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Something a podcast CAN'T do...

KXL Listener Helps Cops Recover Stolen Van
July 21, 2016


While vacationing in Oregon this week, a Los Angeles firefighter and his wife were enjoying some family play time with their two little girls at a local Portland park when they discovered that their camper van — loaded with all of their clothing and belongings — had been stolen. Police were alerted and issued a bulletin describing the stolen van, but in the end it was a good Samaritan and FM News 101 KXL that came to the family’s rescue. The family’s mom — Nicole Craig — decided to call in to KXL’s Lars Larson Show to tell him their sad story. And sure enough a KXL listener who had heard her call thought he saw the camper parked at another nearby park and called in. “I was scared to get close to it, I was sitting about 150 feet away from it in my car,” listener Tom Holce told the radio station in a follow-up interview. “I said, OK I’m just going to casually leave the parking lot and drive by it, and I saw the license plate matched! I was so excited initially, and then after I found the license plate matched I was excited to be able to help somebody out.” Listen to audio of how it all went down during the Alpha Media News/Talker’s Portland’s Afternoon News HERE.
I certainly don’t mean to come at this from a negative angle by saying this is something podcasters can’t really do. The point is radio has many inherent strengths and advantages that are difficult to duplicate. It seems that for some reason it is rare to actually seen personalities and companies leveraging these strengths to produce good radio.

Story from Al Peterson and NTSMediaOnline

Quote of the Day

"We've really got to stop looking to Washington to fix our problems. It obviously doesn't have the ability to do that. People who are successful are not successful because of the president."
--Dave Ramsey, The Dave Ramsey Show

Before Donald Trump, There Were the Shock Jocks

By David Weigel | December 23, 2015 | The Washington Post

Long before “schlonged,” before the idea of a blockade on Muslim immigration, Donald Trump stood in the skyscraper that bears his name and bemoaned that Mexico was “not sending its best” people across the Southern border.

“They’re bringing drugs,” Trump said. “They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

It was the first day of his presidential bid, and to many traditional news organizations it seemed as if he had stumbled from the gate. That was not how it looked to Joe Walsh. The conservative radio host, who spent two years as a Republican congressman from Illinois, saw the calls and tweets rolling in — people just like him taking Trump’s side.

“My instant reaction was to think, ‘He’s going to be leading in the polls within two weeks,’ ” Walsh said. “I thought, ‘This is going to put him on the front page.’ ”

On his AM-560 Chicago talk radio show, Walsh called Trump a “clown,” right before defending his argument. Somebody had to. Nobody had defended Walsh when he’d tried to talk about immigration and political correctness and had been temporarily thrown off the air.

“If you say that America’s becoming a browner country, all of a sudden you’re racist,” Walsh told his listeners. “He’s right. He’s right. We’ve opened up our border to Third World immigrants.”

Whether he moves to the White House or returns to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s campaign for president has challenged and changed the way politics is covered. Political media have adapted slowly, treating nearly every Trump eruption as a gaffe — the kind a normal politician might make on his way to defeat.

The world of talk radio never saw Trump this way, because the phenomenon ran through it more than a generation ago. In 1987, the Federal Communications Commission stopped enforcing the Fairness Doctrine, which had defined boundaries for political talk. In August 1988, Rush Limbaugh began appearing on 56 stations across the country. His success, alongside the march of the “shock jock” through morning radio, changed the way people heard the news and the mores of conversation itself.

In the peak years of Howard Stern’s radio show, the FCC fined his employers nearly $2 million, but the market overwhelmed the regulators. Conservative talk was just as immune to controversy, with Limbaugh’s joyful use of parody songs (the theme from “The Jeffersons” introducing updates on the scandals sinking the Senate’s only black woman, Carol Moseley Braun) and insults like “feminazi” scoring him a TV show. In a 1993 cover story for the National Review, Limbaugh was dubbed the “Leader of the Opposition” for Clinton-era conservatives. “When Rush Limbaugh talks, you know you’re listening to the real world,” said then-Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole, three years before he won his party’s presidential nomination.

“When Limbaugh came onto the scene in late 1988, he was saying things that resonated with a huge group of people who thought their voices were not heard anymore,” said Gabe Hobbs, a 35-year radio consultant who helped put Trump on the air, in an early-2000s series of radio commentaries for Clear Channel. “Limbaugh would not only capture that; he’d state opinions for them. Donald Trump appears, to me, to have something very similar going on.”

If that is true, it is happening long after the “shock jock” movement faded. The popularity of Stern in the 1980s and 1990s spawned schools of imitators: Erich “Mancow” Muller launched from Chicago in 1994; Gregg “Opie” Hughes and Anthony Cumia from Boston one year later. Within a decade, Stern and Opie and Anthony had decamped for satellite radio. In 1996, Talkers magazine estimated Limbaugh’s total audience at 21 million listeners. This year, it was pegged at just 13.5 million — in¬cred¬ibly influential among conservatives, but no longer shaping the culture.

Republican presidential contender Donald Trump said that Hillary Clinton got "schlonged" by then-Sen. Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary. Here are other times he's insulted women, from Rosie O'Donnell to Megyn Kelly. (Sarah Parnass and Nicki DeMarco/The Washington Post)

But between the peak and the valley, the shock jocks changed the way people expected to hear other people talk. Their rise coincided with the growth of “political correctness” on campuses and in pop culture; their decline coincided with that concept’s senescence. By the late 1990s, it was no longer shocking to hear graphic talk about sex or insults on the radio; conservative talk, at the same time, tore into the details of Bill Clinton’s intimacy. In the Obama years, the speed of cultural change created an opening that only Trump seemed to see.

“We’ve gotten so PC again in the last five to 10 years,” Hobbs said. “Most people spend time preparing speeches, checking then double-checking for something that might offend. I’ve seen somebody get fired for something that they might have gotten furrowed brows for 10 years ago. Now it’s, ‘Sorry, we have to let you go.’ ”

Political talk had already wrestled with this; mainstream politics did not until Trump arrived. The people least surprised by this were the ones next to microphones, taking calls, waiting for someone to break through the standards that had been imposed by some unelected authority.

