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Pulling Back the Curtain

We officially kicked off the 16th season of Hometown Radio on Monday and let me take you behind the scenes of scheduling a show like ours.

With a four hour format, the most logical plan of attack is to do four major topics, one per hour. But I’ve learned over the years to keep it flexible and try to avoid too rigid a schedule. You also don’t want to run four hours of “heavy phones” day after day so we try to mix up the pace a bit. So I always end up with some free time each show, either at the beginning, the end, or in the middle. You might hear Tom and I just shooting the breeze sometimes, usually because we’ve ended a segment early, or didn’t get the calls we were expecting, or we just ended up with free time. One of the big challenges for me is to try and predict how long to keep a segment going, 30 minutes? An hour? Two hours? I tell you something — it’s a total crapshoot, folks. You just have to go with your gut.

Monday’s show was an amazing example. We started off with Michael Lovejean to promote his annual Share the Dream concert for Martin Luther King Holiday. The woman who was supposed to join him got sick and cancelled. Michael put in a last minute phone call to Carlton Brown, begging him to come over. But Michael and I started right around 3:08 and it was your basic Who-What-When-Why interview — I figured we’d be lucky to make it to 3:30. My next guest wasn’t coming until
5:05. I had my jet lag topic standing by and already I was afraid I’d have to go to it early.

Then Carlton Brown came in the studio and took over the show. Amazing guy. An African-American, married to a white woman, living on the Central Coast since 1970. Suddenly the show took on a completely different dynamic and Carlton immediately started discussing his own perceptions of racism on the Central Coast, complete with different examples.

The listener response was immediate, and telling — almost all the callers today were first time or rare callers. Many women. Many minorities. More stories dumped out. Then whites (and some Hispanics) calling in with disbelief. Suddenly it was 4 and I made the decision to drop jet lag and keep going with Carlton. $;05….4:15….4:30….the calls are rolling in and we’re turning away people at 4:58. So here’s a segment we’re hoping lasts 30 minutes, easily becomes two hours.

So after the 5:05 discussion about tourism, Tom and I decided to take things down a notch, or two, and save the scheduled topics for another time. People ended up calling in about jet lag anyway — sounds like another good topic.

But that’s the key challenge of my job is picking the topic. Guest is important. Arguments are certainly important, but it really comes down to the topic. Pick the right subject and you can ride the calls for hours. There’s no magic formula other than to follow your gut.

Check out the podcast and hear the emotions from those first two hours. We’ll definitely have Carlton Brown back. Interesting guy.

We’ll provide live coverage of Arnold’s State of the State Speech Tuesday night around 5 as well as Bush’s explanation as to why we have to escalate in Iraq on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Dawn Legg and Chris Ahrend will debate the Bush speech on Thursday.

Also, heard from Conservative Bob today and he’ll join us in early February to celebrate Ronald Reagan’s birthday.

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  1. JerryDinAZ
    January 9, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    DAVE,
    YOU MAKE MY POINT FOR ME! THE VAST MAJORITY OF RADIO TALK SHOWS HAVE SPECIFIC AGENDAS OF WHERE THEY WANT TO GO WITH A TOPIC, OR WHAT THEY WANT TO “TELL” THE LISTENERS ABOUT THEIR PERSPECTIVE.

    WHAT HAS IMPRESSED ME OVER THE YEARS IS YOUR DEFINATE LACK OF AN AGENDA BASED ON TOPIC OR PERSONAL OPINIONS…YOU INSTEAD HAVE MADE THE PEOPLE, YOUR AUDIENCE, THE COMMUNITY YOUR AGENDA.

    THUS YOUR SUCCESS WITH THOSE THAT REPRESENT DIFFERING POINTS OF VIEW. ALL SIDES ARE SERVED AND ACCOMMODATED ON YOUR SHOW!

    TO ME THAT IS THE HUGE DIFFERENCE FROM TOPIC DRIVEN SHOWS AND YOUR “PEOPLE DRIVEN” SHOW!

    I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN IN AWE OF HOW YOU PUT ON 4 HOURS A DAY OF TALK RADIO. IT WOULD BE HARD ENOUGH TO DO 4 HOURS A WEEK WELL.

    YOU KEEP DOING WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN DOING…SERVE THE LISTENERS AND PEOPLES OF THE COUNTY AND YOU WILL SOAR FOR YET ANOTHER GREAT 15 YEARS!

    I WOULD LOVE TO SEE OTHERS FOLLOW YOUR MOTIVATION…BUT THEN THAT WOULD MAKE YOUR STYLE LESS UNIQUE.

    WHATEVER YOU DO…HOWEVER YOU DO IT…KEEP ON DOING IT!

  2. marilyn farhat
    January 10, 2007 at 1:28 am

    Dave,

    If you don’t mind, I will be posting links to blogs in the Middle East. I think the best way to know how people feel there is to read their comments from all points of view.

    I am including 2 today: one is a cartoon one that has caricatures of the Israeli-Hezbollah War and the political situation following it.

    The other is a blog started by Jewish Lebanese. It is a fairly new blog and much of it is under construction. Their mission statement is an indication of what the Lebanese community in diaspora is trying to do to bridge the gap. I thought maybe people would like to see for themselves that there is much that binds us than separates us.

    Most people from the Middle East, specifically Lebanese, have this sarcastic sense of humor and they satirize everything. You will pick up on the tensions withing the different groups and their view of the world from reading the blogs.

    Enjoy, especially the caricature one.

    http://www.leba-none.blogspot.com/

    http://thejewsoflebanon.org/me/?page_id=2

  3. Anonymous
    January 22, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    Thank god the new congress is finally punishing those evil oil companies. Last weeks repeal of most of thier tax breaks is a god send. Even though it will cost me a good percentage more at the pumps it is worth punishing those evil oil tycoons. I can’t wait for more of the same. Even though it costs me and my family more and more I think it is worth punishing those evil doers like the tobacco and fire arms companies. It is worth hurting a robust economy as long as people I disagree with are punished, to me at least and from what I have read on this site to you also. Finally someone that sees things the way I do. I also noticed that you are punishing that evil Peggy Penny….boy, she must have really done you wrong for you to risk a slander suit. Good for you and keep it up….your #1 fan!!!!

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