Archive for February, 2012

I know this is probably old news by now, but, hey, I work all day and only get to this stuff when I can get to it.  Most of you know the methods of Lew Dick-ey’s take over and trashing of local radio stations.  Once he thinks he owns you, then he lets his dog loose on your lawn.  Leaving little piles of SweetJack everywhere.  Doesn’t even knock on the door to warn you what’s waiting out there.  What does he care?  He has money.  It’s his dog.  And if you try to complain, he simply fires all the local voices and puts a canned ham in syndication on your airwaves.

It’s like he’s holding his hands to his ears so he won’t hear you.

You think you can simply turn off his stations to get rid of him.  Oh, if only it were that easy.  He’s got your number.  Your name.  Your email address.  Yep.  You’re SweetJack’d now.  That station he trashed, your old radio home, is now his personal mailing list to market his crap.  All he has to do is open the old Listener Club files and let the dog off the leash, to go ‘fetch’.

An example of where his dog roams freely:

Here’s an excerpt:

“A couple of weeks later I start getting spam from SweetJack, thanking me for signing up – to the tagged email address I’d only given to KFOG. And no mention of KFOG at all.”

SweetJack Spam:

Here’s an article that isn’t even about SweetJack but look at some of those comments(copied below):

Anonymous said…

Not sure what this is all about, but I do wish the Cumulus owned Sweet Jack campaign would FREAKIN’ END NOW!
I can’t take it anymore. Sure, like a lot of people, I was first suckered in by the catchy tune. But now it makes me want to turn the dial. In fact, if they insist on running it every single commercial break, I think I’m going to take a vacation from The Ticket. And I don’t care how long I have to wait it out. At the very least play a new ad for the dumb website or service or whatever the hell it is.
Little Weak Jeremy said…
I love the Andy Kaufman-esque utter madness of the Sweet Jack ad and look forward to Dan’s performance of it at Ticketstock.Plainsman,I’d advise you not to stroll down dark alleys any time soon, lest you meet some hired thugs wearing green. You’ve been a thorn in AP’s side before and with this latest brickbat-throwing they may choose to take decisive action.
Anonymous said…
What do you find Andy Kaufman-esque about the Sweet Jack ads, LWJ?
Little Weak Jeremy said…
I find it impossible to imagine these guys don’t know they’re whipping the ever-loving sh– out of listeners. It’s so horrible that it comes out the other side as great audience-abuse performance art, kind of like Kaufman with the Tony Clifton act (and similar to what Dan will be doing if he sings it at Ticketstock). I’m basically rehashing the position that Jake Z took on It’s Just Banter (episode 112, I think).
ap said…
Minor clarification; the “AP” in the second comment refers to “all-pro foundation repair” – I’d never accost the good Plainsman!Regarding Sweetjack, this has been a growing nuisance since October of last year. Around that time, an irate BaD Radio screenless caller complained at length that signing up for the Ticket’s text message alert service had somehow opted him into SweetJack advertising spam. At the time, I thought “wow, the ticket has stooped to a new low” because the text promos claimed they’d never sell your info. Mind you, a host (Craig or Dan, I don’t remember which) had added the comment “until we deem it profitable” during the initial run of those ads, but I digress. Dan let the caller go for about a minute, but he did eventually cut him off. I thought it was weird for them not to immediately dump an anti-sponsor call, but I chalked it up to Dan’s “stick it to the man” life mantra.So I was left thinking “Wow, the ticket just sold out it’s P1 base to this SweetJack sponsor”. A month later during the Christmas layover, I found myself waking up with the Sweet-Jack tune stuck in my head. It became more and more aggravating, and a few weeks later, the P1’s also became vocal about it. I was averaging about one anti-SweetJack tweet per day until a P1 lightly chastised myself (and Sean Bass) for calling out a rare Q1 sponsor. So I stopped……For about 2 hours. Then I found out (via twitter and during the Musers’s 5:30AM skatearound) that SweetJack is actually a Cumulus venture. That’s how they were able to access the P1 database of cell phone numbers, and that’s why they can play that damned spot ad-nauseum. It’s basically filler until regular sponsors come back, and even then, I think it will still be in heavy rotation. As far as I can tell, SweetJack is a direct competitor to GroupOn, but they can leverage their radio advertising opportunity as well.You can tell that the hosts have taken notice to the P1’s outcry and no longer treat Sweet Jack as a sacred sponsor. Gordon, Sean, Rich, Dan and Mike R have all taken on-air shots at the advertisement, and I bet they will continue to do so until a gag order is issued from Cumulus.I’ve also noticed that the frequency of those ads has increased tremendously, despite the ticket’s commercial load returning to healthier levels. One wonders just how aggressively Cumulus wants to push this thing.
