Industry Views

Kim Komando is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast


Syndicated talk radio star, newspaper columnist, and internationally renowned technology expert Kim Komando is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Known to her millions of listeners and readers as “America’s Digital Goddess,” Komando has been burning up the news and talk radio airwaves as a leading authority on the evolving technology and sociological impact of the digital era for the past three decades. Among her numerous honors, she is a Radio Hall of Fame inductee and past recipient of the TALKERS magazine Woman of the Year award. This outstanding broadcaster and modern-day thinker produces, hosts, and distributes a weekend radio talk show, a couple of new daily shows and a number of short-form features about computers and digital technology from her studio at WestStar TalkRadio Network in Phoenix, Arizona along with her husband Barry Young, a legendary radio personality in his own right and an extremely adept businessman. Together they built a multi-million-dollar empire based on her keen intelligence, outstanding personality and extraordinary understanding of the new era. Harrison and Komando engage in an illuminating conversation about the benefits and dangers of artificial intelligence and other technological developments that are changing the world at lightning speed, including the two-pronged threat of Big Tech’s growing domestic power and China’s push for international hegemony. Don’t miss this! Listen to the podcast in its entirety here.

Industry Views

ENOUGH! The Selling Culture Has Failed Radio

By Walter Sabo
Consultant, Sabo Media
A.K.A. Walter Sterling
Radio Host, Sterling On Sunday
Talk Media Network

The creeping culture of sales-determines-all has brought the industry to this moment of despair. The selling culture has failed the medium. It is time to, once again, segregate the sales and programming departments. Take the budgets away from the program directors and inspire them to create exciting UNPREDICTABLE programming.

Earnings calls for most radio companies were held this week. Not pretty. Declarations of the demise of radio are constant, emotional, and desperate. Bleak conditions in the radio industry have occurred before. A review of past crises and how they were overcome is constructive, urgent, and essential.

For example, in 1952, network TV was launched and showed signs of success. NBCABC, and CBS moved their money from radio to TV. Longform radio shows were cancelled leaving stations across the country with a problem. At the time, most radio stations were small shops, usually family-owned, therefore the need to add hours of local programming was a financial challenge. The solution was presented by a programmer.

Todd Storz’ family owned stations in Omaha, Kansas City, Minneapolis, New Orleans, St Louis and Oklahoma City. He was young and obsessed with radio. His stations were losing money and the future, without network show blocks, was uncertain. Todd ate at a diner daily and noticed that even after it closed, the waitresses put their own money in the jukebox to hear the same songs they had heard all day. Hit after hit. Todd created a list of the top 40 songs, built a production sound and put it on his Omaha station. The station was #1 overnight. His top 40 format was aired on his owned stations with the same results.

Ruth Meyer was the program director of WMCA, New York where she established the GOOD GUYS dynasty. Before WMCA Ruth was the PD of Storz’s station in Kansas City. I asked her who did what at Storz and she said, “It was all Todd.” Todd was a programmer who never spent a day in sales. Storz’s programming idea changed and, yes, saved the industry.

When Todd died at 38 years of age his father – a businessman – took over the company. After Todd’s death, the stations died too. Why? Storz station manager Deane Johnson explained, “Todd’s death [and the control of the radio stations falling to Todd’s father] brought about a shift from a ‘programming company’ to a ‘money company.’”

Radio’s next challenge was FM. It is a popular myth that the shift from AM listening to FM was driven by the higher quality of the FM signal. FM’s signal had been available since 1948. No one listened.

You don’t go to iMAX to watch the huge, superior white screen. You go to watch a movie on the huge superior white screen. When the FCC mandated an end to AM/FM simulcasts, the general managers had no idea what to do and isn’t it time for golf?

Obsessed, very young radio fanboy programmers such as Michael Harrison and Allen Shaw joined with frustrated senior programmers like B. Mitchel ReedScott MuniMurray the K and Tom Donahue to EXPERIMENT with new programming techniques. They imagined and implemented progressive rock, free-form, album rock. THEN the crowds came to FM to hear exciting UNPREDICTABLE programming.

In 1966, Tom O’Neil, the founder/chairman of RKO General owned many money-losing, major market stations. The solution? Better sellers? Better sales training? A sales master course? No. The answer was Bill Drake. O’Neil hired Bill Drake and allowed him to create exciting UNPREDICABLE programming. Drake’s programming saved many RKO stations and was copied by hundreds of stations across the country. Drake’s programming saved them, too.

ALL of radio’s challenges today can be solved with programming invented by programmers free to program. Enough with “it’s not in the budget.” Enough with “it will bring in money.” Enough with “it’s good for sales.” Enough with talent having to generate half their salary in billing to be retained. Enough!

Unleash today’s program directors to follow their instincts, their facts and no more having to check with corporate. Why? Because checking with corporate hasn’t worked. Checking with corporate stops the flow of ideas, it freezes them in time. Radio is live, in the moment. When radio programming is frozen in time it MUST failGive up corporate engagement. Let programmers surprise you.

