A week after being inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame, Neal Boortz regaled about 100 talk-show hosts and related radio folks with advice and stories at a special forum Saturday at the Crown Ravinia at the Perimeter.
His thoughts included these:
- “You have listeners. They’re not followers. When you think these people are there because they will follow you to hell or lead them on some great crusade, your show will start to suffer. You’re on your way out the door. In the bluntest language possible, your job is to keep listeners long enough for the station to play some commercials… You aren’t there to save the world. You’re not there to preserve the republic or breath new life into the constitution… People will get tired of you. You won’t sound genuine.”
Cutting off callers is not a sin. “If you always let listeners talk until they’re finished, your show will tank. I think I can count 10 times I have ever let a caller stay on the air that long, til they say, ‘Thanks, Neal. Goodbye.’ Never do that!”
Also: “Take calls who disagree with you first. Move them to the top… But they are held to a very high standard. If they don’t immediately start making decent points and taking me to task, then I’ll just move on.”
And: “A caller that vehementaly disagrees with you, within 90 seconds, two minutes, I’ll have that guy laughing at me. He’s going to hang up loving me. Try to charm them. And disarm them that way. You’d be surprised how absolutely entertaining that could be.”
Plus: “If you have confidence in the delay system, behind the mike, every once in awhile, tell a caller to screw off. It’s a great relief every once in awhile to just tell a caller to go screw yourself, you sick bastard. The caller will tell his friends. What happens, those friends start tuning in. They don’t realize it never made it to air. It’s great word-of-mouth advertising!”
- He demands security when doing any public event. A dude pulled a knife on him one time at a PGA golf tournament. “I don’t care how new you are or what market you’re in, you’re going to make someone mad enough, some nutcase, to want to kill you.”
He loves to do prep work, probably does one hour’s worth of prep for every on-air hour. In fact, he’d read up on news even if he wasn’t doing a radio show. He doesn’t need to work anymore but he loves how Cox gives him so much leeway. He spends half his time in his home in Naples and half his time in Atlanta. “I can sit there in my pajamas and scratch anything that itches while I’m talking to 5 million people.”
He feels being in the South has cost him 100 affiliates, especially up in the Northeast.
“They will not carry my show because it comes from Atlanta. They think we have dead cows in the streets here. I’m too old to get worked up over it anymore. I’m a Southern show. I don’t think the show is Southern. I come from the South.”
On why he never talks about abortion: “I don’t care what side of the debate you’re on, you will never change anybody’s mind. You will only make enemies. You will only lose listners.” (He will talk about abortion politics as it relates to, say, the health-care debate.)
Local consultant Don Anthony has been doing morning show boot camps for years. This was his very first talk show “boot camp” for would-be and rising talk show hosts to get advice from successful hosts.
I had some video of Boortz from his speech on YouTube but apparently, Anthony requested YouTube take it down, claiming copyright issues. No point in fighting him on that one.
Among the others who were there: Denny Schaffer (formerly of WGST-AM, now at WGKA-AM), Rich Shertenlieb (formerly on 99X from 1999 to 2003, now at the Hub in Boston); Norm Schrutt (agent to the likes of Mara Davis, the 2 Live Stews and John Kincade); Todd Schnitt (formerly on the brief FM talk format Real Radio 105.3 as MJ and Scnitt in the afternoon, still in Florida); Larry Wachs (The Regular Guys) and Chris Krok (formerly of WSB-AM, now in Macon)