“It’s very easy to be funny or entertaining in an environment that is highly structured,” said John Ziegler, a veteran of multiple national talk shows who now hosts a weekly program on Sundays. “Anybody can be funny in a church. Rush took radio at a time when the norm was basically NPR. He comes into that church and blows it up. Our presidential politics have become a kind of church. The media says, ‘You’re not allowed to say this, or this, or that, because we’re in church.’ People are sick of that. If you were really allowed to say what you wanted, there would be no way for Trump to differentiate himself.”

When Trump began running for president, no pundit suggested that “political correctness” would be a rallying point for 2015. Yet in the conversation that takes place on social media — the conversation born out of the “shock jock” era — the perceived ban on talking about it was in-cred¬ibly potent.

“Talk radio is successful because it lets people speak like people think,” said Simon Conway, an influential host based in Des Moines, Iowa. “The influence Trump is having right now is not just a reaction to what he’s saying. It’s a reaction to the MSM [mainstream media], telling us what to think. Telling us we should all be horrified and shocked and that’s the end of him. In a lot of cases, people don’t agree with him, and won’t vote for him, but they appreciate the directness of him.”

Said Walsh: “People all say to me: ‘Joe, you were the local Trump before Trump.’ I had spoken like Trump as a congressman. The national media hated it, and they went after me, but people found it very refreshing. I knew there was a pent-up demand from people to hear someone talk like that. But obviously, I didn’t have Trump’s microphone. I was just a congressman.”

Trump, with his fundamental understanding of how people talked, ran for president by channeling that. By mid-December, even Jeb Bush — the struggling avatar of Republican establishment hopes — was dropping his reticence and calling Trump a “jerk.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), the one candidate leading Trump in an early primary state, was joking about a Democratic debate happening “at Leavenworth” and IRS agents being reassigned to the border, and it seemed tame.

The two eras came full circle this week, when Trump said at a rally that Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton had been “schlonged” — utilizing a Yiddish word for penis — by Barack Obama in the 2008 primary race. Trump later said the word only means to be beaten badly.

“I never imagined 27 years ago, 30 years, I never, ever imagined I’d be discussing ‘schlonged’ on the radio, especially during Christmas week,” Limbaugh told his listeners on Tuesday. “But, I mean, it’s an indication of where our culture has gone.”


So says Donnie Simpson.

He recalls a radio station environment where “We used to have a DJ rolling up and down the hall, roller skating.” (D.C. radio fixture Simpson didn’t name that onetime WPGC Washington jock, but it sounds like Albie Dee.) Donnie says “now when you go in a station, everybody’s quiet.”

He’d been away from Washington DC radio for five years when he was coaxed back by the chance to do afternoons at Radio One’s urban AC “Majic 102.3” WMMJ (and TV at its related TV One channel).

But while Donnie did utter the “lost its balls” comment while talking about how homogenized radio is, he also thinks a lot of today’s music is that way, too. He says “when I left [five years ago], I said I don’t want to be a part of this anymore...it had lost its magic.”

Part of Simpson’s appeal is his spontaneity. When Garth Brooks was coming to DC years ago, Donnie played snippets of several Garth songs, which earned him a visit from management. But the next day – and he still smiles over this – the front page of the Washington Post Style section featured Garth. And it asked “How big is Garth Brooks? Even Donnie Simpson” at urban WPGC played some of Brooks’ country music on his show.

Still, Simpson’s enjoying his return to DC radio – and he’s leading the station in ratings now.

REPRINTED FROM TOM TAYLOR NOW with portions edited.

Do We Even Read Our Own Press?

We have to be the worst industry in the history of the world at self-promotion. How can that be? We're IN the promotion, advertising, marketing and entertainment business! Here is an article written by Richard Harker of Radio Insights Research and also a link to a graph showing U.S. spending trends in advertising for the second quarter of 2015. ONLY radio, digital and outdoor are up. Add that to Harker's headline, "Radio Continues Unprecedented Growth" and you have some very positive things to talk about to our two unique sets of customers. Listeners and advertisers.


Radio Continues Unprecedented Growth

By Richard Harker | September 17, 2015

Last month we highlighted a significant turning point for radio. After years (some say a decade) of deteriorating listening, local radio turned a corner in January. For the first time since PPM was implemented radio put together six consecutive months of year-over-year listening growth. In August radio managed to continue that trend, notching another month of growth.

Radio listening, as measured by average quarter-hour ratings (AQH), swung from a loss of 4.3% in 2014 to a gain of 3.0% last month, a swing of over 7%.

Equally significant was the proportion of markets that gained listening. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of PPM markets increased AQH compared to 2014. Considering that only four markets managed to expand listening the year before, that is quite a turnaround in one year.

Oddly, this turnaround has gotten scant attention. Why aren't we hearing more about this?

Perhaps after years of decline radio’s leaders don’t believe the numbers. They assume that this reversal of fortune is temporary, that radio’s fate is to continue to lose audience. Or perhaps radio’s leaders believe the trend but don’t want to acknowledge the likelihood that Voltair is behind the turnaround.

Admitting that after years of decline Voltair generated unprecedented growth in a matter of months would be an admission that PPM is flawed. That would be awkward for many reasons.

U.S. Ad Spending Trends in Q2 of 2015...


R.I.P. Christopher "Kit" Carson

I've known Kit Carson almost as long as Rush has. Kit was the first person I talked to with the program way back in 1989 shortly after we began airing Rush on 970 WFLA in Tampa. Then I had the pleasure of working side by side with Kit for eight weeks in 2003. It was clear...he was the consummate pro and that show was one of his true loves. Rush made some beautiful comments today on his radio program and I wanted to share them with you here in this space. Well said Rush...and may God bless Kit and his family. Rest in Peace my friend....
A Huge Void in Our Hearts
January 26, 2015

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT: Rush Limbaugh Program

RUSH: Ladies and gentlemen, indulge me for just a few minutes here. We all here at the EIB Network are experiencing a huge void in all of our hearts here today because of a death, one of our staff members, the very first staff member to join me 27 years ago in New York.

Christopher Carson, "Kit," my trusted chief of staff, aide-de-camp, passed away today at 8 a.m. at his home in New Jersey after what really was a four-year battle, really valiant, never-seen-anything-like-it battle with essentially brain cancer. He thought that it was beaten back two years ago, but it came back again last fall with a vengeance.

