Monday, October 30, 2006


Friday we had a field trip. We took the XM Programming Staff that's based here in DC to one of those arty but modern theaters called AFI. American Film Institute. I did a short warm up rap, Jon Zellner did an intro then we showed the entire staff the movie "Before The Music Dies". I gotta tellya, this is a revolutionary film. It's not a cinematic masterpiece, but an emotional one for anyone remotely interested in music. It attacks the rise and fall of American Music---with an inspiration on how to make it rise again. Radio and The Music Industry have destroyed the essence of American music. It's a National tragedy. This movie brings it to light. It's positive in that it celebrates the American music story, and offers hope for those willing to change it. After the film, I wrote this note to our staff:

OK, for you who attended the BEFORE THE MUSIC DIES showing and mini bootcamp, this note is for you. If you are not in DC---SEE THIS MOVIE--NOW! (we sent copies). Now, to summarize shortly:

Our tying into this movie is no "movie promotion"--It is a mission. A mission that we are ON and that the film clearly displays. As I mentioned, we need to recognize that this film IS what we are all about. I hope this painfully drove that point home. Every time we lower our standards, chase the vacant FM dream or just don't think like revolutionaries, the less chance WE have to do something positive, timeless and at the end of the day--successful.

Keep in mind:

INTELLECT: Radio is dumb.....idiotic....a joke that is fodder for skits on the Simpson's. We gotta lose the old line "do lunch with the label guys, read r&r and cut some promos" mentality. It is STUPID. It is dumbing down our culture at a time when it needs SMARTENING. Every channel from Kids to Franks Place can be intellectual. Intellect isn't elite---it's using our mental and creative tools to give something back----joy.

EXPERIMENTAL: We are experimental. Satellite Radio has never been done before. If we weren't experimental, we could just do what's already out there. Experimental is good. We need to get BACK to the playbook. Nothing is revolutionized without being experimental first. It's a state-of-mind backed with actions geared to change the sound into something that's RIGHT for 2006 North America....

COMMUNITY: we are local. Our locality is all of North America. If we do not take advantage of this by ENGAGING the audience as our stringers and community members, we are no better than a local terrestrial station. CNN has Kissinger talking Iraq...XM has Cliff Burnstein (manager supreme) talking about Metallica. And...ENLIST the XM Nation.

THE XM GAME PLAN: It has worked and will continue to work. We suffer when we get OFF the plan. We cannot afford to do that.




...and AFDI. We gotta deliver on what we explain XM to be--otherwise it's all bullshit and we are no better than the other guys.

...This is a mission for me personally and is shared by A LOT of people at XM. I got into "the business" in the mid 60's and am shamed by how pathetic we've let it get. I certainly contributed as did everyone who has touched the mainstream. It is time to get out of the ruins of 1970 or 1980 and get into 2006 and fix it. In many ways, it's all part of the disturbing trend toward--SHIT. Some products improve life...most just cash in on it. They will see their day of demise. We will get back to the Garden and start planting seeds instead of harvesting and forgetting. Quality WILL rule. The crash of American music is symbolic to the nervous breakdown our society is having anyways. It's one of the things this Country can't turn it's head to. And a big part of it is the machine that feeds our culture whether it's manufactured goods or media, or whatever.

When I was a kid something " Made in Japan" mean cheap. Now, in certain products, I double check to make sure it IS made in Japan. Or how about China--a bunch of guys in Rickshaws begging for Rice? Hardly. It's fast becoming a gleaming center of Global commerce. Or Dubai--a weird place with seamy guys on Camels ready to rob the rich? Hell, they're building the next Las Vegas. The point is that AMERICAN MUSIC is one of the great American exports and contributions to the World, and to see it being smothered by soul-less profiteers is to say the least disturbing and wrong. It's something I believe we at XM need to be on the watch for. XM has an opportunity to do the RIGHT thing and have a soul instead of simply being one of 1,000 new technology companies. If we balance soul with correct and smart business practices, we will succeed in a timeless way. I have no doubt we are and will, but in today's environment we need to keep our Bullshit detectors on high gain.

With all that said, in media, music and other venues--It's an extremely powerful and positive time for those who embrace change. There's a new Gold Rush out there...and it's different from the old one.

It gets back to "Marketing Change vs.. Actually Changing". SO many companies market themselves as "great" but in reality, they suck. The mainstream WILL catch up to that.

OK, now that we have our eyes set on changing the World, back to reality.
Monday, I traveled to Los Angeles. Went to yet another Quincy Jones awards dinner. Quincy is part of the XM Family though we probably don't do a very good job of telling the World. few people have been "awarded" more than Q. And he deserves everything. The man has been there and done it all. He is a timeless legend...hell, he worked for Duke Ellington, produced Sinatra and Michael Jackson's biggest CD's, wrote the score for too many Films and Hit TV Shows to mention, and the list goes on. And you know what? He's the kindest, most loving guy you'd ever want to meet. I love going to his house in LA..more like a resort. Phone rings--It's Clinton. Gotta put 'em on hold, cause the Prime Minister of Japan is on line two. Heady stuff. One 8-part show he did for us was "Be-Bop to Hip Hop" where he walks us through the history of music...from his ears. Be-Bop to Hip Hop. we color it with ear candy and sound bites and the result is a tour de force of knowledge and insight. With Q, all you gotta do is stick a mic in front of him...go out for lunch...come back and you got a show. He loves to talk...and it's not's personal stories from the trenches. The man's history is SO deep. He's 70 something, but has the energy of a 30 year old. I cannot say enough about Q. I'm honored to be among his legion of pals. If he ever gets bored with music, he could run the U.N.

The dinner in his honor was kinda cool. I noticed something strange about half way through it...I think I was among the few non African American in the place. That's cool--Much better than a bunch of Industry regulars glad handing vacantly. Being a solo White Guy is nothing new. Back in Chicago in my teens we used to go see R&B Shows at the old Regal Theater deep in the South Side. There'd be these shows featuring someone like the Temptations, but with their REAL act--not the one watered down for middle America...then a few blues players, emerging R&B acts and whatever else they could cram into the bill. Me and friends would be the only White guys there. On the ride to show we'd rehearse what we'd say if we were cornered by anyone offended by our being there. We'd practice in our hippest voices "Hey Brother, we're here to celebrate your music...peace man" just in case.....remember this was 1968 and a turbulent time. These were neighborhoods we were not supposed to go to. Of course the audiences were way too absorbed in the music to even think twice about a bunch of long haired white dudes to give us any trouble...but we were paranoid American kids who didn't know any better. The only strange parts were when the opening act would be a Redd Foxx type comic who tell jokes we didn't really get but we're probably about "us". We joined in with nervous laughter. The whole thing was kinda like the scene in Animal House where the boys wander into a Black club with their "dates". I love America. It's that melting pot of culture that makes the MUSIC so historically great. Now if we don't snuff out the flame, the music and the artists will rise above the sick machinery and prevail.

Big week for Artist Confidentials. And speaking of R&B, had Natalie Cole in. She was amazing. Earlier had Aaron Neville. BK Kirkland who runs the Groove did a stellar job of hosting the Artist Confidential; Soul Editions. Both artists were a delight to deal with. Pro. Zero head case. Immaculate playing. REAL artists. Timeless stuff not driven by the fleeting hit single.

