Monday, April 09, 2018

My ingenious plan to save the radio industry

Radio is in such a bad state these days. Other than 24-hour Christmas music, no station can really make an impact. Among the many things the industry needs to do to right itself is provide better programming. I was talking with my son, Matt recently, who is a big sports fan, and I came up with this BRILLIANT idea.

Oldies stations (excuse me – “Classic Rock” stations) are getting good ratings. Sports talk stations do okay. And every big league team in every major sport has a talk show dedicated to themselves. For eight years I co-hosted Dodger Talk.

So what if you combined the two formats?

Introducing, as an example, “Retro-Dodger Talk.”

Fans call in and argue over games that took place years ago. For “Retro-Dodger Talk” fans could call in and bitch about Tommy Lasorda not walking Jack Clark with first base open in the 1985 NLCS when Clark hit a pennant-winning home run for the Cardinals. Or last year’s World Series when manager Dave Roberts pulled starting pitcher Rich Hill after four innings of game two.

You’d never run out of topics. Why did the Dodgers trade Jose Offerman? Should Nate “Pee Wee” Oliver get sent back down to the minors for more seasoning? That game against the Chicago Cubs in June of 1965 when Ron Fairly was thrown out at the plate – should he have been held up at third base? Should the Dodgers trade Willie Davis after he dropped all those fly balls in the 1966 World Series?  Did umpire Jocko Conlon blow that call at second base in the 1962 Dodger-Pirate game at Forbes Field? 

24-hour a day grousing about things long in the past that nobody can do anything about and even if they could, so what? I smell a WINNER.

This is why radio needs more people like me. Retro-Dodger Talk or Retro-Hornets Talk could save the industry. You’re welcome.

38 comments :

slgc said...

Why did Yogi Berra go with Tom Seaver on short rest (Seaver NEVER pitched well with short rest!) in Game 6 of the 1973 World Series? He should have gone with George Stone in Game 6 and he would have had a fully rested Seaver for Game 7 (if necessary).

Dammit!

Dave said...

Sounds like a sure winner with that key 79-99 year old demographic...

For what it is worth, my Mom resides in a retirement community, and what you describe is what the residents do all day long, only the topics are not limited to sports. Remember when long distance calls were an extravagance? How come food today is so tasteless? Why won't my pants stay up?

I know, I know, it is not right to make sport of these fine people. To quote another elderly fellow (the 2000 Year Old Man), "we mock the thing we are to be."

Steve Bailey said...

Or "Classic Rock Talk." Are The Beatles overrated? Elvis pre- or post-Comeback Special? Discuss.

Tim Dunleavy said...

FYI - you spelled "ingenious" wrong in the title line.

WMMR Philadelphia, a longtime AOR station, briefly tried a "Sports Rock" morning show in the nineties, a mixture of all the hits with sports talk. It was a disaster. The rock audience didn't give a shit about sports, and vice versa.

William C Bonner said...

I know that this is humor, but.....

It's the problem of bringing together two things that are good. More often the result detracts from each.

To use a baseball analogy, a homerun comes when a great pitcher meets a great batter. most of the pitches will be misses, but occasionally there will be a connection and those results are spectacular.

Jeff Alexander said...

Not a bad idea. They could call it Friday Morning Quarterbacking!

Michael said...

And that means Vin would be back doing the games!

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

(Hey Dave! Funny stuff!!)

Ken: Terrific idea and it'd work, too, right up until some wienie consulting company charges in to limit baseball topics to only "The Hits."

Joseph Scarbrough said...

My beef with radio today is repetition. Yeah, I know this is something that's been a problem as long as radio has been around - whenever a new song from a well-known artist becomes popular, they wear it out on the radio any chance they get . . . but what I'm talking about is when songs have been out for a while now (at least a couple of years, if not longer), and they get worn out on the radio like whenever cable movie channels like HBO or Starz get to wearing out certain movies over and over and over again. How many times do we have to hear Adele belting out "Send My Love (To Your New Lover)"? Or Lorde singing "Royals" when she finally has other songs now? Or Justin Bieber copying Uncle Kracker's "Follow Me" with "Love Yourself"? And don't even get me started on Taylor Swift.

And that brings to mind another problem: so many of today's popular and successful artists . . . all their music is the same! Taylor is perhaps the crown jewel of this. Her process has always been the same: hook up with a boy, go out for a while, get dumped by said boy, write and record a song about what a loser her is, make millions off the breakup, repeat a dozen more times. Bruno Mars? All he ever sings about is getting his rocks off. Even with some exceptions, almost all of Adele's songs sound the same after a while. Then you've got Meghan Trainor always sending mixed signals in her music while her voice is so heavily altered and auto-tuned that it sounds annoyingly robotic.

Just my thoughts. (Shrug)

VP81955 said...

Presley or Costello? Acoustic or electric Dylan? '50s Atlantic or '60s Motown? (OK, that last one might work better on "Classic R&B Talk" to serve the "urban," aka "black," audience.)

