Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mike No Longer In The Morning

I talk about working in radio and nobody gives a crap. Because my last on-air gig was reading cards that said "Mr. Furtado has a 5-horsepower Evinrude two-stroke and will trade it for a man's navy blue sportsjacket with a 52-inch chest. Or best offer. The weather on the bay, once the fog lifts, will be..."
Although you will hear brief exhalations of a broadcaster's past in an article, like this one, you can't really talk about your former position because nobody remembers it. In fact, this article forgets that Mike Moran has admirably held just about every job in radio one can hold, and is still a pleasant, brilliant, and especially kind individual.
It really isn't often that the local newspaper mentions someone's change of job. My guess is that somebody wanted to point out that the radio station is pulling something, like getting a syndicated morning show or getting two hosts who really don't pretend to like each other, rather than the two who actually do. I haven't listened. But now I'll make a point of not listening.
The easiest thing you can do at a Catholic high school dance is to keep the boys on one side of the gym and the girls on the other. As a matter of fact, you don't even plan that. They just go there naturally. Although you can take credit for it if you're weak-minded or desperate for recognition.
And that seems to be the approach of WSAR's "management" -- a term which, although variously applied to anyone who works there, never seems to stick to any one individual. Go ahead and read the article. The "general manager" blames "management." That's a problem with self-image. Or ability to take responsibility. Apparently, it's all loosey-goosey.
Plus, make your job easy. You can't be held to any standards if you don't have any standards.
Everything in radio nowadays is black-and-white. Three hours of mind-numbingly logic-bereft Neo-Con apologetics, three hours of smug corporatist left aggrandisement, an hour of John Burch without the Jesus, an hour of lawless libertarian left. Oh, and worthless callers who only agree and reiterate.
But Mike was different. Mike was old school. He is a moderator in every sense of the word. Where the rest of the station's line-up insists on pitting an ideology against another, Mike's one hour each day was simply a desperate plea for reason. Because Mike truly desires reason. He didn't want to be the winner of the argument -- that's Radio Ego. He wanted to show the flaws and the strengths of the argument and establish a reasonable perspective for all of us to live with or around the argument.
A good guy to not have on the air when the point is to alienate half the audience every show.
Thinking is complex, and that is why I am glad that I met and worked with Mike and why I'm glad to meet Mike Moran at a restaurant every so often.
Because he is thoughtful. And reasonable. And kind.
Rare indeed.

14 comments:

ThirdMate said...

WRKO just fired Moe Lauzier in what seems to be similar circumstances.

By "similar" I mean that both Mike and Moe have been long-time WSAR and WALE Fall River radio guys. Moe had about three months to go and he would've worked at 'RKO for 25 years.

Also, "similar" means, "Ownership took a look at the books, and Management has a hair across its ass. So, too bad, old man."

RadioKeri said...

I'll take ownership of the "three hours of smug corporatist left aggrandisement" and as program director of the radio station, I'll also take ownership of the "management" title as well. I love Mike and think he's a great guy. Many people do. But the radio station is a business -- and sometimes decisions to change programming MUST happen. If you have questions, email me. I don't shy away from them.

karie said...

You've got to be joking. Why would he have any questions for you?

Use the "off" button. It is more fun to bump into Mike in a restaurant.

ThirdMate said...

I'm sorry Keri and Karie are getting defensive (of herself and of me, respectively).
The tried and true "It's a business!" canard simply doesn't wash with WSAR. I appreciate what Keri has done, attempting to bring a sense of "professional radio" to the operation. AOL/Time-Warner, Vivendi, Clear Channel. Those are "business." But as long as WSAR is a hobby farm, it's never going to be a business. You can use the same tools (or be the same tools.)
The corn is sometimes just as good.

Lefty said...

First, I want to say how much I agree with all your glowing praise about Mike Moran. Mike's show was, to me, one of the highlights of WSAR's programming. My one complaint was that he was limited to an hour!

Maybe you're right and ownership took a look at the books. It shows that even in some hobbies you still need to turn a profit. Maybe management decided because of this a change was needed.

You point out that you haven't listened and maybe that's the problem. You can blame Keri, as Program Director for making the change but what is she supposed to do if people aren't listening?

You can be disappointed in the decision of the radio station. However, I'm disappointed that more people didn't appreciate a good radio show. I'm disappointed that more people didn't tune in.

RadioKeri said...

I'm not getting "defensive" -- I'm merely providing you the opportunity to understand the situation.

You love Mike's program. You don't listen. How can a radio station go out to advertisers and get them to buy time on the station -- where everyone loves the host -- but no one will be listening to their ad?

We can argue about what corporate entities like Clear Channel and Citadel have done to radio. My opinion: they've destroyed it. You may assume that this is "just a hobby" for the Karams, but you'd be incorrect. You don't get to the position in life where you can affort to own a $3,500,000 radio station without being business savvy. And if you think either one of those guys are going to sit by and allow a radio station worth that much money flush itself down the toilet -- you'd be crazy. I may not always agree with Bob and Jim, but they are some of the smartest business people I've ever met -- and you bet your ass they hold my feet to the fire. I don't mean to get overly dramatic here, but I find it interesting how easy it is for you to dismiss what is my life's work with a couple of clicks of the keyboard. You see, this TO ME, is no hobby.

Radio has evolved since your time at the mic -- which I'm sure you're aware. We either evolve to stay viable -- or local radio rolls over and dies. It would be alot cheaper for the Karams to just flip the switch over to syndication and just rake in the bucks. But it's their commitment to the community that keeps that station operating.

Mourn the loss of Mike if you'd like -- I'm sure he appreciates the fact that he will be missed. But LOVING and NOT LISTENING doesn't make this decision any easier for "management" types like me.

ThirdMate said...

Welcome back aboard, Lefty!
I deleted a line from my 12:35 comment that went something like "And the farmhands are generally smarter and more dedicated than the owners." It's true about boats and brothers as well, but let's forget owners. I was not "dismissing" Keri's life's work, and I apologize to her and anyone else who might have inferred that. It's the hands who are not the hobbyists.

Keri, I would have enjoyed broadcasting more if I had worked around people with your professionalism, skill, and dedication to communicating and defending a position. (I worked with lazy, stupid, good-for-nothing sods. Good thing that "radio has evolved.")

Here on the quarterdeck of my private command, I can pretend that all my mates stay at their stations, whether they're ratings darlings or not.

In the real world, not so much. You can't make people listen to your show or call it. You can't make people listen to your commercials. You can't make people shop at your store. (I've tried, with varying successes, all three.)

So, let's haul in the net, shipmates. If you "love" a host, or a teevee show, or a newspaper, buy the advertised products.
Remember: It's really all just economics on The Beach.

Thanks for a grand run.

Pete said...

Just so it is not assumed that Mike's supporters are "Not LISTENING" . The time I am, no longer listening, is after 3pm. Each weekday morning, I tune to WSAR. Each afternoon, I change the station.I enjoyed my ride to work with the morning crew. In the past I enjoyed the 3pm drive home, also listening to WSAR. Then a new host appeared after 3pm. I gave it a try but ALWAYS changed the station before too long. In her first few weeks her rants were unbearable. I can now take up to ten minutes of this show. (The opening songs are often good) But I now most often still change the station. It was nice to always leave the tuner in the same spot but that is no longer possible. Good luck to WSAR and all who pass through her doors.
Pete

Lefty said...

Pete,

I think it's safe to assume that most Mike Moran supporters were listening. I know I always tried to catch at least part of his show.

The problem is I don't think enough people value the kind of discussion and conversation that Mike endorsed.

Pete said...

What is left to be seen is: was it the listeners that did not value Mike's style or the people buying the ads. The two are very different things with the same outcome for Mike. However, if the programming changes do not reflect the interest of the listeners, there will be no one to hear the ads.
Pete

RadioKeri said...

Well the interest of the majority of the listeners clearly doesn't match your interest Pete, so chances are -- you won't like the changes.

Stay tuned. I think I'll be announcing them on Friday.

Pete said...

That's what I thought you'd say :)
I look forward to Friday.
Pete

Dr. Momentum said...

There's nothing so exciting as change.
It's a time to turn the painge!

(Apologies to Jesse Jackson and Robert Smigel.)

AF Sam said...

Having been a victim of the WSAR axe in the past, I don't have much nice to say about the station or its ownership. Having said that, WSAR is a business and ratings are everything to a radio station. I worked with Mike and liked him very much, but the greatest radio show in the world is nothing if noone is listening. I don't know much about this particular situation, but I do know the radio business and I know WSAR and the Karams aren't loved by everybody in the Southcoast region, but not everything that goes on at that station is one big conspiracy. Just because you loved the show doesn't mean everyone else did, and a station needs more than one listener to survive. You may love Twinkie's, but if Twinkie's stop selling, then there will be no more Twinkies, its as simple as that.

I wish the best for Mike, it was a pleasure to work with him, and I wouldn't be suprised if he pops up somewhere else. Maybe his supporters shouls band together and get him on another station, then when he beats WSAR in the ratings, you'll have the last laugh. Just an idea.