To give you an idea, December 19th, staff Christmas party, and he was fine, normal as anybody ever remembered him. Ten days ago I flew to New York to see him in the hospital, and it was the last day that he had any kind of a short-term memory at all. It was a good visit. It was a really good day. For him, too. I've always said that I wanted to be older, and I never factored something in about getting older, and that is people you know getting sick and dying. But Kit was in all ways, every way I can of think of, a special human being and person.

When the program debuted in 1988, nobody had any idea if it was gonna work. And we had made no plans initially for it to get big. It was just a radio show with a guy doing three hours on the radio and the itinerant things that happened. But it took off. It took off faster and bigger than anybody had planned. So the phone started ringing and mail started coming in, and things needed to be dealt with.

We didn't have anybody, and Ed McLaughlin, who was the syndicator of the program at the time and the founding executive of the EIB Network, had just come from ABC and knew countless people at ABC. And in our building where we were at the time, ABC staffed its magazines, such as Prairie Farmer magazine and American Homeowner, Contemporary Homeowner or something. And Ed said, "Look, I got this guy that's gonna come up from the magazine, and he's gonna answer the phones and deal with the mail. He's a good guy. He's here in New York. He's trying to become an actor, and he'll help us out here in a pinch."
I said, "Oh, okay, great, what's his name?"

He said, "Some guy, Kit Carson."

I said, "Kit Carson? Kit Carson, like the cowboy?"

"Yeah, that's what he says, Kit Carson."

Okay. So the next day in walks this guy, cargo shorts, white ankle socks, black Keds, and red hair that looks like it's got yeast in it piled so high on top of his head. I was immediately jealous, I said, "What did you do, put yeast in your hair?" He didn't know what I meant. But I spotted it immediately. He wanted to be an actor, he had a performer's ego, and he thought I was crazy. After one radio show, he thought I was crazy.

He's listening to "homeless updates" and all this stuff and he just thinks that I'm a lunatic. But he's gonna stick with it 'cause it looks like it could be fun for a while. And he said, "What do you want me to do?"

I said, "Well, when it comes to the phones ..." And I did my best to explain who I was, what I did, and what we're all trying to accomplish, and he just said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, the latest to get to New York, gonna hit it big, right, right, okay, got it, got it. What can I do?"

I said, "Well, when you're answering the phones, I want you to really learn how to do something, and I really want you to learn how to do it, and it's say, 'No.' You're gonna have people calling wanting me to do this, do that, requests for all kinds of things, and I don't care what and I don't care who, your first answer is 'no' and then you come tell me and we'll review who called and then we'll decide what to do." It's harder than you think, folks. It's easy to say "yes" to people and make friends, have a good relationship.

Saying "no" to people does not promote good friendships right off the bat. He said "no." He loved saying "no." He said, "Really, I have the power to say "no" to anybody?" I said, "Yes, you do." He started answering mail. Anyway, it just evolved to where he became the resident expert on me and the program. He became its number-one champion, defender, evangelist, and, of course, he ended up doing much more than -- well, he never stopped saying "no."

That job remained as important 27 years later as it was that first day. He enjoyed it as much as ever, except the people calling later on were like from the White House and Good Morning America and the Today Show, and he still said "no" and then came and told me about it.
Fifty-eight years old. He arrived around age 30 or 31, grew up in Milwaukee. He was insistent, you know, when he introduced himself to people, "Yeah, I'm Kit Carson," and he assumed everybody thought that meant he'd be related to the famous cowboy character, Kit Carson, so he told everyone, "Yeah, my name is really Kit Carson."

So the first time I had to write him a check, forget what it was for, I made it out to Kit Carson. He brought it back and said, "The bank won't accept it."

I said, "Why?"

He said, "'Cause this isn't my name."

I said, "What, you've been telling me for two years --"

"It's Christopher." Okay. So I rewrote the check, but he always remained "Kit." He was Kit to everybody that knew him. He was Kit to his family. He was Kit, dad to his teenaged sons, Jesse and Jack, wife Theresa. It's such a void because he loved this job. He loved being here. He loved being part of it every day.

Folks, the last four years of his life, I kid you not, for the vast majority of 'em he would get up early to do the show prep he had been assigned. When the Internet came, he and Snerdley were assigned various areas of the Internet to help me with show prep, and he had his, and he was gonna do 'em no matter what. No matter how many times we tried to tell him, "Forget it, just head to the hospital and get your treatment." It was just incredible to see. He would show up as often as he could these last four years, even if only for a half hour. He would try to get his cancer treatments moved to different times of the day so he wouldn't have to miss. All the while we're telling him, "Hey, put yourself first here."

He said, "I am. I love this."

He loved everybody here, and everybody loved him. We've all heard people remembered by having it said about them that they never heard the guy say a bad word about anybody. How many times have you heard that in eulogy? Well, Kit Carson, honest to God, never, ever had a bad word to say about anybody. Kit Carson never, never had a critical thing to say about anybody he dealt with, anybody else on the staff. He did not engage in back-stabbing. He did not ever, not a single time, try to undermine anybody else on the staff for his benefit. And you know that's common in office settings, but he never did it.

He's the guy in the office who had everybody's back. In fact, when I got mad at people, either on the staff or anybody, he's the first guy trying to talk me out of it. "No, no, you're misunderstanding. Don't get mad." He's not the kind of guy that relished in other people being in the dock, or people being in trouble, it bothered him. And any time I got mad at anybody he defended 'em. It was always my fault for getting mad. Remember, he's the chief of staff. It was always my fault for getting mad, not their fault. No matter what, no matter who. Well, there were exceptions. I mean, we haven't had that many people do egregious things, and we've only had in the 27 years two or three people leave the program. So we've been fortunate to avoid a lot of this typical interoffice stuff, but Kit obviously was employee badge one. Well, I guess I am badge one, he's number two. He's been here longer than anybody.

He wanted to be an actor, but he ended up enjoying what he was doing here so much. He would still hang around with his actor buddies and friends, but he became one hundred percent totally devoted to the program. And, folks, he was such a patriot. He loved this country so much. He started out not caring. I mean, not "not caring," but the first thing on his mind was not what's happening in politics every day or what's happening in Washington. But he came to care about it as much as any of us, and he came to be as concerned, especially when his children were born, he came to be as concerned about it as any of the rest of us are, and it's what inspired him and motivated him every day to make sure that when it was his Stack of show prep stuff, that it was right, that I had it right.

He always put his comments in the margins, you know, what he thought of things. And there were times he thought of things I didn't. And I stole 'em. I stole his opinions sometimes. Sometimes I gave him credit. But he always knew that what was important to me, the show's the thing, and it always was with him. Whenever I had to go anywhere, say a Rush to Excellence Tour, he always went, in some cases early to advance it, but he always accompanied me. And, you know, I didn't like those things much. I never really did. They were things that were necessary to be done. And he said, "You're crazy! It's the greatest job in the world. You're gonna show up and 5,000 people can't wait to hear what you have to say. Do you realize how many people would love that?"

He did not allow me to be pessimistic or negative. He didn't allow me to get down in the dumps about anything. And if he sensed that I was, he would do anything that he could that enabled me to get the best out of myself, even if it was just a social soiree that we were at or some business trip. I was thinking about it last night. I can't remember a time when he complained about things. You know how often people complain? Oh, my God. People complain all the time. People manipulate, try to manipulate you all the time. That's nothing unique to me.

He never did. Never. Never did. Never undermined anybody. Never wanted me to think ill of anybody that had anything to do with this program. A special passion of his was the leukemia radiothon that we did every year. He devoted as much time to putting that together and working with the leukemiathon people throughout the year and things like that. He built and maintained relationships that the program had with any number of people, sponsors, you name it, and maintained them. He spoke for me when I was unable to. And I have to say this, too. He is the one guy -- this is not meant to besmirch anybody else, but I never once doubted his instincts.

I had total trust. I never once thought, for example, when he's advocating that I do something, I never once thought that there was something in it for him, for me to do it, that it would help him with somebody that was asking me to do it or a friend of his; I never, ever, got the impression. The only thing he cared about was doing what he could to make sure I looked good and be the best I could be.

He had this innocent, even at age 58, this innocent exuberance about everything. And it wasn't just me. He trusted everybody. I mean, even the people he knew that he shouldn't, he did. Everybody got the benefit of the doubt. You had to really earn his distrust because he trusted you right off the bat. Complete and total trust in the guy. Everything he told me, everything I asked him to give me a report on or do or whatever it was, I never had any suspicions that he was trying to get me to do things or to say things or whatever that would benefit him with other people.

Anyway, I have to take a break here, folks. There's just a little more here, but I wish all of you could have -- many of you around the course of the country and various parts have probably met him, and, if you did, you know exactly the kind of person and personality I'm talking about. I wish everybody could have met him.


RUSH: I just got a note that reminded me of something. When Kit was undergoing his cancer treatments, he held onto his hair longer than most people do, and he loved to go walking down 60th Avenue in New York and the Japanese tourists would think he's Conan O'Brien. The point is, he found the good in everything, and he was always optimistic and upbeat. I'll tell you, the happiest I can remember him -- outside of, you know, the birth of his kids -- is when he met his soon-to-be-wife Theresa. It was like a kid and a candy store forever, and when they finally got married, they got married in Boston.

I remember I flew up for the wedding, and I landed there. The car is taking me, and Snerdley is walking to the venue. I asked him, "What, did you come from the train station or something?" So I stopped, and Snerdley got in the car. We drove to the wedding, and Kit just couldn't believe it. Honestly, this was so sentimentally the truth. He could not believe that he had actually convinced this woman to marry him -- and he never stopped looking at her that way. It was really special. It was a fairytale. Exactly like a fairytale. When the preacher made it official and pronounced them man and wife, he turned to the audience and started jumping up and down doing fist pumps and started shouting, "Yeah! Yeah! Did you hear? She said, 'Yes!'" or something. It was just ... I don't know.

He loved life so much, and it was cut short.


RUSH: Just a few more comments about the late Kit Carson, our chief of staff here who passed away. He'd been with us, with me, longer than anybody else on this program. He passed away this morning at 8 a.m. from brain cancer, and I want to talk a little bit about something. He taught everybody incredible lessons in toughness and fortitude in the way he fought it. I've seen a lot of people go through what Kit went through.

But honest to God, folks, I've never seen anybody deal with it the way he did, and I've seen some heroics. But I want to go back to something. I checked the e-mail during the break. "What's so big about saying 'no' to everybody?" somebody wants to know. Folks, I... (sigh) Look, I don't want to make this too personal, 'cause this isn't about me, but you don't know... (sigh) I don't know how to say this, 'cause this is not complaining. I, believe me, have nothing to complain about.

But when I say that I was able to totally trust Kit with virtually anything he came to me with, any proposals that somebody else had, any request that somebody else had, one of the things I had to learn... I'd never been on a success track before, 'til this program. I didn't know what it was like. And you wouldn't believe the number of phonies you come in contact with who portray themselves as your best friend. And all they want to do is manipulate you into doing things they want you to do.

Either just parade you around so they can look like hot stuff or get you to do something they couldn't get done for themselves, all the while telling you -- me -- that it's for my benefit. He never, ever, did that -- and he sniffed that out in other people and never, ever, did it himself. I can't tell you, for me, that was important. Maybe other people in my position, they don't care about it. But, to me, I hated having my intelligence insulted. I hated being used. I hated thinking that people were trying to manipulate me.

When I thought it, they were gone. That was the end of 'em. I had no more time for it. And I never, ever, once had any doubts about Kit and his intentions in that regard. So saying, "no," that's how you weeded people out. It became a policy of mine. A, I don't like to do a bunch of outside stuff anyway. The show's the thing. I don't need to go somewhere to say what I say. I have a radio show to say it. Why go somewhere else and say it?

But the point is I had entire, complete, total trust, and never once doubted his motivations for things. Sometimes he suggested I do things, thought they'd be good for me and so forth. Anyway, that's why saying "no" was important. 'Cause it's easy to say "yes" and befriend somebody, particularly if they're a powerful person on the other end of the phone. It's the easiest thing in the world to say, "Yeah," and become their friend, become a good friend. "Yeah, I can get Rush to do that."

He never did that, folks, and that was big. But the way he fought this disease, it was just terrible to watch it. But it was also inspiring. Honestly, I'm not exaggerating. The e-mails that we would get when he was in the midst of the worst treatment -- the chemo, the radiation, whatever -- he scheduled as much of it as outpatient as he could, much more than he should have. Because he didn't want to let anybody down.

