Radio interviews, Bruce Buchanan, #KISS 108

Why your interviews suck…

Reading your new Blog, “Writing Radio’s Wrongs”, I decided to mix up an adult beverage and think about radio again.

As I floated around my pool in Naples, tall rum drink in hand, one of the first things that came to mind was how bad the interviewers on today’s radio are.

Actually I was never very good at it until I sat in on a few “Staff Meetings”, a pre-recorded show played back on Sunday mornings on KVIL Dallas. Friday mornings we would gather in KVIL’s incredibly small newsroom to talk about anything that came to mind. “Staff Meeting” was hosted/chaired by Ron Chapman who often had  a guest, a recording artist, sports star, or performer who was playing Dallas or Fort Worth. The secret of “Staff Meeting’s” success was we never really interviewed any of them. Ron, Andy, Bob, and others who attended, focused on other aspects of the individual’s life: their families, hobbies, likes, dislikes, you name it.

Today it seems,, air talent get their training from watching the TV show “COPS”.

The officer asks:

“Where are you coming from?”.
“The bar”.
The Cop says “The bar?” How many drinks did you have?”

“Two?” the Cop says. “Where you Headed?”

And so on.

Interviewing is an art. Watch some of the old late night shows, hosts like Johnny Carson and Dick Cavette just shut up and listen. Listen to Terry Gross on NPR or Howard Stern on Sirius XM. They let the guest be the star and stay out of the way. They both are super well prepared, they don’t wing it and they know how to listen. Oh, did I mention how well they’re compensated?

Here’s another gem. “Have you ever noticed every, single local weather person when rain is in the forecast says ”Be sure and grab your umbrella”. Have you ever gone out in the rain and said “I wouldn’t be getting wet, right now, if the weather person had reminded me to “grab my umbrella”? I know they think it is content. I’m sure I said the same thing back in my first job. How about finding something going on in the community and explain how the weather will affect it, instead?”

The problem is there can be no students unless there are teachers. Unfortunately, most of them are floating around in their pools with a cold drink like I am at the moment.

Thanks Bruce (Jim Edwards, Captain Jim, et all) Buchanan

Quick Buchanan story. My first GM job, I flipped the format on my FM and hired Bruce to do mornings, he sounded great. I got up one morning, turned on my new FM, it sounded fine but no Buchanan, 15 minutes went by, no Bruce. He didn’t answer the phone. I called the AM News Director, he said Bruce was there. “What the hell?” I hustled down to the station and ran back to the FM studio. Bruce had the board open, parts laying everywhere. I yelled, “What the fck is going on!” Bruce was standing on the console, with a soldering iron in his hand, he said, “Since YOUR engineer won’t wire this thing correctly, I’m doing it myself!”

What could I say, he was right.

George and I will be posting our thoughts on the #Boston market shortly. I got up at 3 Pacific time this morning to listen to #KISS 108 to see how #Matt Siegel and his morning team handled the #Red Sox American League championship victory over the Astros last night and the #World Series starting next Tuesday at #Fenway Park. All I can say is Matty is a pro! Hell of a job.




Self Inflicted Injuries…


Valentine in the Morning

MYfm, Los Angeles

Our thoughts on the MYfm morning show.

Bob Christy:

I listened like a listener this morning at 6:20. I poured my third cup of coffee, turned on the radio and the first thing I heard was Valentine having a long conversation with a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage. Valentine let her talk, she got into what a nice and good man her husband is, but she just isn’t in love with him. Valentine got too close to being an amateur psychologist, but he didn’t push it. He didn’t make fun of her predicament. Valentine ended it nicely, and I came away thinking “Wow, he isn’t an asshole!” Good start.

George Johns:

I agree, Bob, he’s warm, friendly, and very female-oriented. The problem I had with Valentine’s topics when I listened, was none of them had a killer close. Nothing he did stuck, so there was no way I could go to work and say, “Hey did you hear what Valentine said this morning?”

Bob Christy

From that nice, first class start, MYfm went to a massive bunch of commercials. The third or 4th spot was very low. Almost, inaudible. Traffic was read at high speed, it sounded like one long sentence without punctuation. Brutal. If you’re going to do traffic, why throw it away? I’d bet even the most hardcore Valentine listeners tune in KNX or somewhere else for traffic, what they get from MYfm is useless.

George Johns:

The thing about the morning show, is  true of the rest of MYfm, they’re not balanced. They clump all the talk together and then cluster the music too. If I was doing it, I would put the topic, the spots and a tune all together in a segment and then continue around the clock the same way.

Bob Christy:

After a few tunes, more calls on relationship problems. One woman sounded like she was making shit up. Valentine handled her well. I found myself thinking this guy is good. Valentine is the always hard to find ” nice guy on the radio”. Too many morning guys sound like the kind of person, who if they sat next to you at a bar, you’d move.

Geo Johns:

“Nice guy sounding” is Valentine’s gift, he need not work on that, but what he does need to work on, is making me see what he says. Seeing, as 85% of communication is done with the eyes,  broadcasters and authors have to paint pictures. Valentine doesn’t do that at all, so no radio hall of fame for him.

