At the crossroads of broadcasting and technology, Kim Komando found her niche in radio by creating her own network. She then used that network to bring knowledge to the masses and will soon be inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
But Komando, who grew up in New Jersey, wasn’t planning a life in broadcasting.
Her connection to the tech world started with her mother who was with Bell Labs as a system analyst. Her father worked for United Airlines, giving the family plenty of free flights.
Komando’s first job out of school was for IBM. She tried her hand at television on Fox as Komando, an attractive blond, was told she had a face for the medium.
“I really didn’t like the scripted nature of it,” Komando told BNM. “I felt like I was just reading a prompter.”
However, some people would also say she had a “voice for radio,” and it all began with a Saturday late night call-in show about computers on Phoenix’s KFYI.
“As soon as I sat in front of a radio microphone, I was home,” Komando said.
At the time, Komando was selling computers for Unisys as a district manager. Komando graduated from Arizona State University at the age of 19 in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems.
By her mid-20s, she was willing to leave a $150,000 a year salary on the table. Money notwithstanding, she wasn’t happy with the job and consulted with her parents. Komando quit to forge a radio career. There was no need to find a radio name, as Komando is her given name.
“People thought, in the beginning, that I had to make that up,” she said. “But I never took my husband’s name, not even legally, because I am Kim Komando.”
Despite the notoriously low pay, Komando wasn’t discouraged. In fact, she was quite determined. She had a sense of building her brand from the start— as Komando would write syndicated newspaper columns and formed the Komando Corporation in 1992.
Around that same time, Komando sold the “Komputer Tutor” training tapes via informercial that was a “screaming success.”
She landed a deal for running a computer section on AOL (America Online), but getting radio stations for the unproven commodity would prove to be more challenging.
“None of the big companies would syndicate my show, so I did it myself,” she said. “Those were pretty humbling beginnings,” she admitted. “Quite frankly, I didn’t know what I was doing.”
Fortunately, her husband, Barry Young, a Phoenix on-air personality, did. By 1995, they had formed WestStar MultiMedia Entertainment, where ultimately her brand would come to life nationally.
“He taught me radio formatics and he built our first studio,” Komando said.
Aside from her husband, Komando didn’t look to any broadcasters for help, although she credits Fred Weber, who gave her the first radio job, with a special bond. But she always listened to radio. Komando recalls taking her Walkman with AM/FM bands on a trip and would hear stations pop in and out from different markets.
“I thought that was so slick,” she said.
At her fledgling company, Komando was the talent, but also handled affiliate relations and sales.
The Kim Komando Show
Today, Komando’s three-hour weekend show is heard on more than 400 affiliates nationwide. A daily tech update airs worldwide but she does her best to “super serve” the stations. Komando will add a localized “tag” or outro for any affiliate that requests it, so listeners think she’s part of that particular radio station’s on-air team. She even provides an assist with station imaging and records any ad copy for free.
Generating multiple pieces of online content daily, Komando also distributes to station’s websites, “so it looks like they have a tech section.”
It was a slow incline for Komando as only two stations were initially on board—one in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which is still part of the network, another in Augusta, Georgia—WGAC, which also remains loyal to Komando.
She gained traction when Tom Clendening, the former boss at KIRO in Seattle, asked for a demo tape of the show. He wanted the cassette overnighted, but Komando, paying out of pocket, didn’t want to spend extra for the sample to just sit on his desk.
After he hung up, Komando worried that she was too demanding. However, Clendening called with tape in hand the next day and enjoyed the demo so much he was willing to air the show on KIRO AM and FM, Saturdays and Sundays.
While Komando’s tech update is heard in the top market on New York’s WCBS-AM, they haven’t added her weekend show.
The show is done through barter, splitting the advertising time with affiliates. H sponsors include T-Mobile and LinkedIn.
As the technology space has grown in the past 20 years, so has Komando’s presence.
“I have no debt. I have no investors,” she admitted.
“The show is actually more relevant today than it ever has been,” Komando said. “It affects everybody in, pretty much, every aspect of their lives.”
Cars, Homes and The Hall
In an effort to keep her show as fresh as possible, Komando reviews shows every quarter.
“If you don’t innovate, you’re going to evaporate,” she said. “The show you hear today is probably quite different than the show you heard two years ago.”
These days, a major focus for Komando is giving back to callers. A woman spoke to Komando about a man stalking her college daughter after connecting on Tinder. The investigation hit a dead end with police, so Komando stepped in.