AnonNoLonger said…
I think *fingers and toes crossed* that we might be seeing the beginning of the end of the Sweet Jack onslaught. I’ve noticed that a shortened version of the ad/song is being played from time to time. Hopefully the shorter ad will soon become the only spot run, and eventually it’ll die out. Or perhaps Cumulus will at least start a new ad campaign for their web-“cool”-thing-of-the-moment endeavor. Like I said fingers and toes crossed.Little Weak Jeremy: I’m not sure if I can agree with you that the advertisement group hired by Cumulus thinks along the lines you’ve imputed onto them. Actually, I highly doubt it. Cumulus one heckuva *monied and even make or break you* client, and I can’t imagine a business fooling around as such. The ad’s design is to entice, not repulse. And as much as I detest the campaign and its song, it has done its job in spades where the masses are concerned. So I have to respectfully disagree with you here.
Anonymous said…
Following up on AP’s post, just about every TV station and/or newspaper has a “Deal of the Day” service these days. So it’s no surprise Cumulus would have its own. The bubble will burst on these deal sites before too long. Let’s hope it happens sooner rather than later for SweetJack.
The Plainsman said…
I was going to do a bit on SweetJack, but you all have beat me to it, and rather authoritatively I might say.I remember hearing the shorter version first, and then the more annoying longer two-verse version where they replace the final rhyme of the first verse with another rhyme, and stick the removed rhyme on the end of the second verse about how he sticks the stuff in your in-box and “that’s why he rocks.”My problem is much worse. Not only was I humming that cursed tune all day long, but while doing so I actually formed a mental image of a smallish dog racing around town looking for bargains and then coming back and pawing out a mass email to SweeJack victims.
Scott said…
Odd, I heard the SFR ad this morning for the first time and had the exact same thought, especially as George did a live ad for All Pro about 15 minutes later.As to Sweet Jack, it has driven me nuts. I wonder though, how many have actually sat down and typed in that url to see what is there. I admit, I did, and, on occasion, they have deals.
Anonymous said…
Sweet Jack is an instant punch out for me. Hope Cumulus is happy screwing over their other advertisers by forcing listeners to tune out due to their own. Sweet Jack has moved to the top of the list, alongside Godaddy, of products I’ll never use due to their advertising.
Blergoyen said…
I don’t like having to hand my prized smart phone over to a kid to take down all the sweetjack info when you use an ecoupon.That being said, I feel EVEN SORRIER for the old guy in the Guardian construction (roofing) commercials. I’m not trying to be mean, as I am dealing with this very issue with a family member right now, but the poor old guy sounds like he might be suffering the onset of mild dimensia. He starts rambling in both commercials and the son actually has to interrupt him in order to finish the commercials. He sounds like a nice guy, so I hate to criticize, but the sound of that guy hits a little close to home right now.

What’s most interesting about all of this is SweetJack’s own Rules on Spam:


  • Your friends must accept your invitation and make their first purchase in order for you and them to get your credit. We will let you know when your friend accepts your invitation and joins SweetJack. Within 48 hours of your friends’ first purchase we will credit $10 to your SweetJack account.
  • Fake invitations are not allowed.
  • SPAM invitations are not allowed.
  • SweetJack reserves the right to disqualify and even terminate the account of any individual who participates in providing or acquiring referrals in a “dubious manner”, or that a “dubious manner” constitutes but is not limited to:
    • Sending unsolicited emails to strangers or people you do not know. Any SPAM complaints will result in immediate disqualification and removal from the SweetJack service.



