Friday, June 23, 2006


It's been an interesting week at XM. After years of pounding, someone comes up with some production that is absolutely horrible. Depressingly average. Man in the box filtered voice bullshit lies. The best music, circa 1980 st-st-stuttering sampled effects. Textbook crap. The person was pretty new so we realize it takes time to de-cliche---but it underscores the importance of liberating people from the FM baggage. It happens to everyone who comes to XM from FM. Takes time. We fixed the production and got it cool but the fact that it actually got cut scares me. Radio production is stuck in 1980. US Army ads have cooler sound than radio and car companies are on the cutting edge of sound in their ads---this is not the way it's supposed to be. I kinda think Radio should be leading the sonic charge. Orson Welles is rolling over in his grave.

Then another channel wrote some copy for their production. Damn! It was worse than the other stuff. SEVEN PD's came to me and told me about it. Thank god we have a staff of quality police. This stuff was all of the trite Best of the 70s and 80's with no heavy metal or rap style garbage that helps in radio's quest to have zero cred. Writing is a lost art. There's this FCC law it seems that all promo writing must come from this pre-approved lame-o book written in 1980.

Our Ethel channel is coming together. It got unglued. It got "over-radio'd"--subscribing to the FM playbook for Alt radio which I think is painfully out of date and out of sync with the fans. Ethel started believing in things like playing ONE track off an important release. Most artists and releases that are important are so because there's depth there. Take Red Hot Chili Peppers. CD comes out--and they played one song. The single. Huh??? A reason RHCP is what they are is because they make great songs...alot of them. Not one cut.
If that thinking was around in 1971, Stairway to Heaven would have never gotten played because it wasn't "the single". Anyways, Ethel is back after a short trip to the dark side. Listeners let us know. Hell, I got a call from Cliff Burnstein all freaked out about how we're killing Ethel. He was absolutely right. How did it get there? that's another blog---but this shit AIN'T going to happen again. The best thing we did was brought in Erik Range to be PD. Erik's experience is deliveries for Lido Pizza...and a burning understanding of the street. He could give a shit about the single, or what the trades say because he cares about whats good and right. In FM I was always amazed by the "blind leading the blind" thing. Label takes out ads for the "radio cut", Station X adds it, trades report it, and the sheep follow. Does the PD LISTEN to the CD? Rarely. Just follow the label leads and the trades. Anyways--Ethel is back on course after a brief excursion. Ethel is trying to actually BE an Alternative instead of simply hanging it's hat on the "Alternative Radio" thing which is about as Alternative as Burger King. I strongly believe that the problem with Rock Radio is about the stations doing it not the music itself. The rap on the streets is that "Rock Radio is on Life Support"---other than a few stations doing well with it, it's going away fast. Look at NYC--No current Rock station...but again, you'd THINK that the station operators would look at WHY their numbers have been crumbling---It ain't because of the music. It's's because the stations' programming is SO out of sync with 2006. It's got 'radio-ized'--playing to the industry and each other instead of the street.

Some channels need to play JUST the hits. CD cuts on 20on20 one of our CHR's doesn't make a lot of sense...but then again, maybe it does. The point is that thinking our people thining STREET not INDUSTRY .

The whole idea of musical exploration literally DEFINES POP CULTURE 2006. It wasn't a factor 15 years ago...but today I strongly believe the "musical exploration" thing is critical. It's cool for an 18 year old to know about Ella Fitzgerald or Ray Charles. And exposing these artists is something WE do But FM DOESN'T....but I don't think that message is getting out there to the masses quite yet. When two young people trade I-Pods, the cool person is the one with Tom Waits and Frank Zappa...along with some indie bands. The point being some exploration beyond the obvious.

I certanly realize that Mariah Carey and the obvious hitmakers are still the big volume players, but I also sense that there's an underground "explore music" kind of thinking that is quickly becoming mainstream and we will miss the boat if we don't play to it...and play to it is an Eccentric of way...eccentric all the way to the bank.

Eric Logan is concerned about not having enough young and pop bands in our mix of original programming. OK---He's right in that XM is all about balance. Balancing Unsigned with Blues with Pop, etc...But there's something in my DNA that is very uncomfortable about having some disposable pop star that won't be here in a year featured as if they actually have anything going beyond a face. You can get that in any tabloid or FM CHR. Some if not most of these artists can't play a note, can't talk intelligently and aren't what XM needs to be. Of course there are some amazing new artists emerging...but it seems alot of the high profile newer artists are driven by fashion and look---which is something that is fleeting. BUT, can't get too cool for the room. Can't get into this whole self importance routine---It forces me to re-think myself a bit. I've been doing this since 1965, advised a ton of classic artists, owned label that had Johnny Winter, Eric Johnson & Dave Mason. I grew up in a different era. I DO know how to win in any demographic...or at least how to inspire the people who are in the trenches to win. Hell, I ran Z-Rock when I was 40-something and had to appeal to pimply 20 year old earth dogs. No problem, It was fun. Especially with a staff that "got" this generation. But I also remember my parents ragging on me about how Hendrix was a weirdo and his music was noise. Can't get TOO caught up in where I come from. Classic error. But still I'm of the mind set that Quality lasts. Been through the endless cycle of momentary success stories built on fashion rather than substance. That 35+ is the #1 music demo (it is). Still, He's right. XM does have to have a better balance. Support ALL music.The solution was simple---We got Jon Zellner, Steve Kingston and a ton of talented programmers who LIVE in the Pop world. It's a challenge for Steve & Jon and anyone focused on Pop to live on the STREETS of the Pop World, as it is for all of our pop people. It's SOOO easy to get reeled into the whole "Industry Scene" which has nothing to do with the streets. In fact, I think EVERYONE in the Industry should spend a week in a place like Rockford Illinois and move in with a family of Pop fans to see how the real word. NO trades...NO industry contact...just get the feel for reality. Anyways...I live in the heritage world. Let's divide and conquer. That's the mental diversity that makes XM work. I DO still believe that great music is timeless. We DON'T necessarily live in the 1956 James Dean world. I remember the manager of a major rock band telling me "the kids are really enjoying the show tonight" while at a big arena gig. Looking into the crowd there wasn't a face younger than 40. The Kids? To think of contemporary music as reaching only the kids is right out of 1956. I guess the point is that the spirituality of music touches all lives and the more we understand it without prejudice or hanging on to our roots, the better we'll understand and deliver. Diverse thinking rules. When I get to hang with Quincy Jones,that really shines through. The reason he's STILL relevant is because he "gets" all generations. I guess I need to pick up more on Quincy's vibe. He gets it. It's important for ME to get the timeless all-generation thing along with everyone here. Musical empathy. Serving everyone ain't easy, but it needs to be done.

I remember the damning I Got for supporting Led Zeppelin instead of the Snivelling Shits. It was all about hanging in Rockford. If the Sniveling Shits could make it in reality land--then no sweat.

OK, we finally got our "Blistering licks" release ready. It's a joint venture with Concord Records. This one will be distributed at Starbucks. It's all about "jaw dropping virtuosity", the kind of playing that will make a fan of any guitar speedster take note. It's jazz but the idea is to illustrate the chops of jazz players to OTHER genres. The playing is SO impressive. It'll be a bit much for some but for others it is a trip to musical nirvana.

Oh yeah---then I see high fives because we got "a phoner" with Mariah Carey. Big fucking deal. The fry cook at Wendy's could get a phoner with Mariah. How lame. Being part of a cattle call. Slammed in between K-109.5 and Hits 92 in Biloxi. Mariah is bored, our DJ's are forced into lame phoner land and listeners would rather hear music,and she's talking about absolutely nothing. Nothing against her. It's the idea of lowering ourselves to a phoner. 12 million listeners and we do "phoners"???? Just say NO! I approached McCartney a year ago. Got offered a phoner. NO! In HIS and his fans best interest we NEED to do something bigger. Took a year, but we got an ARTIST CONFIDENTIAL with Paul live here at XM. How depressing to think we can't do better than a phoner. Classic case of thinking old line FM. Sometime ya gotta say NO for the sake of what we deliver to listeners. Phoners suck.

Now there's the issue of all these new channels on XM. With every new channel there's the exercise to make sure the guys running it "get" how to do it. I'm not talking mechanics. I'm talking soul. When we put THE LOOP on in Chicago, Cecil Heftel called me as he'd just bought the station, and said "Just make it work" Love that! With the attitude of a manager at spring training we combed through the staff, found the keepers, then hired a team of potential all-stars. BUT---instead of looking at the demo target and slapping together another Rock station, we looked into the soul of the target. What are they all about and constructed the station from there. These listeners were Rockers. Hated disco. Disco was 180 degrees from Rock. Instead of sweating drummers, festival seating, guitars and long hair it was drum machines, elitist clubs, synths and greased back short hair. A threat to Rock. So the Loop took a firm anti-disco stance. It helped when Steve Dahl grabbed the idea and maxed it out and made baseball history. Disco Demolition wasn't a promotion, it was a call to action. Then, Chicago Rockers viewed themselves as tough, so we came up with the first graffiti logo, Chicagoans talked Chicago speak, so it was Da Loop,16-30 male rockers were pretty horny, so we got a gorgeous blonde as the mascot, made the competitors chicken look kinda lame, These guys were TV freaks so we played TV themes, and the list goes on...The point is we looked into the soul of the audience and created a station that touched it. Screw the demos, targets, numbers, etc..We wanted to touch NERVES. It worked. Went from a 2 to a 7 for #1 12+ in 90 days. THAT is the kind of programming that is what we preach today. I aint always getting that at XM, but we're always working toward it! One day!.....

But----Despite all the challenges and re-learning taht we ALL gotta do, All of this is FAR better than boredom. Kinda like my feeling about the people I Work with. Outrageous is always more fun than boring.

Monday, June 19, 2006


We have a new series called "OFFSTAGE". It’s where we go to an artist and record a radio show--usually in their home where they are totally relaxed and can focus on music. They have total control over the song list, what they say, everything. It’s a chance for an artist to do radio like they think it should sound…tap into their music collection without the pressures of a weekly show. The first shows are Phil Collen and Joe Elliott from Def Leppard. We’ve also recorded Nancy and Ann Wilson, Joe Walsh and a bunch of others.Last Saturday, Lou Brutus, XM "audio animator" John Stevens and I piled into my plane and flew to Savannah to record Gregg Allman in his home. It was one of those magical days. Tooling at 8000 feet over North Carolina, exchanging Andy Griffith stories between calls to ATC. Checking out the real estate below. Talking trash about the North Carolina stations we knew. My first client was WQDR in Raleigh in ’71. Station was owned by a conservative insurance company. They REALLY didn’t get the music, and the hippie invasion when we hired the staff raised a few eyebrows. GM Carl Venters loved it, though…especially when we had a 10 share in our first book. Suddenly these hippies were "OK". That was a strange time. We had a jock freak out on the air…and an all night guy that played the live version of America by the Nice in the Left Speaker and the studio version in the right offering listeners a chance to choose. Unfortunately the live version was 8 minutes longer and he forgot that SOME people had mono receivers. Those were interesting times.We departed DC around 9am. Perfect day. The flight down was uneventful…upon arrival in Savannah it was HOT. REAL hot. Got a rental car (with GPS thankfully) And after giving out some XM discount cards to the staff at Signature Flight Support (the arrivalterminal) we hit the road to a remote location south of Savannah. My airplane tail number is 101XM, so I can usually sell a few radios to the airport crew whenever I land. Once I flew into Poughkeepsie with two rather attractive female XM employees. The tower controller actually took a break from the tower to meet the plane. Huge O&A fan who heard the boys talking about how I flew the plane drunk and stoned, would fall asleep at the controls and other stuff like that (I don’t). He was blown away that we actually came to Poughkeepsie. Huge XM fan…figured it typical that there’d be two babes in the plane…after all— it’s "the XM plane".En route from the Airport we hit Krystals. I lived in Atlanta so knew about this Southern version of White Castle. Lou and John were impressed that it was WhiteCastle-- but actually clean and with nice counter people. John ordered 12 sliders but backed off to a more realistic 4. Turned on the radio, but stuck with AM’s around 1500 that were so ‘small town’ they were interesting. The ads were the best. Feed stores and Used Car dealer type stuff. The local FMs held no interest whatsoever.Back on I-95, headed to Gregg’s house. Got off on a long road. EVERY building was a Church or an Auto Supply place. Kept driving. Finally hit another road (love the GPS!) Now we were clearly in the South. A few miles, then in the midst of this Southern forest was his road. We wound down the road and hit his place. Totally nice. He and his wife were beyond gracious... nice dogs too. Fueled on Mr. Pibb and sweet Iced Teas, John Stevens was sitting up the equipment while Lou and I were talking with Gregg about everything from early R&B radio to the Blues. Gregg was relaxed, sprawled out on his easy couch tellin’ stories. Damn! I wish we had THAT on tape! Finally the tape was rolling and without missing a beat, Gregg rolls into a totally unaffected series of raps and stories about the songs and eras that touched him…leading into his favorite songs with grace and an "I was there" sense of personal history. It was perfect. If only all DJ’s could talk like he did…informed, intelligent and completely relating to the music. It was friendly but totally from the heart.He pretty much walked us through his musical life.Growing up in Nashville. Moving to Florida and being wowed by WELE the local Soul station…listening to WMFJ in Daytona and WAPE in Jacksonville. Befriending a local old time Blues player. Sneaking across the tracks to soak in genuine music. Learning the guitar.Life with Duane. The early days of forming his band.His musical influences which ranged from the B Side of "Our Day Will Come" by Ruby and the Romantics to B.B.King to Tim McGraw. Got teary-eyed reminiscing about Stevie Ray Vaughn. What a great storyteller! Brilliant radio.His house is really cool. What you’d expect an Allman Brothers house to look like. Mellow…beautiful and relaxed…artistic vibe...deep in the Woods of Georgia on a river. His Wife tells us that Country Life Magazine is coming by to do a spread-- I believe it!After finishing the OFFSTAGE, we took a few photos...actually Lou took about 1,500 photos of everything from sliders to slide guitars…and we all talked more…walked around…secretly looked at his book and music library. Lots of Hammond Organ and American Blues stuff.Gregg and his Wife suggested we soak in local culture and head downtown to Lady & Sons, a local restaurant.Tell ‘em Gregg sent ya. We navigated to downtown Savannah and finally found a parking space. We asked directions to walk to the place and were met with laughs…"You’ll NEVER get in there"….We walked to the place and the line was over a block. Went to the front and tried the Gregg sent us line and amongst the din we got a loud…"huh?". We blew it off and went to a dive called Sorry Charlie’s. The waitress was extremely cute and John tried to pick her up. He used the "We’re from XM...flew down to hang with Gregg Allman" line. Unbelievably, she bought it and was totally impressed. She was addicted to our X-Country channel and was oddly enough really into everything John was telling her. She hung out with us and avoided all of her other tables. She was all of 21, so Lou and I being the old guys dug the attention, but there was nowhere this was going to go! Besides, the White Sox were in the bottom of the 11th with the Indians so I had to keep track of that. (A Chicagothing—SOUTHside) So I left a nice tip and we headed back into the oppressive heat to head back to DC. The GPS failed us. Lou dialed in Signature Flight support.Unfortunately, Signature has numerous locations and Des Moines was plugged in. Shortly after realizing our errors we finally made it to the SAVANNAH location.Upon arrival, sold another radio to the clerk.John engaged an F-15 jock in a conversation. What a scene that was. Like Satan talking to Mr.America. John begged him for a ride. The pilot was a nice guy about it, but homeland security would have a field day with that scenario.We took off…a few bumps at 7000 feet, so we went up to a smooth, cool 9000. Raleigh Approach Control alerted us of severe weather ahead. The onboard XM weather showed some heavy stuff ahead too. On the Nexrad radar display green is light, yellow is heavy, red is bad, purple is REAL bad. Not forecasted…but it was there.Mostly yellow with a few patches of red. Lou went from happy and buzzy to pale blue. John thought the bad weather was cool and then passed out from exhaustion. As we got closer, Lou got bluer. Finally we penetrated the storm (heavy rain—not much more than that)….but Lou was thinking imminent death as the pounding rain WAS loud. I glance over and he’s PRAYING! Sorta like Johnny Rotten praying. In reality it was a thin band of rain that we blew through. It was unnerving to him because we were completely inside of these black clouds, bouncing around a bit. But in my best Chuck Yeager voice, I calmly asked ATC for a few turns to stay away from the heavy stuff, and minutes later we exited the storm to an amazing sunset and blue skies. After we peeled Lou’s fingernails from the panel, he was back with his Nikon shooting cloud and ground shots. John was still sleeping.Approaching the lights of DC at 10pm, we reflected on what an amazing day it had been….Lou was finally recovering from the storm and John was finally waking up with a classic "We there yet?—I gotta pee". We landed, the Sox won and all was good.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Bob Lefsetz, the mother of all Industry bloggers,
visited XM. I’ve known Bob for many years. His blog
is must reading for anyone remotely connected to
music. He doesn’t give a shit about anything or
anyone in terms of his opinion. If he thinks God is
an asshole, he’ll say it. Whenever I visit LA, we
have a free form dinner somewhere and rant about the
state of life. While Bob was an early believer in
XM, he’s recently written some things that would lead
you to believe that XM’s programming is sinking into
the FM standard. There may be some things that might
lead people to think that, but to us the evolution of
XM, while complex, is absolutely not geared on going
backwards! Bob was unsure of that. So we thought it
might be time to have him visit us. So we wrestled
with a few dates and came up with one last Tuesday. If
he comes in and checks out the vibe and it’s
lame---then maybe he’s right.