“I called in some forensics folks, and we should be serving an arrest warrant to this guy pretty soon,” she said.
Another time, a dad and 11-year-old daughter called the show. She was starting a Disney princesses-themed podcast and asked Kim for pointers.
“I told her how to do the podcast and make sure she smiles… because that comes through. So in my inbox now is her first podcast for me to listen to and critique.”
While the brand is all Komando and she is the only voice on her product, she is mentoring three people.
“I’m hoping that at some point they can have their own podcast first,” she said.
Mentoring is new for the veteran broadcaster, as she explains how important it is to tell the story.
“This is not a TED Talk,” Komando said. “You have to be entertaining and then you can be informative.”
Radio, unlike other mediums, is an intimate way for interaction. You may be speaking to millions at any given moment, but the hosts who do it well can talk directly to one person.
“I can have a great conversation in, like, 2 to 4 minutes, that’s it,” Komando said. “If it requires help afterwards, I call them. I use my personal cell phone number. I get emails and texts. They’re all really just good people.”
As many show hosts will do, Komando, at times, will bring the audience into her own personal experiences, including discussing her mother’s battle with cancer.
“They know who I am. It’s full transparency,” she said.
However, delving into politics is one area that Komando avoids at all costs on her show.
In addition to her advice on the air and online, she also has been writing columns for USA Today for approximately 20 years.
“I probably work 40-50 hours a week. I don’t have to, but it’s just that I want to,” she said. “I could retire but I don’t want to. I still am having a ball.”
Her main studio is in Phoenix. It’s where her employees are based, although many have been working remotely since the pandemic started.
Komando is also fully equipped at her homes in Santa Barbara and Beverly Hills.
While she has reached the pinnacle of her profession, Kim says the hard work combined with expertise and personality were ingredients for success. One perk of that success is enjoying her hobby—collecting cars. She’s building a garage to hold 13 of them. Her favorite car — which she owns—the 2012 Mercedes Benz SLS.
She doesn’t like to discuss future plans until they come to fruition, but Komando is working on something “that will revolutionize the way that we’re disseminating some of the content right now and some of the broadcasting products.”
In the short term, Kim is excited to be immortalized in the National Radio Hall of Fame later this month.
“That was never a goal when I started out,” she admitted. “You start looking at all of the people who’ve been inducted, like Limbaugh, Hannity, Bing Crosby, all these stellar names. I’m up there too. How the hell did that happen? I’m very humbled.”
Looking at how far she’s come in the industry, she’s delighted to share her insight with so many listeners.
“I’ve been very blessed, I really have. By just doing a good, honest day’s work, I think everybody appreciates that,” she said. “But at the same time, it’s been a really great ride.”
CNN’s Marilyn Monroe Special Scores Low Live Numbers Thanks To NFL Playoffs
“The first two hours of “Reframed: Marilyn Monroe” were down 13 percent in total viewers and down 17 percent among adults 25-54.”
CNN began their 2022 slate of original series back on Jan. 16 with the two-episode premiere of the four-part “Reframed: Marilyn Monroe.”
Narrated by award-winning actress Jessica Chastain, the documentary series retraced Monroe’s story from budding starlet to Hollywood power-broker. Amidst the treacherous casting couch culture of Hollywood, she bravely spoke out about abuse at a time when silence was the norm.
The first episode of “Reframed: Marilyn Monroe” at 9 p.m. Eastern delivered 650,000 viewers that included 84,000 of the key 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research. The second episode at 10 p.m. rose to 720,000 viewers and 95,000 adults 25-54. Based on total viewers, Fox News Channel ruled the cable news roost during the two-hour 9-11 p.m. period on Jan. 16 with the pair of “The Next Revolution” (1.147 million viewers/120,000 adults 25-54) and a rerun of “Sunday Night in America” (747,000 viewers/78,000 adults 25-54).
Compared to the first 2-hour installment of the documentary series “Diana” from Oct. 10, the first two hours of “Reframed: Marilyn Monroe” were down 13 percent in total viewers and down 17 percent among adults 25-54. The declines might initially appear alarming, but it’s also important to note its other notable viewing competition. NFL football on NBC aired directly opposite both CNN documentaries but for “Diana”, it faced Bills-Chiefs which drew an audience of 17.5 million; as for “Monroe”, a playoff matchup of Steelers-Chiefs averaged a more potent 28.9 million viewers — a 65-percent, +11.4 million jump from the aforementioned Sunday night telecast.
Also of note, these figures are only based on live plus same day data. Programming of this nature also exhibits value in delayed viewings and multiple repeat airings. A rerun of “Monroe” from midnight to 2 a.m. Eastern averaged 312,000 viewers, roughly the same ratio of percentage declines from the first rerun at midnight of “Diana” from Oct. 10 (349,000 viewers)
Live plus seven day data had not yet been released for “Monroe” at publish time; for “Diana”, its initial Oct. 10 telecast grew 226,000 viewers to a 7-day total of 1.014 million viewers — an increase of 29 percent.
CNN’s top regularly-scheduled Sunday show of 2021, the travel series “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy” returns on March 13. Its series premiere from Feb. 14, 2021 drew 1.57 million viewers according to live plus same day.
Cable news averages for January 10-16, 2022:
Total Day (January 10-16 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 1.452 million viewers; 232,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 0.690 million viewers; 75$,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 0.482 million viewers; 99,000 adults 25-54
- HLN: 0.195 million viewers; 57,000 adults 25-54
- The Weather Channel: 0.194 million viewers; 34,000 adults 25-54
- CNBC: 0.153 million viewers; 35,000 adults 25-54
- Newsmax: 0.145 million viewers; 24,000 adults 25-54
- Fox Business Network: 0.103 million viewers; 11,000 adults 25-54
Prime Time (January 10-15 @ 8-11 p.m.; January 16 @ 7-11 p.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 2.291 million viewers; 346,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 1.248 million viewers; 142,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 0.597 million viewers; 132,000 adults 25-54
- Newsmax: 0.294 million viewers; 58,000 adults 25-54
- CNBC: 0.219 million viewers; 65,000 adults 25-54
- HLN: 0.211 million viewers; 65,000 adults 25-54
- The Weather Channel: 0.202 million viewers; 40,000 adults 25-54
- Fox Business Network: 0.058 million viewers; 11,000 adults 25-54
Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top MSNBC, CNN and Weather Channel programs with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:
1. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 1/10/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.621 million viewers
2. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 1/13/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.598 million viewers
3. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 1/13/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.570 million viewers
4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 1/12/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.517 million viewers
5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 1/11/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.516 million viewers
6. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 1/14/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.444 million viewers
7. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 1/12/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.432 million viewers
8. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 1/11/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.340 million viewers
9. Hannity (FOXNC, Thu. 1/13/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.125 million viewers
10. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Fri. 1/14/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.117 million viewers
21. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Thu. 1/13/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.355 million viewers
160. Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN, Wed. 1/12/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.882 million viewers
200. Weekend Recharge (TWC, Sun. 1/16/2022 11:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.713 million viewers
Top 10 cable news programs (and the top MSNBC, CNN and Weather Channel programs with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:
1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 1/11/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.625 million adults 25-54
2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 1/13/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.559 million adults 25-54
3. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 1/12/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.553 million adults 25-54
4. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 1/13/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.520 million adults 25-54
5. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 1/10/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.502 million adults 25-54
6. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 1/11/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.477 million adults 25-54
7. The Ingraham Angle (FOXNC, Tue. 1/11/2022 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.475 million adults 25-54
8. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 1/11/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.464 million adults 25-54
9. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 1/14/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.463 million adults 25-54
10. Hannity (FOXNC, Thu. 1/13/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.457 million adults 25-54
33. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Thu. 1/13/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.311 million adults 25-54
106. Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN, Tue. 1/11/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.196 million adults 25-54
165. Weekend Recharge (TWC, Sun. 1/16/2022 11:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.145 million adults 25-54
Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research…
Entrepreneur Literally Saves The Children
Like so many great American success stories, it started with taking a calculated risk to fill a perceived need.
For most parents, few thoughts evoke the fear and terror of a choking child. Instead, the panic, with time stopping still, each moment pulsing that scary, helpless feeling.
On Friday’s Greg Kelly Show, the radio host took a brief respite from plummeting Presidential poll numbers, skyrocketing inflation, and other news of the day to discuss this type of traumatizing event with a special guest.
The inventor of the anti-choking device, LifeVac, Arthur Lih, began by explaining how he invented the device in his garage. Like so many great American success stories, it started with taking a calculated risk to fill a perceived need.
“Well, I’m blessed; my Dad was an engineer, worked on the space program. My sister’s a doctor, so I grew up kind of learning and fixing, you know, the old school America,” Lih began. “I had an inkling of how to build things, and I heard of a seven-year-old – my daughter was seven – that choked to death. Procedures didn’t work, and I was scared.”