On another front there was BASEBALL CONFIDENTIAL. An offshoot of our "Confidential" series. The guest was Tommy Lasorda. Man, this guy rocks. This whole series is really pretty cool. A studio audience, and in the tradition of Artist Confidential, a high level interview and Q&A with the passionate fans. Of course, there's no musical component, but you don't need one. The stories....the "real truth" about baseball stuff. A dream for any student or fan of the game. A huge line-up is coming to keep Baseball on XM swinging for the fences throughout the off-season.

Oh yeah, I promised Mike Marrone, who runs THE LOFT to mention HIS blog -- Here ya go Mike!

Monday, October 23, 2006



I have been chasing Sting for XM's Artist Confidential series for three years. Finally, the night arrived. 400 people met in the Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. A giant three story glass wall overlooking Central Park, with a full moon was the backdrop for a remarkable evening.

Setting this thing up was intense. Sting is surrounded by a competent and professional organization that goes the extra mile to insure everything is perfect. It certainly motivated our team to lose sleep and triple check even the most minute detail. Every day there was a new issue/crisis that grew in intensity as the event drew closer.

On the morning of the show, I arrived in New York to hear that Sting had the flu! Now THIS was a crisis. After a few moments of panic, I checked upstairs and saw him rehearing diligently with lutenist Edin Karamazov ---looked and sounded OK to me. I guess the show will go on. The whole afternoon was filled with controlled anxiety. Our crew that included Jayme Karp, Pam Schloss, ace techies Randy Ezratty, Rob Macomber and many others interacted seamlessly with Sting's group and Universal Records who were all equally engaged in making certain the evening was a stunning success. It better be--It's Stings first performance of his new material in the US with an audience that ranged from SNL's Jane Curtain to a ton of press...not to mention guys like Eric Logan, Hugh Panero our CEO who are always a good ones to impress.

Showtime neared but a calm ensued and things began on time with host Paul Bachmann going one on one with Sting , along with the passionate audience asking a few questions before he launched into an unusual and ethereal lute inspired set from his new CD and capped it off with a Robert Johnson blues tune (!) and a few hits---on lute! There was also a choir involved that added to the heady Sonics of the evening...and his dialogue between songs added a documentary feel to the performance. After 90 minutes of visual and aural transcendence, the show was over....and a success. Anyone expecting a collection of Police hits might have been disappointed, but I don't think many people were.

The show really got me thinking about how much I deeply respect Sting as an artist. His intellect and soul is so timeless. More like a Chateau Lafite-Rothschild Wine that matures with age, whereas so many artists are like a beer that loses it's bubbles and goes flat. He's one of those artists that you just know has "been there". There, in this case, being his own mind. He's clearly discovered himself and is confident with that discovery. He's one of those artists that in listening to his songs, it's like I wrote them in a prior life. They seem so personal and in sync. He has helped me discover my musicality. Everyone should have an artist that does that to you. It's all a spontaneous's music or lyrics that you "get"--you may not know WHY you 'get' it...but you do. I think that can only come from an artist that has been there and discovered their own soul. I can only assume that Sting has found a sense of peace with himself as an artist . I may be on a cosmic BS rant, but, maybe there's some truth here. Self Discovery is infectious. Songs like "Secret Journey" and 'Spirits in the Material World" seem to balance that cerebral and spiritual zone with a non saccharine lushness and quality that is commercial without trying to be.

I didn't always like Sting and the police. In fact, before I heard them I figured they were some Punk Nazi Rock thing--after all The POLICE? It was about '78 and the new thing from the UK which historically had often saved America from it's infatuation with corporate pop was New Wave and Punk. This time however, the Punk scene was SO 180 degrees from the American Rock mentality. Americans were all about long hair--punk was short hair; Americans were into Peace & Love and punk was about anarchy; Americans worshipped the great players, Punk was about buy a guitar in April and release your single in June; American music was slick, Punk was raw--you get the idea. In '79 I went to London for an extended period to work on the Gentle Giant Album Civilian. I was also an advisor to Yes during this dark episode of their career. It was Chris Squire, their bassist who told me about the police and particularly their amazing bassist named Sting. I checked them out and was blown away. This isn't "punk"---this is poles away from the rough and often god-awful musicianship of many of the Punkers. These guys are great. From The Carlton Towers Hotel in London I faxed a long memo to my clients to check out this band! A year or two later, Squire sent me an advance of "Ghost in the Machine"---Life changing. What an amazing record. One that I STILL draw inspiration from. My Police discovery also led to a statement at one of our famous "Superstars" Conventions where all of our clients and half the music industry would attend. I mentioned "80/20". This was often mis-interpreted, but it meant that ONE day 80% of our music might be from the newly emerging artists instead of 80% being from the Classic artists. I wanted to open programmers up to The Police, U2 and other artists that have been lumped in with the New Wave and Punk thing that was SO focused on a style of music that OUR audience didn't get. People WILL get The police...because they are excellent musicians, excellent songwriters, original and powerful. You'd be amazed at the number of programmers who would say "No way" to playing the Police. Then you'd ask the if they heard their music...and you'd get a "no". That in many ways was the beginning of the end. A time where many programmers stopped listening and started getting addicted to research and trades more than the sound. It also taught me a lesson about NOT being so quick to dismiss a movement. It would have been too easy to dismiss the police as another Punk band....thank God I was slapped around and told to LISTEN to these guys.

Artist Confidential is an interesting show. We made a commitment to open our doors to artists--and do things in a high integrity way. There's too much cheesy "syndicated" sounding artist interaction on radio that's so damn canned and is really created more as a vehicle for a Coca Cola to sponsor than to bare the soul of an artist. We promise uncensored musical freedom and when you put the exposure on XM, Direct TV, AOL, several airlines and others that carry XM together, the reach is north of 40 million. Here's an overview of a few of the original shows we do at XM:

ARTIST CONFIDENTIAL: Important artists. Ones with a history, credibility and "stories". ALWAYS a live studio audience with Q&A and ALWAYS at least 20 minutes of live playing. Video taped. Can only be done in XM Performance Theater or occasionally in NYC. Usually hosted by George Taylor Morris, though other XMers host in cases that make sense, such as the ARTIST CONFIDENTIAL: SOUL EDITION. Examples: Paul Mc Cartney; Herbie Hancock; Santana, Coldplay; Yusef Islam (Cat Stevens);Lamont Dozier;Wynton Marsalis;Bonnie Raitt, Dixie Chicks.

CLASSICAL CONFIDENTIAL: Same idea as Artist Confidential. Hosted by Martin Goldsmith. Examples: Cecelia Bartoli; Joshua Bell

OFFSTAGE: We go TO an artist and record their "voice tracks", receive a playlist from them that mines their personal collection and we create a One Hour DJ Show. NO voices except the artist. It is a one-off Star hosted radio show. Examples: Yoko Ono; Gregg Allman;DMC; Bob Seger

CHANNEL HI-JACKS/TAKEOVERS etc...: DJ leaves the room and artists take over. Play anything. Say anything. NOT AN INTERVIEW, but a complete hijack of XM. Examples: Metallica; Queen;Janet Jackson

ARTIST 2 ARTIST: Young Artist interviews his/her hero. On their turf (in hotel, a home, backstage, etc...) Young Country Star Dierks Bentley interviews Country legend George Jones for example. Again, no DJ interaction. Two artists talking shop....tellin stories...a peek behind the artists' personal curtain.

