Monday, April 8, 2013

More Radio Success For John And Tammy



For years, my friends John Flint and Tammy Lee had the top-rated country radio morning show in Madison on Q-106.  I was a very small part of their show, delivering brief news/sports/weather updates twice an hour on their show, and often participating in their great little features like “Spy The Lie”.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if there are two harder working people in radio, I’ve never met them.

John and Tammy’s hard work made Q-106 a dominant radio station in the Madison market, frequently topping the ratings.  Then, about 8 years ago, when it came time for their annual salary review, the brain trust at MidWest Family Broadcasting made the biggest blunder in Madison radio history, a seven-figure mistake that had every professional broadcaster who heard about it shaking their head in disbelief.

More on that, later.

John and Tammy took their show across town to Star County, and proceeded to take that station’s morning show on a rocket-ride up in the ratings, bringing with them a lot of their Q-106 listeners and sponsors.  Star County promptly kicked Q-106’s butt.

Then, a couple years ago, as many of us knew it would, the BIG-TIME came calling for John and Tammy. KSON-FM in San Diego was looking for a new morning show, and made John and Tammy the proverbial offer you can’t refuse.  Big-time radio, MAJOR market – so Tammy and her husband Kurt and John and his wife Stephanie invited their radio pals to a going-away party, and we sent them off to the big city in style.

Just a few days ago, I learned that John and Tammy had taken KSON to the highest ratings in the station’s history.  I didn’t hear about it from them, because they don’t brag about such things, even when it’s a milestone accomplishment.  I read about it in one of the industry’s leading publications, Inside Radio.  Radio ratings company Arbitron, the industry standard, says KSON has been the number-one station in the San Diego market month after month, and this latest month’s rating shows KSON is absolutely dominating the market.

No real surprise.  John and Tammy are that good.  Their success comes naturally, the old-fashioned way.  They work their butts off.  And they are two VERY talented people.

Now, the “inside baseball” stuff.  The dirt.

If you think only a fool would allow those two talented people to take their number-one country radio morning show to the competitor over a few thousand bucks – with literally millions of advertising dollars riding on the decision -  you’d be right.  The person at MidWest who thought John and Tammy were “overpaid as it is” and let them walk had never programmed a radio station.  Had never been in a position which required evaluation of on-air talent.  Had never even done a radio show in any format.  Never wrote or delivered a radio newscast.  Had never written, produced, or sold an ad to a sponsor, nor supervised anyone who had. 

And then, after the fatal blunder was made, walked around the hallways at MidWest showing copies of John and Tammy’s W-2’s, telling anyone who would listen that John and Tammy were greedy a-holes.

Classy.

And who was running the show over there?  Who was the big dog? Who let this flawed decision happen?  A person with the same qualifications to make on-air personnel judgment as the person who made the blunder.  Zero on-air experience, zero news experience, zero experience in ever trying to sell an ad to a client.

How do such bean-counters get into positions of ultimate authority? 

Take a look at what’s happened to the radio broadcasting industry over the past decade, and you’ll have a strong clue.

As for my friends John and Tammy – the old proverb is true: living well is the best revenge.  Congrats, you two!

7 comments:

  1. You sir are a gentleman. Not only for the kind words but for omitting the name of the dipstick who let them go. You are obviously a scholar, as I know quite a bit of what you have so eloquently written in this piece. I appreciated it Tim. I am very proud of them both and am fortunate to be able to share in the fruits of their hard work and humble spirits.

    Wondering though: Who checks the oil at Midwest Family?

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    1. Thank you, Anony; but I'm no gentleman. And as for the dipstick who let them go: that became a self-liquidating problem. And for the dipstick's "boss" - that became sort of a "dip-stick" problem, too, didn't it!

      Naming names accomplishes little in a post like this; the names aren't important to the many fans of John and Tammy, because they wouldn't recognize the names anyway; and for those who are "inside" - well, they know damn well who the dipsticks are.

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  2. Well put Mr. Morrissey. I'm a mere listener. Always appreciated that MWF was locally owned and drunk the Kool-Aid that many hosts on the stations touted how MWF was God and CC was Satan. I believed it and was angered and shocked when J & T jumped ship. I never listened to their morning show on Star because of it. Kept the presets on all MWF all the time. Then I started to see things for what they were. After yours and Glen's firings I really noticed it and then it all came to a head when Sly and the rest of TDY were dropped. MWF on a smaller scale is pretty much the same. I now jump around the and listen to whatever sounds good. It's sort of liberating.
    My only regret is that I didn't tune in to J & T on Star to appreciate the true talent we're fortunate to have all those years. Congratulation to them both!

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    1. Thanks, Andy. Not that many years ago, MidWest was an icon in the industry, regarded as one of the best "medium-level" (medium markets as opposed to large or small) group operators. Those days are gone, and now MidWest is regarded as just another group operator.

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  3. Hey, fun analysis! I found similar staffing/programming oddities to be the norm while I tenured at MWF. I'm pleased to say John and I know each other well. In fact, I am proud to be one of the last to beat him in a ratings head-to-head matchup but that was a long time ago...and it will never happen again. Cinderella sang it best. "You Don't Know What You Got"...etc

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  4. KSON has let many a morning team go here in San Diego too. I always assume over money. Makes it hard to be loyal and hesitant to make a connection with the team. John and Tammy are good people though.

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