Buttermilk Sky said...

Classic rock, classic sports, why not classic news? VJ Day, Apollo 11 Lands On the Moon, Baby Jessica Rescued From Well -- so much better than the current stuff.

Roy Bean said...

Even though I'm still baffled by Babe Ruth's attempted steal of second base with 2 out in the 9th inning of game 7 of the 1926 World Series, I can't imagine too many others would want to speculate on that exigent topic!

Overall, it's a fine idea as long as there's some classic rock to go with it, which makes the term "Boss Jock" a bit more real.

Phil said...

Hi Ken,

Did you see this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5y_DAsDxczk

Ken, when I searched for your blog on her, I just typed "Ken Levine R" and it automatically suggested "ken levine roseanne". How cool is that :)

Cheryl Marks said...

I was shocked that none of the NCAA Basketball games were broadcast on the radio. Really sucked if you were on a road trip.

Greempa said...

I'm still upset that the Dodgers released Jay Johnstone in 1982.

Liz said...

Hi Ken, this is something I wanted to ask for a long time, but an added reason now after I met an old friend.

I have read one of your posts where you spoke of fan letters you got suggesting stories for your sitcoms and generally wacky letters. But my question is on the good letters from fans who loved your writing and took interest to write a letter appreciating you.

So here are the questions:

1. When studios got the letters and after the cast or crew, like directors, writers read them, who kept the letters? The studios? Or did they just throw them out?

2. If it was an appreciation for just the writers, did you guys like each keep a few?

3. When it was personally addressed to you, what did you do? Keep them with you? Did you read each and every letter?

Ok, the reason I am asking these questions is because I met an old friend recently who was an assistant to a 90s TV actor (not so famous). She said - He never bothered to read any letter, was disdainful towards the fans calling them "losers" and "creeps" with nothing better to do with their life. And gave clear instruction to throw each and every letter in the garbage.

Thinking about him I wondered how you (or writers in general that you know of), treated these letters? Was it a like a treasure to you, something to inspire you when you felt depressed or just a piece of junk that you ignored?

Hoping for a lovely post :)

Thanks.

Pamela Atherton said...

Perish the thought of trading Willie Davis, no matter the reason!

cd1515 said...

Since Extra, access Hollywood, ET, etc all seem to be doing well, why aren’t there radio versions of those, where people review movies & shows, talk celebrity gossip, celebs plug things, etc?

Peter Aparicio said...

Friday question (if it hasn't already been asked):
Can you identify any actors/actresses who began to act more like their character in their personal life (especially those who played the same character for many years)?

Julian Brown said...

love this idea. as an extension - classic games on tv with conversational voice-over from the present.

Dr Loser said...

If the program directors (not sure whether that is the right term) were actually good at their job, rather than just copying whatever everybody else does and overpaying for the latest shock jock, then they would be experimenting in this direction.

I'd like to propose a small modification: sports and classic rock, but with one twist -- voting. Which could actually be via Facebook or something, if necessary.

The suggestion is, your caller is pre-screened and asked for his/her favorite classic rock tune, or at least one they want played pronto. This is entered into the provisional playlist. They then get to comment on whatever sport it is. "That was great, Mamie, thank you so much!" says the jock, "And, listeners, if you had as much fun as we had talking about that, vote Mamie up on our Facebook site and you can listen to her rockin', chillin', choice of Red Hot Classic '70s Rock!"

The great thing about this is that it would also get listeners to check in on the station's Facebook site. I may have something here.

Dr Loser said...

Although, thinking about it, that's pretty much what Absolute Classic Rock (and I think another station) does over here in the UK. They more or less limit themselves to soccer on Saturdays, because that's pretty much when the audience turns up, but they do actually mix the two quite nicely. And they also promote their Facebook site aggressively on air.
So, a pretty good idea, and it's commercially successful. Just not an original idea. But hey, we're talking about Radio Network Execs! Originality not our specialty!

Blair Ivey said...

@ Cheryl Marks: Completely agree. Some of us don't have TV.

The idea does explain a good portion of talk radio's popularity, where people complain about political decisions that are history and can't be influenced.

Unknown said...

Chicago has a great "retro" station which I think can be streamed. MeTv-FM. Has old and new, and even theme songs. They have Jamie Farr introducing the M*A*S*H theme. Fun to hear the Banana Splits song on the radio.
You can keep your sports talk, those stations aren't doing well in Chicago, but aren't dead yet. My theory is that there are VERY few original sports theories, everything else is just repeated...."Oh Cubs need a good starter.... St Louis has a chance if they can get more runs.... Mets have a strong defense but lack bench...."

Andy Rose said...

@Cheryl Marks: There has been an NCAA basketball tournament radio network for decades. (I know... I used to work for it.) I'll bet a station in your area carries it. You can find the affiliates on this page: https://westwoodonesports.com/stations/ Too late for you now, but check back next year. I listened to the games on satellite radio when I was traveling. (And of course, each team's home station also broadcasts the games they are playing in.)

