Missing Topic A


Thursday June 28th 2012 – Rockford, IL

   More radio fill in work at WNTA in Rockford, IL today. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m thankful I got asked to do it, but my ultimate weakness showed through today. I don’t claim to be up to date on current events, especially all things political, and I found myself over my skis on a crucial topic.

One thing I’ve learned from my years in the radio business is to talk about ‘Topic A’ whenever possible. That’s the number one subject everyone at water coolers will probably be talking about. What that is can depend on the format of a particular station I happen to be on, but I’ve been able to figure it out rather well from my experience. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what that is.

What does take significant talent and ability is to make it interesting enough to hold a listener’s attention. That’s the trick. There are masters at doing that, and I’m not one of them yet. Someone who is despite what his detractors might think is Rush Limbaugh. He’s a fantastic talk show host.

My friend Jerry Agar is another. So is Mark Belling on WISN in Milwaukee. He’s been on the air for decades, and is a very polarizing figure as are Rush and Jerry. Love or hate them, they are able to ‘stir up the monkeys’ and get reaction out of listeners one way or another. That’s an art.

Part of what all three of those guys or any good host has going for them is passion about all the subjects they discuss. I know Jerry personally and I know he has it, and I’d find it hard to believe Rush or Mark or any of the other top people fake it on a regular basis. That would be hard to do.

My problem is I really don’t care about politics very much. I happen to think they’re all crooks, and it depresses me to think about it. I don’t have a deep working knowledge of issues that are on the front burner, and don’t claim to be able to discuss them intelligently, especially on the radio.

What was ‘Topic A’ today? On a sports talk station it would have been the NBA draft. That’s a topic I could have spoken about intelligently because I’m a huge sports fan and have a lifetime of knowledge to draw from. I may not be an expert on the players of this particular year, but I could have easily faked it well enough so all but the most rabid of geeks wouldn’t have been the wiser.

On WNTA in Rockford, IL the topic I should have been talking about most if not all of today’s three hour program was the Supreme Court’s passing of Obamacare and how it will affect people in the near and distant future. It’s a huge story, and one that I should have milked the whole day.

Unfortunately, I’m painfully out of touch with it and haven’t built up an arsenal of information over time like I have in sports. I made a feeble attempt at addressing it, and actually got a couple of calls, but I knew in my heart I was out of my league and quickly moved on to something else.

What I did feel I did well was bring on a variety of my personal contacts and interviewed them in their fields of expertise. My friend Bill Mihalic from Detroit writes a daily joke sheet, but he’s also a big car buff and we talked about that for two segments. Rockford has a Chrysler plant and I thought it was a fit. Bill and the other guests were interesting, but I totally missed ‘Topic A’.

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