Freedom of speech is under attack. Radio stations all over the country are having to think twice about the content they post on social media for fear of being censored, throttled, or even banned from platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
In January, former President Donald Trump was banned from Facebook and Twitter after hundreds converged on the U.S. Capitol. Big Tech blamed him for the alleged insurrection despite conflicting accounts of what took place on that day.
The fallout from that event further divided a nation still reeling from a global pandemic and a contentious election. Conservative talk radio stations who spoke out in favor of Trump felt the wrath as general managers’ report losing clients who felt compelled to separate themselves from the firestorm of controversy. Talent was caught in the crosshairs of the imminent threat posed by Big Tech who was silencing voices on the right.
The growing list of conservative voices who have complained about being censored on social media include Candace Owens, Dan Bongino, Mark Levin, Joe Pagliarulo, and former Pittsburgh talk show host Wendy Bell.
In Pennsylvania, where tensions were high following the election and subsequent riots at the Capitol, one conservative news/talk station is pushing on and using workarounds to overcome any attempt by Big Tech to censor its message.
News Talk 103.7 FM in Chambersburg is led by general manager Pat Ryan who was recently promoted to Vice President of Magnum Broadcasting. Ryan sat down with Barrett News Media recently for a one-on-one discussion about several subjects including how he manages people who view the world differently than he does.
As the landscape of talk radio shifts dramatically following the death of talk pioneer Rush Limbaugh, stations like News Talk 103.7 FM are doing a great job of finding unconventional ways to deliver the message of conservatism.
Ryan Hedrick: Is interest in radio waning from a local market perspective?
Pat Ryan: It is on the way up. The local newspapers here were all absorbed by the USA Today monster and they are not producing local content. Our radio stations speak to local politicians, state senators, and business leaders. We love our platform here. We are not limited in anything, other than our imagination.
RH: Big Tech has banned conservative voices like former President Donald Trump and other advocates who have expressed conservative beliefs. How do you balance expressing your views/beliefs via social media without fear of not getting banned or suspended?
PR: I do not make any apologies. I think the radio station reflects the market very strongly. The first go around for Donald Trump where he had the highest per capita turnout was Fulton County, the same county where the station is licensed to. Franklin County is heavily Republican, Western Maryland, the values are much the same. In fact, I would say that in the Tri-State area, the values are much the same.
RH: Do you place a greater emphasis on what you post on social media or the content that you create and air on the radio?
PR: I would say the launch of our new website has given us an advantage on the methods and options that we have when it comes to creating and distributing content. Take for example a guest like Congressman John Joyce who represents a large majority of our listening audience. Joyce was one of the federal politicians who was ahead of the theory that the coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan lab. Once our radio interview with Joyce is complete,we recap the interview by writing an article that is published on our website. The article is not written from any other perspective other than the banter that we had with Joyce. Listeners and readers can come to their own conclusions as to what was said. After publishing the article on our website, to use social media to boost the story and get more eyeballs on it.
RH: As a general manager, how do you manage people that view the world differently?
PR: Our clients that do not necessarily align with us politically are wise because they want that conservative audience. They have a message to share, and they know that there is great value in sharing their message with everybody. In fact, we routinely share the message on the air that all people are welcomed to share their message with us. We especially want to hear if a particular group feels like they have been denied service. The radio station has an obligation to help those people out. We want to help our community out and do whatever we can for prospective clients.
RH: Are you guys monitoring the rise in censorship against conservatives by Big Tech? Does this trend concern you?
PR: I am not concerned about it. Luckily, the radio station’s website is off the Amazon’s fields. We have seen some of Big Tech’s throttling but in this area, people know where to come for conservative content. They listen to us on the radio, they read the TriStateAlert, and they consume, engage, and share our social media links. Knock yourself out [Jeff] Bezos, and Jack [Dorsey], if you want to throttle us, go ahead, and knock yourself out.
RH: Given the rise in censorship today, how do we get back to a place where talent can feel comfortable rather than being always under a microscope?
PR: Just be yourself. Being real is a great quality and a great way to sidestep any controversy that may arise or get censored. Talent that shares life experiences and takes the listener inside of their reality is creating a scenario that is hard to censor and hard to argue with.
Ryan Hedrick serves as the Assistant Program Director and Co-Host of the Morning News Express at WFMD. Prior to WFMD, he hosted an afternoon program at News Talk 103.7 FM in Chambersburg, PA. He has worked at Sirius XM in Washington D.C., WBEN in Buffalo, NY, and for stations in Baltimore, MD. He has also worked at WIBW-AM in Topeka KS, earning the Kansas Association of Broadcasters (KAB) award for Major Market enterprise reporting in 2016. To connect with Ryan, find him on Twitter @SureToCover.
Stop Caring About Personal Lives of Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes
Relationships are relationships, they don’t always come about to suit everyone’s ideals.
To begin with, I don’t care. As in, it does not concern me and it’s pretty much none of my business. If I was somebody watching — and I’m not — I still wouldn’t care. As in, it would not impact me or change how I view the show or the performance of the aforementioned hosts or anchors. Yes, it’s been a couple of hours since the last rag dispatch, so let’s look at the case of Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes.
These are two people with jobs. Careers, actually.
Two people whose activities and pursuits outside of their duties assigned by their employers seem to have caught the eye of a great deal of people. Probably as many or more people than watch them on the program they appear on.
Why? Why has this suddenly become a Jennifer Lopez-Ben Affleck story?
I am not even going to waste time recounting or examining what brought everybody here.
Also, I cannot and will not keep up on the sightings of them together, the clandestine pictures of the estranged couples doing the dog exchange (been there) or the latest comments from the ex or soon-to-be ex-partners.
I don’t know anybody involved and it is incredibly not anything I’m entitled to know.
But let me say this much: I’ve seen real-life couples paired to host shows before, we all have. Regis and Joy, Joe and Mika, George and Gracie, Lucy and Ricky.
These pairings have often resulted in great popularity, interest and even devotion by a loyal audience of viewers. But, it looks like in this case nobody is going to get the chance to find out.
Why address it if I’m saying I don’t care?
Consider it another instance of if it’s happening to others it could happen to you. Also, on its face, it just doesn’t appear to be right.
The legal issues here, if any exist, are for the lawyers to decide. The controversies concerning behavior and appearance are for whomever decides they themselves, are above board and immune to scrutiny.
Were these two people producers, writers, directors, or any off-air type, would the same attention be paid, would the same approach (notice I did not say rule) apply?
Relationships are relationships, they don’t always come about to suit everyone’s ideals.
How many couples met or began relationships at work under any kind of circumstances?
People meet on the job. Take a random survey not only of the news media but of most professions, it happens. A lot. And it’s not always a Cinderella story. But life still goes on and work still gets done.
I guess this is different because the paparazzi and the Disney people decided to get nosy and perhaps become judgmental.
An audience can learn things about the people they follow and then find themselves falling into any number of categories. They can be outraged and appalled or unconcerned and dispassionate. Or they can be somewhere in the middle enough for it to have virtually no impact on loyalty or influence.
So, why not allow the audience to decide for themselves instead of the media giants choosing to decide for them?
It looks to me like somebody isn’t giving their customers the credit they deserve.
Who looks bad? Well, everyone I guess.
What I find of considerable interest is that the network and the rest of the TV overlords seem hellbent on damaging their own product in favor of casting the first and last stones of disapproval. Of course, at this point we really only know what we’re being fed but I think it’s like shooting oneself in the foot while trying to appear chaste.
The parent company here appears to wearing a Moral Majority hat and while Mickey and Minnie’s parents are known for maintaining an even strain most of the time, I’m thinking this may turn out not to be their finest hour.
Bill Zito has devoted most of his work efforts to broadcast news since 1999. He made the career switch after serving a dozen years as a police officer on both coasts. Splitting the time between Radio and TV, he’s worked for ABC News and Fox News, News 12 New York , The Weather Channel and KIRO and KOMO in Seattle. He writes, edits and anchors for Audacy’s WTIC-AM in Hartford and lives in New England. You can find him on Twitter @BillZitoNEWS.
KFI’s Bill Handel Is the Same Guy on the Air as Off
Barrett News Media’s Jim Cryns spoke with KFI’s Bill Handel and the two discussed various topics pertaining to the radio host’s career.
The man is a friggin’ legend in Los Angeles. Bill Handel can’t go for a walk on Hollywood Boulevard without seeing his name below his feet–seriously.
Handel is the 2,385th star on the Walk of Fame. His star sits in front of a tattoo parlor, next to Ernestine Schumann-Heink’s star. “She was a German-American opera star,” Handel said. “She died in the 1920s and weighed about 400 pounds. Stars on the Walk of Fame are like real estate. Mine is near a store that sold bikinis.”
He told those attending his unveiling ceremony, ‘My staff had to be here. If you were getting a star, I sure as hell wouldn’t be here.’
Born in Brazil, Handel immigrated to the United States with his parents when he was five years old. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, he learned English without the benefit of a bilingual education program and became one of the world’s leading reproductive law experts.
He can be heard on KFI Los Angeles on weekdays from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and on Handel on the Law on Saturdays from 6 am to 11 am.
“My father was a Holocaust survivor,” Handel said. “My mother was a dentist in Brazil but couldn’t practice here. There was no such thing as taking the boards, and they didn’t honor her as a foreign doctor. She worked as a lab technician.”
Handel is a product of the public schools in the L.A. unified district. Later he attended Cal State at Northridge, then law school.
“They said it was one of the best; now it’s out of business,” Handel jokes. “Trump Law School would have been better than the one I attended. It was a very minor law school. I just think it didn’t get enough students.”
As he graduated from law school, Handel was running his own home remodeling business. He wasn’t very good at it.
“I was remodeling a doctor’s house and I underbid the work by 400 – thousand dollars,” Handel said. “It was horrible. I didn’t know what I was going to do. So I told him he could sue me. I’d go bankrupt and have no money to give him. Then I came up with the idea of working it off. He said okay.”
The doctor was an endocrinologist and Handel said the physician had more money than he knew what to do with.
“He liked me and I started to work with him. Any legal thing he needed.”
Handel said the doctor was an unexpected mentor.
“He was the best legal mind I’d ever met and he never studied law,” Handel said. “ One day he says he just got a call from a patient who tried to conceive using every method possible with no luck, including several surgeries.
Handel explained this was in 1980 and that in vitro fertilization wasn’t common or even well-known. He said prospective parents would run an ad in the L.A. Times looking for a surrogate to be artificially inseminated. The doctor told them they needed some sort of contract with the surrogate. He called Handel.
“Of course, I didn’t know anything about in vitro fertilization, but that didn’t prevent me from telling him I did,” Handel explained. “He gives me a call and I take some notes. Then I had to figure out how to write a surrogate mother contract. There was no template. How do you pay a woman to give up her child? Payment for custody is a crime. Issues went on and on. I went to several law school and talked with professors, picked their brains. All of them. My ethics professor, contracts professor.”
His ethics professor was Harvey Levin, the same guy from TMZ. Levin taught law at Whittier College. He also wrote a column for the L.A. Times and was known as ‘Dr. Law’ on the radio.
“Harvey was a very good lawyer before he entered the world of entertainment,” Handel said.
Handel finalized his first fertilization contract and the doctor went ahead with the procedure. The woman had the child in 1983. Two years later Morley Safer interviewed Handel on 60 Minutes about the process of handling surrogate parents.
“What I really liked about that experience is when the 60 Minutes producer came out to California,” Handel said. “It was her first story with the show. We went to Spago and she whipped out an American Express which had CBS as the owner of the card. I thought, wow, that’s impressive. This could be good. Because of that show, my law practice broke open.”
Handel said he backed into broadcasting. He was interviewed on KABC as an expert in vitro law, often interviewed by host Michael Jackson.
“Michael Jackson the broadcaster, not the eight-year-old boy-loving one,” Handel explained. “Jackson was one of the great talkers. He was well-connected and nationally syndicated. In those days the host was more of a moderator for a point-counterpoint type of show. It was Rush Limbaugh who changed everything. As whacked out as he was at the end, he reinvented talk radio.”
Handel said he knew he was a good interviewer and was popular with listeners. He told engaging stories. He talked about his clients and his practice.
“I gave legal advice. I’m still doing that.”
Handel started appearing on Jackson’s show more often and one day the PD came down the hall and told Handel he was better than half the people he had on the air.
“I told him I was better than all of the people he had on the air,” Handel quipped. “I was half-joking.”
After all these years Handel said he’s still having a great time. “It’s a great gig,” he said. “My producer has been with me for 25 years. She knows the topics I want. If she comes across something about D-Day, she knows I’ll immediately take it. I love historical footnotes like Hitler’s dog’s name. Blondie. He tried out the cyanide pills on Blondie. Gave Eva Braun one.”
Handel said his show is general talk. He will delve into politics, lifestyle, and interviews.
“We bring on reporters from the station as we’re news-heavy. News stations are expensive to run. We’ve had all this crazy rain stuff and interviewed people all over the place. I work with Robin Bertolucci, who is well regarded in radio throughout the country. I’d say she’s the best PD in the country.”
Handel said he’s the same guy on the air as off. “I have to be more careful about words I choose. You’ve got the seven magic words you can’t say like George Carlin informed us. You can say a lot of stuff. You can say ‘ass****. You can’t be scatological. You can say ‘bull***’ but you can’t say a bull took a ‘s***.’”
He reads constantly and is fascinated with WWII history. He has visited Normandy and said the experience was astounding.
“It’s a beach of 75 miles, which comprised the landing areas of D-Day,” Handel said. “Omaha Beach was the one that got nailed. The Canadians walked ashore on other beaches. There is a parcel of land given to the United States by the French. It’s Normandy American Cemetery on the bluff. The National Park Service handles the operations. It’s so meticulous, so moving. Thousands of graves. Just extraordinarily beautiful. You can see the cliffs the Rangers climbed from the beach. They still have the concrete bunkers where the German gunners were.”
Weekly, Handel does his show Handel on the Law, a nationally syndicated program.
“I give callers legal advice. I’ve only had one specialty, the rest I just make up. I have my own malpractice insurance. I give shitty legal advice. If you have a problem, sue the radio station. I don’t give a damn. If you’re looking for real legal advice, why are you calling a radio station?”
Handel is hilarious, but he said he doesn’t have the thick skin to be a standup comic. “When people laugh during one of my talks or when I’m on the air, it’s okay. But standing in front of a microphone telling jokes is another thing. For example, I was master of ceremonies at the Radio Hall of Fame last year. I got up and started doing some jokes. Crickets. Nothing. The audience was staring at me like you would an oil painting. Nobody was moving. It kept happening joke after joke.”
He loves the morning drive and said he wouldn’t take any other shift.
“I get up at 3:30 am and that’s absolutely fine. I go to bed super early. I don’t socialize. I hate my family. I’ve got twin daughters and I guess they’re okay. They don’t bring me any joy at all.”
Yup. His humor is as dry as dirt.
Jim Cryns writes features for Barrett News Media. He has spent time in radio as a reporter for WTMJ, and has served as an author and former writer for the Milwaukee Brewers. To touch base or pick up a copy of his new book: Talk To Me – Profiles on News Talkers and Media Leaders From Top 50 Markets, log on to Amazon or shoot Jim an email at email@example.com.
Market Still Finding 2023 Footing
After some rigorous data analysis, the thoughtful, numbers-based host was able to formulate some potential conclusions.
While it’s hard to imagine 2023 being as painful for investors as 2022, experts still cannot say for certain we are destined for blue skies ahead. Many in the media are starting the year by sifting through the stock market tea leaves; trying to figure out what historical data can tell us about probabilities and expectations for the next twelve months.
Some think the United States is poised for a market rebound, while others remain quite bearish, feeling that negative policy implications have yet to be fully realized.
Peter Tuchman of Trademas Inc. joined Neil Cavuto on his Fox News program Friday, to offer his thoughts about where the American stock market might be headed in light of the newly-divided United States Congress.
“Markets have a sort of a gut of their own,” Cavuto opened. “Today’s a good example. We’re up 300 points, ended up down 112 points. What’s going on?”
“Markets don’t like unknowns, and markets need confidence. The investing community needs confidence,” Tuchman said. “And I think it’s going to take a lot of work to rebuild that. And as we saw the other night with what went on in the House, it feels like people should get busy governing as opposed to all this posturing.”
Six months ago, Tuchman didn’t have a solid feel for the direction of the market. And just two trading weeks into the year, he still doesn’t believe any real trend has been established.
“The market has yet to find its ground. It’s yet to find its footing,” Tuchman told Cavuto. “And still, even coming into 2023, the first week of trading we have not found our footing. We have come in on a couple of economic notes that were a little bit positive. We opened up with a little bit of irrational enthusiasm. By the end of the days we were trading down.”
Meanwhile, some financial outlets, such as CNBC, have dug into the data showing what a market rise during the year’s first week – such as what we experienced this year – potentially means for the rest of 2023. They published a story last week with the headline, “Simple ‘first five days’ stock market indicator is poised to send a good omen for 2023“.
On an episode of his popular YouTube program late last week, James from Invest Answers dug into 73 years of stock market data, to test that theory and see if the first five days of yearly stock market performance are an indicator of what the market might do over the full year.
“Some analysts pay attention to this, the first five trading day performance, can it be an indicator of a good year or a bad year,” James began last week, “I wanted to dig into all of that and get the answer for myself. Because some people think yes. Some people swear blind by it. Some people think it’s a myth or an old wive’s tale. Some people think it’s a great omen.”
After some rigorous data analysis, the thoughtful, numbers-based host was able to formulate some potential conclusions.
Based on James’ analysis…
If the gains from the first five market days of the year are negative, the market rises 86 percent of the time over the full year, with an average gain of 6%.
If the first five days are positive, the market increases 92% of the time, with an average yearly gain of 16%.
Most importantly, in this year’s scenario, where the first five days saw a jump of more than 1%, the market traditionally ends positive for the year 95 percent of the time. Those years see an average yearly gain of 18%.
“Is it a good omen, does it look bullish?” James asked. “Well, yes, based on history. But remember, there are factors like inflation, interest rates, geopolitical turmoil, supply chains, slowing economy. All that stuff is in play. But history also says that the market bounces bounces back before the market even realizes it’s in a recession. That’s an important thing to know.”
On his Your World program, Cavuto wondered if the recent House speaker voting drama has added to the uncertainty facing markets.
“Historically, Wall Street definitely is a bit more friendly to a Republican administration,” Tuchman said. “We’re in new ground, there’s no playbook, Neil. And I went over it with you the last time. There’s no playbook for coming out of a pandemic. No playbook for what’s gone on over the last two and a half years. Let’s think about it. March 2020, the market sold off so radically. We had a rally of 20 percent in 2020. 28 percent in 2021, in the eyes of a global economic shutdown due to the Federal Reserve’s posturing and whatnot.
“And now we’re trying to unwind that position. In tech, and in possible recession, and inflation and supply chain issues. So, there’s no way historically to make a judgment on what the future looks like in that realm, let alone what’s going on in the dis-functionality of what’s happening in Washington. I would like to disengage what’s going on in Washington and try and rebuild the confidence in the market coming into 2023.”
So while the data might indicate a strong year ahead, the fact is that many analysts still won’t make that definitive call amidst such economic turmoil gripping the country.
Along with U.S. markets, they remain steadfast in their search for solid footing.
Rick Schultz is a former Sports Director for WFUV Radio at Fordham University. He has coached and mentored hundreds of Sports Broadcasting students at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, Marist College and privately. His media career experiences include working for the Hudson Valley Renegades, Army Sports at West Point, The Norwich Navigators, 1340/1390 ESPN Radio in Poughkeepsie, NY, Time Warner Cable TV, Scorephone NY, Metro Networks, NBC Sports, ABC Sports, Cumulus Media, Pamal Broadcasting and WATR. He has also authored a number of books including “A Renegade Championship Summer” and “Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues”. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @RickSchultzNY.