To quote a mentor, ABC Radio Network’s VP Dick McCauley (a sales guy), “A great salesperson is one who has a great product.” He said it a lot.

Walter Sabo was the youngest executive vice president in the history of NBC. He was the programming consultant to RKO General longer than Bill Drake. According to a Sirius corporate EVP, “Sirius exists because of what Walter Sabo did.”  He hosts a Talk Media Network radio show as Walter M. Sterling, “Sterling on Sunday.” Find out more here:  Contact him at or 646.678.1110

Industry Views

Pending Business: The Agony of Complacency

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

imWhat happens when the world-wide leader is for sale? When they stopped spanning the globe 25 years ago, I thought the budget cut would help the leader. I could still hear the great Jim McKay describing the agony as Vinko Bogataj rolled down that ski slope in utter defeat. There were so many different images of the thrill of victory, but for most of the 37 seasons of “Wide World of Sports,” the agony of defeat was forever connected to that helpless Yugoslavian skier.

Maybe the real story of Disney/ABC/ESPN’s “Wide World of Sports” is lost in the silo of being first in on the marketing ladder and not recognizing opportunity.

The world-wide leader was the first to televise Wimbledon, the Indy 500, and who could forget the Pro Bowlers Tour? Not recognizing the need to expand into targeted sports coverage, pre-empt competitive efforts, and experiment with new media may be a flaw in an otherwise crown jewel. Did Mickey Mouse see the “Rugrats” coming? You mean history repeats itself when the successful get complacent and positive paranoia is the domain of the dot-com entrepreneurs?

Ok, it’s getting a little heavy here. This column is about sales and marketing, not business theory or case studies. Or is it?

The lessons here are classic and are a direct connect to your commission check.

ESPN is searching for answers, and when billions in ad sales, cable fees, streaming subscriptions and theme park attendance isn’t enough to goose the growth curve, well, Houston, we’ve got a problem. But let’s learn how to work with what surrounds us.

— What are the biggest challenges to your business base?

— Can you identify the challenges in your control, and which are not?

— How would you rank your competitors?

— As your local ad market shifts into more digital advertising, who are the winners?

— Can you name the five biggest digital-social media ad spenders in your market?

— Do you keep updated on new ad marketing opportunities presented to your clients?

Forgive the blurry lines that connected the dots in the Disney-ABC-ESPN story. The business lesson, however, is clear. Sellers can only control what they are asked to sell. But when complacency sets in at any level, take a time out and rethink your playbook.

Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at:

Industry Views

Monday Memo: Connie Welcomes the Stranger’s Call

By Holland Cooke

imShe was the agent I enjoyed working with most over three decades I was an active real estate investor. We remain good friends, and her technique informs the work I do coaching agents – and attorneys and financial advisors and other professionals – who host ask-the-expert radio shows.

Understand the difference between “advertising” and “marketing”

Achievers like Connie do. Do you? Erroneously, these terms are often used interchangeably.

— Advertising asks shoppers to pick your product off a crowded shelf.

— Marketing makes them want to.

High-volume agents typically allocate 30% of net income to marketing, which produces leads. Lower-volume agents spend as much, or more, on advertising, which produces fewer leads. If you’re handing out mouse pads in the era of iPad, you’re late.

And you’re bucking human nature: Every…single…day, we are bombarded by SO many advertising pitches, that we lean-back-from commercials. But we lean-into storytelling, when the story hits home. One of the few things that can keep someone sitting in a parked car with the key on Accessories is the on-air attorney untangling the caller’s dilemma when it is REAL relatable.


“Can you recommend a plumber?”

The caller isn’t Connie’s client…yet. The stranger got her name from someone else Connie had helped. Reputation. Word-of-mouth. “Got a pen?” she asks. “I’m going to give you his cell number. And let me know if he can’t help you and I’ll recommend someone else who’s helped me lately.” THAT is marketing GOLD. Instant relationship.

As is the attorney whose weekend call-in show offers that “the lawyer is in, the meter is off.” One that I coached offers words-to-live-by: “If you want someone to think you can help them, help them.”

Expensive syndicated TV spots – or hokey locally produced ads – and look-alike billboards – all blur-together in a wall of noise. As do agents’ radio copy that “If I can’t sell your house, I’LL buy it!” and attorneys hedging that “If we don’t win, you don’t pay.”

Yes, advertise. But rather than squandering that airtime touting yourself, do a commercial disguised as an informative feature, snack-size how-to guidance. And offer more-about-that in a free download checklist or podcast or other asset on your memorable domain name website. Or “Ask me!” by calling your memorable phone number. Tell ‘em, rather than just trying to sell ‘em, and you’ll sell more of ‘em.

Big-spending competitors look alike. You can sound different.