VP81955 said...

Norman Lloyd, who saw Game 2 of the 2017 Series at Chavez Ravine, was at the original Yankee Stadium for Game 1 in '26... https://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/872133.html

Saburo said...

BTW I always remembered Bill James saying the decision to pitch to Clark with the open base *was* the correct one -- it just didn't work out.

YEKIMI said...

@ unknown The Franken FM run by ME TV doesn't stream. Wish it did, I'd listen to it

Roger Owen Green said...

How did the Yanks FIRE Yogi after the '64 WS? And pick Keane, the StL who beat them? The Yanks' decline was already in place with an aging Mick.

That would be fun for about 5 minutes.

Unknown said...

here is the streaming link for MeTV FM
https://www.metv.com/music/
Maybe it can't stream to some states.

John Nixon said...

I think that 24 hour retro sports grousing might appeal to too few people but the idea of giving people a platform for non stop arguing about something other than politics is a great idea.
I remember hearing late at night as I was driving from Arizona to California a long time ago on KGO, San Francisco, a show called The Court of Class, Status and Tacky. There were 2 guys acting as the 'judges' and callers first had to say 'may I approach the bench'. If they didn't the judges would give them a tongue lashing. Then, once they were allowed to approach, they would announce their category. One I remember was comic strips. The caller would put one choice into each of the categories. For example...Blondie is class, Doonesbury is status and Nancy is tacky. Then the judges would go to town agreeing with or criticizing the selections and attempt to get the caller to agree with their opinions. It was really fun to listen to and could go on and on with all sorts of categories...furniture, cars, soft drinks, dog breeds, team mascots...it's unlimited and satisfies what seems to be people's need for conflict and argument while keeping it light and avoiding politics.

Mike Doran said...

For Roger Owen Green:

See if you can find a copy of Bill Veeck's second memoir, The Hustler's Handbook published in 1965.

The second chapter, "Mirror,Mirror, On The Wall, Which Of Us Took the Greater Fall?", is a detailed account of the '64 season, Series, and aftermath.

No spoilers here; I'll only tell you that some very famous names in Baseball history play unexpected roles in the story, which in their turn will cause you to look at them differently when you read the worshipful accounts of their careers.
That was awkward; what I mean is that some big names come off as not-so-great in Veeck's account.

I read The Hustler's Handbook when I was still in high school, when the book was new - and most of the people were still alive and active.
Disillusion set in, of course - but all things considered, I think I was better off for the learning.

McAlvie said...

*sigh* yeah, I miss good radio. I tried to explain to some youngsters in the family a while back what the radio experience meant. It's not a string of songs perfectly curated to suit your tastes. It's about discovering really good music that you aren't otherwise exposed to through someone, i.e. local DJ, who knows the territory and the music.

In my area radio is pretty much limited to 1 talk station, 2 country stations, NPR/classical, and a whole bunch of mediocre rock stations. They claim it's 'classic rock,' but I was there and I don't know 95% of the music they play. If nobody remembers it, how classic can it be?

Then again, I don't know what's happened to country music, either. Just last week I was listening to a song and I kept thinking it was familiar but not quite right. I figured out that they recycle some of the music and change the lyrics. But it's also basically the same 2 or 3 guys who can't really carry a tune.

And I LIKE country music.

Unknown said...

I lived over seas for a few years, and if you want real radio, you need to talk about BBC. I listed to it on shortwave radio, and the programming on BBC was incredible. Not just like radio here in the U.S. where you had a station for sports talk, a station of oldies, a station of jazz. BBC has different programming every hour, so you get variety, and you had to tune in at a particular hour at a specific frequency to listen to your program. Not stuck with the same format every day, every hour.
This was late 80s, before cell phones, before wide spread internet.

bbison said...

They were on radio here in the SF Bay area (and of course everywhere on Sirius XM.) Easy enough to watch on free streaming as well.

mike said...

Even as a clueless teen in '73 I thought that Yogi should have started George Stone in Game 6. And I read somewhere that the Bambino took his ill-advised dash with Meusel up in '26 because he thought they'd forgotten about him and thus he could get into scoring position. Nope!

Chuck JPC said...

from another ex KLA83 UCLAer. There was station in Miami with a talk show much like a stoop but without topic restrictions, nor scolding...it would wander. Totally captivating and hard to leave. Very AM

Artie in Sin City said...

Great trip down your Baseball Memory Lane...Just can't stay with any games these days because the announcers are so one dimensional and basically exude ZERO personality...Even Jerry Doggett would be a super star baseball booth guy today...Podcast is sounding tip top and you seem to be very happy and content...and THAT is a good thing...You ARE my media hero on so many levels...Keep swingin'!

Say, need a co-host for the pod show? (That be satire my man, satire)