The last time I was able to talk to him meaningfully was a couple of Wednesdays ago in his hospital room. His short-term memory was mostly gone. But he remembered the magazine that he came from 27 years ago. He remembered all the stories we were reminiscing about over the years. But what had happened in the last couple hours, couple days, were tough. But, at one point, Jack and Jesse, his kids were there, and Theresa and I.

I grabbed his hand and I held his hand, and I said, "Let me tell you something: There's nobody who can replace you. There's nobody who can do what you do." He looked at me, and I don't know how much there he was at that given moment. Brain cancer is a horrible thing. But he looked at me and said, "That's not true." I said, "Oh, yes, it is." And I kept squeezing his hand, letting him know that it was true, and I wasn't just saying it.

And it is, because of the trust.

So he was just insistent on getting his portion of the show prep in. He was. He asked permission... I mean, I never got over it: He asked permission to go get his next cancer treatment, and if we had said, "Well, that's gonna be really tough," he would call the hospital, the doctors, and try to move it. Now, we never did. Don't misunderstand. But 27 years, and even in the fight for his life, he's putting our concerns ahead of his.

We had to insist with him a number of times, "Look, just take care of yourself. We all know the story here. Just go take care of yourself," which he did. But it still was... Folks, one time, when he was in the hospital for treatment, he learned how... I still don't know how he did it, because he could barely use a computer. But he figured out in the midst of all this, 'cause he had lost the ability to type for a while, the dexterity.

He learned how to set up Dragon Dictate and he learned how to dictate things and e-mail them off. I went to the hospital to visit him at that point and saw the setup, and I said, "You could not have... How did you do this?" He said, "I don't know, I don't know, but it had to be done." I'm looking at it, and I said, "This is not possible." I wouldn't have known how to do it the way he did it. Now, he may have had some outside help.

But he was so insistent on whatever all this was not harming the show or me, that he did everything he could. And it was just amazing to watch. And it was instructive to watch the success and then the failure of all of the various treatments. You could see the signs. I mean, the first time the brain tumor was zapped with radiation, it was phenomenal. Within three days... I mean, one day in the hospital you would walk in and say "hi" and he'd know who you are.

And five minutes later, not know who you are, and 10 minutes later not remember you'd been there awhile. After the first time that tumor got zapped, all that was gone, and he was back to being perfectly normal. It was amazing to watch the effectiveness of the treatments, but then everybody says when it comes back the second time after you think you've been in remission, it's really bad -- trouble. And it was. And he ended up succumbing to it at 8 o'clock this morning.

But he never, ever, gave up on it. All he ever wanted to do was see his kids graduate from high school. Jack and Jesse. But the exuberance, yeah. I remember one year. Occasionally we here get a suite at the Super Bowl to entertain clients and others, and one Super Bowl that we went to we took Kit. He went to this one. It was the Steelers and Packers. The Packers was his team. He loved the Packers. He grew up in Wisconsin. This is just five years ago, whenever that Super Bowl was. So he's been with the radio program 22 years.

The game started, and he was sitting in the suite after doing some of the work involved with the dinners that we had the weekend prior to the game. He's sitting there watching the game, and I get up from my seat to go to bathroom or something, and he's sitting there and he stands up and hugs me. "Rush, this is just great! This is just great! I can't believe this! I'm having such a great time! My God, the Packers and I'm here at the Super Bowl? This is so great!"

He was always appreciative. He was always very much aware of how special things were. I mean, to him, the special things stayed special. There was never anything taken for granted. But to have that kind of exuberance after all this time? I mean, a lot of people after 22 years become jaundiced. "You mean I gotta go work the damn Super Bowl? Come on, Rush. Can't somebody else do it?" Never. He would be the first one there, whatever needed to be done, and he was able to turn it into a pleasurable thing.

But standing up and hugging me, and telling me how great it was to be there to see his Packers against my Steelers in the Super Bowl, was something he never thought he'd be able to do. And he's just gonna be really missed. Everybody here is... Even though we've known this was coming for a few weeks, still, it leaves a huge void in everybody's heart. 'Cause whenever he was on the other end of something you knew there was going to be a laugh or a joke or a smile.

And I'm not trying to sound clichéd. It was really true.

You knew you were talking to somebody who actively loved being alive.

He had great respect for being alive, did not take that for granted.

He loved his job, he loved the country, loved his kids and his wife Theresa so much.
It's the one bad thing about getting old, is your friends start... They get old, too. Anyway, thank you for indulging me on this. I haven't even begun to do him justice, folks. But I wanted to share with you a little of who he was, because he was such an integral part of this program every day. Even though you never heard him, and even though many might not have known who he was or what he did other than hearing me call him chief of staff, he was irreplaceable. And it's just a very, very sad, unfortunate thing that happens to everybody.
The way he dealt with it was a lesson in and of itself.


RUSH: Kathryn has been spending a lot of time with Kit's family the past couple weeks. She had a great idea, Snerdley. I don't know if she mentioned this to you or not. She thinks we ought to put a chair in there and up in New York that's called the "Kit Chair," the honorary Kit Chair. He's always gonna be there, that chair is always gonna be for him, always gonna be where he sat. So we're gonna do that, 'cause it is a great idea. He walked in the room wearing those cargo shorts and the short white socks and the black Keds. He didn't care if you were laughing at him, didn't matter. He made everybody laugh.


RUSH: My gosh, I feel kind of guilty here. I really feel like we should be doing all three hours talking about Kit. He'd think that's nonsense. If you're just joining us, a staff member that has been with me longer than anybody else, the chief of staff, we jokingly called him H.R. The reason his nickname was H.R., by the way, was after H.R. Haldeman, who was Nixon's chief of staff. He said "no" to everybody, and that's why we called him -- in fact, Kit came up with the name for himself, H.R.

He passed away this morning at 8 a.m. at age 58. I spent much of the first hour doing the remembrances, but it's such a huge void here. I feel like I'm just doing the program today here on half-mast, half scan, half attention, what have you. It's just an empty feeling. Even though it's not unexpected, sadly, it's still hard to accept. But, anyway, forge on we must, and he would have insisted, obviously. But it just feels weird. A part of me thinks I shouldn't even be here today, but that's silly.


