Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Radio: Karmatic retribution

Mike Trivisonno is a radio personality in Cleveland. He owns afternoon drive.

A few years back I did a satirical piece for a local paper on WTAM – the station he’s on. In it, I made mention of someone (not Trivisonno) fabricating an interview with a national political candidate. The actual interview was real but done in another market with different host and edited to create the semblance that it was done locally. He was outed by a sloppy edit.

I ended the commentary noting that WTAM’s signal reached 38 states and lamented that Trivisonno’s show offered an embarrassing image of Cleveland to its out-of-town listeners.

It was supposed to be a joke but he took it personally and lambasted me on the air.

Since then, he’s continued to slam me for my occasional disparaging remarks about his employer in this blog and in interviews.

By now you know from my shameless mentions that I have a book titled The Buzzard. It’s my memoir about working with a championship team. If you haven’t read it yet and you’re a fan of radio or marketing and motivation, I think you’ll like it. Did I mention that it’s in its second printing?

To promote the book I relied on traditional (old) media – radio, television, and print to get the word out - with interviews and promotions timed to maximize appearances and book signings. I couldn’t have done it without them.

I’m not saying new media was secondary. It wasn’t. My most successful appearances had traditional media connected to new media. When I was on a radio or TV station that archived the interview or when a newspaper or magazine article was also on-line – often with additional material, the adjacent appearances were the best attended.

There should be a sign in every traditional media organization that reads collaborate or die.

I received a warm welcome at and was on every Clear Channel station, including WTAM, to promote my book.

When Trivisonno learned of my interviews on WTAM and other Clear Channel stations he called me a hypocrite. His beef: I’m promoting my book on stations owned by a company I’ve slammed on many occasions.

The reality is that I’m most likely one of the best friends to anyone working the front lines at Clear Channel. I miss good, creative radio as much as they do.

Last week, Ed Ferenc, who was news director for WMMS from the mid seventies to the mid nineties, was spotted by Trivisonno while doing business at WTAM and brought him in the studio as an impromptu on-air guest. When you get two radio people in the same room, the topic always turns to what went wrong with the business. Their conclusion was the same as mine - or anyone else that knows how this business should be run.

I often wonder why the hacki di tutti hacki running the joint into the ground from San Antonio are never replaced – and then I realize that they’re not replaced because no one knows what they do. In their opinion, the golden parachute club at Clear Channel is all about having a job, which is good, as opposed to having to actually work, which is bad.

How else do you explain that the solution to their financial problems is always the same – downsize.

They’ve cut the operation to the bone, sucked out the marrow, and actually believe they can sell what’s left of the product.

What other business lets go its best salespeople because they’re too successful? They’re replaced by untrained novices who find every way possible to talk their way out of a sale.

That’s what put the old Cleveland mafia out of business. Those guys loved to talk and talk. The problem was that they talked themselves into the crowbar motel.

The success of my book is proof that radio, television, and newspapers still work. They created a buzz and motivated listeners and readers to come to signings and appearances and, most importantly, to buy books.

Radio can still sell when given the opportunity to be creative.

Few decisions are made in the radio industry that are carefully thought out beyond the present moment.

There’s radio’s real problem. Decisions made from desperation are almost always are certain to fail.
A radio station’s real worth is not the physical plant. It’s people.

Efficiency is not about running a company with fewer bodies. It’s about having the best people and allowing them to utilizing their talents and creativity to the fullest. That’s what the successful dot coms are about. That’s what most radio chains are not.

Whatever happened to mentoring?

Old media will survive only if it marries itself to new media and understands the profitability of the great convergence.

The rules may be changing but the laws of physics remain the same.

Thomas Paine said it back in the 18th Century – Lead, follow or get out of the way.


John said...

Glad to hear the book is doing well.
I heard Triv's rant on you a few weeks back.
Maybe you were tongue anc cheek about Triv's being an embarrassment to Cleveland. I'm not. He speaks as if he knows but he is nothing but a humorless windbag.
I know the ratings speak, but I think that with their wattage, traffic and weather at the tens and all the major sports those ratings could be achieved by someone better.
There's a guy named Charlie Brennan, who grew up in Cleveland, who's hosted a show on KMOX, St. Louis for years. He probably wouldn't want to come back now but I sure would love to see it happen.
Come home Charlie!

Anastasia said...

What ever happened to mentoring indeed?

The sad thing is that if, by some miracle, radio suddenly reverted to the creatively programmed, personality- driven, localized business it was in 1980, there would be no instantly available younger generation of talented and trained folks ready to take over. All those kids that should have been learning on the job from people never thought of radio as a viable career — because today, it isn't. Where are the kids who start hanging around the station when they're 14 or 15, get their first on-air job at 17 and work their way up to programming a station? They don't exist. Who would dream of working in today's commercial radio where you have to be a blowhard like Trivisonno or crude (and still, your chance of winning the jackpot of success is slight) and I can sing you the entire playlist of Kiss 96 in 30 seconds.

Jole N said...

I heard Triv takes shots at you over the years and couldn't understand why. If that is what he is pissed off at you about why does he keep ragging on you? Even when he had Flash Ference on he said he didn't like you. Have you two ever met or worked together? I think Triv is one of the few radio personalities left on Cleveland radio. I will admit he gets long winded at times but given my age and the choices I have Triv does just fine.

TAlex said...

You said it well John. It is a people business and the best people were driven out. Running a business lean and mean is smart business. Running it like a race horse ridden hard and put away wet is not and that is what Clear Channel and the other chains have done. I am not in Cleveland and never heard Trivisonno. I will listen to him on line.

original recipie chicken said...

i like triv and i like gorman after reading his book. they should kiss and make up or at least share a plate of chicken wings. give piece a chance.

Anonymous said...

The Mays family does not know or care what business they are in. Its all cash flow to them. Widgits, crossbows or radio. We can only hope the radio values crash comes soon and broadcasters can get back in at ten cents on the dollar. The same applies to the other chains that have no right to own broadcast licenses.

Anonymous said...

Gorman you are being too kind to Trivisono. He is a know it all windbag. You would have never had someone like him on your radio stations.

74WIXYgrad said...

I thought the conversation with Flash was interesting, but Triv at times tries to be all things to all people.

You can figure that a large chunk of the audience were buzzard listeners at one time and Triv was playing off that, seeing he had someone's butt to kiss in the studio who was a key piece of that history. His attitude that afternoon was a lament that radio will never be like that again.

His attitude at other times is this is the way it is now-Deal with it.

Any time he is slammed on a message board or blog, he dismisses it on air as someone who is either a moron or bitter because they don't have his job.

I called one day and identified myself on air as one who posted on the listening party, and never made my identity secret. His remark was to inquire why I never used my real name as my forum name, and made other rude comments then cut me off.

I wonder when his run is over and he is discarded like yesterday's garbage how bitter will he be? and will he then be able to embrace todays new technology as a way to communicate with an audience?

Tony Mazur said...

A lot of radio companies will dump off talented people for inexperienced interns and part timers.

However, since I work in the radio industry, I want to look for a bigger and better job. When I take a look at job offerings, they're usually only sales jobs that require a minimum of 2-3 years experience. I don't understand how one obtains experience when they refuse to hire interns or part timers to train? It's a no-win situation for the future of the youth of radio.

Anonymous said...


You should consider it an honor that Triv hates you. Consider the alternative.

I do appreciate your understanding of those in the front lines of programming and promotion and sales.

Anonymous said...

I cannot listen to WTAM when Triv is on; it sounds like I'm listening to Chewbacca trying to do a radio show. And original recipie chicken, you should know that would never work, Triv would NEVER share food, you can tell just by looking at him.

Top40Guy said...

You can sing hundereds songs in 30 seconds Anastasia? Wow.

CHR is supposed to be tight. You bang the hits and turn the cume into ratings. KISS isn't WNCX, they aren't going to give you a "no-repeat workday" and they'd better not.

Point is, a tight CHR playlist is hardly a "problem" as you're attempting to call it out like so. Top 40 is a tight format with about 40 or so currents and over 100 recurrent/gold titles that are updated constantly.

btw, Mike Joseph and his Hot Hits format did it even tigher back in the 60's to great success.

Anonymous said...

Triv only bashes folks who are a threat. From spring of '99 thru fall of '01, when Slats at 'MMS was beating as he would say "the meatball", Triv attacked Slats as "he's not from Cleveland & no Kid Leo". Then promotion of Slats disappeared and those Triv in a hot tub billboards went up.

I miss Slats & Carmen Angelo. When they did the news every hour it was classic.

Anonymous said...

Zena Burns and Clear Channel. They deserve each other

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