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How News Talkers Can Beat Sports Talkers at Their Own Game

Despite the fact that News and Sports Talk are considered different formats to many, oftentimes they intertwine more than the casual observer would believe.

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Despite the fact that News Talk and Sports Talk are considered different formats to many, oftentimes, they intertwine more than the casual observer would believe. First off, both formats are under the “talk” umbrella, and there are many News Talk listeners who consume Sports Talk, and there is some, albeit less, of that vice versa. 

However, while News Talk can dabble into the sports realm ahead of a big game or a cultural issue, usually, the Sports Talk station/hosts will still be considered the “experts” on the topic. 

But what if there’s a situation where that isn’t the case? What if the News Talkers can beat the Sports Talkers at their own game?

That’s possible and doable. 

This can happen when the issue of sports and business overlap. For example, in Kansas City, a hot topic this week has been the possibility of the Kansas City Royals looking to move to a downtown ballpark and leaving Kauffman Stadium when the lease runs out in 2031 (or perhaps earlier). While it’s likely ten years away, anyone who has followed these types of situations knows the planning needs to begin years in advance. 

That always brings up the next batch of questions: Where will they go? Would they threaten to leave the city? And most importantly, who is paying for it? 

While the Sports Talkers will undoubtedly have some insider information into what the team is thinking, News Talkers might have even more valuable insight to share with the audience that the Sports Talkers can’t access. 

Why? Because we are more likely to be very familiar and have strong relationships with the politicians, bureaucrats, local commissioners, and business power players, who play just as much of a role, if not a bigger one, in a monumental move and decision like this.

Within 12 hours of the Kansas City Royals owner holding a press conference discussing this potential move, I was confident, after talking with politicians/business people in the know, I could bring my audience inside information in a way no sports talker could. 

Beyond just what is convenient for a team’s ownership group, there are plays for land, parking lots, zoning requirements, permits, and yes, dirty politics, that all get involved in these types of moves.

That’s our lane in the News Talk business. We deal with these issues on a daily basis, and we know who exactly to contact, depending on the situation. 

So whether it’s the Oakland Raiders leaving for Las Vegas, the St. Louis Rams bailing for Los Angeles, or the Seattle SuperSonics heading to Oklahoma City, these are just a handful of examples of where the News Talkers can beat the Sports Talkers at their own game in a story that has mass appeal to both audiences.

And the beauty of all this is you don’t even need to be a “sports expert” to own this story if and when it comes to your town (or rumors start to swirl). You need to simply work the connections you already have, which are highly unlikely to be had by your sports counterparts, do some digging and cross-referencing, and you can own a story like this in your city in no time. You might even be able to draw new cume to your show and station by being the authoritative figure on the topic. 

And then, when it all inevitably comes back around to breaking down pitching changes and hit-and-runs, leave that to the jocks. That’s boring stuff anyway. 

BNM Writers

Carl DeMaio Looks to Inform While Empowering His Audience

DeMaio ran for mayor of San Diego, radio wasn’t immediately on his mind. But that changed quickly. He got a call as some people felt otherwise.

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Carl DeMaio comes from a background lifted from a Charles Dickens novel.

Not for a moment is he asking anyone to feel bad for him—quite the contrary. DeMaio has done quite well for himself, owning and selling two companies for millions of dollars. He is stronger for challenging experiences.

“My father walked out when I was 13 years old,” DeMaio said. “I was infuriated. He left as my mom was dying of cancer. Just two weeks before she died. He was just a bad seed.”

As a teenager, DeMaio had to grow up fast. 

Born in Dubuque, DeMaio said he didn’t spend much time there. But, after his mother passed away, DeMaio was sent to boarding school. He ended up reuniting with his sister years later and is close today.

There wasn’t a lot of time for DeMaio to entertain dreams or much thought of the future. It was survival. He was immediately sent to Georgetown Preparatory School. 

Georgetown University was next up for DeMaio. 

He earned good grades in high school and started applying for financial aid. But there was one very large problem. To get the financial aid, DeMaio needed to provide parental income information. 

“Since I didn’t have parents, they were still asking me to provide my parent’s tax forms,” he explained. “I remember going to meet with a Jesuit priest and explained my predicament. He informed me the system was not set up to accept students in my position. They didn’t know how to handle it.”

The priest made a couple of life-altering keystrokes on the computer, and suddenly, DeMaio’s application was restored and accepted. 

“I arrived in Georgetown with $36 cash in my pocket,” DeMaio explained. “Obviously, I needed to get a job immediately. My number one goal was to find a way to purchase health insurance. I didn’t know where I was going to get the money.”

“I only had two suitcases when I arrived at Georgetown. I lived in the dorms each year because of my scholarships and financial aid. The dorms were part of the package. I was on a meal plan, but nobody was using theirs, so I got rid of that.”

The Georgetown dorms were his home–in a literal sense. Not designed for o year-round residents, they closed the dorms on Christmas, spring break, and summers. 

“They just locked the doors, and I had nowhere to go,” DeMaio said. “Occasionally, I’d go to my Aunt’s house in Ohio, visit my brother in Dubuque. But I slept in my car a lot at a rest stop. A few times, I was able to sneak back into the dorms.”

In another cost-saving measure, DeMaio needed to shorten his tenure at Georgetown to defray the costs. 

“I’d structured my credits at school so I could get out in three years. I did it by the end of the first semester of my senior year. That’s when he ended up getting a full-time job. I took classes that didn’t require class participation.”

DeMaio found Georgetown too liberal for his conservative tastes. 

“That’s the big urban myth that if you’re coming from a poor background, you must be a Democrat. The reason I’m a conservative is because I learned early on about the failings of government and the value of personal responsibility.”

In retrospect, he found most students were immature and did too much partying. 

“I do regret not having more of a social life while I was there. In all my years at Georgetown, not once did I go into a bar for a drink, and it was such a party school. People tell me I must have had such a great time. I didn’t. I was up at 6:00 a.m. and off to my job.”

During his first semester, DeMaio worked on Capitol Hill with a consumer advocacy group. Later he got a job with the California Raisin Advisory Board placing stories. 

Do you remember the commercials with the dancing raisin in sunglasses dancing to I Heard it Through the Grapevine? That’s them.  

Today he’s the host of The DeMaio Report on Newsradio 600 on KOGO in San Diego.

He started two successful companies early in his career, and his interest in politics intensified. 

“I got fed up with the political scandals in San Diego. I sold my companies and ran for Mayor. I fell short, losing to Bob Filner, who was later removed from office in a sexual assault scandal.”

After he ran for mayor of San Diego, radio wasn’t immediately on his mind. But that changed quickly. He got a call as some people felt otherwise. 

“I didn’t know if I could take over a show and talk for three hours, five days a week,” DeMaio explained. “I don’t consider myself a broadcaster or media personality. Even though I am on the air. I don’t go to broadcasting events. I think our show is different in the way I conceive the show. I don’t want to do standard talk or outrage radio. A lot of the topics I talk about are outrageous, and the public can be upset by some of them. It’s not my goal to upset them – but to inform and, more importantly, to empower them to take action to make a difference.” 

DeMaio said he’d used his radio presence more as a community forum – and he set up a campaign committee on the outside of his radio show – called Reform California – as a way people can take action and as a vehicle for DeMaio to sponsor projects to investigate government and hold it accountable.

“I might rile people up about the latest scam or how city hall is handling their money,” he explained. “I’ll talk about things that my audience should be upset about and help them find ways to take action through our political action committee Reform California.” 

DeMaio appears as a guest on a variety of media outlets as chairman of Reform California.

“In my contract with KOGO, I’m allowed to appear on other channels and stations. It’s a very unique negotiation. Out of respect to KOGO, I don’t reference other stations on our air or the show I will be on.”

DeMaio oversees campaigns: Restore Public Safety, Defeat Gavin Newsom, Stop the Mileage Tax, and School Board Reform. 

DeMaio said he’s interested in the hottest stories of the day on his show. 

“I want you to be the smartest one at the dinner table. I’ll certainly cover national stories, but I’m always trying to bring it back to the San Diego impact.”

His take on the 2020 election outcome is unique from most conservative talk show hosts. As someone who has spent 20 years in politics and running campaigns, DeMaio has a command of the intricacies of election laws. 

He wholeheartedly agrees with Republicans and President Trump that the 2020 election was conducted improperly, but he also concedes that Trump’s legal team failed to meet the high standard of burden of proof that courts require to overturn the result of an election. 

“I believe the way the 2020 election was held should never be repeated again, and that should be our focus,” 

DeMaio points to the use of outdated voter rolls, and mailing ballots to everyone using ancient voter rolls opens the door to widespread fraud. 

“You’re sending all these ballots into the wilderness. Under the old system, people had to physically show up. In the 2020 election, we fundamentally changed how we voted. From voters casting ballots to ballots casting ballots. For Trump to say all that happened, he could be right if it was enough to change the election. But once ballots are out in the wilderness, you can’t track them, and it is hard to prove how many were intercepted and illegally cast – let alone who they were cast for. Shame on state and national Republicans and their operatives for not throwing a temper tantrum when the rules were first changed in July and August of 2020!” 

When DeMaio started his companies, he couldn’t get any loans. So, he maxed out his Discover card. They were allowing kids with no credit to get into $25,000 in debt. “In 1998, $25,000 was a lot of money back then, especially for a kid right out of college.”

“One of my companies was the Performance Institute; the other was the Management Institute. Essentially the same bottle of wine with different labels.” I’m proud of what I’ve done. Proud of what I did. Proud of what I did. The real pride is not just the good work we did but also the background and chances we’ve given a lot of bright young people right out of college. I’m not concerned with what degree they earned. I’m looking for the right attitude.”

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BNM Writers

Mark Kaye’s Curiosity of Radio Has Led to Lengthy Career

Kaye has been a staple in Jacksonville for many years, hosting a morning show on 95.1 WAPE and now is exclusively heard on News 104.5 WOKV weekdays.

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Florida is home to alligators, drug dealers, the Everglades, the ever-dangerous I-95 (Where going below 95 is not acceptable,) crazed politicians, and some outstanding broadcasters.

Veteran talker Mark Kaye has been a staple in Jacksonville for many years, hosting a morning show on 95.1 WAPE and now is exclusively heard on News 104.5 WOKV weekdays from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. on The Mark Kaye Show.

Kaye graduated from New York University with a double major in film production and political science. 

“I was more of a Speilberg fan than a Scorcese fan,” he said when pressed for a favorite director. Kay isn’t one to embellish his collegiate career.

“I was barely in the TISCH program at NYU. It was also half political science, kind of a hybrid degree. Film seemed like a great choice for a major until I got to film school and realized what the industry was all about.” 

“When I thought of a film degree, I thought I’d be working with dramatic films like The Godfather or Lawrence of Arabia.” 

That future would likely involve a move to Los Angeles, an idea that held no appeal for him. Then came the idea of going to law school to practice entertainment law and maybe become a producer. 

Again, the school thing kind of kicked him in the arse.

“I only applied to only one law school, which was dumb,” he confessed. “I wanted to go to UNC in Raleigh but was waitlisted.”

The term ‘waitlisted’ must have had a different meaning to Kaye than it does to most people. 

“I figured I’d go down there first and ‘wait’ for an opening. On the first day of school, I went to a class and told the professor I was on the ‘waitlist.’” He essentially said, good for you, but that’s not the way it works. “I never got in.”

When it came to film influence, his parents were rather strict in what they let him see. “I wasn’t allowed to watch Monty Python until I was in college,” Kay said. “My parents went to see Porky’s. I remember waiting 20 years to finally see it. The movie wasn’t that funny, but it seemed like forbidden fruit.” 

For reasons I sure seemed good at the time, Kaye had an extensive collection of  VHS tapes. 

“One of my goals was to get every Academy Award Best Picture on VHS.
Kaye admits. “ I did pretty well until Schindler’s List. Some were tough to find. I ended up selling them all at a garage sale for a few bucks.”

Originally from Canada, Kaye said his family moved to North Carolina when he was eight years old. My parents, sister, and I moved to Winston Salem.

“I renounced my citizenship, spit on the maple leaf. I lived in NC from when I was eight to 18, and I loved it. A very southern life. In the late 80s and early 90s, I was into southern music, sweet tea. For a kid from Canada, it was all so different. That’s when I thought of going to film school.” 

“The scenery is really beautiful up there,” Kaye explained. “Every other aspect of life is horrible; Trudeau, vaccinations, mandates.”

Wild moose?

After moving to the United States in 1983, his dad has since moved back to Windsor. He went back to Canada for free healthcare after he got cancer. The elder Kaye went through treatments in Canada. 

“I told him the health care wasn’t great, but he said it was free. Turns out it was the worst healthcare and vowed never to use it again.”

He didn’t have the radio bug as a kid. More of a curiosity. 

“When I was 15 I won a call-in contest on the radio. It was the first time he heard his voice on the radio. The question for the big prize was, ‘Name three of the original seven Mercury astronauts.’  The answer was Gus Grissom, John Glenn, and Alan B. Shephard. Kaye had the right answer and the Right Stuff,” he said.

One of his heroes was Rush Limbaugh. 

“Rush was a big part of my life,” Kaye said. “When the end was near, they put me in his spot. You’d think you’d have pity for the fool they put in Rush’s spot. Turns out I was the fool.” 

Walking in the shadow of Limbaugh was daunting. Kaye was a huge fan and listened to him his whole life.

“We shared the same philosophies,” Kaye explained. “We had a similar sense of an engrained morality. A code his audience always expected of him. We came on and did our best. We got calls all the time where people told us they missed Rush.” 

Kaye’s family was devoted to Rush. The talker, not the band.

“My father would stop everything to listen to Rush. If we were in the driveway and listening to him, nobody was allowed to leave the car if Rush was in the middle of a thought. I used to get into the car and listen to Rush and think I could do something like this.

Kaye was a top 40 jock for 20 years. So he knew some guys did this rock job into their 60s or 70s. He said he didn’t want to be 60, talking about Justin Bieber.

“I started looking for more to build for my future,” Kaye explained. “I had a PD who told me I was the first top 40 jock he knew who looked forward more than five years. He wished more of them did.” 

Kaye isn’t afraid to have fun with his listeners on his show. 

“We do something called Red State Price is Right. My producer Hannah goes online and finds stuff Red State shoppers would like. Things like Donald Trump socks, Jeff Foxworthy shot glasses, a shotgun plunger, all that stuff.”

He said callers would compete and, as contestants are asked how much they think the item costs. Whoever guesses closest without going over gets a point. 

There’s also Fake News Friday, where Kaye will read one real headline and one fake headline. 

“Both are very funny and entertaining. Some of the real news headlines are those you’d never think would be real.”

In Florida, every headline is real.

“Florida is a funny place, largely because of the people,” Kaye explained. 

“We had an engineer at the station who’d lived in the Jacksonville area his whole life. I was looking to get a gun for home protection. I didn’t know anyone. I asked around, and they told me to ask a guy named Craig, he’s the guy.” 

Kaye said he figured Craig might have one or two guns and could tell him where to shop. 

“I told him people suggested I talk to him about a gun,” Kaye said. “I told him I was interested in getting one. He leaned in and almost whispered, ‘What do you need?’ It kind of freaked me out. I thought, ‘nothing from you.’ I figured the guy could have gone out to his truck and gotten me any kind of gun I wanted.” 

“I like Florida. Once you know everybody is armed; you get more comfortable. Road rage is kept to a minimum. I feel safer in Florida than any other place I’ve ever lived. Now so more than ever. People here appreciate each other and let me do my thing and don’t bother me.” 

Kaye is not interested in bothering them as you wouldn’t poke a sleeping bear.

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BNM Writers

Shari Elliker Credits Improvisational Work for Helping Career

Elliker credits the improvisational work for helping her career. Recognizing how to respond, go with whatever is happening in the moment. 

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Shari Elliker has an extensive array of experience in radio in some major markets. Currently, she is co-host of the John Curley and Shari Elliker Show on KIRO-FM in Seattle from 3-6 pm PST.

While that’s all fine and well, that’s not what intrigued me the most. What about her portrayal of fictitious anchorperson Andrea Tandy on the HBO series, Veep?

“I auditioned for the part,” Elliker said. “I didn’t think much about it until I got a call from the casting director telling me the director of the episode really wanted me for the role.”

That was great news, but Elliker had other responsibilities she’d committed to. 

At the time, she was working with the National Assessment of Educational Progress (what Elliker referred to as basically a report card for the nation for grades 4-8). 

“The episode of Veep was set to be shot in Howard County, Maryland,” Elliker recalled, “and they had the whole soundstage up there. The casting director called me back, and again she told me the director really liked me and asked if there was some way I could make it work.”

Elliker figured it was worth a shot, called the production company, and told them they were her first priority but wondered if she could make the taping. They told her it was no problem and they could do what they’d planned with her at another time.

All was set for the filming, and Elliker aced it.

“I was thrilled,” Elliker said. “During shooting, I had papers in front of me, as any anchor person would. That was lucky as I was able to look down if I got stuck on a line.”

Elliker said while it was fun, she wasn’t thinking of it as a ‘big break’ in Hollywood. The production company didn’t stay in Maryland much longer.

“I don’t think they had any plans to expand my role, and the Maryland film incentives had dried up.”

She did tape three additional episodes of Veep and one more voice-over for the production. 

Then, as quickly as they came, the Veep production pulled up stakes and headed back to California.

Attending the University of Maryland, Elliker was the GM of WUMD. The school had two radio stations; one in College Park, Maryland, and the other in Baltimore, where she went to school. Elliker originally wanted to be a film major. After a couple of Super 8 projects, she realized that wouldn’t happen. 

“One of my Super-8 projects was about a guy I had a crush on in the dorms. Another was about a sandwich that made itself. Not Fellini stuff.”

With the film dream as vapid as Alex Jones and Infowars, Elliker knew she had to think quickly. Finishing school quickly was a goal, so she switched to communications.

“I learned a lot being on the air at WUMD. They didn’t have what you’d call a robust communications program. It wasn’t even called ‘communication.’ It was more of a hybrid option. It was interdisciplinary where you’d design your own curriculum.” 

Later, Elliker joined a political satire group in D.C., Gross National Product. 

In 1988, GNP launched Scandal Tours, an insider’s bus tour of the sites that have made Washington infamous, and highlighted shady characters like Gary Hart, Fanny Foxe, Marilyn Monroe, and the White House JFK practically turned into a Motel 6.  Elliker played Fawn Hall and Rita Jennrette. 

“Tourists would get on a bus, and the players would wear costumes and act out the scandals,” Elliker said. “We’d run to the back of the bus, hop in the bathroom and change our clothes. Then we’d run back to the front of the bus and grab the microphone.” 

GNP also did stage shows out of The Bayou, a club in Georgetown.

“It was a little like Second City, but more political,” Elliker said. “We’d make fun of both sides, but we weren’t mean-spirited. In 1992 it was easier to poke fun at everything. We did a lot of President George Bush jokes, Dan Quayle jokes.” 

Elliker credits the improvisational work for helping her career. Recognizing how to respond, go with whatever is happening in the moment. 

“I imagine those skills are helpful no matter what business you go into.”

“I was also doing dumb industrial films playing roles like a postal worker,” Elliker said. “One time I was a heroin addict looking for government cheese. Not sure how that ended.” 

Now we come to traffic reporting. Elliker said back in the 90s, traffic reporters were ubiquitous. She wanted to do voiceovers, and a good way to get work would be to get her name recognized. 

“I figured if I got my name out there somehow, it would end up being beneficial,” she said. In a brash move, Elliker called the Metro traffic manager in D.C. and the regional manager happened to be there. 

“I told him I was wondering how one becomes a traffic reporter. He told me I had a nice voice and to send a tape. I taped a  traffic broadcast, then recorded myself reciting the information verbatim.”

It worked. The regional manager told Elliker they needed someone to report on traffic at the Bay Bridge in Maryland, near the Eastern Shore.

“It was beach traffic and the job was god-awful,” Elliker recalls. “Large trucks would downshift in the middle of my report. This went on for the entire summer, and I knew this wasn’t for me.”

Now that reporting traffic was in the dumper, the famous Don and Mike Show called her out of the blue. They had a traffic reporter on maternity leave and asked Elliker if she’d do an afternoon drive until they could find a replacement.

Nope.

“I said I wasn’t going to do an afternoon drive.”

Then, maybe. 

“I thought about it and figured what’s the worst they could do? Talk mean to me? Make fun of me?  I called them back and said I’d do it for a couple of days, and to my surprise, they were really nice and kind to me. I ended up getting the job and did it for four years, becoming part of the ensemble cast. I very much was the giggle-chick on the Don and Mike Show.”

Elliker left D&M in 1998 so she could expand her role in the morning show on WHFS.  She said the WHFS show was different. It was a legendary station born out of a basement.

“I was not cool enough; I was really a dork.” Elliker said people at the station were all ‘super cool.’  “They had a HFSetival, a giant deal with 20 bands. The station took themselves so seriously. The station was on Corporate Drive, but jocks were forbidden from saying it because it wasn’t cool.” 

Elliker hosted her own morning radio show on WBAL in Baltimore from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. starting in 2007 but moved to afternoons once the station went to a news format in the afternoons and moved their veteran talk show host Ron Smith to mornings.

In addition to all this other stuff, Elliker did win the Associated Press “Best Talk Show” in both 2007 and 2008 for The Shari Elliker Show on WBAL.  

(She asked me not to bring up the awards as she’s a humble soul, but there it is.)

Her current show with John Curley on KIRO is news/talk, but it’s always an irreverent look at the world. Despite being on the same show, Curley and Elliker are a country apart during broadcasts. Curley is in Seattle, and Ellikeris in Virginia.

When Elliker was with the Don and Mike Show, Curley would come on as a regular guest, and they got to know each other. Curley was looking for a co-host. 

 Elliker went to Seattle and met with Curley. 

“We talked about all types of topics,” Elliker said. She and Curley hit it off right away. They ended up hiring TomTangney from the station, and they worked together on the Tom & Curley Show for ten years. 

Elliker left a strong impression because in 2021, the station called to say Elliker Tangey was retiring after 27 years at KIRO. After some fill-in shifts, she got the open job. That’s a good thing because Elliker seems to like her new partner. 

“John is brilliant,” she said. “He’s so present. I’ve worked with a lot of people, dealt with a lot of personalities, but John is simply the best. He has command of subjects. Discusses stories that are relevant, funny, disarming. John is never afraid to be vulnerable, even telling a childhood story every so often. They are often hilarious but heartbreaking. I really respect him.”

Living across the country might be healthy for a marriage, but how does it work for a broadcast team?

“We divide the show,” Elliker explained. “I’ll present some of the facts, John will give me his take on it, and we’ll go back and forth. It would be so boring for me if I didn’t find him completely entertaining every day. He truly makes me laugh.” 

Elliker said they had developed a rhythm, kind of like dancing. 

“We give each other room. You get to understand where the other may be going with something.”

Like I said, a healthy marriage.

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