RUSH: God bless Kit Carson, his wife Theresa, and his sons Jack and Jesse.

See you tomorrow.


The Hobbs Report from NTS Media Online Monthly

NTS Media Online Monthly by Al Peterson

February 7, 2014


From my very earliest days of covering the Talk industry, I learned quickly that Gabe Hobbs was a guy who definitely knew a thing or two about the radio business in general, and specifically about Talk radio. A former music radio programmer who eventually made the move to News/Talk/Sports, Hobbs spent more than a decade overseeing the programming for some 275 Clear Channel-owned News/Talk/Sports stations nationwide, while also serving as the in-house consultant to Premiere Networks’ roster of nationally syndicated Talk radio stars. Since leaving that post in 2008, Gabe has put his energies into his own venture, Gabe Hobbs Media, a consultancy with a stated mission to “advise and advance Talk media talent.” This week, Gabe is cohosting (along with Don Anthony) the 5th annual Talk Show Boot Camp in Dallas. On the eve of that event, we sat down with the industry veteran to get his views on the future for the format and for both veteran and would-be talk talents.

Tell us how Gabe Hobbs Media has evolved since its launch.

When I first started the business it was the first time in my life that I had ever been self-employed. At first, when anyone wants to hire you to do just about anything you say ‘yes.’ But after some time, as I gained more confidence, I began to narrow my focus and hone in the things I enjoyed doing most. And I learned how to say ‘no.’ That is tough; because there’s always that fear when you are self-employed that if you turn down one opportunity, it will be the last one and that will be the end of it all. The net result is that I learned the privilege of being self-employed allows you to pick and choose to work on things that your true passions. In the corporate world you sometimes get to do that, but you also have to spend a lot of time on things that don’t interest you. So the focus of what I do today has narrowed a bit to my passions -- dealing with talent, creating content and working on the evolution of our business toward more digital options and distribution platforms beyond traditional radio. I can honestly say I’ve worked harder since being on my own than I have in a lot of years, but I am also having the most fun I’ve had in a long time -- probably since my Jacor days. And one of the great pleasures about being on my own is that I no longer have to do things like take weekly classes on how to run an Excel spread sheet!

There’s a lot of grumbling out there about today’s corporate radio world. What’s your take having been on the inside for so many years and now being able to view if from the outside.

I don’t criticize any companies, big or small, because having been on both sides of the table I understand and know why they sometimes operate the way they do. There’s no one size fits all model. Saga or Hubbard, for example, can operate differently than Clear Channel or Cumulus. You simply can’t say the best way to run a radio company is this way, or that way. If you have 800 stations you are going to run things differently than if you have 22. There are things like debt and Wall Street pressures that handcuff companies from doing things they may want to do or change things they want to change. You really see that when you move to the outside and get a better understanding of why some things are the way they are. I see it as one of my jobs to teach talent to have a better understanding of just how the business works today, and how it works differently in different companies. They all have different cultures and different pressures they work under. I’ve learned how to tailor what I do and what I can offer to the various needs of different companies vs. trying to tell them what they’re doing is wrong and they need to do it another way.

Several years ago you said at a conference that you didn’t believe that, as the result of corporate downsizing of staffs, there were necessarily a lot of great talents out of work but rather a number of maybe not-so-great talents out of work. Do you still believe that?

Yes, to an extent, but there have been changes since I said that several years ago. I think at first there was probably a lot of cleaning out of some dead weight and narrowing it down to the cream of the crop. Unfortunately, as time has marched on I’ve seen that in too many instances companies didn’t necessarily prune and keep the best talent, they pruned and kept the cheapest. And that is very concerning for the future of the business.

Is Talk radio still a good business, in your opinion?

Absolutely, 100% with no question in my mind and here’s why. If you look at Talk as part of the entertainment business -- show business -- then you will quickly come to understand that Americans, no matter their age or interests, are always interested in being entertained. They want something that stimulates them, makes them laugh, or moves them emotionally. That will never change. One hundred years from now it will still be that way. So if we look at radio -- and Talk radio specifically -- as something that exists to generate engaging and compelling content, then you see clearly that the business is as wide open as it has always been. In fact, it’s even more wide open than ever because there are more ways to distribute that content to reach the consumer.

How do you advise up and coming Talk talents, as well as those who are looking to transition from their experience in music radio, to prepare for the new reality of the Talk radio business. What do they need to know now, that they didn’t have to back when you and I were just starting out?

First and foremost you need to be very knowledgeable about all the different ways there are to reach and touch consumers. But you can’t use them as substitutes for good old-fashioned reaching out and touching listeners personally. Unfortunately some talents and radio executives believe that they can replace all of that personal stuff by being really active on social media, or tweeting 87 times a day, and that is just not the case. You still need to reach out and touch listeners personally. Listeners need to be able to see you and talk to you in person. You also need to understand that we used to tell the audience when and where they could get your content, but those rules have changed dramatically. The audience now demands ‘this is what I want and where I want it, and if you can’t do that I’ll get it somewhere else.’ If you don’t learn that -- and learn it very quickly -- you will not succeed.

What’s the first question you ask a talent who wants you to work with them?

What makes you different, what makes you unique and what is your signature? What can I hear from you on the radio that will lead to people someday saying, ‘I know who that is’ without even saying your name? When you hear ‘half my brain tied behind my back,’ you know that’s Rush Limbaugh. If you see a swoosh mark, you know that’s Nike. What do you do that is the equivalent of that? What makes you stand out in a crowded media world? Most people can’t answer that question and it is one of the things I can help a personality identify in a world where branding is more important than ever.

How has electronic audience measurement changed the playing field and what do talents need to know about PPM?

The smart ones will learn everything they can about the metrics of ratings and how their content is being measured, be that through Nielsen or Triton Digital, or whoever it might be. You need to know how it works and use that knowledge to help you succeed. As much as people criticize PPM and sample size and all the other stuff you hear, the fact is the meters don’t really lie. And as a talent you simply must arm yourself with everything you need to know about how the ratings system works. My goal isn’t to help talents learn how to ‘game’ the system, but rather how to understand human behavior and the fundamentals that attract an audience, keeps them there longer, remember your brand and come back more often -- all of which will lead to better ratings by almost any metrics.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Most Talk stations today are on AM, while most of the cume is on FM. Why are so many operators seemingly so reluctant to put Talk on FM?

