Bob (whose real name is neither
Billy nor Bob) worked long in
the Seattle radio market wearing a suit. He says
ironed his shirts, drank his milkshake, augmented his
influences, and diminished his circle of friends. He knows
more than we do, but rarely as much as his readers.
by Billly BobI'm just back from Boom City and 7-11, all stocked up with bottle rockets and a case of Bud, ready to celebrate July 4th like a real patriotic tea-bagger. But first, let's light the fuse on a few of your radio queries:
Dear Billy: Recently you've had complaints about news people on radio starting all their stories with a question and news anchors talking about 'hotcakes." But you know what really bugs me about local radio? Too damn many commercials. Why in hell are there so many? Signed, Lee Derhosen
Dear Lee: I think you're overstating it. I look at commercials as just another
form of very important information. I'll be back with more questions in
just a moment, but first, a reminder that this portion of the Billy Bob column
is brought to you by Toot-Trapper, the wearable carbon insert that filters any
unpleasant aromas produced by flatulence.
Dear Billy: A recent letter-writer said that he loved the Wrong & Dong show. I'm also a big fan of both Wrong Upshaw and Dong O'Neill. Do you like them? Which one do you like most? Signed, Nick O.Thyme
Dear Nick: I get them confused. Never sure which one is Wrong.
Dear Billy: You keep making references to radio news anchors, but shouldn't you really refer to them as what they really are: News Readers. Honestly, most seem to be people who just have the ability to read out loud, and some can't even do that very well. Signed, Ginger Vitus
Dear Ginger: Thanks for your comments, but we're all out of time in this segment. There's more coming up, but first, a word about my good friends at Malcom & Earl's Trash Hauling and Trailer Moving in Everett. When I had to suddenly move my double-wide from Gold Bar to Monroe because of that little felony issue, I trusted my trailer to Malcom & Earl. They're on time and they have those fancy flashing "wide load" lights and if you mention my name they'll throw in a free commemorative Freedumb 570 roach clip.
Dear Billy: Recently,
you responded to someone about how much money or commercials a station has to
dole out for a syndicated show. Frankly, I'm not sure you know what you're
talking about, so let me see if I can explain. Because when people
complain about there being too many commercials on talk radio this is
why. We radio types call it barter. A network gives you a
syndicated show, say Savage or Dennis Miller, and in turn the station gives up
some of their commercial time to the network which then goes out and sells
commercials that run on all of the stations carrying that show. How many
commercials? The average number is 6 minutes per hour of the show. A few shows "charge" more, some up to 10 minutes per hour. Add
to that, some of the more successful shows also started insisting on
commercials in other dayparts. Rush Limbaugh, for example, and Dr. Laura have insisted that the station carry a one-minute morning drive feature
with a one-minute commercial attached. And the stations have to run this
twice in morning drive. So for one show, a station might have to give up
6 minutes an hour, times three hours, or 18 minutes per day, plus two more
minutes in the morning. 20 minutes per day, for just one show! Multiply
that by four or 5 network shows on some stations, and you have a commercial
tsunami. And that doesn't even count the news networks, like ABC or CBS,
which also require the stations to give up one minute PER HOUR! Or Metro
Traffic, which used to eat up a 10-second commercial for every single traffic
report, but now is also insisting on additional 30-second commercials from some
of the lower-rated stations. And your recent letter was right, some of the big
shows, like Laura and Rush also charge an annual cash fee and in some markets
it is up to a half-million dollars per year. Now local stations have to
run all those network commercials and then guys like me have to go out and sell
even more local commercials to sponsors to pay the bills. But by the time
we start selling, we're already thousands of dollars and hundreds of minutes in
the hole. I think you can see why radio has become a mess. Signed,
News-Talk Sales Guy
Dear NTSG: Wow, that was long, you've really backed us up. I need to let everyone know that this portion of the Billy Bob Column is brought to you by Darryl's Pipe & Tobacco in Tumwater. Be sure to ask Darryl about his "under the counter" supply of herb! And tell him Billy Bob sent ya, but don't tell the Po-Po...
Dear Billy: Hi, this is Newt Gingrich's Mom, you can just call me Ma Newt. First, I have to tell you that my political leanings are the exact opposite of my snot-nosed son. Now, did you see that article about the CEO of Clear Channel radio stepping down at the end of the year? He gets to work part time until July of 2013. And he gets a salary of not less than $1 Million per year, plus bonuses of not less than a half-million per year. Plus he gets to keep his office staff and use of the corporate jet. My question is, do you think Gregg Hersholt and Kirby Wilbur got similar deals when they got the boot? By the way, if I can sneak in a commercial plug, I've opened up a Bowling Alley in Stanwood so tell all your readers to come on out. Sign me, Ma Newt at Ma Newt Bowl.
Dear Ma Newt: I hear that Hersholt is still allowed to come by the station for Cranberry Juice on Fridays.
Dear Billy: Recently, someone pointed out how KPTK has fewer weekly listeners than the Nathan Hale High school station. That is a fact, but do you realize how poorly almost every talk station is doing in Seattle. Sure some stations might brag about being the highest rated talk station or doing well in a certain demo, but the single most reliable stat in Arbitron's People Meter ratings system is total listening, or what Arbitron calls total Cume, persons 12+. The highest ranked news or talk station is actually 710 ESPN and they're ranked 14th. And if you took away all the listeners for Mariner baseball, they'd be in the basement, too. KOMO is 15th. KUOW is 18th. KIRO-FM is 19th. KTTH, the Rush station, is 23rd. KJR-AM is 24th. KVI is 28th. KPTK is 31st. So maybe you should stop picking on KPTK. All of the station's ratings suck. Signed, Seattle Ad Man
Dear Ad Man: Yes, but as you point out, KPTK seems to be the suckiest.
Dear Billy: I like Dave Ross. He's the smartest talk host in Seattle, maybe in the country. But I have one complaint. The weekly Carl Jeffers segment every Friday. Does that guy ever come up for air? Dave can hardly get a word in edgewise. Signed, Dick Small
Dear Dick: Actually,
they just play three different Dave Ross audio files. One says "Carl
Jeffers is here, what's up this week Carl?" The second says
"Hold on Carl, we have to take a break." The third says,
"Thanks Carl, see you next week. That way Dave can take Fridays off.
Dear Billy: You are constantly putting down local stations and local talk hosts and news people. You know some of these stations do a lot of good in the community and some hosts...
Dear Writer: Whoa, whoa, whoa... sorry, got to cut you off right there. We're up
against a hard break and about out of time. Just a reminder that this portion
of Billy Bob was brought to you by Dicken's Fruit Farm. I love taking
Mrs. Bob out there and getting some Dicken's Cider. On those crisp Seattle
summer evenings, have your wife try some hot Dicken's Cider. Stay tuned, news is next,
right after these commercial messages.