Industry Mourns Death of Dr. Joyce Brothers. Before there was a Dr. Laura Schlessinger or a Dr. Joy Browne on the radio and in talk media, there was a Dr. Joyce Brothers. Named by TALKERS magazine as the 72nd most important radio talk show host of all time (“Heaviest Hundred”), Joyce Bauer Brothers, the mother of media psychology, died yesterday at the age of 85 surrounded by her family. The cause of death has not been disclosed. Dr. Joyce Brothers exploded into the public conscience in 1955 after appearing on the TV game show “The $64,000 Question,” the most popular program at the time. She was the second person to ever win the entire payment and she was the first woman. Those qualities alone may have made her an instant celebrity, but add into the mix this unexpected element: she answered obscure questions on the subject of boxing while pitted up against boxers. After that, she landed an opportunity to do commentary for CBS Sports during a boxing match between Carmen Basilio and Sugar Ray Robinson. Thus began her television career. By 1958, Dr. Brothers was hosting a new kind of television talk show – one where she took mailed-in questions from viewers on the subjects of love, marriage, childrearing, and sex. It was that last subject during an innocent era of the late 1950s which summoned the NBC executives into the control room one day. They sweated through her response to a question about premature ejaculation and then waited for the calls to come in – calls of complaints. In the book Making Waves, the 50 Greatest Women in Radio and Television, Dr. Brothers says, “Their white faces drained of blood, and they were waiting for phone calls of complaints and horror.” Sure enough the calls did come in – but “were all positive – men saying ‘This is something I’ve had all my life and you’ve helped me.’” There was not one complaint among them, she recalled. And from that point forward, “I went on my own way and I was on my own way,” a path that lasted decades during which she was often cited as one of the most admired women in America. Her ability to take private issues public with genuine compassion, grace and intelligence — and never embarrass or offend someone – was the key to her connection to the viewer and listener. The only topic she declined to ever discuss? “Mental illness,” she once explained. “I am not trying to do therapy on the air. If I think there is even a possibility that people need therapy, I suggest they seek professional help.” Though her media career began in television, she made a significant foray into radio on NBC Radio/Westwood One and is widely credited with spearheading the call-in psychology shows that became a traditional genre of talk radio. Over the years, she appeared frequently as a guest on talk shows such as “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” Dr. Brothers also landed numerous television roles – many of which were comedic cameo appearances on sitcoms and even ended up in an animated version of herself on “The Simpsons.” She was the author of nine books including most recently Widow, in which she dispenses advice to women who have lost a husband (hers died in 1989). Her articles have appeared in Readers’ Digest, Good Housekeeping and Parade. Born to attorney-parents who worked together in their own law practice, Dr. Brothers grew up in Far Rockaway, Queens. She credits her off-the-charts memory for her ability to cite details for things she only read once. Not only did she skip two grades in high school, but then she went on to graduate with honors. After winning a scholarship to Cornell University where she was forced to major in Home Economics (to retain the scholarship), she discovered psychology and achieved a double-major. She went on to get her doctorate at Columbia University. Dr. Brothers married medical student Milton Brothers in 1949 and left a teaching position in 1955 at Hunter College in New York City to be a stay-at-home mother for her newborn daughter. It was when their money got tight that Dr. Brothers hoped to take home the prize from “The 64,000 Question.” The rest, as they say, is history.
Dr. Joy Browne Credits Pioneer Dr. Joyce Brothers with Making Psychology Accessible. One of the leading radio psychologists of the last quarter century, Dr. Joy Browne (syndicated 12:00 noon – 3:00 pm daily by Radio America) tells TALKERS, that in addition to the media pioneer being an enormous influence on her career, not to mention talk radio and TV in general, the late Dr. Joyce Brothers was a giant figure in America popular culture because “she made psychology accessible to the masses.” Browne, who worked on a number of occasions with Brothers, describes the legendary broadcaster as being one of the “most focused people I’ve ever met in this business.” Browne recalls, “Dr. Joyce Brothers could accomplish almost anything she wanted to do simply by putting her brilliant mind to it…whether it was remembering minutia about boxing to win a game show… to knowing exactly what to do to promote her books… to distilling complex topics down to their basic essence so people could understand them. She had an amazingly disciplined mind.”
Talk Host Phil Valentine Alleges Experiencing IRS Harassment as Political Payback. In an op-ed piece posted today (5/14) exclusive to TALKERS, Nashville-based Cumulus Media syndicated conservative host Phil Valentine claims that he has been repeatedly audited by the IRS over a number of years for no wrongdoing on his part which he believes is tied to his on-air political positions. He also says that he has spoken a number of his liberal friends on radio who’ve told him they have experienced the same thing. He writes, “The revelation on Friday (5/10) that the IRS was targeting conservative groups came as a shock to much of America, especially those on the right side of the aisle. Once the story broadened on Monday to include more groups and more abuse it became apparent that there’s something big going on here. For me, it was all simply a confirmation of something I’ve been experiencing for some time. In fact, I’ve been chronicling the experience on my radio show.” Valentine encourages fellow talk show hosts who have been experiencing the same thing but are afraid to complain because of how “frightening” the IRS can be, to stand up and come forward. To read his entire opinion piece, please click here.