Because they haven’t done it correctly and made the mistake of taking exactly what they had on AM and plopped it down on FM -- much the same as many have done with digital platforms. So they don’t think it worked. They don’t understand it’s a different medium with a different available audience and demographics and psychographics. You have to make some major adjustments in the way your content is packaged and delivered when you move from AM to FM,

but most don’t. They don’t understand that the audience that doesn’t like what they get on AM is suddenly going to like it just because it’s now being simulcast on an FM. Some stations have made the transition successfully, but too many just don’t yet get it. That said, done right, Talk on FM works.

Finally, this is your second year teaming up with Don Anthony to produce the Talk Show Boot Camp. What do you hope attendees will take home with them from the talent-focused conference?

I got involved because I still think our industry will always come down to identifying and nurturing talented people and teaching them the fundamentals and a broad understanding of our business. So many of the industry’s conventions have, I guess somewhat understandably, turned their emphasis to economics, sales and efficiency of operation Those things are clearly important, but we still need to focus on growing talent and developing program content. We want people to go home with information that is valuable to their career and maybe a few contacts, or a mentor. And hopefully we’ll also send ‘em home with some optimism about our business.

Advertiser Boycotts

 This is actually a piece I was asked to write for Media Week in October of 2009.  It somehow seemed timely again.  Oh yeah...and I don't think Media Week actually ever ran the piece so I might as well get a little mileage out of it four years later!

Advertiser Boycotts

 By Gabe Hobbs                                                                                                          October 2009

      “That program is getting a lot of attention, so let’s make sure our product is not associated with it.” 

     “Did you hear what that talk show host said?  As a result his ratings are growing significantly and his audience is extremely loyal.  Make sure our ads do NOT appear in that program.”

     Hopefully you reacted to those two statements with a, “say what?”  On the surface those two statements don’t seem to make sense.  They are even oxymoronic if you will.  Why would an advertiser not want his products associated with a program which delivers not only a large audience, but an audience that is extraordinarily loyal and can be easily mobilized for action?  The same things that make these audience members show up for remote broadcasts or a rally for America or a town hall meeting are the same things that will make them walk into Bill’s TV Shop and buy an expensive flat-panel television.  It’s because someone they trust, respect and believe asked them to take action.     

      So how does it make sense then that certain businesses or advertising agencies run away from these shows as fast as they can?  It’s fear of the unknown.  It’s turning over your business, the way you make your living and feed your family, to people (agency people) that only want the safe and easy answer.  To people that don’t understand the athletic motto of “no pain, no gain.”  To the people that are perhaps 27 years old, wet behind the ears and have never listened to a talk radio station in their lives. 

     I always watch with a combination of amusement and disappointment when I see an advertiser boycott.  Has anyone ever heard of an advertiser boycotting a show because the ratings were terrible?  And if so, did it make the news?  Of course not; low ratings or subpar results are great reasons to boycott a show. 

     Having spent the better part of my career working in radio in Florida I understand the notion of what is known as “cume surge.”  For instance, a hurricane lurks off the coast of St. Petersburg.  What do you think happens to the station that owns the news image?  Exactly, their audience swells significantly.  Very often this is not reflected in Arbitron ratings, at least not under the diary system.  The Personal People Meter (PPM) seems to be changing that however. 

      Well, the same thing happens when a talk show host creates or becomes part of a major news event.  Their audience swells significantly.  Yet instead of increasing their frequency of commercials, many advertisers cancel their commercials.  Crazy isn’t it?  I’ve heard business owners say things like, “Well my customers tend to be somewhat evenly split between liberals and conservatives.”  Duh.  Really?  No kidding.  You mean, like the general population?  The general population actually leans slightly to the right but for the most part looks like a bell curve on a five-point scale which encompasses very liberal – somewhat liberal – moderate – somewhat conservative – very conservative.   


So tell me Mr. Advertiser or Ms. Agency…why are you boycotting certain shows because they have a particular political bent or because they have become embroiled in a controversy?  Is it because someone complained and threatened to boycott your product or client if you don’t boycott that crazy liberal or crazy conservative?  Is it because you’re too lazy to actually work the situation to your advantage?  Is it because you don’t know enough about the job you’re actually supposed to be doing to take advantage of opportunity when it falls in your lap?  Is it because you prefer the path of least resistance (human nature)?  Hey, we’ve all had corporate tell us things like, “I don’t care how you do it, just make the problem go away” when situations pop up.  And we’ve all had that feeling of, “yeah, but we’re also going to make an opportunity go away.” 

      If you’ve been in radio, television or the newspaper business for any length of time you know there is a vocal minority out there that will email you and call you threatening all kinds of doom and destruction on your station or newspaper if you don’t fire a certain host or columnist.  We’ve learned through the years to largely ignore this but advertisers and more importantly advertising agencies haven’t.  When these same people call their store and say they will no longer shop there unless they discontinue advertising on these shows, well…the advertisers capitulate and stop doing what is good for their business.  I call it the sweaty palms syndrome. 

      If anything, when controversy finds its way onto a radio or television show advertisers should be lined up to get a position inside that program.  And they should be trying to outbid the other guys in the same line.  In talk radio the P-1’s, or most loyal listeners, will reward these advertisers.  They are easily mobilized to action.  Just ask Bill at Bill’s Khaki’s, Snapple Ice Tea or the hundreds of other direct response advertisers that have discovered the magic of personality endorsements and spoken word radio.  They wanted to be with Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.  Not because they shared the same political opinions or values, but because they caused people to give them money for their products and because their message was heard by a very large audience that could be easily mobilized into action. 

      If you are advertising on a right-wing talk show do you really think there are a bunch of lefties that will hear the ad and be offended?  If you advertise on Air America do you think those loyal to Rush Limbaugh are there listening and will then organize a boycott against your product?  Or better still, if you advertise on a country music station do you think the rockers will hear that and take offense to the point of avoiding your place of business?  Silly isn’t it?  I know, I know, politics are a little different than country or rock and roll music.  Politics evoke far more emotion and passion.  But again…it’s that same passion that causes the loyal listeners or viewers to buy the products advertised on that show.  If anything the P-1’s will boycott your product for ABANDONING their favorite host or program. 