Bob Christy:

Cakes came out on the porch just as one of the calls ended. Valentine’s sidekick Jill was doing the ever present “woman/girl on the radio laugh”. Cakes said “Why do they always do that stupid laugh?” I don’t know, Honey.

George Johns:

I think the giggle chick sidekick era is over, Bob. Valentine needs to use his staff as more than his in studio audience. He should be interviewing things out of them, asking them the things he can’t say because of his image. He’s the one wearing the white hat the rest don’t have to.

Bob Christy:

Valentine’s show could be so much better. He needs to be in a better environment.   You don’t need to do music sweeps in AM drive. Let Valentine be Valentine. That’s on the PD or Brand Manager, not Valentine. Here’s another thing. The Dodgers won the NL West for the 6th straight year. Never mentioned! Rain in the forecast for the first time in months and months. Never mentioned! And sweet sleeping Jesus, slow the traffic woman down!


George Johns:

The only thing local on the morning show Bob is the traffic, but it goes by so fast that you don’t really hear it. The show is pleasant enough, but great morning shows are only understood by the listeners who live in that town. You could drop Valentines show into any town.

Bob Christy:

We we talking the other day about the great radio CEO and innovator George Wilson. When George went to rehab at Hazelden outside of Minneapolis, he said he was excited to be able to listen to WCCO. CCO had been dominate in the Twin Cities since the station signed on in 1921. Wilson said he turned it on one morning and he didn’t understand what Boone and Erickson were talking about. WCCO was all about Minneapolis and St. Paul. The only thing George recognized on the station were the sportscasts, because he knew the names of the teams. When he got out of rehab he beat his Bartel GMS and PDS into  making their stations local, local, local and then more local. Wilson got dry at Hazelden and got religion about being all about your market. HIs “Q” stations all had the same format, but they all sounded different because they were targeted right at their market.

George Johns:

Too bad Wilson had to learn how radio worked by going to rehab. You and I learned how radio worked from what caused George to go there. All that counts is being local. In fact, when I first moved to San Diego, I didn’t understand the jargon. They referred to areas as PB, TJ, the Strand, OB, the Murph, the Gaslamp District, Etc. You had to live there to understand what it meant. If you didn’t use those terms you were from out of town. Most of the LA stations got into San Diego loud and clear but nobody listened to them They didn’t talk about San Diego.

Bob Christy:

George, we’ve both been around morning shows running as many as 21 units in an hour, we somehow figured how to make the show sound uncluttered. MYfm needs to decide whether they are going to be a personality driven show from 6 to 9 or keep trying to split the baby. It’s schizophrenic.


Yeah, it doesn’t really matter what the unit count is Bob, you have to figure out how to balance it. In fact all you need is the formula that movies, TV sitcoms,  broadway plays and all the guys I was lucky enough to work with who are in the radio hall of fame use. Attention getting opening, a little drama and a killer close. All Valentine has is a little drama which is the least important part.

The way I’ve always taught it Bobby, break by break is;

1. What’s it like outside.

2. What’s going on in the area.

3. What’s the station or one of it’s staff members doing.

4. Your own topic

5. Start over at #1

Bob Christy:

I’d love to hear Valentine working on a show formatted for his strengths. You and I have discussed many times how you can you use the various elements to punctuate, bits, phone calls. He could set up a call from Jody in North Hollywood this way:

“I’ve got Jody on the phone, she lives in North Hollywood, Jody what’s going on?”

“My neighbor’s cat jumps across to my balcony to poop.”

“What?” Jill says (no laughing, btw)

“Have you talked to your neighbor about it?” Valentine asks.

“She doesn’t believe me.”

“Probably doesn’t want to. (Jill could say, “I wouldn’t want to know either.”) Have you got her number?”

“Sure do.”

“Give it to me while we check traffic, I’ll call her for you, Okay?”

“Great. It’s a nice cat named Fritzie and I love cats, but….”

“We’ll make that call for you Jody, it’s 7:18, sunny with a high of 78 today in the valleys, cooler on the beaches. Air quality is supposed to be good. It’s Valentine in the Morning on MYfm, we’ll be back to solve Jody’s kitty troubles after a check on traffic.”

It would be really nice if the traffic person could mention Jody’s cat problem, too.

The perfect way to get rid of a few spots and the traffic and get the listener to hang on.

How would you handle it, George?

Geo Johns:

That works for me Bobby. All the morning folks I ever worked with, use the spots as a rim shot for a good punch line. It can even save some very bad, corny ones.

Bob Christy:

The PD or Brand Manager or who ever needs to sit down with Valentine every day and go through, at least one thing, good or bad. I remember when you got your hands on a script from the Letterman Show, all of the seemingly ad libbed material was scripted word for word.

George Johns:

Great morning shows can’t just wing it 20 hours a week. Valentine is good, with the right direction, he could be a great morning talent.