the business
The first three are non-issues for Jerry. The estimable Mr. Lee makes the very savvy move of putting dollars back into his enterprise at a time when the public players are unwilling, their focus being #1, #2 and #3. In Philly he has taken effective control of the game board, he sets the rules of engagement relative to his target market. As Bill Priest has said if a company can't invest free cash at its rate of return they should give the money back. (My thanks to the great investment genius Bill Priest of Epoch Investment Partners).

A star is born. Fi Glover, BBC Radio 4, Five Live doll says...

"The key to good radio is making people feel they have joined a club. If you don't get that link with your audience, you might as well do voice-overs."

Bravo Fi! You are, no doubt, well on your way. Ladies and gentleman may I present the artiste. An article via The Independent on Fi succeeding the great John Peel on Saturday morning here BBC presenter profiles here and here Closed circuit to Mark Damazer: bloody smart move!

Word around the camp fire: CBS to spend north of $13mil to promote Katie. Kudos Les; you don't ask, you don't get. I'll bet Katie to place in Nov.

Bonus: Sean Ross has another strong writing on offer. At first read you might think it a piece on Starbucks or co-branded entertainment, or perhaps retail music. Sean is actually writing, in meticulous disguise, about the state of affairs with that most rare of endangered music radio genus - the music director. What is happening to the depth of title on music stations? I must admit to laughing out loud when reading the line about Morrison's Moondance, it rings so damn true (hey Sean - add Warm Love to that list). The CEOs of music based firms should awake each day and thank the music obsessed mavens in their employ. Do you know where your music junkies are? Glass Onion dept...I recall Dwight Case once asking a gathering of the RKO PDs "Have any of you put a record on the air this week just because it sounded great?" Yeah, I've a rant on this very important issue but I'll reserve that...first, please, do enjoy Sean's writing here. Bravo Sean, good stuff! What, by the way, would Dave Klahr have said? A rich depth of title and deft sequencing were hallmarks of the Klahr sound. He might well have emailed Sean - suggesting the adding of Cleaning Windows to that Morrison rejoinder and then gone enlighten us all.

LATER: A good point made in the comments. In writing about Dave Klahr I did not intend to omit nor minimize the considerable accomplishments, contributions of Clark Smidt or Ken Shelton. I have long been a fan of Clark and Ken. You may find Clark on the web here. I thank you for your comments, your thoughts are always welcome. Closed circuit to CS: You are the perfect person to reinvent, refresh, reimagine AAA.

Bonus 2: Chris Anderson has written one of this summer's must-reads. The Long Tail is a well written thesis and one good read. Some have taken Chris to suggest that "hits" (as we know them) are, well, over. Reasonable folks can disagree and while I applaud Chris on his thoughtful argument, my sense is hits are alive and matter much. WSJ's Lee Gomes has done an excellent job looking into the numbers, worth your bandwidth, here and here. #30


Anonymous said...


Love your blog. I learn something each reading, thanks. Bravos to you sir for giving credit to those that seem to get "missed" by our trades. Cheers to you for having us remember greats like Lee Arnold and Dave Klahr. Ginny

Anonymous said...

Dave, thanks for the tip on the Sean Ross article. It would be reasonable to say Dave Klahr, Clark Smidt, Ken Shelton and others were the first to create not only lite fm but also AAA. These guys were really into the music, their stations were album soft rockers. It would be KHJ, KFRC, CKLW PD Ted Atkins who would play only the "soft" currents from the Top 40 charts and in the process create AC. A station programmed today ala Clark's WCOZ would be a total success.

Dave said...

Thanks Ginny, appreciate your kind words. It's fun to catch people doing something right, it's more fun to celebrate the truly creative in our business - the folks we can all learn from.

Agree with the notion on Ted. WTAE was one of the early and best programmed AC stations along with Ron's KVIL. Thank you for bringing up Clark and Ken, WCOZ was a wonderful radio station during their watch. When I worked at BZ listening to WCOZ was a guilty pleasure.