It’s the oldest, most-proven concept in marketing: Free samples, of your expertise and comforting counsel. Your trusted voice can differentiate you. Done right, these shows have callers asking, “May I call you at the office on Monday?” even before the host invites them to. BUT…

In too many cases, that weekend show is a well-kept secret, under-promoted by the station, and only available in real-time…UNLESS…the radio show is just one element of a coordinated interactive multi-platform strategy, which harvests and addresses your prospects’ relatable concerns via podcast, social media, email, those commercials I describe above, and a voicemail tactic SO obvious that few spot the opportunity.

Lots of work? You bet! An organized production routine is key. Find a producer – a Robin to your Batman – who can keep that conveyor belt humming, and he or she is every bit the hero as Connie’s plumber.

Holland Cooke ( is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download; and “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books. Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke

Industry Views

Sabo Sez: Consolidation Has Been Radio’s Savior

By Walter Sabo
Consultant, Sabo Media
A.K.A. Walter Sterling
Radio Host, Sterling On Sunday
Talk Media Network

imHALF of all radio stations in the United States lose money – at least they did back in 1991. The NAB used to put out an annual report revealing how many radio stations were profitable. Usually half the stations in America lost money. Since consolidation, the NAB stopped putting out that report. It is reasonable to believe that far, far fewer stations lose money today.  Shared costs, real estate, technical economies due to digital equipment versus analog all indicate that there must be fewer money-losing properties.

The business of radio is very strong and appealing to investors. Apollo Advisers was the first money-in Sirius. The Apollo fund recently bought Cox radio. Marc Rowan, Apollo’s CEO is the smartest guy in any room. Rowan doesn’t invest in hunches; he buys businesses that grow return on investment.

In 1970, 7% of all ad dollars went to radio. Today, 7% of all ad dollars go to radio.  In 1970, Procter & Gamble spent almost zero dollars in radio. Thanks to consolidation and the vision of Randy Michaels, radio has shifted from a “frequency” ad buy to a “reach”  buy. Reach commands higher rates and more sophisticated advertisers. The RAB’s Erica Farber and Sound Mind’s Kraig Kitchin focused on winning P&G dollars. Today, Procter & Gamble is a top-five radio advertiser.

Are you sick and tired of “experts” saying that radio is slow to digital?  Radio is not slow, radio was first-in. Mark Cuban put thousands of stations on in the 1990s. Today radio leads the list of most downloaded podcasts. NPR has been the leader in podcasting since Alex Bennett started the industry. Under Bob Pittman and Jarl MohniHeart and NPR dominate downloads.

Why the pessimism and anxiety in the hallways?  It started with the management of consolidation. There are major consulting firms to help employees go through mergers. Consolidating an industry and its workforce is both an art and science. No radio company sought or engaged experienced expertise to manage consolidation. Instead, when a quarter’s revenue was missed, people were fired. Your friends in the next office were suddenly out of work. Layoffs should have happened all at once, based on a strategic plan. There is no plan. Firings are executed on random dates, with no notice; a horrible practice that continues. That’s why you’re miserable. No plan.

Radio stations in Canada, Europe, Australia and the UK are having excellent years. Canadian Music Week conventions, Commercial Broadcasters of Australia and European conferences are bursting with optimism and good news about radio. Why? Consider this possibility: Most radio companies outside the US are owned and managed by executives with a programming background. To do their jobs, programmers must be optimistic about the future. A salesperson’s job requires them to spend their days listening to media buyers’ objections to advertising on radio – negotiators! It sucks.

Consumers like or love radio. The reason SiriusXM Satellite Radio has 34 million listeners PAYING for radio is that listeners want MORE stations. Much, perhaps most, “music discovery” comes from radio listening. 53% of Americans will listen to radio today. In 1970, 53% of Americans listened to radio daily.

Walter Sabo was the youngest executive vice president in the history of NBC. The youngest VP in the history of ABC. He was a consultant to RKO General longer than Bill Drake. Walter was the in-house consultant to Sirius for eight years. He has never written a resume. Contact him at or mobile 646-678-1110. Hear Walter Sterling at

Industry Views

Pending Business: The Big 20 Countdown

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

imNo, this isn’t about college football or New Year’s Eve. Wait, maybe it is.

This is about getting you to start the 20 benchmarks every news/talk or sports talk manager, seller, even owner should be reviewing, analyzing, and preparing on their 2023/2024 calendars.

Call me the Detail Doctor, because as we all know the dollars are in the details.

Let’s start with August:

— College Football kicks off at the end of the month and your packages are closing out.

— The NFL season kickoff is full of new competition, so close, close, close.

— Labor Day is on the way and depending on your market dynamics unique packages could swing momentum your way.

— Early 2024 upfronts should be game planned now.

— Review your recruitment profile.


— Election Day is 9 weeks away. Are you ready?

— Do you finalize goals/budgets for 2024?

— The Jewish community observes High Holidays at the end of the month.


— Tweak your Q4 packages.

— Thanksgiving

— Christmas. Sunday/Monday this year.

— Too early for New Year’s Eve? Sunday/Monday this year.

— Financial Category. We all want second opinions, right?

— Legal. ditto

— Lock in your 2024 goals.

— Monitor pacing for 2024 upfront.


— Check your crystal ball for final 2023/early 2024 performance.

— Daylight Saving Time ends. Change those clocks!

— Start thinking Vegas, baby for the February 11, 2024 Super Bowl.

— How did those upfronts close?


— Renewals for 2024 done?

— Pacing for 2024?

— Actual selling days in the month is deceptive.

— Review those wins AND losses.

— Happy New Year.

This exercise is a simple, functional start point. Every seller, manager, and owner will add, delete, or adopt this list. My hope is you will move to do something to help your 2023 income finish big and 2024 start even bigger!

Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at:

Industry Views

Monday Memo: Do You Still Have the Dream?

By Holland Cooke

imFellow longtime, long-ago DJs: You know what I’m talking about. And it’s a life sentence, eh?

Like The Manchurian Candidate…or Jason Bourne…we share a recurring nightmare. But in our case, the dread is fear of dead air.

You’re on-air, alone in the building, late at night, as studio equipment starts failing, one device at a time. Then the phone.

Computers? I was of the vinyl and tape era, but if you jocked later on, that early Scott Studios screen locks-up. As does the other computer. So, you can’t just…read things.



The only thing that works is the microphone. And as you vamp, desperately…the reverb seems to be getting deeper…

It could be worse. You’re not on TV.

As one of our colleagues recommended here a couple weeks ago: “Prep like the phone is broken.”

Holland Cooke ( is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download; and the E-book and FREE on-air radio features Inflation Hacks: Save Those Benjamins;” and Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books. Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke

Industry Views

Don’t Leave Cash on the Nightstand

By Walter Sabo
Consultant, Sabo Media
A.K.A. Walter Sterling
Radio Host, Sterling On Sunday
Talk Media Network

imAmazing fact: In ancient times, from 1962-1972, the highest-paid on-air talent in New York City was “an overnight guy.” He was paid salary plus sales response. I’m talking about Long John Nebel on WOR, WNBC, then WMCA. Long John’s live reads moved product because his audience was captive. One-to-one his listeners were attached to their radios in the truck cab, night watchman’s building lobby, parents pacing with their babies, students cramming. His background was not in radio; he was a skilled auctioneer. Obviously, the same listeners exist today – and are anxious for someone to talk to them. Check out this old clip of Nebel in action:

One of today’s bizarre misconceptions is that overnights/late nights are not important for sales or audience share. Totally and completely wrong!

— As an executive, when launching a new format, any new format, the first time period I staffed was overnights. Late-night, overnight is the doorway to a station. Listening patterns to AM drive are habitual, hard to change. Late night listening is discretionary. Audiences will sample new radio offerings when they seek pure entertainment rather than essential utility elements.

— Late-night cume feeds morning drive. Study the flow of audience from late-night to morning drive, you will be surprised how much of the AM drive cume depends on the last station heard before turning off the radio.

— No distractions. It is easier to sell any product or idea to a person who is giving you 100% of their attention rather than rushing to work, calming the kids and remembering to avoid road construction. As George Noory’s success confirms, the percent of listeners who act on a commercial message is higher overnights than at any other time period.

— Every format has a default hour – one hour of the day when it will have its largest audience share. For all-news, for example, it’s always 5:00 am – 6:00 am. Lite FM’s, 1:00 pm. Live, local talk: 11:00 pm.  Listeners seek companionship, sympathy and empathy from talk shows.  If a station offers a “best of” at 11:00 pm, it is ignoring the built-in strategic advantage of the talk format. 11:00 pm is primetime.

— Rate integrity. A station may charge top dollar for morning drive. Upon further study those high rates usually come with nighttime bonus spots.  Bonus spots cut the rate in half. The nighttime results story can stand on its own and command premium pricing without bonusing.

Walter Sabo was the youngest executive vice president in the history of NBC. The youngest VP in the history of ABC. He was a consultant to RKO General longer than Bill Drake. Walter was the in-house consultant to Sirius for eight years. He has never written a resume. Contact him at or mobile 646-678-1110. Hear Walter Sterling at

Industry Views

Pending Business: Pulling the Rug Out from Under

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

imWhen was the last time you went shopping for a quality living room rug? Not an oriental, because that is just too easy. We’re talking high quality living room rug that will blend in and stand the test of time… and the dog. Next to fighting with a credit card company, it’s the worst shopping experience ever.

Try this at home when you have nothing better to do. Chances are you want to find the rug of your dreams, so you check out the major department stores. Up the escalator, walk through home furnishings and an employee may or may not be available. Most likely not, so you head to an adjacent department, and someone sends someone who barely knows the product and selection.

This scenario is repeated at most major department stores today, so off we go to our favorite furniture store where rugs are an accessory, like belts in the men’s store. No go here. Time to head over to the carpet, tile, and rug store.