Really, SweetJack?  Clean up your own lawn, first.  Get out your pooper-scooper and start the removal of SweetJack from our neighborhoods.



And it’s not over yet.  This is what your local businesses can expect anytime soon:

SweetJack Sales Representative

Company: Cumulus Radio ChicagoLocation: Chicago, ILDate Posted: January 19, 2012

Job Description: SweetJack is Cumulus Media’s social commerce division. SweetJack Representatives are professionals who can develop leads, negotiate and close deals in a fast-paced environment while creating a strong merchant pipeline, and leverage related experience in local merchant advertising with connections to build partnerships for Cumulus Media. They secure commitments from the most popular and desirable local businesses including restaurants, theaters, spas and everything in between, negotiating unbeatable offers on behalf of our radio listeners and email subscribers. We hire connected, innovative and industry-relevant sales professionals with online, advertising, social media, phone and face-to-face sales experience. Cumulus Media is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

I’m not sure what to think of Rich Lieberman’s 415 Media blog about the Bay Area broadcast market.  He’d been plugging along, sharing information and posting his opinions about the goings-on behind the scenes at our local television and radio stations long before I knew about him.  Then Cumulus Media showed up and in early December, 2011, their management, in typical Lew Dick-ey style, unceremoniously fired many of the popular hosts on our top News Talk station at the time, KGO, and Cumulus basically turned off 50,000 watts of radio for thousands of loyal listeners by replacing the news-talk format with all news.

We had no place to go to voice our outrage.  KGO turned its back on us, pretending not to hear the outcry of thousands.  Even Ronn Owens, one of the few talk-show hosts left standing at KGO, treated it as a non-topic of discussion, dismissing it as a good move and he had other things to talk about.  That was the last time I listened to KGO.

No one knew why it’d happened.  I scoured the internet for news about it.  That’s when I found a newly formed Facebook page FormerKGOListeners ( ).  The first postings were all cries of disbelief it had happened.  I started this blog as well, as a former listener, to reach out to others who wanted to talk about it.  We had no where else to go!  Thankfully, the Facebook page of FormerKGOListeners took off in popularity and it became the go-to place to find out about what the heck was going on at KGO.  I continued this blog because I’m not on Facebook and don’t plan to open an account there any time soon.  But I do enjoy reading the posts at Facebook’s FormerKGOListeners.  And I support them, as much as I can without actually opening an account there.  I like the WordPress format here because posts are easy to find, tagged and dated, and it feels more like writing an article than posting a quick thought on a Facebook page.  But that’s my preference.

That’s how I heard about Rich Lieberman’s 415 Media blog, from a link on Facebook’s FormerKGOListeners.  Finally, there was someone who talked about what was happening at KGO.  None of the fired KGO hosts were talking publicly, only polite little comments about ‘that’s the way radio is, comes with the job’.  Rich had some media connections, so he gave us the good stuff we wanted to hear.  Details of the day our favorite hosts were fired, what happened next behind-the-scenes at the station, and which staff members had survived.

I’ve been reading him weekly, at times daily, since the December day I found his blog.  I’ve linked to it on my About page.  He’s not the most professional writer/blogger out there.  He uses words like ‘tonsils’ at times when describing a broadcast personality.  Makes me cringe just typing it.  But that’s his style.  Speaking of cringe, he co-hosted a show on a Santa Cruz radio station one day and it really turned me off about promoting this guy.  He was awful.  I wrote about it here:

Then he began posting stuff that was so gossipy and juvenile about various people around the Bay that I almost deleted his links off my blog.  But I continued to read, glancing through the posts.  The good stuff was always in the comments.  I read them to this day.  It brings back the old days of KGO when people discussed and disagreed and even went on a rant or two.  That’s what I enjoy.   And it’s a place where everyone stops once in awhile to sit down and chat.  To put in a good word about Rich, he’s posted some interesting news that I hadn’t heard elsewhere.  A word of caution, though, there is a crack in his believability, some of the things he posts as breaking news or stay tuned for a big event, never happen.  So, read at your own risk and know that he’s just trying to find his way in this crazy media world and I’m sure he’ll even-it-all-out somehow.

He’s posted about some of our KGO hosts, I love that, and he even wrote about Ray recently.  Here’s the link to his Ray Taliaferro post and following are links to posts about the other hosts – with pictures, too:

Post about Ray Taliaferro (Note: Ray has even responded under the Comments section)

Post about John Rothmann:

Post about Gil Gross:

Remember when I said Rich needs time to even things out?  Well, this crazy bit of rambling makes me scratch my head.  I just hope it was an off day for his meds or something.  It once again brings into question his believability factor.  But it’s still a fun read.

As I said, huh?

Bernie Ward on the evils of the Chamber of Commerce:

Bernie on PG&E, immunizations, Linsanity, the evils of Google and even Whitney Houston:

Image by speedyleedy

I found a wonderful graphic of the History of Radio (follow the link below to see it), posted by John Baker at WordPress.

It charts the progress of radio over the years, in a timeline format with a brief summary of the significance of each highlighted year.   For example: In the year 1933 “…during the Great Depression.  President Franklin D. Roosvelt [sic] becomes the first “radio president”.”

I don’t think that’s John’s typo, he’s probably not the creator of the poster.

Here’s the link:

I wonder what they will add to it in ten years time.  Any ideas?


Also, here’s more graphics from other people that he’s linked on his blog  (if you want to think about something else besides radio for a moment):

A Color Wheel:

The Warning Label that should be printed across every chair:

Steve Jobs too much information

Not only do we have taxes to look forward to in April, but for those of you who’ve migrated to Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio service to listen to KKSF Newstalk 910-AM and you’ve expanded into using iHeartRadio’s Custom Station feature, the commercial free ride will soon be over.  They will be adding advertisements to Custom Stations on April 1st.

Not sure if that will change on the iHeartRadio Podcasts.  We’ve been able to listen to podcasts of our former KGO hosts on KKSF Newstalk 910-AM (Podcasts found here: without commercial interruption.  We’ll see if that changes.  I guess they ‘gotta pay the bills’.  If they do add commercials, maybe that will pay for another host or two to go full-time on Newstalk 910.

Here’s more information from, written by Paul Riismandel, posted in December. 2011.  It includes an overall review of the service.  It’s favorable overall, with one limitation.  Here’s an excerpt of that one little nitpick:

“Fidelity is what I find to be iHeartRadio’s greatest limitation. I’ve listened to the service on my iPhone, iPad and two different Mac laptops. At home I’ve used both my MacBook Pro’s built-in headphone jack and two different USB audio devices. Across all devices I found that the custom stations sound the best. While quality does vary some from song to song, overall fidelity is roughly equivalent to Pandora’s free service.”

Here’s a link to Mr. Riismandel’s article:

Paul Maloney of RAIN (Radio and Internet Newsletter) posted a video of Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman’s interview with Kara Swisher of AllThingsDigital.  Maloney recapped several points of the half-hour interview.  Here’s one:

“Pittman likened Pandora more to Spotify and iTunes as “music collections” and even “retailing,” and though Clear Channel offers personalized streaming, stressed that this is “not what we do… it doesn’t play to our core strengths.” He also hit on the difficulty the company has had with consumer acceptance of advertising on personalized streams.”

hmmmm… maybe Clear Channel won’t add commercials to the podcasts if we, the consumer, object…

Anyway, here’s Maloney’s post that includes the video here:

Want Jersey Joe’s opinion of the iHeartRadio app?  You got it:

Had to include that because I like the name of his blog.  Reminds me of that hysterical video of Donny Osmond in Weird Al Yankovic’s green-screen first take of ‘White and Nerdy’.  How could I not include that link?  Enjoy:

Or, if you prefer following the link to YouTube:

What about the future of iHeartRadio?

And they are certainly ‘sync’ing their future with Ford:

And Cumulus Media?  They are ‘sink’ing their future, too.  In the homophone sense.  hee hee… (fingers crossed)


* Quick note: Bill Wattenburg will be on vacation next week (Feb 20-26, 2012).

Photo by Fred Hsu

Ever since management at KKSF Newstalk 910-AM extended an invitation to our former KGO hosts to fill-in for Gene Burns during his recovery, not to mention bring on-board Len Tillem and Gene Burns for dedicated shows, I’ve been listening to that station.  Both online and on my AM radio dial.  I’m unfamiliar with other programs on that station during the times the former KGO hosts are off the air, but I hear promos of some shows during the time I listen.  One promo always makes me cringe.  Only recently has my mind retained the name of the show.  These guys are not my style, from the promos played.  One guy screams over the other, shouting out inane things about forgettable topics.  It really sounds like one of those morning-zoo type of shows, hyena laughs at their own jokes, yelling out brain farts, and talking about things normal people tune out.

I understand how this works.  Some people like this hyper-hyperbole in the mornings.  I don’t have to listen to it.  You like it?  Good for you.  You are turning the ON button in the opposite direction than I am.  I find other programming to fill the time in between the former KGO hosts.  I get it.  You have listened to these other guys for years.  They are part of your morning routine.  Just as the former KGO hosts had been part of my daily routine.

I heard that the talk show hosts I enjoyed would be sitting in for these zoo guys during their vacation.  For one week, Monday through Friday, I was able to turn on my AM radio in the early morning and hear programming I enjoyed.  I’d miss the earliest hour but was able to access the podcasts and listen at a later time.  Everything was right in the world again.

KKSF Newstalk 910-AM was beginning to get my attention.  Maybe I should try some of their other programming, not Rush, but some of their other talk hosts, to support this station that was filling the airwaves with some intelligent talk.

Armstrong & Getty returned from their vacation and burst that happy little thought bubble.

On their first show back, according to what I read on, Armstrong & Getty spent time reading email that bashed those former KGO hosts who showed up in the early hours to do their show.  I was shocked.  I read about it on another blog post as well.  Those guys read numerous email messages on-air calling the fill-in hosts boring and unlistenable and made it an all-around bash-fest.

I should note that I did not listen to that particular Armstrong & Getty show.  Didn’t want to waste time on it or download a podcast of their show that would show up as one more click in their favor.  No way.

Unbelievable bad taste on their part.  I’m not a fan.  Never will be.

If anyone who has actually listened to this podcast and want to correct anything I’ve said about it, please do so.

If anyone wants to listen to the podcasts of John Rothmann, Gil Gross and Ed Baxter and Rosie Allen filling in for those two clowns, then please do.  Show the management of that station what programming is worth listening to again.

Here’s a link to KKSF Newtalk 910-AM, the former KGO hosts filled in during the week of February 7th on the Armstrong & Getty show under Podcasts:

I found this post on WordPress that explains the radio market in a way most people would understand.  I’ve seen questions on other sites from people asking how radio stations determine audience and commercial rates.  This post also goes into the Arbitron Ratings system versus PPM, the other big question that comes up.  The emphasis of the article is on tips for buying radio time but in the details are the answers to some of these questions.

Not only that, I learned something new about Clear Channel:

“Spot length – You don’t need :60s.  This used to be the traditional length of a radio commercial – but Clear Channel took the lead a few years back in offering :30s, :15s, and even :05s and :01s or “blinks”. “

I had no idea Clear Channel originated the 30 second spot (for radio, not any other medium – thanks for the correction indiglo789).

Here’s the link: