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 An Idea for WKQX Q101

Here’s an idea…for WKQX

June 13, 2008 by Matt DuBiel

Q101 Logo

Emmis has 2 rock outlets now in Chicago.  It’s 2008 and web 2.0 is everywhere.  Chicago is on the verge of PPM, and RADIO is on the verge of NOT NEEDING Arbitron.  When you can measure how many people are listening to the stream(s) you don’t need an outside service to measure for you.  Flashback to WKQX before they announced their big brand change…  This would have been my announcement.


Hereto and henceforth, let it be written and shouted from the rooftops that the radio station broadcasting on 101.1 megahertz, licensed as WKQX Chicago, and known as “Q101″ will no longer be addressed, advertised, promoted, or operated as “Q101″ but instead will exclusively be referred to as….drum roll….

As we in radio know, that is not what happened.  Instead it was announced that the station would regress back to being Q 101.1, even though whenever the website is mentioned, it is just  The thinking is that since PPM is coming to Chicago, dial position matters more now.

Let that soak in.

Now that an outside company is measuring listening differently, and exposure is more important than recall, the wisdom is that it is more important to make sure people can expose themselves to the radio station.

I agree.  The thing is, people hearing the frequency on the radio station already know where to find the station.  All you need to do is make the dial position BIG and BOLD in your outdoor advertising and on your vehicles and marketing materials.  But on the radio station, you need to be the BRAND, not the address.  Imagine if McDonalds put their store addresses on the signs in front of their restaurants, instead of the arches.

The real rub is, when your audience is largely the Mellenial generation and beyond, (the ones plugged into the matrix from birth) you’re better off telling them to find you at for everything.

So here’s an idea……Relaunch WKQX as and put up 10 different versions of alternative music online.  Let listeners pick which ones are the best.  Showcase them on the radio signal and build a new kind of radio station.