       When Rush Limbaugh and Barack Obama had a war of words in the media his audience didn’t shrink…it grew to new heights.  When the cume swells…THAT is when you want your ads on those programs.  Now dry your palms, sit back and watch the cash pour in.


More Psychics Buying Radio?

So I'm catching up on reading the trades this weekend and this headline jumps out at me...


Uh-huh. Is this really our good news headline of the day? Is our business on the upswing because more psychics are buying radio? Seriously? Hey I know. Why don't we ask them? They're psychic right? How are we doing and what's the future? I'm guessing they'll say..."DIGITAL!!"

To be very honest that was one thing that always really bugged me when I was a Program Director. Hardly a week went by that some psychic didn't call me or stop by the station wanting a local or even nationally syndicated talk show. It wasn't that they were asking that bothered me. I just knew they had to be frauds or not very good. Because if they were truly psychic then they could have EASILY divined there is NO WAY in hell I'm going to put them on the radio hosting their own show!!!! :)

And here's the article. From the Friday, October 4, 2013 edition of INSIDE RADIO....

More psychics buying radio…

No need to consult an astrologer — the Psychic Friends Network says it’ll use radio to promote a new product. It’ll lend its name to Key Secrets, which promotes itself as a provider of personalized “destiny reports” sent by email, using things like astrology and numerology. No ad budget has been released, but the target demo for the new product is the under 30 year-old market. “Most people don’t realize that before the original Psychic Friends Network dominated the airwaves, the company was already earning millions of dollars a year in marketing psychic reports,” PFN CEO Marc Lasky says.

The Do's and Don'ts of Sending out a Demo

August 25, 2013
When I was a Program Director I would look at the edited demo as something that should get my attention.  If it didn’t….you’re out and I don’t want to hear more. 
If it DID impress then I wanted at least one unedited hour.  I usually picked.  The talent would always say they’ll send me an unscoped hour and I would say something like, “Tell you what, can you send me yesterday’s 5pm hour?”  That way I know they aren’t picking the best hour they’ve ever done in their career.  I want a typical hour or average hour. 
Of course now that I’m on the other side of that desk it’s slightly different and it’s really incumbent on the PD to ask for what they want.  Unfortunately there are some unqualified PD’s out there today and there are a lot of good PD’s but many of them are programming way too many stations.  So their time is limited.  I would encourage talent to keep that in mind….not necessarily to take advantage because it can be harmful to a career to get a job you shouldn’t have and then NO ONE wants you. 
So for talent you should at least remember these 10 things.
  1. Be realistic.  Don’t send a New York sounding aircheck for a top 10 market job if the aircheck or demo is a “best of” and has been cleverly edited to make you sound that way, when in fact you can’t perform at that level on a day in and day out basis. 

  2. Send something that is professional and flawless BUT is indicative of what you are capable of executing on a consistent basis.  Don’t try to “fool” someone in to hiring you for a job for which you aren’t qualified.  That doesn’t mean send a BAD aircheck.  If you’re bad, then send an aircheck to a bad station! 

  3. Put your very best stuff at the front.  Don’t go for the “big finish.”  Program Directors have very little time or patience.  Most PD’s make some level of judgment in the first few seconds or the first two or three clips.  If those are lackluster they’ll never hear the good stuff you saved for the end.

  4. Have a professionally edited, fast paced air check.  Use sound effects and transitions if appropriate.  If you are not good at professional and clever editing then spend 50 or 100 bucks and get a production wizard to make something for you.  It’s worth the investment.

  5.  Make it as current as you possibly can and update it as often as you can.  In talk radio (and to an extent in music radio) I want to know if you are being relevant to the audience. 

  6. Keep the demo SHORT.  I don’t need 10 or 20 minutes.  Give me two to three minutes on the demo.  That’s all they have time for anyway, especially if you can imagine they are sitting there going through perhaps a couple dozen of these.  And with the job market the way it is and so many jocks and hosts out of work, trust me; they are getting a LOT of airchecks.

  7. Have an unedited hour or two (with commercial breaks removed) that you can also send with the demo.  If they like the demo, the next logical thing they will want to hear is a complete hour or show.  Go ahead and send both so they don’t have to call or email you and then a couple of days could be lost or they may not get that far.  If they have both they can move right from the demo to the full aircheck.

  8. Send your stuff however they ask for it but default to .mp3 digital audio that can be easily emailed and for the hours you send along with it you may need to use a service like YouSendIt or DropBox if the file is too big for your email system or theirs.  You can even shrink the size of the file with a free audio format converter found on the internet.  I use one by AVS.  Most email systems will allow attachments of about 10mg, some more.

  9. If you are attending conferences or visiting PD’s in person put everything on a thumb drive.  They are great and a prospective employer can easily put it in their pocket and not have to carry around some big portfolio which may end up in the nearest trash can.  On the thumb drive you can put your resume, audio, pictures, press clippings…. whatever you want and then the PD can decide what he or she wants to see and hear.  Make sure the file names are labeled in such a ways that it is CLEAR what is contained in each file.  If I have to open all of them to see what’s in them, then it defeats the purpose.

  10. For the complete hour part try to make that REALLY current and relevant and update the hours you use almost weekly.  Of course this assumes you already have a show.  If someone sends me an hour from last March I have no way of knowing if what they were talking about that day was relevant and truly what they SHOULD have been talking about.  If the hour was from last week I can hear it in context and know if it’s on target or not.  If I hear you’re talking about Alex Rodriguez return to the Yankees then yes, I know you are on top of it.  Plus an hour that is old tells me perhaps that was the last time you had an hour you thought worthy of sending to the PD!
 So basically… 

Ø PROFESSIONALLY EDITED with great pacing and
Ø AN UNSCOPED HOUR with commercials removed along with it in case the short demo gets my attention and I want more.
I’m often astonished at the garbage some people send to potential employers.  It’s your very best and only shot at getting noticed. 
If you were applying for an accounting job would you send a spread sheet with incorrect formulas yielding bad results? 
If you were applying for a writing job would you send a 30-page piece that also has bad grammar and misspelled words? 
Of course not. 
So send audio that could be aired on the station you are applying to and not be out of place.

You can download a copy of these tips HERE.