Lih told Kelly he used this unique engineering and medical background as a foundation once he became aware of choking children’s severe and immediate danger. He felt parents needed something that would be quick and easy to use, especially at the moment when they are paralyzed with fear.
“I pursued to find something super-simple because I knew I’d be scared,” Lih said during the half-conversation, half-advertisement. “I came up with a little plunger with a little valve. You place it; you push it; you pull it and sucks out the obstruction. We’ve saved over 170 kids now.”
The device is very similar to a mini sink plunger. However, the difference is in reverse engineering. When pushed down, the air vents out to create a suction; then, when pulled, it attempts to pop the object out.
Lih implored Kelly that the secret for parents is being prepared when data shows that one child dies from choking every five days.
Eventually, the discussion during the quasi-infomercial turned to current events, specifically the detrimental effects of the nation’s economic and national condition. Lih told Kelly that the pandemic and the porous border had created conditions for similar “knock-off” products to pour into the country and undercut his business and quality. In addition, he says these after-market replicas may let down parents when they need them the most.
“In a general scope, but an American-made medical product, particularly at this time,” Lih said. “Do your research, buy America. It will be regulated, and it will be safe.”
Kelly and Lih discussed online sellers who hawk non-regulated devices and products, and the pair ultimately urged consumers to buy directly from reputable manufacturers and businesses.
In wrapping up, the inventor said the greatness of America played a large part in helping him come up with this life-saving device.
“The reason LifeVac lasts forever, the reason it has a ball valve, the reason the vent system is so detailed is because of my Dad,” Lih concluded.
“He was part of the generation that put a man on the moon, that tried to do things we’ve never done. And in many scope, he lives on today with me because I made it last forever. You’re not supposed to do that because you want to sell one every year. I made it for everyone. I made it inexpensive. And I made it in America and today is the one year anniversary of him leaving, and me and you are talking, so that’s pretty cool.”
Midterm Election Madness Has Come Early
As we enter 2022, this can likely be the best and most passionate midterm year for the News Talk audience in over a decade.
It’s 2022. It’s a midterm year, which typically provides a lift to News Talk stations around the country. Of course, it will never be a Presidential Year, but it’s a chance to drum up plenty of storylines on the local and federal front to carry through the year.
As we enter 2022, this can likely be the best and most passionate midterm year for the News Talk audience in over a decade. I’d go back to the Tea Party movement of 2010 as the last time a midterm appeared to be shaping up this well for those with conservative values. Instead of playing defense, a la 2018, when Republicans held the White House, Senate, and House leading into those midterms, the party is now on offense. They’re in the minority in the House and Senate, while President Biden continues to see his approval rating fall off a cliff.
This should create an environment for a generally right-of-center audience that will be engaged and excited about what’s to come this fall.
How can your station handle this expected enthusiasm? Lean into it. From U.S. Senate to House races, all the way down to school board races, which will remain hot-button topics throughout the year (look at Exhibit A: Virginia).
From a content perspective, that means trying to capture as much of the news as you can for your audience. Lead the way. Get the candidates to try and make news on your show. Heck, get the candidates to make announcements on your show. For example, on KCMO in Kansas City, in just the last two weeks, we had the privilege of having a candidate for a U.S. House seat in Missouri announced exclusively on our show, while we also had a candidate for a county commissioner chair in the biggest county in Kansas in the KC Metro make his announcement on our program.
These don’t need to be long-form interviews, as the audience isn’t likely wanting to get into the weeds on some of the policy and topics just yet. Still, it will make the show and the station feel “big” that these candidates want to be on your station to make their announcement regardless of what they’re running for.
And not only will it be quality content that becomes appointment listening, if teased correctly. It also creates plenty of opportunities for afterglow with great promos and liners to continue building the station’s brand around the clock.
“Your Home in Missouri and Kansas for the 2022 Midterms!”
“Leading the way on the 2022 Midterms in Kansas City!”
These can work on rejoins, promos, liners, or anything you need from your station’s imaging perspective.
If I may add a caveat here, obsessing over the 2022 midterms in January or February will not carry you until November. But it’s undoubtedly already here and getting plenty of attention.
But don’t let that prevent a show from having great topic variety, local and national, all while still having fun at the same time.
After 2021 that was ho-hum compared to the previous five years, the news cycle is undoubtedly picking back up: Is your station prepared for the re-engagement that is likely set to return from a portion of the listening audience?
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