At first we were thinking “let’s put on a dog ’n pony
for him”…then—Naaah! He’s WAY too smart not to see
through that. So the “plan” was no plan. He
visits…walks the halls and checks out the reality of a
day in the life at XM. No show…no presentation…just a
day at XM. Nothing more...nothing less.

So…he arrives. At first I take him to Eric Logan’s
weekly staff meeting with managers of various
programming departments. I got excused from this so I
could be Bob’s host. After a quick hello, we wander
the halls. Run into Jessie Scott from X Country…they
talk about some Austin artist that played on a
Springsteen album…then Jackson Brady from Real Jazz
wanders over and it’s a Jazz rap…then Earl Bailey and
he connect on Philadelphia Stories…then Ben Smith from
Fine Tuning engages Bob on the virtues of his channel
in 5.1. Perfect! This is all spontaneous. No one
was “briefed”, no script..…they’re just talking their
game. No hype…just excitement about talking about
what they do.

We then wander up to the second floor for a tour of
our 85 studios. We also have an amazing setup at
Jazz@Lincoln Center in NYC and at the Country Music
Hall of Fame in Nashville, but the 2nd floor here in
DC is the creative command center. First we walk into
“The Quincy Jones Room” (production rooms are named
after masters of sound—from the Jerry Wexler room to
the Stravinsky room to the Orson Wells room, etc…)
“Audio Animator” Larry Whitt is there…amongst the Pro
Tools, keyboards and Fenders. Larry gives Bob
Production 101 and then we play “stump the star”,
where artists are asked to pick ANY song, and we can
then call it up and instantly play it. The only artist
to beat us was Jon Anderson who wanted Ilhan
Mimaraglu. We didn’t have it. Then Dylan stumped
us. Odd. But he found a song we didn’t have! But
Anderson’s worse than Bob Dylan in terms of
challenging our data base! OK—enough of that. We
walked…through Prod Rooms, Talk Studios, On Air
studios and banks of databases. Then I noticed Eddie
Kilroy from Hank’s Place was taking a break. We walked
in. Hank’s Place is an amazing format. A few times a
year Willie Nelson pops in and takes over…it’s
loose…it’s decorated like a bar in Lubbock circa
1956. I’m wondering…how will a Jewish Lawyer like Bob
relate to Eddie, an ex-Rodeo champ who oozes Red
State swagger? Man—they hit it off. Why? Because
Eddie is the real deal. No pretense…just passion. Then
we run into 50’s guru Ken Smith…Ken waxes on about how
the 50’s are the roots. The early R&B…the depth beyond
Hound Dog…the spirit of early Rock and R&B. Then into
our Performance Theater. Unfortunately it was a mix
day with no artists; originally the Cars were to
perform an Artist Confidential, but Elliott Easton
broke his collarbone…but Bob was able to Q&A Jackson
MacInnis, one of our top session engineers…He’s the
guy Paul McCartney said “Good job mate” to after his
gig at XM.

The tour continues. I’m feeling sorry for Bob because
everyone we run into in the hall is SO happy to tell
their story. It’s like the finger in the dike has been
pulled out and all of this passion comes pouring
out---into Bob’s ears. But he’s digging it…except when
we go by a channel he doesn’t like. Walking past the
“Big Tracks” studio, he boos. Hates the
channel. Well, I can understand that. NO ONE likes
ALL of our channels. That’s the point---If you create
channels that have a distinct Point of View, some
channels will be appalling…that’s the give when you do
PURE channels. That channel is PURE. Pure CRAP in his
mind…but I think if you were 16 and getting laid to
Bryan Adams songs in 1986, you might think
differently. Then again, we’ve got a zillion channels
that cover pretty much every musical POV from that

Into Deep Tracks for vinyl masturbation with George
Taylor Morris...then over to Bluesville where Bob and
Bill Wax talk about the future of the blues. Then
into Soul Street where he and Bobby Bennett engage in
a conversation ranging from early Motown to the state
of Hip Hop. Now—I am actually getting impressed. I
work with these guys every day and I forget what
treasures we have running these channels. These guys
and gals are INTO IT. They are SOOOO incredibly
focused and passionate. I need to spend more time
rekindling the musical relationship. Jim McBean, the
king of Audio Animators, had an animated rap with Bob…

Then I think we scared him. Took him into meet Phlash
Phelps and sit in on a few breaks. Phlash is out of
his mind…in a good way. He is a whiz at the pace and
intensity of what makes that channel soar as a Top 40
circa 1965. Along with Terry Young and Pat Clarke,
they’ve really captured the spirit of Top 40 Forty
years ago. He walked out thinking---What was that??!!

By now it was lunchtime. Over lunch Kurt Gilchrist
wandered over to talk about the Decades channels in
general, but wait—here comes Gary Hahn from our
Marketing group, and Chris Walsh, the guy who oversees
our artist videos. Bob launches into a tirade about XM
marketing. He just saw remarkable passion in action
and doesn’t think our marketing reflects that.

After lunch…it’s back to the halls. Sonny Fox on
comedy…Kate Bradley on The Loft…Coolguy from Liquid Metal...Tobi on XMU…Robert
Davis on The Village…one after another, he asks a
question and gets bombarded with emotion and
buzz. During our hall walking, he asks some business
questions. Time to unleash him on Eric Logan, our EVP
of Programming, a CEO in training and a brilliant guy
who actually understands the business side of XM which
I sorta get, but is SO complicated and detail driven
that it’s a godsend to have Eric on board since he
understands programming and actually loves the
business side. Hell, he was a “ costumed duck” at some
hillbilly station in Oklahoma and now is a Senior
Executive at an emerging technology company like XM. So
I sit in for a sec and they go into this whole rap
that is in some MBA code. I leave, though I’m
impressed that Bob actually understands the code as
they go on and on about CPGAs (Not the Canadian PGA as I first thought) and other stuff that I’d
rather avoid.

Forty minutes later, I come back…they’re still

Sixty minutes…still talking.

Finally Eric has to go to some meeting and I rescue
Bob…but I think he was into the business rap.

Back in my office we start talking airplanes. I want
to take him on one of our Barbecue Runs. Trips I take
with the Robert Friedman, CEO of the Red Hot and Blue
chain. We hit it off. I want to run a BBQ chain and he
wants to be a PD. We’ve taken some amazing trips,
like the one to Memphis with Maxx Myrick our Jazz
icon. Going to a BBQ place with Robert Friedman is
like going to a Yes concert with me. We’re backstage
looking at smokers. (Ribs not joints) Its weird eating Pork Ribs with a
guy named Friedman who weighs about 120 pounds. On that particular trip we hit six places, a minor league ballgame, atrip down Beale Street and a long nap. Oh
well…..Bob is definitely coming on a flight. I do my
Eric Logan rap but instead of financials it’s
instrument approach procedures…I smell a fresh victim
with Bob next time he’s here. He tells me the guy who
runs Guitar Center owns the same plane I have…we look
him up on the FAA Data Base. Got his home
address…guess I can use that next time I need an amp.

Then onto my XM rap. It's a 72 hour presentation that I condense into about 12 minutes. He gets it.

Bob sees the 1962 Gibson ES-175 in my office. I bought
it in 1972 so I could sound like Steve Howe since that
was his signature guitar. Didn’t work out…so I gave
Bob some of my demos…that might be a big mistake.

Lou Brutus pops by with a package of stuff from his band the Dead Schlembeckers. Bob is starting to question our sanity which is a good thing.

OK—On to Dinner. We went to Tosca, an Italian
restaurant near the Capitol. Buzzy enough for him to
see the VIPs (Senator Feinstein was there), quiet
enough to talk. George Taylor Morris (GTM) and Mike
Marrone came with. Bob continued on his rage against
the XM marketing POV…interspersed with dialogue
about…everything. I can’t really disagree with
everything he was saying…he made good points…and
there were some things that made sense, but then
again some that didn't. It’s a very complicated business. I say
that a lot because it IS. It’s like no other
business. People tend to think it’s easy…it ain’t. In
any case there was a good dialogue. I took his
thoughts to heart because he CARES. GTM drove him
back to his hotel and got stopped by the Pentagon
police for blowing a stop sign. Part of the DC
experience. Those guys don’t look like terrorists so
it was a nonevent. I drove Marrone back to XM…he was
complaining that Bob was too jet lagged to record a
show for the Loft. I think Mike wanted to do an
all-nighter with Bob and record some stuff. Too bad
this isn’t 1978 or they’d still be in the studio.

Next morning...more hall walking! I think he loved
talking to Marlin Taylor. 71 years old…going on
30. Invented Beautiful Music. The passion of a true
radio warrior. Proudly displayed photos of WDVR FM in
Philly in 1963. An FM pioneer. On to a quick visit with our "new guy" John Clay who runs the 70's...Then some face time
with Dan Turner, our SVP of Operations. I call him Mr.
Wolf (from Pulp Fiction)…he gets things DONE...and has a bizarre collection of odd album covers--REAL odd on his wall, along with other whacked stuff. Dan has a good balance of insanity and Operational TCB. Dan
takes him down to meet Marrone. They cut a show
together. I pop in and ask some stupid question…but
they’re INTO the show. I leave.

Around 2:30pm his car back to the airport
arrives. We missed so much. He didn’t get to see our
5.1 demonstration, or the Slide guitarist Bill Wax had
in, or about 150 other people that he would have dug
talking to. But he DID see a typical day in the life
of XM….hope he liked it.

Monday, June 05, 2006


We are not "there" takes time, but here are a few things we preach. Do we deliver? Not always? Do we try? Hell yeah. Why am I telling people outside of the building about these "secrets"? Because if someone thinks like this--we want to know. Here are a few items----

AFDI: (Actually Fucking Doing It)The battle call. The center of our programming universe. Instead of researching EVERYthing, commitees and "we can't do that"...the idea is to actually EXECUTE on the ideas that are created.

SWAGGER: The way we carry ourselves on and off the air. An air of confidence based on AFDI and collective ego. Radio has been beaten up by other media--time to fight back.

MINUTE BY MINUTE: The musical bottom line. Forget Depth. Forget Tight. If you, at any given point in time (minute by minute) are playing a cool song, you will win the music battle.

ARTIST OWNERSHIP: Re-claiming artists. Bringing them back to radio. XM Radio.
Radio has given up on trying to own artists...given up to MTV, Print and Cable. XM must bring artists back to radio.

CELEBRATION: We don't simply "play" important music. We celebrate it. A Gospel Church may celebrate the Lord...well, we’re the Gospel Church of music.

AUTHENTICITY: In a plastic world, we are the real deal. No compromises. Ward Cleaver and Manny Malig run XMLM our Metal channel. They bleed metal, and listeners will hear and respect that.

SONICS: It's the evolution of "Imaging"'s the SOUND of your channel. Don't think bumpers & promos. Think beyond's all about a whole sonic environment you create.

SONIC DENSITY: The intensity and frequency of sonic pieces.

CAUSE I WANT TO: Doing things on air, "because you feel like it"...maybe a break in Swahili....or Pig Latin.....

HUMVEE CRASHING: The art of crashing an R/C humvee into the wall during an important meeting. XM must live and breathe in the hallways too!

NATIONAL & PROUD OF IT: Local radio is quaint....National radio is the future.

SUPRISE ATTACKING: Wanna mess up the competitors mind: Run a Top 5,000 three weeks BEFORE Memorial Day. You will screw up their system...

24 HOUR MORNING SHOW: There is no morning. We don't shut down at 10am. We are always on.

JUST DO IT!: No cheezy claims . No "Most Music" "Best Mix" "Never a Bad Song"........Those claims have no credibility. Just deliver the goods and our fans will know.

FANS: To Ad Sales they're Marketing they're us: They're Fans. Treat listeners like Fans. Think like a Fan. This is show business. Relating to listeners as numbers is fine---for the sales people.

MUSICAL CONFIDENCE: Delivering the goods musically. Not lying about how musical we are...actually delivering music to the point where listeners believe we're in it for "The Passion not the Cash". Cash is a nice reward if we make people happy.

BIBLE OF MUSIC: Your station is the center of your music's' universe. You have the chart. You have the answers. You are in command. You must deliver. You must deliver. You must deliver. MTV, Rolling Stone, Spin...fine entities, but YOU must own the charts, the info, etc...listeners must come to YOU to know what's going on musically.

CINEMATIC RADIO: The sound of your station is more like a wide screen movie soundtrack than a radio station. You should close your eyes and your sonics ignite with cinematic brilliance. Even News....Even format is exempt from creating cinematic magic between the songs.

BAGGAGE: Old radio thinking. There's allot of radio thinking that's playing the best songs...but there's a king bong of baggage too....lose it.

ER: Bigg-ER.....Badd-ER....Intense-ER. Think like Walt Disney did in the 50’s..."ER". Rides were fastER, parks were cleanER, etc…

OTT: Over-the-Top. Subtle sucks. Want to cut through the Internet, AM/FM, print, TV etc....well, you ain't gonna do it unless you do everything OTT

TOP DOWN SOUND: There is nothing more magical than driving down a freeway at down...great station blasting at top volume! XM will bring this experience back to Americans. Think about this experience as you program. It's more than great's the whole's the essence of "The XM Sound"

ECCENTRIC...ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK: Doctors, Repairmen, Cops should not be eccentric! We should be....all the way to the bank. Smart eccentrics make the great art.

WRCX: (or any other station we worked at): Lose it. Kill it from the memory. These stations are NOT the standard to compare. If we are to compare the XM Sound to something, make it a Kubrick movie......a Beatle epic.....a Radiohead track. NOT radio stations we used to work at.

CREATIVE BATTING AVERAGE: % of ideas you come up with that work. 300 Average is All-Star. Ya gotta take some swings to get hits.

CLICHE BUZZER: Three buzzes and sayonara. But the real cliche buzzer is in your head.

SONIC DIVERSITY: Using the World of Sound. Not some damn production package or pre-cut promo factory CD. USE SOUND! Thunderstorms..static...busy streets....short wave radio tuning....sample a TV Newscaster and repeat "In Todays News..In Todays News..
over and over. Discover the world of sound. Use it.

VOICE DIVERSITY: Discover the world of voices. I'm mildly depressed that Fine Tuning was the only format that at CES used foreign voices, voices off the street, etc....
"Professional" voices are fine...but you're only using 2% of the voices out there.
There is magic in the human voice. There is cliche' in the radio voice!!!

THE GEORGE MARTIN GENE: Everyone has it. Activate it. It's the gene that tells you to diversify your sound. There are no rules. Our Reggae channel can have signatures that combine Gregorian Chants with Steel Drums. WE MUST RE-INVENT THE WAY RADIO SOUNDS. There are no barriers except your imagination.

CONVENIENCE HIRES: It's only natural, and often correct to bring in people you know and trust. But, it's also natural to bring in people who are convenient. We must hire only the brilliant.

IT FACTOR: Some people got "it"...some don't. If you don't get "it"....please see me asap

MOUTH OF AMERICA: XM should sound like America. From hicks in Mississippi to Brothers in Chicago to Mothers in San Francisco to Yuppies in St. Louis. We must open the phones to reflect the magic of National Radio.

MOOD/RELIABLE: Mood listeners tune you in when they're in the mood...Reliable listeners never tune you out. That's the secret to rating success (or satisfaction in our case). The only way to achieve this balance is to never compromise....stay "your" hits...don't fear tune out. In other words: Do your thing, but do it brilliantly and consistently.

STAR WARS: Those goofy laser sounds that must die

THE CHUCK VAN ROGERS FACTOR: OK, if you have a radio name and don't want to change it...fine. Especially if you've had it for years... But if you do want to change it..Go for it! Mike O'Morgan (whoever he is) just reeks of fake, old, tired radio. This is Show-biz. Like the WWF, who's gonna win the bout? Bob Stevens or The Masked Killer from Mars. Again, not a requirement, but
cool names, real names (Frank Schmutzbaum is cooler than Mark James) or Nicknames that are "XM" are great. Why does radio have this thing with TWO first names?? Robert Stevens, Steven Roberts, Michael Williams, William Michaels?

PAPER TIME vs REAL TIME: On one of our deeper formats we'll tend to look at two lists: A 20,000 title list and an 10000 title list. 10000 probably makes more sense...though on paper 20,000 looks better or 200 if you’re an old school research guy. This is the difference between paper and real-time listening.The point is separating paper from reality.

TODD STORZ: The creator of Top 40 on Real-Time listening: Just when DJs are going to strike because_____is still on the playlist is the same time Mama is learning to hum the verse". The point: Paper Time vs. Real Time. Think like a listener/fan not a DJ in terms of music rotation.

CAN'T UNDERSTAND THE FUTURE UNTIL YOU UNDERSTAND THE PAST: An appetite to learn about the history of contemporary radio. If you weren't there, learning about the great battles will arm you with powerful knowledge.

THE LETTERMAN FACTOR: Disco Demolition, Hit This Plane & Win $5,000, Snow Sharks, and other stunts are pure America. People love it. The more radio versions of "Stupid Pet Tricks" we create, the better we'll be….on the RIGHT channel of course.

THE CULTURALLY CHALLENGED: We must never be "too hip for the room". We target everyone from musical elitists to the culturally challenged. KNOW YOUR PLACE. Sophisticated humor on "America" is as bad as stupid contests on XM Classics. Knowing WHERE the edhe is and delivering right on it is an art.

WARPED: A way of looking at things. Akin to eccentric. If we can take an angle and warp it, we've done our job. Clapton warped his guitar in '67 by using a wah-wah pedal....Warping is taking a sound or idea and modifying it to "the XM Sound"

SMELL THE SPEAKERS: Our formats should be SO sonically dense...SO authentic, that they should smell. Smell the speakers during Frank's Place and it's martinis, an old deck of cards and Sammy Davis Junior’s cologne.

AUTHENTICITY: XM is to FM what EPCOT is to Reality. We aren't a model of the real thing....we ARE the real thing.

PURITY: Every format must be pure. There's magic in what you DON'T hear. You'll hear Deep Tracks and never hear Foreigner...You'll hear BONEYARD and never hear Steven Stills, etc.....We must avoid Good-Good-Shit-Good-Shit, meaning a few "correct songs" then a shit (or misplaced) song. Every song will get played SOMEWHERE on the XM band...the key is in purity so each song happens where it's meant to happen.

YELLOW PAD: Everyone should be filling these up with ideas. Document your dreams.

AS ACCESSABLE AS POSSIBLE WITHOUT LOSING LISTENER CONFIDENCE: The goal shouldn't be how "deep" can I go. It should be how "far" can I go WITHOUT LOSING listener confidence. It's a magic zone where you reach the most listeners and satisfy them all simultaneously. Too commercial and there goes satisfaction...too deep and there goes the volume of fans.

WHACK FACTOR: "Where in hell did these guys come up with that!"....thats what listeners should often think.

AVERAGE SUCKS/EXTREME RULES: Ever been to Ben's Chili Parlor down the road?
It is a dive...a dump....and it's magical. It's extreme. Give me Ben's over a nice clean Denny's anytime!! The point: Amazingly good or Amazingly bad---who cares, as long as it's amazing. Anything but average!!!!

2001FACTOR: Pre 2001 (the movie), all Sci-Fi was goofy robots crushing Tokyo. Then 2001 reinvented Sci-Fi. Lush Space Scapes...Classical Music....a whole new approach. It changed Sci-Fi forever. No "Help Me Will Robinson cliches" no spooky Theramin sound effects.(though those are kinda cool in a campy way) THAT is how we must change radio sound. It's happening in publishing. It’s happening in video…radio is next—if we let it happen

THE MILLIONAIRE FACTOR: Like the TV show completely re-invented game shows...we must completely re-invent radio. It ain't's revolution.

EMPATHY: Walking the halls, I'll often hear how "Stairway to Heaven" and Creed really suck. Well, if those aren't part of your potential suck. BUT---if these belong on your list, you need to learn empathy, because these are major. In 1970, I was a hard core Prog Rock fan, but worked at an early FM Top 40 where we "celebrated" Donny Osmond. I learned there, the importance of empathy. I hated that shit, but learned how and why it worked, and never whined about a song again. Even, neutral programming via understanding why things(songs/artists) work.

ENVIRONMENT: Song environment is key. Stairway next to BTO & Doobie Brothers is a snooze, but next to Traffic and a cool Hendrix track, the songs' magic can emerge. That's a great thing about XM: Even the most tired "great" popular songs can live on a format where they can find new life by what they're surrounded by.

NOTHING IS SACRED: We urge you to re-think EVERYTHING. Many things are indeed evergreen, but Struber must be commended for re-thinking the 6-10/10-3/3-7 show (never shifts!) configuration.

YOUR HITS: XM is hit driven. Every format. But the definition of a hit differs by format..dramatically. And inour world hit isn't driven necessarily by sales. Hits can mean:
-Song driven. The standard hit song as with Oldies formats.
-Artist Driven. as in Deep Tracks. Santana, Cream, Beatles...but not the same three songs. Careers...not just the most played tracks.
-Novelty Driven. The Jetsons theme never charted..but its a hit
-Sound Driven. "Hit" is's the "sound"...a Coltrane piece may not be a 'hit' by traditional definition but in the frameork of Real is.
-Non Radio Driven. Edgy car ads can be hits
..the point is: A Hit to XM means simply: An important song that gives you minute by minute musical excellence. KNOW WHAT "TYPE" of hit works for you...every format is different.

CANNON BALL/FORT THEORY: If the Fort's destruction is your goal, then each cannonball that hits the fort is a hit. Miss the fort, it's a stiff or an un-necessary song. More hits on the fort and the faster the fort falls. Every song must serve a purpose, regardless of it’s chart position or traditional hit definition.

THE RECORD BUSINESS & MUSIC PRESS ARE LOST: There are some smart people and there are some clueless people.
That's why I constantly impress the need for you to study the genre you serve....know your genre beyond passion. Passion is easy... but balance that with knowledge and that's what makes you dangerous . The reason college radio has never been a factor is because it's all passion....
but find a college radio person who balances passion with understanding--and there's a positively dangerous person--that we should hire!We must continue to absorb REALITY and not simply feed off the industry and press..

CULT/FRINGE: Every successful artist has fans who are cult or fringe. Know the difference and program appropriately. Cultists are REALLY into the artist....Fringe fans like the artist for the fleeting hit(s). Doing a big Spectacular?? You're wasting your time if the fan composition is heavy fringe.

SPECTACULARS: They enhance your image...recycle listeners and create buzz.
Run them prime time (NOT 11pm Sunday Nights). Build them. Think about them.
Hourly, Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Yearly. Go OTT. (Over-the-top) Repeat them. The classic cliché is taking a cool program and burying it because it varies from the song/dj/song format.

MEAT: When you promote...promote Meat. Never: "Great Music Coming Up"....give 'em something to chew on: "The lost Elvis tapes found this morning"

INCIDENTAL SOUND: Sound that just happens. Sound that "fills in the cracks"......Audio theater.

THE XM TRAVEL AGENCY: XM Formats must take you places. Too often the music takes you to the stars...then THUD. The reality of a "radio break". XM must be an "out of ear" experience. Bluesville takes you to the land of ARE there. 60s on 6 takes you back to the sixties. Fed takes you inside Fred's mind... These are truly "mind fucks"....this is cinematic radio. Movies take you places.....XM must take you to the same places. Never "Thud" people.....Sonic Density.....

MOXIE: You should know what this means.

THE BIG THREE: Music....Character (Magic between the Songs)...Muscle.

THE PLAYBOOK: Terrestrial is: Get a morning show...test the library...throw up some billboards......and everything is fine. Great radio is complex. Develop a playbook. A gameplan. A mission beyond the obvious.

THE TRUTH: XM tells the truth. Don't like Hendrix? Fine...don't listen this Friday. XM 20 on 20...the top 20 over and over and over...until you're sick of them. TELL THE TRUTH.

HUMOR: XM is about reality humor. 99.9999% of all funny things on radio are only funny to the staff. The best humor is reality humor: Old TV themes....real stories, etc....
Other than our Comedy channels humor is delicate....few things will cliche you back to the FM Band than things that really aren't funny.

SEX: Worst than bad humor. Don't you "love" those Rock stations that have promos "We have the biggest balls"--Oh wow--He said "balls" Anyone who thinks, that in 2006, talking about tits is clever, go back to FM. It's tired, stupid and annoying. The key is: If sex is an angle, lets come up with a fresh way to approach it please. Particularly you Rock guys.......Leave it to O&A who specilaize in it.

THE XM CREATIVE METHOD: Starts with the blueprint.....then PD builds it....Producers and Talent decorate it. We are Frank Lloyd Wright not Hill Valley Homes. Ever wonder why every home sorta looks the same? Me too. If FM is safe suburbia...we are edgy Frank Lloyd Wright.

ONCE IN A LIFETIME: The opportunity to change radio window is open. If we don't do it, we should all be shot. It'll never happen again in our lifetimes. Remember my cycles in music chart....we are at the beginning of another 56, 64, 69, 81, 92 up curve. we are in sync with history.

TRADITIONAL RADIO RESEARCH SUCKS: It's flawed. If it worked, why does every station sound like it does? Everyone does's proven it doesn't work in it's traditional form.

POPCORN CAN RADIO: An old Z-Rock trick. Huge Popcorn can was in lobby after contents being consumed. Clever DJ decides to do entire show from inside the popcorn can (mic and all). Now THATS radio!

STUDY SOUND: Collect it. Warp it. Radio is in last place in the sound department. Movies are light years ahead of us in sound...TV commercials are too, so is MTV, is NBC.
Use it. We live in a world of sound, yet sometimes we're deaf to all but WRCX (nothing personal against WRCX employees of the past.....but it's symbolic of "radio"..nothing more, nothing less).

SURGERY: We are operating on radio. This ain't out-patient. This is somebody on a death bed....penecillan (research) didn't drugs (consultants) didn't work. This patient is dead unless we come up with a radical operation.

SOUL: Radio has lost its soul...we must bring it back. A consciousness...a spirit....a genuine desire to bring radio back to the people...and AFDI. You must know the business side of things, but not at the expense of your soul. What I'm saying is SO unfashionable...SO uncool in today’s' lets make a deal environment, and I'm not in any way bad rapping that critical side of our business...but the front line of programming needs a heart. We must bleed XM colors....cry at the magic of a great song (or break), program for the people, live and breathe art, move forward with fist clenching intensity and desire to win through brilliance and imagination. Funny thing is that as un-Wall Street as that might be, that sort of thinking will deliver the kind of radio that XM needs to win the war. Think and program like an artist. A smart artist. Kinda like Springsteen. Uncompromising. He just "Does it". An American Original...........

CAMP: XM must celebrate life in North America. The good, the bad and the ugly. That's why we love TV themes, old commercials, homeless guys doing promos, heavily accented people doing IDs, bagpipes in bumpers. Celebrate America by DELIVERING THE SOUND OF NORTH AMERICA.

ANTICIPATION: There is ALWAYS something coming up on XM. We program forward.

SELLING: Sell the Music...sell the programming...sell the specials, etc...Selling is a lost art.
I'm not talking about selling Used Cars...I'm talking about ridding ourselves of the Radio Inferiority Complex and selling the shit out of the cool stuff we're doing. This isn't bragging, because bragging is generic, bordering on lying. Selling is talkin' it up and DELIVERING. If we sell AND deliver, credibility will occur!

This is a mission...not a gig.