THE COMPLETE SERIES: XM goes TO the artist to record an "AUDIO BIOGRAPHY" of their career. Basically an extended interview. Then--we take the raw tape back, insert music, ear candy, additional sound and other elements to create a 4-8 hour multi part 'audio biography' of their life and music. Examples: The Eagles; Toby Keith;Shania Twain

LINER NOTES: Artist "walks through" their latest CD. Talks about track one...then we play it...then they talk about the next track...we play it, etc... Instead of simply playing a new CD, the artist walks North America through the album, song-by-song with a "personal" story about each song. Examples: Elton John; Donald Fagan

...there are a ton more, but these are a few of the key ongoing shows. The key is that these shows are GOOD. It's easy to bring in an artist and create something that doesn't live up to the hype of the press release or create something that is watered down to FM standards and ends up sounding like yet another syndicated special.

It was tough "signing" a lot of these artists because they have been burned by radio. Interviews that are either focused on their sex lives or are conducted by DJ's who are pretty clueless about their lives...or are "cattle calls" to support their new CD where they do 75 interviews a day. Thats where the station promotes they have a big artist "coming by" but then the actual result is a painfully dull and rote "phoner" that goes nowhere. We want the artist to be proud of the production...and memorable to both themselves and those who listened to it. The fact that these air so many times, and also are on AOL, Direct TV, Airlines, etc...they do have extraordinary promotional value for an artist, but the REASON for doing these is on a higher level than 'promo'. It gets back to our mantra that XM is about careers...not just hits.

Our biggest challenge is getting the word out. With so many channels, it's difficult to inform listeners what is happening when.

These "specials" help create a "complete" listening experience where there's more than just songs, DJ's and traditional radio content. It's kinda like HBO--they started with movies, but came into their own upon launching original programming like the Soprano's. It's the same with us, we can do fine playing music, but we can go much further if we think of XM as a "complete" experience, beyond the traditional song-dj-song thing.

Our second release with Concord Records coming out soon. Watercolors: Blue. It's branded via our Watercolors Channel. A Smooth Jazz collection, available exclusively at Circuit City. This is turning into a good series. Trinity, Maxx Myrick and Russ Davis from our Jazz Cluster are all deeply involved in the creative process and the result are some pretty cool collections. Concord is the "un-label"...they think differently and are a joy to work with. We did an OFFSTAGE with Bob Seger. He was the DJ. He played a ton of Country Songs. Interesting.

I also did a Bootcamp up at XM Radio Canada. I LOVE Toronto. What an outstanding city. Kind of a cross between London and Chicago. The team up there is pretty cool. Ross Davies gets "it" as does pretty much everyone on his team. They have a tough thing going because they have been around less than a year, whereas XM US has been around for almost 9 years (though on air since '01). We had an all afternoon session, then hung out with Ray Danniels, Rush's long time manager and a genuine great guy...then dinner with the staff and a tour of their ground level studio. The point of the day was to get into the spirit of what XM is all about---motivate them to revolutionize and raise the bar. I've always found Canadians more artistic than their US Counterparts, going back to the days when we put Q107 in Toronto on the air with guys like Gary Slaight ( who now runs Sirius Canada!), John Parikhal and Dave Charles. There's a more natural tendency to do things in a poetic way. I have no doubts they'll be successful up long as feel the passion. The only downside of the trip is that I flew commercial. They have special security for flights into Washington DC. There were six different lines. I awoke at 4am, at the airport at 5am, got to the gate at 8am. 9:30 departure then delayed, got back to DC at 1pm. If I had flown the Cirrus, I would have been back in DC faster than it took to get checked in.

Finally, Jon Zellner sent a note around XM about a Mediabase moratorium. Mediabase if a fine product for delivering airplay info, but Jon is coming around and seeing the light in the errors of FM. It takes time for someone to come into XM and separate the FM thinking from the kind of thinking that's, well, "right". We are in a different environment. FM isn't "bad"...they have their own set of issues. My point is that we ain't FM--we are in a completely different world. we HAVE to aggressively revolutionize things. Part of the revolution is re-thinking the playbook...COMPLETELY. Part of that re-think that's hard to shake is losing the refernce to FM. Pretend that band doesn't exist and create radio for LISTENERS in 2006 rather than referencing a band that has completely different issues and goals than we do. This reminds me of the comments about "The Zellner era is it's over...the Abrams era is it's the (put name here) era. Fact is, there are no "eras". When I started here there were three employees and now over 800. XM constantly evolves and has its good moments and it's bad moments, but the idea is that the power and mission of XM is and should be stronger than any"era"....and at the end of the day make the positive impact that we are capable of.

Monday, October 16, 2006



As discussed in the last blog, there was the Chicago was Christmas time 1972.....

After pitching John Tenaglia who ran the General Cinema radio group, I got the call. "No, you can't consult our entire group of stations with your new Album Rock concept, but we are interested in you as Program Director of our FM in Chicago we just bought". After the instant success with the new "AOR" format in Raleigh I was pretty much locked into taking that idea National...BUT--Chicago is my home town..I was/am a passionate Chicagoan. FM had really not made an impact there yet, so it was pretty easy to keep client WQDR Raleigh in my pocket, put the consultancy growth on hold and GO for the Chicago FM opportunity.
So it was a resounding YES. I was 19 and figured I could get a 2 share just on my high school friends.

The first step was to meet his new General Manager. It was Nick Anthony, a real nice guy with a long history as a Cleveland broadcaster. We had dinner at Hugo's in the old Water Tower Place Hotel. I brought three briefcases of data, ideas and legal pads and proceeded to sell my ass off. It worked and we shook hands. The Company wanted to do Top 40 instead of Albums, but considering the opportunity, no sweat.

The more I thought about this, while my heart was more into Yes and The Mahavishnu Orchestra than Bread and Bill Withers, this looked like an unbelievable opportunity to do Top 40 on FM. Robert Walker came with me to the dinner and was part of the package. Rob had a brilliant production mind, an expert mechanic and jock and was the perfect balance for the mission at hand. He also provided tremendous moral and creative support. Stunned with optimism and buzz we bought a quart of tequila and drove back to Detroit talking non-stop about the immense possibilities. Once back in the Motor City it was non stop phone calls recruiting the staff and putting a plan together.

Much like XM Today, we had the freedom to BUILD something...from scratch. EVERY move was calculated and thought out. We were NOT going to make ANY mistakes. This WAS going to be a historic and flawless launch.

As much as I would have loved to do Album music there, it was to be Top 40. So, I reached into my memory banks and focused on giving Chicago's pop fans an amazing ride. I felt that with the superior signal at 99.5, literally no direct competition and two excellent but hardly edgy A competitors in WLS and WCFL, we could do some real damage. The idea was to bring the West Coast school of Top 40 to Chicago, but have a Chicago soul and attitude. Not unlike what we did at WLUP in '79, a KMET Hard Rock approach, drastically different from the earthier Midwest/East Coast sound of FM, but infuse it with a pure Midwest spirit.

It was an unbelievable set up. First the hirings. as an anchor, we brought in Gary Gears, a long time legendary WLS Jock. Big intimidating guy. Once you got past his totally natural power voice, he was this hulking linebacker of a guy who looked and sounded like Dick Butkus, and he used it very well. At our first meeting he did everything he could do to scare the shit out of me. It worked. But we NEEDED someone like him to be the center point of the jock staff. Credibility. A Chicago-centric name and voice. I figured that I had to somehow be his friend AND boss. I found his hot button to be trains. He was a train freak. I was too. So, we'd get some beer and drive around Chicago all night checking out train stations and rail yards. Within a week, we really hit it off as we'd talk radio history and ideas for the new station in between deep debate about the virtues of the Milwaukee Road vs. The Chicago & Northwestern Railroads. Good. We have bonded. One odd thing about Gary was that he wore the exact same thing every day. A Minnesota Vikings jersey and grey sweatpants. Later, at his apartment, he went to dig out some albums in his closet and I noticed 50 sets of Vikings Jerseys and Sweatpants. I knew then and there that this was the kind of eccentric that would flourish in the environment I had proposed for this station. Gary passed away a few years ago.

After Gary Gears, we rapidly filled in the staff with hand picked talent. There was Beau Weaver. He came from KNUS in Dallas. I liked that because KNUS was an early FM AOR Pioneer, owned by the legendary Gordon McLendon. THAT was exactly the kind of pedigree that would work. He suggested Tommy Kramer another KNUS alumni. Then there was a kid named Jim Kelly from KOMA in Oklahoma City. Loved his tape. A classic night-time whack job. He wanted to be "Shotgun" Jim Kelly. NO WAY! There's a Shotgun TOM Kelly in San Diego. If you're adamant about being a Kelly then you are MACHINE GUN Kelly---This is Chicago, we use Machine Guns not Shotguns. The name served him well in a long career in LA. The there was this guy Jim Chanel. A complete lunatic. Perfect. Rounding it out was a newsman named George Jay. think Paul Harvey on some kind of drug. The staff was complete. The only guy we couldn't get was Roby Yonge. He's the guy who got fired from WABC for starting the Paul (McCartney) is dead rumor. A Surfer type from Miami who was one of the coolest Top 40 DJ's ever. Unfortunately he self destructed in New York and no-one would touch him. I KNEW this station would make him a radio superstar. Wined and dined him, but he just wouldn't leave Miami. He did there...broke in '02. I really wish he would have said YES to Chicago.

Next I rented a limo. We took everyone on a trip through Chicago to catch the vibe. No Wrigley Field stuff. We went through the slums...the neighborhoods...the suburbs...real wrong side of the tracks stuff. I wanted them to smell the sulphur belching out of the stacks at Lake Calumet, then hunker down to a Chicago Hot Dog at a working mans' bar in Gary Indiana. his station was going to be cool...but in a blue collar way. e may use West Coast Top 40 principals, but the smell of the station as going to be big, brawny and real Chicago. After all, WLS was VERY corporate and correct. That's fine--but we were going to be street. We had it all---an amazing crew of people SO different from each other that we were united; supportive well heeled management; a virgin FM market, a potent and thoughoully thought out game plan; motivation and focus that went from the top right down to the guy who cleaned the floors at night...and enough moxie to knock out Ali. This Chicago set-up and staffing was totally the model for what we did at XM Programming when we put it together a few years ago.

The build out continued and it was wonderful. We were truly BUILDING this thing. Totally customized. In fact when the studio was built we had a contractor build the console 7 inches high just to accommodate Gary Gears' huge hands. Logos were done, Rob Walker went to Dallas to insure the jingle was perfect using a special mix of male voices instead of the typical jingly all girl sings. Found an apartment at 2 East the corner of Rush Street. 37th Floor. Truly a "pad". We'd have our staff meetings there. Usually 8pm til--??. I found out it was the favored apartment complex of expensive hookers.

We were ready to launch. Ad campaign had started. New call letters approved. They were WICV which was Roman Numerals for 99.5. Not my first choice, but with the sound we envisioned it didn't matter. We had a pre launch party at Diamond Jim's restaurant on Dearborn street right off Randolph Street in the Chicago rialto district. everyone was there. Press, labels, VIP's. Everyone.

Then....8pm. The night before launch, we get a telegram. It's from a judge. We have an injunction against changing the format. It was Classical and a group of Classic lovers (which included not only many high powered executives and community leaders, but practically the whole staff of WLS!!) convinced the courts that a change of formats was not in the public interest. There were TWO other Classical stations in Chicago, so this was shocking news.

A week passed and no change. Lawyers said it could go on for years (it did). One by one the staff had to leave, the Classical library came out of storage and we sat...and waited. Soon, the Company President John Tenaglia asked me to go to Cleveland to help their struggling station WGCL. For a few weeks until the Chicago situations cleared up. So me and Rob Walker drove to Cleveland. The night after we got there, Rob was robbed at gunpoint in his room at Jimmy Swingo's Keg n Quarter hotel. He was on the next flight back to Miami. I needed someone to replace Rob--a Production wizard and creative sidekick. A guy was recommended named Sonny Fox. He had worked at KHJ and KCBQ and from all the Intel I could get was perfect. Again, someone with a West Coast POV that could help me break down the old line thinking and do some new things. He arrived one day later. First night there, his VW Van was broken into and he was robbed of everything. However, he decided to stay.

Cleveland was surreal. I REALLY didn't want to be there. The General Manager of the station hated the idea of me coming into his domain at the orders of home office and put e up at The East Town hotel. A very scary place in he worst part of town. The 1973 equivalent of a crack house. After a week I said I had to leave town..couldn't handle it. So they upgraded me to the Travelodge on 30th and Euclid. OK...better...I'll stay, but we need to get some new people in here. The staff had a few guys with potential, but several who were absolutely pathetic pukers. To make matters worse, the vibe in the station was terminal. So we hired a guy named Don Cox who later became a Miami hot shot and I brought in a ton of very young Black kids from the R&B station. They were raw but had, no pun intended, a LOT of Soul. Then George Jay that crazed Newsman I hired in Chicago. He decided to do all of his newscasts from the roof of the building. A good sign... The place was starting to rock a bit, but it looked like going back to Chicago wasn't going to happen. At the same time, my client WQDR in Raleigh continued to tear it up. OK..that's it, gotta go into this consulting thing 100%. Left Cleveland.

Immediately signed WRNO in New Orleans. They were represented by ABC for advertising and some people there helped me connect. Brought Sonny Fox with to be PD. This place was also very strange. Unlike the corporate consistency of today's terrestrial stations, facilities back then had a FAR more diverse ownership. The owner Joe Costello was this big guy and this was HIS station. They even had punch clocks so he could keep track of who worked when. Since this was my second consulted station, it HAD to be hugely successful so I'd have Raleigh, Detroit AND New Orleans Album Rock success stories to crow about. Joe liked control but he also liked success especially since he fashioned homself as a local New Orleans business leader and it was not a good thing for his stationto be in the dumper. So we made some staff changes and the entire staff, except for Captain Humble, a lovable local legend and a completely out of the closet Gay guy, lived in the hotel the station was housed in. The Imperial House in Metairie. We literally LIVED at the station. There were MANY innovations there: Under the voice were wind chimes whenever a DJ spoke. It was Sonny's idea. The concept was that so many people listened in the background on their stereo. With the chimes, you would always know it was WRNO even if you couldn't understand what the DJ was saying. It was an additional dimension in station Identification. and pretty "cosmic" too. Then we used Mickey Ratt, an underground comic hero on all the advertising. Think about it---while most stations had this slick agency created look, we had a stoned Rat. We later used a similar idea when KFOG in San Francisco was lunched, hiring Underground cartoonist R. Crumb to design the logo. The "Midnight Album Hour", "Two-fers" and a lot of todays tired cliches were born there.Then we had the owners brother Mike doing the all-night show. He was a Top 40 guy, and the only guy in FM Album Rock history to cheat on the music---but the OTHER way. Most DJ's would cheat and throw in a Fugs songs. He'd cheat and play The Carpenters. The whole place was pretty interesting. The whole city back then was a contrast. You had redneck racists coexisting with a strong Black influenced culture. A real melting pot that turned out some amazing food,music and art. Radio wise, The "deal" was a significant amount of money if we hit a six share in total audience. The station was at a two share. The ratings came out and we had a 5.9 ! Got NO money. But---The stage was set to go National with the concept...and we did...and never looked back.

As far as the Chicago station. It was the greatest station that never was.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Bill Wax who runs our Bluesville Channel pulls me aside to play me something. It's really, really good in a very rootsy way. Then he shows me the CD cover and tells me about the artist. It's a "kid" named Sugar Chile Robinson. He's 12 years old! One problem: It was recorded in 1951 ! Apparently a clothing company is using him in an ad. Bill did his "research" and found the CD on a French label. This kid is unbelievable. Unfortunately his timing was REAL bad. 1951 was not an easy time for a Black kid to get discovered and marketed to the mainstream. If it was ten years later, maybe Sugar Chile would be in Stevie Wonders shoes.

Sugar Chile is now 67 years old and living in Detroit (we think). It's the classic "what if" story. Imagine if this kid got discovered. I'll tellya he HAD the's an awesome record. Maybe a little late, but we're going to be all over this "kid". Bill Wax is playing it on Bluesville, Mindy on XM Kids, Matt The Catt on 50's, and who knows where else. This says a lot about a different kind of research. Researching genres to DISCOVER things that otherwise would be unknown forever. Here's to you Sugar Chile! I hope you FINALLY get what you deserve!

Speaking of discovery, if you haven't discovered the upcoming "Before The Music Dies" film. Immediately, without fail go to for info and a promo video. This is a documentary that MUST get seen. I'll leave it at that. Check the website.

Speaking of rewinding the clock--

When I was 18 I got hired to be Program Director of WRIF in Detroit, then owned by ABC. I remember flying into Detroit in December 1971 with a WMYQ windbreaker and diving into 8 degrees with blowing snow and a windchill of 11 below. WRIF then was an intimidating place. One one side there was ABC. The pinnacle of big league corporate radio. Then there was the staff, a combination of politically driven free form guys and hardened vets. Then there was the extreme left wing listener base, many from the anarchy driven Ann Arbor posse. Put these all together and it was easy to think "What the fuck am I doing here"? I had a nice gig at the second ever Top 40 station in Miami, living in a rented mansion with the entire staff (The "Q" house---we pooled our money for rent and got this amazing house) in the haven for rich hippies known as Coconut Grove. Oh yeah, but it's Detroit---Top 5 market, huge signal and the chance to really make some noise.

Despite my penchant for top grade pot and eclectic music tastes, most of the air staff thought I was the equivalent of a Narc from ABC. They either left or got fired. Art Penhallow who is still in Detroit and has become quite a legend stuck around. He was kinda scary. Big guy with a huge voice and all the charm of a pissed off biker. I couldn't figure out if he was horrible or brilliant---But that's when I learned the importance of "character"--He had that and with character it doesn't matter how bad or great you are from a conventional radio standpoint. He had character and it worked. We then brought in guys like Jim McKeon and Pat St. John and had the makings of a dysfunctional but effective staff. The station went on to quickly become #1 in teens, the first FM in any major market to do so. I think the ABC executives got kinda pissed off because they wanted 18-34's. We did great in 18-24 but I felt that with progressive station WABX in town, why go head to head with them when there were SO many 17 year olds who thought ABX was a little too out there and tended to be more of the Zeppelin, Tull crowd. We were completely off the reservation in terms of what ABC wanted us to do. I learned EVERY trick about fooling the home office which served me well when I became a consultant. It included paying off the executive secretaries in NYC (with Albums) to find out when the executives were listening or planning a visit. I will say though that those executives were great people with a lot of vision. Allen Shaw ran the FM group. I still hang out with Allen who became a major group owner. Then his right hand guy was Dale Pon who later created the "I want my MTV campaign" and Bob Henebery who had a deep knowledge of radio basics. These guys, especially Allen are very much unsung heroes of early FM radio.

We always got nailed in the press about "ruining" Free Form radio, In reality, as illustrated at WRIF, we never intended to ruin anything. We saw a group of unserved listeners and went after them. The Detroit case illustrates it. WABX WAS more adventurous, and in reality BOTH stations did very well. It's certainly not our fault that WABX blew it over the years, or many adventurous and Free Form stations collapsed under their own elitism....I wish they hadn't. There's a balance between serving enough people well to stay in business and doing something that people MANY people like. We did both.

Bob Hamilton who ran a popular trade magazine then printed a big cover story about two "up and coming PD's. (Scott Shannon was the other PD). The #1 in teen success got some good press, especially up against the powerhouse CKLW. Simultaneously, a guy named Dan Henderson who was the Afternoon DJ on WXYZ-AM our sister station pulled me aside and said "There's this guy who runs the big AM-FM in Raleigh and is looking to do something with his FM...will you talk to him"? Hell yes! So Carl Venters who ran WPTF in Raleigh comes to Detroit and we have dinner. He tells me of his 100,000 watt FM and how he can't figure out what to do with it in the college heavy Raleigh Durham market. By coffee we had a deal. I was going to consult him for $500, travel expenses and the chance to do some damage in a virgin market.

Uh Oh. Word got out. ABC said you can consult OR work for us. I saw a vivid image of Bill Drake, the famous Top 40 consultant of the 60's, sitting in a pool at his Bel Air home from a 1968 Time Magazine piece come into my mind. Then the fact I was making $200 a week programming one of the most successful FM's in the Country (Nixon had a wage and price freeze on and I was frozen solid)...then, it was kind of a no brainer. Plus I felt the ABC way of programming wasn't was a chance to do it "my way"--very important for an 18 year old punk with an "all the answers" attitude issue. Geting out of Detroit was OK too. It was an electric place back then fashioning itself as the Rock n Roll capital of the World. The concert scene at Cobo Hall and Ford Theater was especially rich, though personally, it was generally a lonely and grey period outside of the scene and the station. I got evicted from my first apartment for "welcoming undesirables", my next place was unfurnished except for a guitar, amp, Marantz stereo and an inflatable pool raft for a bed. A bit depressing, but it was a time filled with SO much promise and hope. I was in a strange place--my high school friends were all living it up in college and despite a cool gig for an 18 year old, I was kind of an outsider as the people I hung around with were significantly older, lived in far away places or worked for me. I spent a lot of time...thinking.

So I hit the road....Went to Raleigh. Brought in David Sousa (air name was Jay Michael Stone--that HAD to go!) who I worked with in Miami at WMYQ to be the PD, and Robert W Walker (real name oddly enough) another Miami legend (WMYQ, Y-100 etc..) to set it up...brought in DJ's like Bill Hard who later ran a trade paper. Raleigh in'72 was an odd place for us. A couple of long hairs didn't play well, even in this campus town. Thank God we had Carl Venters, a local community leader and solid citizen to deflect the "Who the hell are these Yankees...I think one of 'em is a Jew" looks we'd get at the fancy company lunch spots we went to...and a lot of the old timers at the Big Southern Insurance Company owned AM gave us some pretty funny looks---the AM, WPTF stood for "We Protect The Family". The group we brought in probably looked more like 'We Kill The Family". However I remember going into a Wachovia bank to cash a check and hearing a tape of "Badge" by Cream playing---so I knew this was all going to work out. It Did. We went to an 11.7 share on one rating book. WQDR (which stood for Quad Rock---just in case quad happened)was a massive success. Everything about the station clicked---The marketing, the sound, the signal...everything. It was the Blueprint for the "Superstars" concept that was formally launched the following year, though the original notes for it go back to '67. But these were the real learing days...about creating, interacting, making mistakes, name it. No more notepads and daydreams--this was it. There was no rule book--we were CREATING it. EVERYTHING was instict, along with some strange research I used to do like hitchking studies. Days on end hitchhiking to study in car listening habits. I wish EVERYONE in radio could have experienced whta I got to experience in the early 70's. It was Life 101 with a major in media and music. One of the things that's sadly amusing is that so many of those ideas and concepts created then are STILL being used on radio today...which is another reason I get crazy over the importance of we at XM RE-WRITING that damn 1972 playbook!

About the same time, I started to seek other clients. One was KROQ. Me and Robert Walker flew out to LA to meet with Gary Bookasta and Gary Price the two guys who ran the station at the time. THAT was THE weirdest trip...ever. The station was a disaster in every way. Signal, mission, everything. Of course years later under new management the station became massively good, successful and powerful, but in '72, it DEFINED "toilet". The whole thing struck as a front for "something". Gary Price went on to run KNAC which I consulted briefly. Great station in Long signal. Not sure what happened to Gary Bookasta.

Another early visit was to see John Tenaglia n Philly who ran the General Cinema, a fledgling group of FM's in good markets. John had a deserved reputation as a hard ass, mean and nasty guy. Personally, I really liked him and we got on well. Did the best presentation possible--a real "sales" rap as John didn't want to hear any "save the world" stuff--he wanted MONEY. "Pitching" these guys was delicate. I found the balance of being who I was--a very young person that LIVED in the world of the listeners with a sense of broadcasting knowledge and a respect for the business side was effective. It worked. There were a lot of guys talking to big broadcasters who couldn't balance the two. They were either 100% music junkies who couldn't relate to the idea of a station making money--or rocket scientists who secretly thought Jimi Hendrix was a weido. I think that balance still works today--Thinking like a fan, balanced with the reality of what is....and NEVER getting bent out of shape about the bullshit....and doing everything you can to avoid contributing to it. (not easy)

Now John Tenaglia wouldn't hire me as a consultant but he had a station going up in Chicago and wanted to know if I would like to be the Program Director. YES! I can put consulting on hold. The Chicago story is a be continued.

Monday, October 02, 2006



A few months ago Willie Nelson "bought" Hank's Place, and thus the channel is now "Willie's Place". While the channel hasn't changed one bit, Willie IS actively involved, so Dan Turner, "Jinx" (aka Jim Bonner) and Eddie Kilroy hopped in the Cirrus to head to the Philly area for Farm Aid to hang out with Willie in his famous bus. It's important that we took my plane since Eddie's spittoon and 75 pound belt buckle would have never passed through security. You see, Eddie is the real deal. A pro rodeo driver, Nashville legend and Cowboy. I'll bet it was mildly disturbing for him to go to the foreign country known as Camden, New Jersey for this meeting. Ray Knight who oversees our Country channels was supposed to come but had to anchor our broadcast of Farm Aid from DC, along with Jessie Scott and Bill Kates who were on-site.

The trip up was in the clouds and Kilroy kept asking if everything was OK. I think Eddie feels more comfortable on a horse than on a plane. In any case, we land at Philadelphia International and Dan gets us a car. A GPS was requested but never came through so we blindly departed for Tweeter Center in nearby Camden. We got lost. Ended up circling around THE most dangerous neighborhood south of Newark. Gunshots, crack houses and burned out buildings. Thank God it was daytime. For Kilroy, it was like Baghdad. I was only mildly terrified being from Chicago. Finally we found the general area of Farm Aid. It was kind of odd that an event aimed at the Farmer was held in an area where farms haven't existed...ever. Now the trick was to find Willie's bus. Dave Anderson his right hand man told us to go to the back gate and ask for Benny. Using our best "We're from XM" authoritative voices, the Officers blocking traffic at every corner we're unimpressed. We finally found a parking garage reasonably close o the venue and then hoofed around trying to find Benny. The "we're here to see Willie" got a few chuckles from the security forces, though we eventually found Benny and were escorted to the Bus.

Before we got on, it was like old home week for Kilroy--this guy knows EVERYONE in the traditional Country world. There were A LOT of "Kilroy--you ole dog--how ya doing partner??"
from people who I assume are big names in the Country world. I gotta say--between Kilroy, Eric Logan and the rest of our crack Country team, XM ahs infiltrated the Country World pretty well!

So we are on the Bus, and there's Willie. He is one incredible guy. With his resume, he could be a real jerk, but he is the mellowest kindest legend I've ever met. we dive into ideas he has, and some thought we have and it's a wonderful bonding session. He's pretty crazed with the whole Farm Aid thing about to get going, so we spend a nice hour and then respect his day and gracefully leave the bus with a real good feeling about things.

Enroute back to the Airport, we decide we MUST have a Cheesesteak. So we go to Tony Luke's. A joint I recall from 20 years consulting WMMR and WYSP. Kilroy declares his sandwich the best he's ever had This place is SO local. Once the server asked "What yoose guys want" we knew we were in the right place. After Tony Luke's we marvel at the rows of Mafia owned strip joints and the whole waterfront vibe. We saw the once proud SS UNITED STATES sitting in mothballs and fantasized that with 100 million we could probably turn that thing into one hell of a party boat. After getting hopelessly lost again, we made it back to the Airport. The car didn't have XM...or Sirius. None of us brought MP3 players or walkmans. We were stuck with local radio. Didn't bother listening though as sadly you just KNOW it's going to be the same crap you can hear in Washington, or just about anywhere. Sold an XM radio to the ramp fueling guy. The taxi to the runways was NUTS as every airline decided to launch its departures at precisely the time we did. It was SO busy, but we made it out, flew home and reveled in how magical a simple road trip can be

Last week we had one of our periodic offsite management meetings. Really intense stuff. A lot of the discussion was about really high level and complex initiatives. The ONE thing I wanted to remind the group of was that we need to remember the "Soul" of XM. We are in a fast paced tech driven World, but so much of it all boils down to what comes out of the speakers. I may have been a little Over-the-top as this was a pretty high level event and my style can be a little...whacked...but the point came across and I hope it was a good balance to the intense and intellectual discussions.

Speaking of what comes out of the speakers and the need to keep our eye on the musical ball and sweat in the content trenches...
Below are some thoughts from six years ago, right as we launched. The points below are highly condensed, but are a peek behind the curtains of our original music Point of View, that still holds true today. Again, it's extremely condensed and you really had to be there, but hopefully will shine some light on the general thinking in terms of music programming. Time will tell if it's the RIGHT direction, but it's OUR direction and while it's always evolving and hopefully improving, I DO know it's infinitely more in sync thinking than the circa 1980 playbook on FM and when combined with the human factor can be very satisfying to listeners.
Referring to the 10/25/00 XM MUSIC PLAYBOOK: (EXCEPTS)
SELECTIVITY! Treat your list as a GREAT band treats their set at a concert. The best shit. BE SELECTIVE but . At any given point in time you MUST be playing a better song than ANY terrestrial station in your format is playing at that same moment.
"HIT" DEFINITION: It is simply the most important songs for your format. The qualifiers can be charts as in "oldies/decades" type stations.....Artist History as in our AOR/Alternative type formats......incredible foresight with New Music Formats.....Common Sense in Sound Driven formats, etc....DON'T CONFUSE "HIT WITH THE TRADITIONAL TOP 40 DEFINITION
ENLIGHTEN: It's our job. Not a job description at most radio or other music discovery sources...but it IS CRITICAL at XM.
We need to get to the point where ANYONE can listen FIVE MINUTES to ANY XM CHANNEL, and get the DEFINITIVE MUSIC in that short listen. Then complete satisfaction in longer listens.
And please for God Sake: Don't use terrestrial as a reference point!!!!!. Don't think an oldies station needs to sound like "this" because of KXXX. Don't think a Sound Driven station needs to be ALL chart hit because that's how KYYY does it.....We are re-inventing the music rotation. The only rules are that you play by the XM Music Playbook. Now..... it's all spelled out for you here....unless you really know this stuff....READ THIS REVISIT OF OUR MUSIC BOOTCAMP PLEASE: (IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS..ASK NOW!!!!)

The following is an extremely abbreviated overview of the Camp. If anything needs further discussion or clarification...ask! It was a four hour session, so here are some of the points we focused on. OK, here goes: (to save computer space allot of this is in abbreviate....again, if it's too obscure, ask!)
Obviously, "Stationality" is critical. That's the magic between the songs and on the streets...the key there is AFDI (Actually Fucking Doing It). Whether you're all about The Three Stooges On Acid...or a cool, intellect sound....AFDI is critical to TRULY changing the way we sound between the songs... The magic of XM is distinctly different, totally brilliant stations.
We talked lets focus on Musicality. WHO YOU ARE to get there and how to max your position.

Coming from FM, we all probably fit into one of these groups listed below at one point. Well....let's try to lose these characteristics and put things on a higher level. Part of the reason a lot of FM PDs are self inflicted clueless musically is because ya got:
-Voodoo Types: Charts & Graphs and Physics...but no soul.
-Trade Whores: Screw the station...I want my pic in the trades so I can get another gig
-Uninformed (aka Dumb Shits): People who just dot get it
-Software Gods: Computer wizards whose stations stink but they're perfectly scheduled.
-Fake Experts: Experts who forgot how to learn and evolve.
-Sheep: Mindless followers
-Industry Prey: Followers of the industry rather than the listeners
-Corrupt: Adds for Trips

Hacks add records, Programmers program is a powerful weapon in our radio revolution arsenal. Gotta avoid the "simplification" pitfalls:

Example: We got a morning show..tested the a billboard up...we're cool Example: Check R&R Chart..see what the label is pushing...add & report...we're cool.
....not quite!
OK, enough with the bad examples. You are here. You are good (which is why you're here)
The purpose of this memo and bootcamp is to take you to the next music level of music understanding.... SmartER CleverER along with a balance of empathy, science and knowledge tucked into your head, you'll have the Tools to meet the XM Standard of excellence.
You need to be:

A MUSIC MANAGER...that's the science
A MUSIC Programmer...that's the art.

The end Goal: "MC" MUSICAL CONFIDENCE!!!!! Listeners to EVERY XM Format MUST feel CONFIDENT about the music on your station.


On FM Its literally gone....WE WILL BRING MC BACK to American listeners...

Now----gotta UNDERSTAND THE BIG PICTURE. There are lulls and intense periods. I think understanding the big time picture is important--
A Programmer who is in sync with 2000 but has no sense of history is reckless. A PD who is in sync with 2000 but understands history is DANGEROUS (in a good way)
During Intense periods: Stations & DJs have the opportunity to be as Hip as the Artists (Murray the K 64...Tom Donohue 70...KROQ 80, etc..)

GET READY. The times are a can bet on it. That Intense/Lull chart is the real deal in illustrating change. IF YOU ARE NOT READY TO GET IN SYNC WITH CHANGE YOU WILL BE LEFT BEHIND.

In an extreme oversimplification: (I will use 1964-65 as an example, but these periods happened in '55, 70, 80, 92 etc....). This is highly arguable stuff--but in this case is simply to illustrate the dynamics of change:
During Intense Periods: RADIO CHANGES -- Bill Drake's extreme modification of Top 40
OLD WAVE OF ARTIST HIT WALL -- The Bobby Rydells had a tough time once the English invasion hit TECHNOLOGY CHANGES MUSICALLY -- The "band" configuration...the birth of the Rock n Roller buying Albums THE LOOK CHANGES -- Brylcreem was NOT cool anymore LOVE/HATE EMERGES -- Ace Hardware successfully distributes "Stamp Out the Beatles" stickers to irate adults who didn't quite "get" the new look THE SOUND OF MUSIC RADICALLY CHANGES -- Listen to the Top 10 from 63 and compare to the Top 10 from 65

...Take the lull between 58 and 64 (and we are in one today!)
During Lulls: Dancing Comes Back The Twist ...No Love/Hate Mom and Dad thought Bobby Vee was perfectly respectable...Look is acceptable to masses Rock n Rollers were hardly scary...Labels and Producers are in control... Hit factories emergeMcDonalds Rock happens Hits have a remarkable similarity in sound...Rock is Apolitical It's all about boyfriends and girlfriends...Tech becomes cheaper EVERYbody could afford a hi-fi...Cuteness over-rides musicality Cant play a note? No problem as long as you're cute
Intense 55 64 70 80 92 2001?!! Lull 60 67 75 85 98--

(note: timeless styles like Jazz or Blues cut through all eras., as do renaissance artists --)

Each XM Channel is like a football player:
--A purpose --A Position
The XM music strategy, and these ideas are the Playbook/Game Plan
The XM system MUST be choreographed so our fans get maximum music muscle from the 50 Music Channels.
There are different types of XM Musicality:
Song Driven (the Hit SONGS)
Artist Familiarity Driven (Depth and History on Artists)
New Music Driven (Cutting edge factor--No--make that DEFINE the edge)
Sound Driven (Loft, Audio Visions--It's about the sound)
Experimental (,like Fine Tuning)
Genre Driven (Blues, Jazz and genres---it's about covering the genre more than playing the hits)

YOU must focus on the right type (s) of Musicality. Its like restaurants:

Pop McDonalds Hit Food No Spices Cheap n Quick

Blues A Funky BBQ joint. Smoky, Hot, Real

Fine Tuning French Nouvelle..experimental. Ultra Quality food and patrons

Deep Tracks Classic French...Escoffier..No new weird shit....Reverence toward the masters

XMU, XMLM: A Bar.....listeners are intoxicated by the new music

Oldies: A Classic Diner....reliable old fashioned Hit Food with lots of Specials

Watercolors: Pan Asian Fusion Ultra Hip Chardonnay and Lobster Sashimi hipness.

*New Music!!??? The music industry has poisoned us to think NEW is BEST In reality, it all depends on who you are.
For example,
*Older you get the longer a song stays Fresh Older you are, more important great old music is "Mama" line: (Todd Storz circa 1957) When DJs are picketing 'cause the song is still on the list, Mama is just learning to hum the verses
Old/New reference point: 15 year old: Old is last month 30 Year Old: Old is pre 1995 50 year old: Old is Pre 1980

*Play the Hits! But what is a hit?
a) Differs by format b) XM Definition: The most important songs to your listeners. Screw traditional definitions. A hit is YOUR most important songs....for your channel

Hits Vary, for example:

On Decades: Usually Top 10 songs...with exceptions

On New Age/Electronic: Jean Michelle Jarres' Oxygene or something cerebral from Ibiza

On Folk: A Chieftains tune.

On Real Jazz: Something mind melting from Coltrane

On Boneyard: It's bad ass tunes from Stadium Rockers

XMU: Hell, could be anything. XMU's hits are hits before the rest of the world knows they're hits...or cares

The point is that there is NO one definition of a hit in our world...every channel is different. The point remains---playing the hits of your channel means playing the songs that are important to YOUR LISTENERS....and maybe no-one else.

...while there is overlap to a degree on our formats....the key is to focus on YOUR KIND OF HITS.

Another way to look at it is--
*Types of Hits:

Songs: Instantly familiar by SONG kind of traditional hit definition

Depth: Oh Wow tracks. ...unpredictable songs that may have never been discovered by radio or washed out of the system by conservative research based programming.

Non Radio: VW ad, Sopranos Theme (THINK BEYOND RADIO!) ( Everywhere)

Novelty/Unusual: Unusual, but cool. Can range from the Flintstones Theme to a flaming flamenco solo by an unknown artist to a bizarre Spike Jones track.

Forgotten: .... but INTERESTING music.

Sound: It has the right "Sound" (especially in Jazz, New Age, Blues etc...) It just SOUNDS like it belongs.

Then there's Sell: THE LOST ART. Music can be Important because DJ has SOLD it as such. DJ's need to be NARRATORS---MASTERS OF DISCOVERY--TURNING PEOPLE ON TO MUSIC! This is where you MAKE something a hit because you BELIEVE. Soul-less "new technology" can never do that. If DJ's fail to do this, they risk extinction.

Bottom Line:
Stations lose because they don't play the right songs and they do play wrong ones. Yaw gotta be 100% YOUR HITS....100% YOUR POSITION. Don't stray..stay true.
Don't waste time with average songs Think MINUTE BY MINUTE
Remember the Cannonball/Fort example
Don't play stiffs
Don't drag out songs...Ain't workin? Cut bait!
EMPATHY!!!!!!!! -- THINK ABOUT THE LISTENER NOT THE INDUSTRY-- It's SOOOO easy to isolate yourself from the street---
DON'T!Think Hits in the traditional sense...But----"THE XM DEFINITION OF HITS....BY CHANNEL"
DISCOVERY! HELP ENLIGHTEN LISTENERS. We are entering an age where radio regurgitates the obvious--we GOTTA change that and become the source of Discovery and musical satisfaction.
Oh, more on empathy:
Amateur: Stairway to Heaven Sucks.
XM Pro: Stairway Sucks, but it's popular and I'm going to understand its popularity. I'm gonna power through a lot of "points we discussed. Got questions...ask please! These are highly abbreviated:
*Power at :00 is Bullshit . Think like a listener not a radio geek
*Internet sells music (soon...not yet) ...but it's coming
*Paper Time vs. Real Time. Look at your playlist..thats paper. Listen to the radio that's real.
*STAY 100% True to your formats' musical purpose.
*PURITY. Avoid good/ good/ good / SONG THAT DOESN'T BELONG HERE/ good/ good /SONG THAT DOESN'T BELONG /good/ etc.... This happens when a song that "isn't you" is in there...or a stiff...or a hit that isn't your "kind of hit" Be what your supposed to be. Magic in what you DON'T play
* Informing/Selling is a lost art....we will bring it back

*Youth are Not Angry. Those who are anesthetize the anger with booze & drugs. Our youth formats are about either FREEDOM, PARTYING , or BEING SMARTER THAN THE REST OF THE WORLD (or a combination of those things). Pissed off radio is stupid. It does NOT attract youth!!!!!! reflect their needs...even those who are pissed off are looking for escape..not some adult trying to emulate their anger. And for God's sake, don't pretend to understand young listeners if you aren't one. Find the people who live it, give them a playing field, and let them play. Don't read the bloody charts and think you have a CLUE (unless you are IN the audience).
Low end radio is about escape! Dark escape if sophisticated..cartoon escape if non-sophisticated. One thing: LOW END LISTENERS ARE NOT DUMB. THEY ARE CULTURALLY BRILLIANT. EVEN THE UNHIPPEST TEEN is living in a special world that XM must and will serve without "G" (Generic) or compromise.

*We live in a musical society where AGE is Good. Older artists are the US, the older you get the cooler you get (with the exception of guys who were uncool to start with). Examples--Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Santana, BB King, Clapton, etc.....For the first time in history there are 40+ Rock fans...millions of them. The 50's "Rock is for Kids" is James Dean Bullshit.
*It takes 7 exposures before a person likes a Song to the point of buying it. (an arguable average)
*16 to 20 factor . The musically formative years. HELP them form their tastes by giving them a taste of what's out there!
*Cant get hurt by what you don't play concept is wrong!!!! It's the cornerstone of what's wrong with FM.

*Just Do It. Never brag. "THE STATION WITH THE MOST HENDRIX"...BS. Just play it...they'll get it. Some of the audience may be unsophisticated....but they ain't dumb!!!!!!
*Play Hits. Your hits. Don't play songs that aren't part of your musical reason for the definition of what you're musically SUPPOSED to be. Nothing more nothing less. Dead on it. (Had to repeat this's important!)
*NEVER penalize a song or artist because its BIG or TERRESTRIAL is playing it. Never! That is immature. Don't even think about terrestrial in terms of music--play what's right. If it's on FM--Great! If it isn't--Great also.
*Music on TV ads are hipper than radio playlists.

AFDI. It is your responsibility to know EVERYTHING about your core artists careers...not the birthday stuff..I mean the REAL stuff...managers name, managers dog, next release date, what the t-shirts look like, EVERYTHINGetc....

*Orbits: (Aerosmith on Boneyard as Example) . THINK about how you orbit songs...ESPECIALLY with major high circulation artists--take Aerosmith for example-Ludicrous: new Aerosmith -Constantly: Wk 2-3 Aerosmith -A real Lot : Wk 4 hot cut -Alot: Wk 4 other cuts -Often : Aerosmith Classics -Now and Then : Cool Depth -Special Occasion: 1972 Aerosmith demos the system for flexability...all records are different......There are times we DO want to get anal.....such as with an Aerosmith type band who has SO many different types/levels of songs
*RESPECT MUSIC. No Talkovers! (except on 60's where it's part of the authentic style) No post hitting. Remember Hitchhiking Story
*Sell the Meat. Imagine on NBC TV: "Tonight at 8 Eastern on NBC...A real good show" Never "Great Music" comin up. Sell Meat not air!
*Statements. FUELED BY :LIQUID METAL....BONE ME....In Harmony with the Earth on Audiovisions... Never G. Never Generic.
*XM is about more about St. Louis than New York, Paris and LA! Don't get caught up in the centerpoints of culture...think globally
*Authenticity...78's OK! Playing a 78 from 1939--Cool.
...I think this only scratched the surface of what we discussed. remember: