When TV Folks go to Radio

I’m thinking tonight about a local talk-show on Memphis radio about 7 years ago, featuring a popular local television news reporter. The show aired on an up-start AM station, mid-mornings when the night-side reporter was on his own time.

I remember management had some concerns when Mike Matthews approached them with the idea. They were concerned that a local news reporter should remain non-biased when covering local stories, and since talk-radio is mostly about opinions…it didnt’ get the green light easily.

But they apparently saw some cross-promotional possibilities and Mike was allowed to go on the air with the Mike Matthews’ Radio Show.

And man was it entertaining.

I tuned in on day-one with my photographer Hutch behind the wheel as we headed out on a story (probably something on monkey-flu).

Now Mike was great on the radio, but the trouble was…nobody called in. And I mean nobody.

Mike was left behind the mic for long periods of time with nothing but AP copy, the Commercial Appeal and his thoughts.

“Now come on…I know somebody is listening. Give me a call.”

But hardly anybody did.

I felt for the guy. In fact, I even called in. But as I remember there was a problem with my cellphone and after giving my name “Jim from Hernando”, I got cut off.

“Hey…we’ve got a call!” Mike said. “Jim from Hernando…how’s it going?”
But there was no voice on the other end. “Hey folks…listen. When you call in, this is pretty important. Don’t hang up!”

After a couple of days, I thought it might get better for Mike, but it never did. One of the funniest things I heard was Mike offering a free lunch at the Arcade to everyone who called in. “And if we get enough…hey, we might even get a booth.”

Mike had a great attitude about the whole thing and really did a great job. I don’t know that he ever got paid for his work as the station went down the tubes a few weeks or a month later.

TV folks don’t make the transition to radio very often. The nature of their job (non-biased, no opinion) makes it nearly impossible to host a talk-radio show. Mike managed to host the show without crossing that line.

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