That Mo Fo Brandmeier

When I was the PD of Nine FM we had a morning show issue.  We had to get rid of a morning show that didn’t fit the direction we were taking the station in but my GM wouldn’t allow me to cut bait until we had a solution.

Serving Chicagoland from the suburbs, we had the hurdle of being suburban stations which were held to Chicago standards.

I pitched an idea I thought would work brilliantly, especially since our variety format was geared toward gold pop-rock hits from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s.

I told Harvey Wells (the GM) I wanted to reach out to Jonathon Brandmeier’s “people”.  He laughed.  He didn’t laugh because Johnny was a bad idea, but because he and I both knew we didn’t have $2million a year to pay Johnny B.

At the time, Brandmeier was on the air in LA and just doing ok.  In fact as I continued to pester Harvey (I don’t give up easily) things changed and Brandmeier was off in LA and rumors were swirling about his return to Chicago to be near family.  I argued Brandmeier would be back.  If LA didn’t work, Chicago was going to work AND I’ve long felt that the rise of Eric & Kathy in mornings was directly related to Johnny B’s absence in morning drive in Chicago during E&K’s rise.

None of that mattered.  I didn’t want Brandmeier to do a live morning show.  I wanted his “best of” shows.  I wanted to play his best of shows in between the Cars songs and other pop-rock 70s & 80s songs we focused on.  These were the songs that were popular when Johnny was at his height.  I wanted to hire a team of interns and producers to cut up these “Bits of Brandmeier” so we could fit them in between songs in morning drive and eventually afternoon drive.

The Portable People Meters were on their way and I believed (and I still do) that stations with star talent should build their stations around those stars.  Music stations have nothing unique.  Anyone can play Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Greenday, and EVERYONE did.  Top 40, Hot AC, Modern Rock, Rock, AAA, Alternative, AC and Variety WERE ALL PLAYING THE SONG.  The only formats that weren’t were Urban or Country!

So my plan was to convince Brandmeier’s “people” to license his “best of” shows to 9 FM so we could boast BRANDMEIER MORNINGS.  Then when the PPMs came I would also run BRANDMEIER in Afternoons.  Needless to say, Harvey didn’t buy into it.  While a smart radio station in Chicago did bring Brandmeier back….they failed to build a station around him and the audience he brings.

The result was, The Loop didn’t fit Brandmeier, and Brandmeier didn’t fit The Loop.  You would think the folks at Emmis would have know this since they watched this same movie play out with Mancow.  Your morning star has to be the star of the station, not just the star of mornings.

This all centers around my theory that if TV Land played re-runs of Johnny Carson’s tonight show opposite Leno and Letterman, TV Land would show huge numbers.  Upon further reflection though I’ve changed my tune and I believe Carson would have to air earlier on TV Land.

So if there was one PD willing to run the “best of” a top tier morning show that once was….is there one more?  Perhaps not.

The bigger question is:  Steve Dahl, Mancow Muller, Kevin Matthews, Danny Bonduce, Wendy & Bill, Eddie & Jobo, Drex, Eric & Kathy;  Where is your 24/7 stream of your “best of” shows?  Where is your flashback podcast?  I’d listen to commercials on a podcast to hear Steve & Garry from the 80s.

Heck, I’d even pay $5.95 a month.  I bet others would too.

P.S.  We ended up hiring Steve Fisher and pairing him up with Joey Fortman for mornings and they worked very well together.

Here’s 3 Ideas for WGN Radio 720 AM

Here’s 3 ideas for WGN Radio…

WGN Radio

A radio friend of mine recently said to me, “Take away the Cubs and ‘GN is WKRS.”  That may or may not be true…  Take away the Cubs, Spike O’Dell, Kathy and Judy and Paul Harvey though, and WGN is vulnerable.  Unfortunately for WGN, 3 out of the four are almost inevitable in the short term.  What to do?

Here’s 3 ideas for WGN…

#1 Start courting Jonathon Brandmeier today.  Johnny’s a perfect fit for WGN (not so much for WLUP anymore, but that’s a future post)….and Johnny B’s already courting WGN in his own way.  The time is right to get Brandmeier on WGN Radio, and TV.

#2 & #3  Lure Eric & Kathy to WGN Radio.  Their core audience is getting into WGN territory (demo wise) anyway.  Ten years ago E&K’s audience was 34…..and now those women are 44.  Move over “Girlfriends” Kathy & Judy and welcome gal pals Eric & Kathy!  The timing will soon be right for E&K to bolt from music radio and bring their Chicago Show to the last Chicago radio institution that will honor and keep safe such shows.  This is the niche for WGN Radio to satisfy moving forward.

Eric & Kathy

#4  This one is a bonus….and many who agree with #1-3 won’t agree with #4.  Bring in Steve Dahl.  Imagine a Chicago radio station with Johnny B., Eric and Kathy, Bob Sirott (The New Paul Harvey by the way) and Steve Dahl….oh and weather with Skilling.  Think about it.  WGN is the last Chicago Radio Station….or could be.

Steve Dahl

Naysayers will mention the staff would be expensive.  Yes it would.  But WGN bills $40m now making it the #1 billing station in Chicago.  They can afford it.  No one said winning was cheap.