Employees here are a bit more available and knowledgeable, but the quality and selection are just not quite right. Time for the expensive specialty store where expertise and service are #1 and so is price. $10,000 for that!

Time for the online experience to take over with countless purchase options, reviews, and confusing virtual reality options. This is getting painful. The attempted purchase is frozen in frustration. What does this have to do with what we do? Live and learn.

— Are you always available for your advertisers? When business is soft you lob in a mandatory attempt and move on. When business is through the roof, are you quick to return a call or open a new door?

— Do you simply walk through the same motions, or reflect the energy and enthusiasm of an exciting program lineup? Think of the rug seller, flipping through those rugs. Boring!

— Do you earn the price or just blame the boss? Since day one, some sellers find it easier to blame the boss instead of earning the value proposition.

— Are your advertisers frozen in frustration? Feel free to use the phrase that pays. Defrost that frozen decision maker before your competitor does.

A great program director once told me, the best on-air talents observe life with a pad and pen. Their notes come to life when the mic goes on. The same is true for great sellers and managers. Every purchase experience can improve your next call.

Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at:

Industry Views

Monday Memo: We Have a Winner

By Holland Cooke

imTHE Best Bit I’ve Heard This Month was by Gene Valicenti, morning host, WPRO-AM/WEAN-FM, Providence.

Among advertisers he endorses: Pinnacle Discount Center, where TV prices are SO low ya wonder if the merch’ is hot. It was a hole-in-the-wall before Gene tripled its business… not a tough sell when every customer gets to “Spin the Wheel!” on the way out for even-deeper discounts or a FREE bonus TV.

“You’ve got an uncle in the TV business,” Gene says, and “Uncle Bill” gives him TVs to award listeners who chime-in on topic du jour each morning.


As Amazon Prime Days began, Gene spontaneously texted Uncle Bill – not a set-up, I’m told – challenging him to beat Amazon deals. ONE MINUTE later, Uncle Bill replied: “Yes! 15% less for any same-model TV Amazon is offering.” Even if nobody took him up on the offer, the gesture slam-dunks this retailer’s category ownership.

Even if you aren’t making a station advertiser a hero: How can YOU localize The Big Story?

Holland Cooke ( is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download; and the E-book and FREE on-air radio features Inflation Hacks: Save Those Benjamins;“and Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books. Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke

Industry Views

Speaking the Conversation of the Listener

By Walter Sabo
Consultant, Sabo Media
A.K.A. Walter Sterling
Radio Host, Sterling On Sunday
Talk Media Network

In the strum and dirge of daily radio life, it is easy to forget the mad skills required to do what we do. Consider the TV sitcom. 22 minutes of content, 22 times a year. The cast ad libs – nothing! Between eight and 11 writers scribe every word. Hair, makeup… handled by others! A donut run? No, there’s the crafts services table that will make you, the star, whatever you want any time you want it. Hot? A production assistant sprays mint scented water on you.

How’s your day? You or your on-air talent create a three- or four- or perhaps even five-hour show out of thin – or should I say rarefied – air! Writers? You mean that kid who has to go to class at 11? Production? Sure, as soon as the spots for the weekend are cut. Food? Ya got quarters?

You are a miracle of creativity, ambition and sheer talent. Reward? The company wants to cut your live read fees and could you help out in sales? As a point of reference, when Dr. Ruth Westheimer killed in the ratings at WYNY, we gave her a Seville.

GOOD NEWS. You can fix this. Talk radio is the last frontier of free form radio. Fact is you can do whatever you want.

Most talk shows and stations peaked about six years ago. The audience is not growing, it’s not attracted to talk radio’s offerings of endless political theory. So, stop.

What works? Take a look at the ratings of KMBZ-FM Kansas City; KFGO, Fargo; KFBK, Sacramento; WABC, New York’s Frank Morano; WTAM, Cleveland’s Bill Wills; WLW, Cincinnati; KFI, Los Angeles; KDKA, Pittsburgh’s midday. (I will now be flooded with other examples but listen to those stations.) Hosting a network radio show, “Sterling On Sunday,” I have learned what those audio outlets exemplify works!

Talk about your day. Talk about what two best friends would discuss over a quick lunch. The topics that generate ratings are not always the “hot talk radio topics.” The list that works reads like this, try it:

— Trouble with the in-laws.

— Is “Storage Wars” fake?

— Tip at the drive-thru?

— Cell phone for a 10-year-old?

— Married? Is texting cheating?

— How can I do less and earn more?

— Yes, it was a controlled demolition.

— Taylor Swift bi? Harry Styles bi?

— Are you kidding? Women ARE in charge!

— Turn on the AC, shut the damn window.

The power of the mirror. When the radio speaks the conversation of the listener, the ratings go up. Guaranteed.

Walter Sabo was the youngest executive vice president in the history of NBC. The youngest VP in the history of ABC. He was a consultant to RKO General longer than Bill Drake. Walter was the in-house consultant to Sirius for eight years. He has never written a resume. Contact him at or mobile 646-678-1110. Hear Walter Sterling at

Industry Views

Pending Business: Shorter and Faster is Better

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

Looks like Major League Baseball is about to show the radio business how to score the winning run. Major League Baseball decided it was time to reverse the aging fan base, declining gameday gates, and shorten three-plus-hours of in-game boredom.

Despite the downhome storytellers doing play-by-play on radio and innovations of TV coverage, the game was getting tedious, and it was time for Major League Baseball to change or slowly but surely face the fate of the dinosaur.

Sound familiar? Yes, there are some baseball innovations that entertained people like the infamous mascots of yesteryear, but MLB is about the hallowed Hall of Fame heritage of pinstripes, red socks, and Dodger blue. Change means risk and in baseball swinging for the fences is a 1 in 18 shot.

Getting a little too close for comfort? Fans and sponsors needed a new spark to ignite baseball fever, so MLB responded with a pitch clock to speed up the game and bigger bases to bring back one of the most exciting plays in sports. Guess what? Games are being played faster, gameday attendance is up 8%, TV viewership is up 14% and according to the Insider, social media views are up 67% as under-35 demographics are up 14%. Let us start connecting the dots to our business.

— News/talk radio relies on a 55+ audience. Nothing wrong with the “money demo.” But talk radio needs to look ahead to what happens AFTER the election cycle.

— Most daily talk shows are three hours long. So were most MLB games… until this year. Shorter became better as attendance and viewership shot up. Wake up radio programmers, hosts, managers! Do we have the courage and budget to program and sell shorter, faster moving programs? Radio is so stuck in an outdated model; the low growth is about to make another appearance in bankruptcy court.

— Fans got excited and social media exploded. Last time I checked, Savannah, Georgia was Nielsen radio market #145. No news/talk radio station in the top 100 U.S. radio markets has as many Facebook followers as the Savannah Bananas baseball team.

— Fans and sponsors needed a new spark. What has your radio station offered lately that is new, exciting and lights the fuse for sponsors and listeners?

Recently, a 21-year-old baseball star stole two bases then decided to steal home and the fans went crazy. Through the years we have seen the play. But every time it happens the fans in the stands are on their feet, cheering, high fiving, and re-living every detail of the excitement. Baseball is back, bigger and better than ever. All of us can learn from today’s changes in America’s Pastime.

Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at:

Industry Views

Monday Memo: Does Your Station Sound “On-Vacation?”

By Holland Cooke

imBy 2009, I had been making my living consulting and coaching talk hosts for 14 years, but I myself had not yet hosted a talk show. Like Rush Limbaugh before he went-talk, I had lots of on-air time under my belt as a music DJ. And that same skill set contributes to talk radio success: “Play the hits” (topics) and convert Cume to AQH (technique).

This month and next, when so many take vacation time, guest-hosts are often local somebodies who are not career broadcasters and don’t share our second-nature performance routines. For their benefit, these tips, based on my experience on both sides of the mic:

My hosting debut was “The Jim Bohannon Show.” And Jimbo told me I was only the third person to ever guest-host, after Joan Rivers and Chris Matthews jump-started their broadcast careers there. But, to these listeners, who-the-heck was I? Lacking the back-story of an A-list comedian or former presidential speechwriter, I simply told the truth, saying, “I’m Jim’s pal, Holland Cooke” as I quickly invited callers into the hour’s topic or teed up the guest. I had promised myself I would avoid “The Sitting-In For Rush Syndrome:” unscripted monologue about myself and blah-blah-blah until the first break. TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison – himself a well-traveled guest host – recommends nonchalance and warns against, “It’s such an honor to be here!”

So, if you’re filling-in, that’s Tip #1: Cut to the chase. Don’t devalue the show by committing lots of time explaining that the familiar host is away and who you are. Tee-up what the show is about this hour… why it matters to those listening… how they will benefit from not wandering-off when they hear a stranger… and how to join-in.


Demonstrating this technique when “FOX Across America” host Jimmy Failla is off: my long-suffering client Paul Gleiser. His day job is owning KTBB, Tyler-Longview, Texas; and his side hustle is guest-hosting Jimmy’s show, which he’s done a half-dozen times this month. Understanding Tip #2: You’re a guest in someone’s home, Paul asked Jimmy for advice. Always in-character, Failla quipped “Drive it like you stole it!” So Gleiser is all about call count, teeing-up TWO tempting propositions, one topical, the other a softer “Bonus Question.” As I write this, he’s asking, “Which Democrat do we [Republicans] want to run-against in 2024?” and – as new employment numbers are announced – “The WORST job you ever had?” Callers are telling stories.

That’s Tip #3: Invite callers. Admittedly, my debut was a snap, with Jimbo’s show on 500-plus stations. But later, when then-PD Bill White had me do three nights on WBT, Charlotte, he texted me after my first hour to say that I had taken more calls that hour than other hosts get-around-to in a week. In a recession, I asked if callers were “Seeing ‘green shoots’ of recovery?” and “The best car you ever owned?” They all told stories about both. “DON’T beg for callers,” Harrison says. And bring more than just your voice, i.e., guests and sound bites from news feeds. Gleiser: “Prep like the phone is broken.”

 Tip #4: Invite participation multiple ways. Many listeners would rather text than call. Do so and you’ll sound accessible and at-the-speed-of-life. And follow @smerconish to see how (effectively) he polls listeners via social media.

Tip #5: “Know what the show was about yesterday,” Gleiser urges, because political topics tend to change little day-to-day. Avoid this trap: The guest host’s outspoken narrative is a point that’s already been talked-to-death BUT this is HIS shot on a big show, so this is HIS turn to me-too the unison. Better approach: Come up with a new wrinkle; like Paul’s aforementioned “Who [Democrat] do we [Republicans] have the best chance of beating in 2024?”

 Tip #6: Empower callers, by asking their FEELINGS, rather than asking for facts or their expertise. They’re not experts. Instead, use The Magic Words (“you” and “your”): “Should you be fined for installing or replacing your gas stove?” Or empower them with access to a guest they can Q+A about matters that matter to their lives. When the fill-in host is “a somebody” – the mayor or an athlete or an expert – the host him/herself is an opportune topic. As we say when inviting calls to hosts who broker weekend airtime: “The lawyer is in, the meter is off.”

Tip #7: Establish a relationship with the producer “BEFORE the show” Gleiser advises: “Don’t just show up.” Ascertain who-does-what. In some cases, the producer will have booked guests and may suggest or assign call-in topics. Or – in Jimmy Failla speak – you’re driving, if the producer is simply call-screening and running-the-board (which you should NOT attempt if you’re not an experienced broadcaster or if you are unfamiliar with this particular station’s set-up).

Tip #8: Keep re-setting – succinctly, “matter-of-factly” as Michael Harrison puts it — introducing yourself and your guest-or-topic — when you’re going-into and coming-out-of breaks, and at the beginning of each hour. Why: Listeners are constantly tuning-in.

Tip #9: Always and only announce the call-in number immediately after you tell them WHY to call. Most common mistake I hear, even from experienced hosts: They give-out the phone number at the very beginning of the show or hour or segment, then (eventually) they tell you why to call, possibly minutes later (an eternity in live radio). So, they’re haunted by those dreaded “regulars” who already have the number memorized. Make announcing the number the punch line, whether you’re asking opinions on topic du jour or offering access to a guest they’ll want to interact with. ‘Seems like a little thing, but this can make a big difference in how popular you make the station sound.

Tip #10: “Be a convenience to the station,” not high maintenance. Harrison: “If you’re a diva they won’t ask you back.”

Tip #11: Afterward, give it a listen. If you do this for a living, wait a week, so you hear your work with fresh ears. Not a broadcaster? Was there a segment worth sharing on your blog or via social media? Did you or a guest explain something real useful? On Twitter, link to an audio clip of “Pet Pro Dr. Donna Johnson’s tips for helping your critters keep their cool during a long, hot summer,” so you’re useful to those who weren’t listening live. For LOTS of clicks and shares, include pictures of cuddly kittens and puppies.

Tip #12: If you are a career broadcaster, “always be available (and prepared) on short notice,” Michael Harrison recommends. 😉

Holland Cooke ( is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download; and the E-book and FREE on-air radio features Inflation Hacks: Save Those Benjamins;“and Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books. Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke

Industry Views

Lessons from Rush

By Walter Sabo
Consultant, Sabo Media
A.K.A. Walter Sterling
Radio Host, Sterling on Sunday

Rush Limbaugh’s initial success spawned a nation of imitators.  Throughout the country hosts and executives heard Rush and concluded that the key to success was bashing liberals for three hour – or all day!

Oddly that wasn’t Rush’s mission.  When Ed McLaughlin launched Rush’s show an article appeared quoting Rush and his role.

Rush said, “I’m here to inform, inform, inform.”  Ed was the founding GM of KGO, he ran the ABC Radio Networks for about 20 years. He knew how to make great radio because that’s all he knew how to do.  I was in his office the day the article quoting Rush appeared.

Ed said to me, “I will have to talk to Rush about that. His job is to entertain.”  Following Ed’s conversation with him, Rush carried out his mission, he entertained.

Rush did not get ratings and cash for espousing conservative views. There were other spokespeople who did that very well such as William F Buckley – an erudite conservative who never got ratings.

Listening hard to Rush airchecks, he was mostly entertaining. How did he do that?  First, he never offered duplicate arguments for his opinions. Every single day he presented brand new evidence and facts and stories to support his point of view. Secondly, he riffed. There were long periods featuring funny, human stories. Cat stories!  Third, Rush understood radio to a pristine point of science. When he had nothing to say, he used the medium’s most powerful tool… silence!

He understood the essential bond with the listener and therefore we never heard his producer on talkback, rarely, rarely, rarely a guest interview.  Phone calls were extremely well screened, coached and ready for air. Sharp produced bits were designed to drive the conversation.  The show was a show not a lecture.

Rush understood that the biggest mistake he could make would be to change his position on anything. Regardless of a caller’s absolute facts, Rush would say, “So what of it sir, I’m right.”  His battle against facts made the show work. Radio wrestling.

Today’s winning hosts don’t waste time forming political opinions, they invest their time in building an entertaining show.

Walter Sabo was the youngest Executive Vice President in the history of NBC. The youngest VP in the history of ABC. He was a consultant to RKO General longer than Bill Drake. Walter was the in-house consultant to Sirius for eight years. He has never written a resume. Contact him at or mobile 646-678-1110. Hear Walter Sterling at

Industry Views

Ransomware is Everyone’s Problem

By Steven J.J. Weisman, Esq.
Bentley University, Boston
Professor of Law, Founder
TALKERS, Legal Editor

The recent ransomware attack against radio group and media company Townsquare Media may have come as a surprise to some people.  It shouldn’t have.  Ransomware is a huge problem and media companies are increasingly becoming targeted by cybercriminals.

As you undoubtedly know, ransomware is a type of malware that once installed on your company’s computers locks and encrypts your files.  The cybercriminals who use ransomware to attack your company then threaten to destroy your files unless you pay a ransom, generally in cryptocurrencies.  More recently the threat of ransomware has evolved where the cybercriminals also threaten to make public embarrassing information gathered in the hacking of your computers.

Just how big a problem is ransomware?  Worldwide 37,700 ransomware attacks occur every hour.   Part of the reason for there being so many ransomware attacks is that they are perpetrated not only by sophisticated cybercriminals who develop the new strains of ransomware, but also by far less sophisticated criminals who go to the Dark Web, that portion of the internet where criminals buy and sell goods and services, and lease the latest versions of ransomware along with bots to serve as delivery systems for the ransomware.    According to cybersecurity firm Emsisoft, in 2021, the financial impact of ransomware attacks in the United States was 623.7 million dollars.  Also, don’t think if your company is a small to medium sized business that it won’t be targeted by ransomware attacks.  Due to the easy availability of the sophisticated malware and delivery systems required for a ransomware attack, small and medium sized businesses are frequent targets of ransomware attacks.

Media companies are a common target for ransomware attacks with devastating consequences.  In 2017, San Francisco NPR station KQED was hit with a damaging ransomware attack. In 2019, Entercom suffered a major ransomware attack.  In 2021, Cox Media, which owns 57 radio and television stations, fell victim to a ransomware attack.   Also in 2021, Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns 185 television stations throughout the country suffered a ransomware attack which cost the company 63 million dollars in lost advertising revenue and 11 million dollars in expenses related to remedying the attack.  And these are just a few of the many ransomware attacks against media companies big and small.

To read more and learn what you can do, click here.

Industry Views

Pending Business: Good News Bad News

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

Survey says, the good news is, 49% of local direct advertisers use AM/FM radio.

The bad news is, the same survey says, 65% of that same group uses social media advertising. Advantage +16% for the digital team. The good news is, you are comfortable selling/managing digital and social media vehicles because like it or not your local advertiser is leaning in on the digital/social media advertising opportunity.

Survey says, more bad news, 54% of the local direct advertiser group is buying event-sponsorships. The good news is, you are comfortable selling/managing event-sponsorships because like it or not your local advertiser is leaning in on the event-sponsorship advertising opportunity.

Now for the closer, survey says, over 50% of these local advertisers are now budgeting only 2% of gross revenues on advertising. Thank you Borrell for the researched eye-opener and thank you pandemic for shrinking the local advertiser’s marketing dollar.

Show of hands, please, anyone reading this totally surprised? The online digital/social media advertising world has been on a double-digit growth tear as long as anyone can remember. The growth continues as AM/FM sellers stand by and watch the parade go by, sorry guys. The facts are… there are roughly 310 million smartphones in the U.S. According to the last Edison survey, 68% of U.S. homes own 1.5 radios. In round numbers 338 million radios at home. Wait, what? Are there almost as many smartphones as AM/FM radios at home? Anyone own more than one smartphone? I thought there was a radio in almost every room in your home. Not anymore, you say? Quite different from the average five radios per household when many reading this column earned their first double digit commission check as a member of that fun loving sales team. The times are a changin’ and I hope you are changing with the times. Let us start here:

Update your value proposition for “Why Radio?” Make it current and relevant to today’s media ecosystem.

Sharpen your new selling skills. Get ahead of the curve and leave your competitors in the dust.

Ask yourself, “What happened?” The numbers of smartphone users are growing. Maybe not as fast as in the past but growing. The number of AM/FM radios in the home is shrinking. Look to your leadership for some answers.

When the trend is NOT your friend, it’s time to think like the great leaders who built our country and media empires, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at: