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Jared Hart Is Delivering Nothing But Facts to New Mexico

Jared Hart said in his experience, there is still a hunger for the facts, which he intends to give to the listening audience of New Mexico.

Jim Cryns

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Let’s get this out of the way; Jared Hart is not a nerd. Still, I’m perplexed at how while still in high school in the 90s, he knew who The Drifters were. He was familiar with the Four Tops and knew songs belted out by Janis Joplin. Who was this kid?

His radio career was born partially from his ability to identify those and many other eclectic tunes off the top of his high-school head.

“I have a step-sister my age,” Hart began, “In high school they wanted us to do a job shadow as an assignment. To spend the day with some professionals in the area. I told her I was going to call up KGOR radio out of the blue and see if I could do my job-shadow there.”

The dubious step-sister said he was nuts, they’d never let him do it. She did hedge her skepticism and said if they did let him do it, she wanted in.

KGOR let them shadow.

“It didn’t seem like it mattered much to them,” Hart explained.

When they got to the station, they heard the DJ play a few songs. Hart leaned to his step-sister’s ear and said the first song was Me and Bobby McGee. He then informed her the second song was This Diamond Ring by the Four Tops.

“I told her I was surprised they were playing these songs,” Hart said. “The DJ overheard me and said, ” Why do you think that? I said because these were more Woodstock songs, and KGOR was more of a Leader of the Pack station.”  (The Shangri-Las.)

The DJ pressed Hart, testing his musical acumen. He played another song and asked Hart to name the title and artist. Hart told him it was On the Roof by The Drifters. The DJ played a couple more and Hart named them as well.

“He was amazed,” Hart explained. “He told me I should work there. I told him thanks, but I couldn’t be an intern for free, and had to save money for college.”

The DJ said, ‘Who said it was an internship?’ Hart was just 18 years old and landed his first radio job.

“They threw me on the board on Saturdays,” Hart said. “I started in the summer and then that September, 9/11 happened.”

Hart had an idea he would go into journalism at the University of Nebraska–Omaha but majored in graphic design. He wrote for the high school paper, then his college newspaper.

“Ever since I was a teenager I liked to argue,” Hart explained. “I often took the other side of an argument just for enjoyment. That’s the way I was with my parents. A contrarian my whole life. It’s something talk radio used to do very well. You can’t always stand behind the pitchfork. Sometimes you have to be in front of it. Whatever perpetuates the conversation.”

Later, Hart worked for the NFL as a producer for Oakland Raiders pre and post-game shows.

“When I was working as an NFL producer, I learned you had to be quick on your feet as you had a lot of things thrown at you at once. You had to get the feel of the broadcast. Constantly prioritizing.  Something always needs to be executed immediately, and you have to identify what that is. There’s a ton of pressure and no room for a meltdown.”

Hart said there’s one disheartening thing about the work he’s done on film sets.

“There is no ‘Attaboy,’ or ‘job well done,” he said. “In radio it’s different. If you work hard and do well, you can get more money, get rewarded, and get promoted. All you have to do is shut up and work hard. In film, it’s much more political.”

Hart has worked in radio and film since 2001, including feature-length films and documentaries.

He’s currently the operations manager at Cumulus-owned KKOB and KNML in Albuquerque. Before that, it was WPHT where he helped transition the station from its 90s style of talk to a humorous and relevant political station.

The man enjoys film and spent some time working in the industry. Hart said high-quality projects are shot in New Mexico. News of the World, with Tom Hanks, was filmed there. Hell or High Water, Breaking Bad, Stranger Things, and Better Call Saul, among others.

“Those aren’t California mountains you see in the background, those are New Mexico mountains,” Hart said. “New Mexico has done a good job in creating long-term relationships with filmmakers. Strong incentives to shoot there. Not just a shoot and leave situation.”

Hart said unequivocally podcasts are the future.

“Radio used to be the tribal thing that podcasts have moved into,” he said. 

“I have a friend that runs a super-successful podcast. When they have a podcast party, four-thousand people come out. It’s like a midnight movie like Rocky Horror Picture Show or Avenger movies.”

Hart said in a lot of ways we’ve become numb to all the political luggage thrown at us each day. But Hart said in his experience, there is still a hunger for the facts.

“Everywhere I’ve been during my radio career there have been political debate watch parties,” Hart said.

Debate watch party?

“When I was in San Francisco, we had a very educated listenership that didn’t want to watch the debates alone at home on TV. They wanted a more communal experience. One night there was a Giants and A’s playoff game scheduled at the same time as a debate, and 250 people showed up. We didn’t think anybody would show up for a VP debate with that kind of a heavy sports night, but they did.”

Hart explained as far as attending a debate watch party goes, it’s not all about rallying behind the same candidate, it’s about people talking about a shared experience.

“It’s kind of like a cruise to Italy,” he jokes. “These experiences touch people in different ways. With podcasts, people are already truly fans of the subject of the podcast.”

He admits he’s never seen the political climate as turbulent as it is today. But Hart said it’s not like it has never been this way before. Every generation thinks the sky is falling, politically speaking.

“I’m sure when Thomas Jefferson opposed John Adams, at the time they figured nothing was going to be that terrible again,” Hart explained. “I’ve covered five presidential new cycles. Every time you think what was happening at the time never mattered more. It was the same with the administrations of Clinton, Bush, Obama. It always seemed like you were dealing with an existential crisis.”

Hart said there is a lot of Doom Scrolling these days by all age groups.

(I know. I’m old. Doom Scrolling: ​​obsessively scanning social media and websites for bad news, triggers the release of stress hormones that can affect your mental and physical health.)

“People are always looking for the beast to be fed, the quicker the better,” Hart said. “Just because you want to refresh your Twitter feed doesn’t mean news is going to move that quickly. The New York Times spends months writing in-depth pieces and we just want something now.”

Attracting and retaining listeners is the name of the game and Hart said there will always be pressure regarding the ratings.

“Nobody tunes into our stations to hear something boring,” Hart said. “We’ve made a conscious decision to try to not make the station solely political like many talk stations in the country. We don’t allow any name-calling. Only one person was Hitler. The government is not the Nazi party. You can say someone’s policies are stupid, but we stop short of calling someone an ‘elf on the shelf.’”

To keep shows moving in the right direction, Hart said producers play a key role.

“We need exceptional call screening to make this vision work,” Hart said. “When I first arrived here it took a few months for people to get a feeling for what I was trying to do. A few producers didn’t want to go along with the change and moved on.”

Hart said you can’t say whatever you want on his stations. He said there are plenty of outlets to post whatever you want. Again, no name-calling is a general rule.

“The word ‘hate’ is degrading,” he said. “Just because you don’t agree with someone doesn’t give you permission to say that word. Part of the reason I was brought in here is the station used to be the voice of New Mexico. Now it’s the voice of a small faction of the Republican Party here. I don’t think staying on one side or the other is a viable business model. This is the first election since I’ve been here where we’ve had significantly more Democratic dollars spent on advertising.” You don’t get spending from both parties by ostracizing one of them.

The first two mega-stories that Hart recalls since he broke into radio were the invasion of Iraq and the Terry Schiavo story.

“It seemed there was room for two sides of the debate regarding each issue. There were a lot of tempers flaring, but the discussion was more thoughtful than today. We as radio stations are not the ringmasters. At the same time, hosts need to feel some freedom and they need to know we have their backs. I have to defend them. I need to deflect criticisms.”

Hart said he’s thrilled with Albuquerque. No surprise as it is the Land of Enchantment.

“It’s phenomenal,” he said. “My wife and I needed to get out of the East coast grind. We needed to get away from throngs of people. Out here we have the expanse, the western sky. In general, there’s a great vibe here. I walk more, eat healthier, and drink less.”

Hart makes New Mexico sound like Los Angeles—without the water.

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BNM Writers

The Donald Trump Conundrum For News/Talk Personalities

I would suggest that in order to not risk alienating either side of the audience, that we guide the conversation this early in the process.

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With 721 days to go until the 2024 Election, Donald Trump decided it was time for him to officially jump into the race. He could not wait any longer. And on Tuesday night, in a speech that lasted more than an hour, he decided to move ahead and officially kick off 2024, one week after the 2022 midterms ended. 

This has created an interesting dynamic for talk radio. Not only does it give reason to quickly move on from the over-analyzing of dissecting what happened in the midterms, but Trump is generally good for business, especially when he has been (mostly) off the radar the last two years. 

And as is always the case with Trump, the opinions and emotions will be strong across the aisle.

But with the opinions and emotions so strong across the aisle, what’s the play for News/Talk hosts?

Many are comparing this to 2015-16, when conservative-leaning media broke down pro-Trump or never-Trump, and it changed the landscape and careers for some, depending on which side of the aisle one landed on. 

However, there are stark differences this time around.

Those who would call themselves conservatives would all agree that the policies implemented by Donald Trump were a success. Whether it was economic policy, foreign policy, trade policy, or judges appointed, the 45th President kept to his word on all of the above and they were all highly-successful, especially before the pandemic. 

There is no true “never-Trump” angle amongst conservatives like there was in 2016. The question this time around is simply: “Is Trump the best person to move Trumpism forward? Or is there a better option to keep the movement moving ahead?”

That’s a very different conversation amongst the news/talk audience, that if handled properly, should not result in audiences turning on their favorite personalities, regardless of which side of the conversation one might come down on.

For these reasons, I don’t foresee a “civil war” amongst conservatives in the way we saw it six years ago. 

And for our audiences, there will be hosts who lean more Pro-Trump or Pro-DeSantis (or whoever else), but I would suggest that in order to not risk alienating either side of the audience, that we guide the conversation this early in the process.

That doesn’t mean not having an opinion. That’s ultimately our job. But if we form that opinion, on either side, through the prism of, “We’ve still got 18-24 months of this, things will change, and here are the pros and cons of what I’m thinking…”, it creates an environment that invites listener interaction and makes your show the place to voice opinions on both sides of the issue.

Also, that audience interaction will remain our great leverage in this conversation that cable news, newspapers, and social media can’t duplicate with the same intimacy. So let’s take advantage of it and it will also give us an on-the-ground feel for where the audience is in our market in a way the political consulting class can only dream of.

That’s how we can win this 2024 news cycle, that, yes, believe it or not, has already started. 

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BNM Writers

Post Midterm Elections: A Fresh Approach?

Among the predictable messages that come after election results, no matter how long they take is “we need to do better”.

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The leftovers from the midterm elections are still in the refrigerator but I’m looking forward to either finishing them or tossing them out.

I will not feed them to the dog, I love dogs too much.

Among the predictable messages that come after election results, no matter how long they take is “we need to do better”. That’s generally a given after looking at either side of a political scorecard but in this particular case, I think it resonates a bit more, for us.

We, the news people, need to do better. Actually, we need to be better. 

And, of course, we can be.

Once again, this is not an attempt at cheerleading nor is it a shot in the arm. 

I am no more a clean thinker than anyone else on the planet but I believe I share a common vulnerability; fatigue.

The hamster wheel that is a job like ours perpetuates a buildup, a film of apathy and when it comes to covering politics, or more accurately the antics of politicians and candidates, it’s a difficult ride to dismount. 

But once again, we have that regular opportunity to alter the game plan again. 

The faces are now changing in leadership (a little) and prominence (somewhat) but of course, some things will remain familiar. 

The House is flipping, 45 wants to be 47 and the old arguments will now feature a few new, differing voices.

It is these potential differences, I believe now as much as ever, our audiences want us to steer towards. If you ask yourself, “how weary am I” from the last two years of diatribe, in-fighting, out-fighting and people in power being just plain mean, ask yourself, “how weary are they?” … our audience?

I could name names, point fingers and cite examples but the joy of this business is the fact that anyone reading this (thanks, by the way) can think of countless citations all on their own.

 So, what is happening right now?”

Will another run at The White House come with a different approach by the now again candidate?

Congress has yet another opportunity to be something other than what they have been.

What will we do? 

Will we be different?

I would ask, should we be different but I already think we should, so ask yourselves.

Legislating, campaigning, and communicating… are all becoming more and more feral.

And we, in this business, wait for it, we pursue and we cannot wait to cover it.

Our broadcast sense of neutrality and non-partisanship deteriorates by the minute. 

Hell, we even add to it all.

We are on the hook for some of this, make no mistake. 

I’ve asked this before, but what’s more disheartening than hearing or seeing a veteran, tenured and respected anchor/reporter wearing their political and personal leanings in their coverage.  Former Presidents are Former Presidents, yet suddenly Donald Trump is Ex-President Trump. I never heard, of Ex-President Obama or Bush or Clinton or Hoover.

False Claims have now become Lies

We lash out in the only way most of us know how, in our writing. Are we being clever or clandestine or just unscrupulous? At a minimum, it’s immature.

If you really need that badly to step into your own stories using addition or omission, go get a talk show.

(This is not a positional complaint by the author here, it’s about how we report the news. Anyone wishing to know where this former cop-current newsperson stands on issues social and political, feel free to send a detailed list of questions. You’ll either be fascinated or incredibly bored.)

We are supposed to know what’s important and relevant and what is not. 

When we ignore that ability, we become exactly what we at least once didn’t wish to be.

What actually is happening in the story constantly takes a back seat to the language, the insults, and the juvenile name-calling that we’ve become so accustomed to. So much that it falls into our coverage without us even thinking about the issues that are actually being batted about, they are lost or diluted.

And that’s not what we are supposed to be doing.

It’s a lot easier to republish somebody’s rehearsed soundbite or republish a tweet than actually tell the story with detail and non-partisanship.

There is no wrong in reporting incendiary remarks or behavior when it is actually news but we are regularly caught in somebody else’s trap, an individual looking for coverage, for attention. They need facetime or namespace and they use us to do it. 

We did a weak job because the same people will do it again tomorrow. We put them in control of our jobs.

Afterward, we look at the work we just produced and realize we just got hosed. 

But, I say with a distinct level of insufferable naiveté, our job is our job, our work is our work.

We shouldn’t let somebody else take the wheel.

The truth is still out there and we don’t run from it, we pursue it. At least we are supposed to go after it.

The job is to clear away the brush, the camouflage.  Real journalists (I will never call myself one, I simply stand in awe of them) will sidestep the rhetoric, all veil and the deception. They can do that and still be creative, engaging and accurate.

The lawmaker, the politician, the candidate all hold dominance over the news media when their soundbites and exclamations drive the story. 

We can only control what we do.

I would much rather it be we to effect change as opposed to someone like Kari Lake or another politician or wannabe thinking it will be up to people like her to “reform” the media.

So, what are we going to do differently this time around? 

And before we arrogantly start thinking that it’s not we, who need to change, think again.

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BNM Writers

KRLD’s Drew Anderssen Wants The Audience to Feel Positive About The Future

Anderssen sought a unique way to get himself into the business of radio leading him to his position at NewsRadio 1080 KRLD and Texas State Networks.

Jim Cryns

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You can always send in the traditional resume for a job. Maybe get a referral from a friend. Nepotism is almost a sure thing. Drew Anderssen sought a unique way to get himself into the business he loved. 

“As a kid, I was a chronic caller to radio stations, so I think that kind of made me, in effect, an intern,” Anderssen jokes. “I was always a fan of radio. I listened to the Edge in Dallas. It was an alternative station. It was a thrill to hear my calls on the air.”

Anderssen grew up in Dallas and moved back home. In May, Audacy hired Drew Anderssen to run the day-to-day operations at NewsRadio 1080 KRLD and Texas State Networks. Most recently, Anderson served as Brand Manager at WSB in Atlanta and spent the previous 24 years with Cox Media Group (CMG). 

“I wanted to be at Audacy,” Anderssen said, “but I also have a lot of family in Dallas. My dad has some health concerns, so that was also a driving force to come home. Otherwise, I don’t think I’d ever have left WSB. I still have a great relationship with Cox.”

Anderssen started his career with CMG in 1998 as operations manager of News-Talk KRMG in Tulsa, OK. In July 2012 he transferred to the PD post at sister WDBO in Orlando and added operations manager stripes in 2016. Prior to joining CMG, Anderssen spent several years in promotions, research and programming in Texas and Oklahoma.

Anderssen went to college at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. In addition to his career in radio, Anderssen makes no apologies for being an entrepreneur, owning several different businesses in diverse areas. 

“I find time for my businesses,” Anderssen said. “I’m able to continue my radio career as I put good people in the right positions. Once you get past the startup phase, you can step away with confidence. That’s why I like to expand my personal footprint beyond radio. I love entertainment and I love to make money.”

Well, there you go.

Anderssen was also blessed or cursed with a very curious mind. Get this; he does some pretty good impressions. 

“I can do essentially any character from In Living Color or newscasters,” Anderssen said.

Fire Marshall Bill? Wanda? Walter Cronkite, Ron Burgundy?

“Some of them were spot-on, and gave people a laugh,” Anderssen said. “My original plan was to go to medical school. I was a pre-med major then I got hit by the radio bug.”

His parents were concerned, perhaps a bit disappointed with their son’s career interest. It’s always convenient to have a doctor in the family. But how often do you really need a radio guy?

Anderssen said his education at Midwestern State had a practical and hands-on approach. 

“I was already working at the college radio station. It gave me an entry into media. I was having fun. My parents wondered when I’d get a ‘real job,’ figured I was never going to make a living. Who in this business didn’t hear that?” Anderssen said. 

He inherited his business acumen from his father, who owned a broadcasting school, among other interests. Elkins Institute of Radio Broadcasting was one of his ventures. 

“I imagine a lot of people in the industry today went through that school,” Anderssen explained. “It dissolved and is no longer around. My dad’s first job after he got home from Vietnam was to recruit people to enroll at Elkins.”

His career has allowed him to assess change and perhaps the direction of radio. 

“I think 20 years ago, maybe longer, we lived in an environment where the news brand wanted to be everything in terms of providing information,” Anderssen said. “Politics is a story generator for all news. I want people to come out of those experiences feeling positive about the future. This is what I love. We live in the greatest country, but I think that has been up for debate the last four years. I’m proud of the work we’ve done.”

He said we’re seeing a lot of targeted audiences with podcasting, a natural progression considering the intimate medium.

“We will see a lot more in the podcasting realm, some with great successes,” Anderssen said. “A lot of podcasters seek out that niche, make huge investments,  planting the flag, so to speak.”

Personalities like Nikki Medero and Mark Thompson immediately created a YouTube presence after KGO in San Francisco eschewed news in favor of gambling in October. 

“I think it makes a lot of sense to do that,” Anderssen said. “Sometimes you need to make a quick pivot. A lot of people may be in for a wakeup call. If you’re not in YouTube and other similar spaces, you’re missing an opportunity. I’d rather see people in our industry be more proactive than reactive.”

He said brands are built with platforms. The best thinkers in broadcasting had better be pondering how to leverage different platforms. 

Podcasts have created a bit of an identity dilemma for talent. Does talent carry over their ideas and opinions into the podcast realm? That can be concerning if they carry the journalistic mantle in the radio gig. 

“I think most talent in the business is seeking out that diverse relationship with their listeners,” Anderssen explained. “If some of our home-grown talent finds a national audience with their podcast, that can be a good thing for a radio brand. We can adopt a sort of 360-degree look at leveraging content across platforms. Build the individual and the platform.” However, Anderssen said on their podcasts, his talkers are obligated to pay homage to their local call letters. 

Earlier in his career, Anderssen said he was responsible for integrating radio and television newsrooms to work with some kind of synergy. He said in his experience he’s seen a bit of radio–envy among television broadcasters in the ability to express themselves. 

“Radio people are able to tell stories TV people can’t tell,” Anderssen said. “That’s the reason I think a lot of TV people want to get into radio. I knew a lot of reporters who wanted to explore more in-depth stories. Television reporters are handcuffed with a two-minute segment, and that can be frustrating. Especially with topics they’re passionate about.” 

“Journalists crossing over into their own views on a story is a concern,” Anderssen said. “I think there’s been a debate on where that line is for years. That line becomes grayer all the time. We’ve learned that television people are more often displaying their leanings and opinions on broadcasts.”

Anderssen said he thinks radio and television consumers want a human connection with the people they listen to. The connection takes on an emotional component. 

“The consumer is in their car and wants to come away with a feeling. You must be real to provide that connection and feeling.”

 “From a traditional news standpoint, you don’t want any of your people taking on an on-air opinion with a story,” Anderssen said. “You just want to deliver the story, not get caught up in some political Left or Right. We don’t want to put our brand in a position to take sides. We live in an extraordinarily divisive world. That said, you can find yourself in a bind.”

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