Some On-Air Do’s And Don’ts from a Leading Consultant. One of the hardest-working consultants (and TALKERS columnist) in the radio business today, Holland Cooke shares some helpful tips to sharpening up on-air performance (sort of like an old “aircheck meeting”) and keeping people listening longer. In a new article posted today (5/14) Cooke suggests prepping better, listening better (while on the air), and speaking in the second person singular. He advises not to talk like a radio guy (avoid terms like “remote” broadcast – people think a remote is what they use to change TV channels), do not waste listeners’ time, and SEDUCE listeners into giving you more of their time. Cooke writes, “The way Arbitron ratings are calculated – diaries or PPM — keeping listeners even just five more minutes each time they tune in could as much as DOUBLE your ratings. So when you tease, really tease!” To read Holland Cooke’s entire column, click here.
John Curley Back on Evenings at KIRO-FM, Seattle. The night shift was the original slot John Curley had when he joined Bonneville’s news/talk KIRO-FM, Seattle but he moved to morning drive in November of 2012. Just two months later the station replaced him in AM drive with Dave Ross and he’s been off the air since. Now, program director Pete Gammell pairs Curley up with current evening host Andrew Walsh. Gammell says in a statement, “With John’s comfortable style and storytelling skills he naturally fits well in a nighttime setting. Partner John’s entertaining approach with Andrew’s newsy perspective and you have a completely new dynamic and compelling show.”
Inga Barks Adds PM Drive Show to Hosting Responsibilities. Bakersfield, California-based talk radio personality Inga Barks begins hosting the 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm program on Buckley Broadcasting’s KNZR, Bakersfield. She’ll handle this program in addition to her evening talk show heard on Peak Broadcasting’s KMJ-AM, Fresno. Barks previously worked in the Bakersfield market on American Media General’s news/talk KERN.
Las Vegas Talk Personality Heidi Harris Debuts Daily Feature. Las Vegas-based talk show host Heidi Harris – most recently heard in Los Angeles on Salem Communications’ KRLA – is producing a daily feature dubbed the “Heidi Harris Files” that is airing on Silver State Broadcasting’s news/talk KBET. The three- minute vignette will air on KBET three times daily at 7:30 am, 12:30 pm and 4:30 pm. Harris has also worked at CBS Radio‘s KXNT and Beasley Broadcasting‘s KDWN in the Las Vegas market.
Bruce Newbury to Host Local Show on WADK, Newport, Rhode Island. 3G Broadcasting is adding a local program to its news/talk WADK, Newport with Bruce Newbury hosting his “Talk of the Town” show. Newbury also hosts a weekend food and cooking show on Cumulus Media’s WPRV, Providence and he’ll continue in that role. Newbury’s 9:00 am to 12:00 noon program will debut on May 22.
New York Festivals Announces 2013 Radio Programs and Promo Awards Finalists. This international competition isn’t limited to spoken-word programs as the list of categories indicates, but many of the categories include news, long-form and community service components in the spoken-word realm. As you’ll notice by scanning the list of finalists from the United States (which will compete with finalists from other countries with winners announced June 17 in New York) many programming finalists were produced at public radio stations or companies. However, commercial broadcasters including ESPN and SiriusXM were well represented. ESPN had finalist entries including the “Best News Documentary or Special” for “Outside the Lines and The Sporting Life: A Fight for Faith.” SiriusXM was also represented as it was a finalist with “Best Interview” for “Bob Edwards Talks with Children’s Book Author Jack Gantos,” among others. Bloomquist Media is a finalist in both the “Community Service” and “Profiles/Community Portraits” categories for “A Grateful Nation.” See the entire list of finalists here.
Two Generations of Hayworth Men Grace San Diego. Talk radio personality (and former Arizona Congressman) J.D. Hayworth is currently co-host of the morning drive program alongside Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton on XEPRS, San Diego “The Mighty 1090.” On a recent visit to the station’s partners in downtown San Diego – Fox Sports San Diego – J.D. Hayworth noticed a huge black and white photo of Babe Ruth crossing home plate. Hayworth tells TALKERS magazine, “Imagine my surprise when I looked up and saw this HUGE photo of my grandfather, Ray Hayworth, a catcher for the Detroit Tigers, reaching to tag Babe Ruth at home plate! My grandfather greets passersby outside the building, while the Bambino’s image is seen inside the lobby!”
Obama Benghazi Reaction, IRS Target Allegations, Justice Department AP Phone Records Search, Syria Tensions, and Philly Abortion Doctor Found Guilty Among Top News/Talk Stories Yesterday (5/13). The president’s reaction to recent Benghazi testimony and the GOP’s push to continue searching for answers; the IRS’ alleged targeting of conservative groups; the Justice Department’s investigation into phone records at the Associated Press; ongoing tensions in Syria; and the conviction of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio yesterday, according to ongoing research from TALKERS.