Valentine in the Morning
MYfm, Los Angeles
Our thoughts on the MYfm morning show.
I listened like a listener this morning at 6:20. I poured my third cup of coffee, turned on the radio and the first thing I heard was Valentine having a long conversation with a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage. Valentine let her talk, she got into what a nice and good man her husband is, but she just isn’t in love with him. Valentine got too close to being an amateur psychologist, but he didn’t push it. He didn’t make fun of her predicament. Valentine ended it nicely, and I came away thinking “Wow, he isn’t an asshole!” Good start.
I agree, Bob, he’s warm, friendly, and very female-oriented. The problem I had with Valentine’s topics when I listened, was none of them had a killer close. Nothing he did stuck, so there was no way I could go to work and say, “Hey did you hear what Valentine said this morning?”
From that nice, first class start, MYfm went to a massive bunch of commercials. The third or 4th spot was very low. Almost, inaudible. Traffic was read at high speed, it sounded like one long sentence without punctuation. Brutal. If you’re going to do traffic, why throw it away? I’d bet even the most hardcore Valentine listeners tune in KNX or somewhere else for traffic, what they get from MYfm is useless.
The thing about the morning show that is also true of the rest of MYfm is that they’re not balanced. They clump all the talk together and then cluster the music too. If I was doing it, I would put the topic, the spots and a tune all together in a segment and then continue around the clock in the same manner.
After a few tunes, more calls on relationship problems. One woman sounded like she was making shit up. Valentine handled her well. I found myself thinking this guy is good. Valentine is the, always hard to find ” nice guy on the radio”. Too many morning guys sound like the kind of person, who if they sat next to you at a bar, you’d move.
“Nice guy sounding” is Valentine’s gift, he need not work on that, but what he does need to work on, is making me see what he says. Seeing, as 85% of communication is done with the eyes, broadcasters and authors have to paint pictures. Valentine doesn’t do that at all, so no radio hall of fame for him.
Cakes came out on the porch just as one of the calls ended. Valentine’s sidekick Jill was doing the ever-present “woman/girl on the radio laugh”. Cakes said, “Why do they always do that stupid laugh?” I don’t know, Honey.
I think the giggle chick sidekick era is over, Bob. Valentine needs to use his staff as more than an in-studio audience. He should be interviewing things out of them, asking them the things he can’t say because of his image. He’s the one wearing the white hat the rest don’t have to.
Valentine’s show could be so much better. He needs to be in a better environment. You don’t need to do music sweeps in AM drive. Let Valentine be Valentine. That’s on the PD or Brand Manager, not Valentine. Here’s another thing. The Dodgers won the NL West for the 6th straight year. Never mentioned! Rain in the forecast for the first time in months and months. Never mentioned! And sweet sleeping Jesus, slow the traffic woman down! Every big city has terrible traffic and every commuter knows that you should report the unusual, not the usual.
The only thing local on the morning show Bob is the traffic, but it goes by so fast that you don’t really hear it. The show is pleasant enough, but great morning shows are only understood by the listeners who live in that town. You could drop Valentine’s show into any town.
We were talking the other day about the great radio CEO and innovator George Wilson. When George went to rehab at Hazelden outside of Minneapolis, he said he was excited to be able to listen to WCCO. CCO had been dominate in the Twin Cities since the station signed on in 1921. Wilson said he turned it on one morning and he didn’t understand what Boone and Erickson were talking about. WCCO was all about Minneapolis and St. Paul. The only thing George recognized on the station was the sportscasts because he knew the names of the teams. When he got out of rehab he beat his Bartel GMS and PDS into making their stations local, local, local and then more local. Wilson got dry at Hazelden and got religion about being all about your market. HIs “Q” stations all had the same format, but they all sounded different because they were targeted right at their market.
Too bad Wilson had to learn how radio worked by going to rehab. You and I learned how radio worked from what caused George to go there. All that counts is being local. In fact, when I first moved to San Diego, I didn’t understand the jargon. They referred to areas as PB, TJ, the Strand, OB, the Murph, the Gaslamp District, Etc. You had to live there to understand what it meant. If you didn’t use those terms you were from out of town. Most of the LA stations got into San Diego loud and clear but nobody listened to them, they didn’t talk about San Diego.
George, we’ve both been around morning shows running as many as 21 units in an hour, we somehow figured how to make the show sound uncluttered. MYfm needs to decide whether they are going to be a personality-driven show from 6 to 9 or keep trying to split the baby. It’s schizophrenic.
Yeah, it doesn’t really matter what the unit count is Bob, you have to figure out how to balance it. In fact, all you need is the formula that movies, TV sitcoms, Broadway plays, and all the guys who are in the radio hall of fame use. Attention-getting opening, a little drama in the middle, and a killer close. All Valentine had was a little drama which is the least important part.
The way I’ve always taught it Bobby was doing it break by break like this;
1. What’s it like outside.?
2. What’s going on in the area?
3. What’s the station or one of its staff members were doing?
4. Your own topic?
5. Start over at #1.
I’d love to hear Valentine working on a show formatted for his strengths. You and I have discussed many times how you can you use the various elements to punctuate, bits, phone calls. He could set up a call from Jody in North Hollywood this way:
“I’ve got Jody on the phone, she lives in North Hollywood, Jody what’s going on?”
“My neighbor’s cat jumps across to my balcony to poop.”
“What?” Jill says (no laughing, btw)
“Have you talked to your neighbor about it?” Valentine asks.
“She doesn’t believe me.”
“Probably doesn’t want to. (Jill could say, “I wouldn’t want to know either.”) Have you got her number?”
“Give it to me while we check traffic, I’ll call her for you, Okay?”
“Great. It’s a nice cat named Fritzie and I love cats, but….”
“We’ll make that call for you Jody, it’s 7:18, sunny with a high of 78 today in the valleys, cooler on the beaches. Air quality is supposed to be good. It’s Valentine in the Morning on MYfm, we’ll be back to solve Jody’s kitty troubles after a check on traffic.”
It would be really nice if the traffic person could mention Jody’s cat problem, too.
The perfect way to get rid of a few spots and the traffic and get the listener to hang on.
How would you handle it, George?
The above works for me Bobby. All the morning folks I ever worked with, use the spots as a rim shot for a good punch line. It can even save some corny ones.
The PD or Brand Manager or whoever needs to sit down with Valentine every day and go through, at least one thing, good or bad. I remember when you got your hands on a script from the Letterman Show, all of the seemingly ad-libbed material was scripted word for word.
Great morning shows can’t just wing it 20 hours a week. Valentine is good but with some proper direction, he could be great.