While in college, I became friendly with Philadelphia radio legend Ken Garland. Started doing musical bits and song parodies for his show on WIP. Easy stuff, as I was a music major.
Still in college, got a gig in Atlantic City radio, hosting a late-night talk show for 2 years.
For 8 years (1977-1985, I was a Creative Director for a major ad agency in Atlanta. Even worked with Orson Wells, who narrated a script that I wrote.
I had taken up sleight-of-hand as a hobby while in Atlanta. After the advertising gig, I went “on the road” as a trade show magician for almost 2 years. Had learned enough about the products of AT&T, IBM, Southern Bell (now, Bell South), Coke and other clients of the advertising agency to create effective trade show routines. It was a blast, a very profitable blast!
Saw an ad for QVC auditions in 1986. Made a gold chain vanish during the audition. Got the job and was their “magical host” for 2 years until the shtick got old.
Discovered a real passion for sales and began attending as many sales and motivational seminars as I could. Became QVC’s top selling host, setting many records (including $11,000,000 in one hour) that still stand today. I was also the primary sales trainer for the hosts and the guests.
Became their primary musical host, getting to perform live with dozens of musicians, everyone from Glenn Campbell to the Moody Blues. (Did I mention John Tesh?)
While at QVC, I wrote two books that sold very well. Basic Camcorder Guide is one of the best selling how-to books on the subject. Sales Magic was a very popular sales and motivational book.
During my 15-year tenure at QVC, I interviewed hundreds of celebrities. I remain friendly with many today. I made Charlton Heston laugh and William Shatner hates me. It doesn’t get much better than that.
(Warning, Warning…The Following Paragraph Contains Graphic Descriptions of Violent Injuries. Parents Are Urged to Exercise Caution…Actually, On Second Thought, Maybe The Host Should Have Exercised Caution.)
I also “did what it took” to sell a product. I took video while skydiving, rode an Orca and took the window washer’s scaffolding down the Empire State Building (also while taking video)…had my nose broken by a member of the Philadelphia 76ers (he fell on me), received a near lethal dose of poisonous gas (on-air, all live, that one put me out for almost 3 weeks)…was almost blinded by Victor Kiam who shot me with a clothes steamer, twice (can you say impaired judgment?)… had the top of my thumb cut off by a defective slicer (like the Saturday Night bit, it hit an artery and I shot blood everywhere) finished the last 40 minutes of my show holding pressure on a wound that took 12 stitches and 5 hours of micro surgery to repair…
Okay, so none of that qualifies me as a talk host. But it does show the faulty logic that makes me want to be a talk host.
I left QVC after 15 years. For the last year, I have done song parodies and bits for various radio shows. Some of my work is also featured on http://www.phillytalkradioonline.com The site features some of my parodies, bits and original songs about the sad state of talk radio in Philadelphia (one station with three hosts who are worth listening to: Jeff, Dom and Rollye.) Hey, Michael Smerconish wants me dead, so I’ve got that going for me.
I just started permanent fill-in work for WDEL in Wilmington. Rick Jensen, their PD, (who does an excellent show himself) saw through the “shop jock” crap and gave me a shot. They’re very happy with my work and plan to use me as much as they can. I’m going to be using my close-up magic and musical talents to make some of their remotes more fun for the listeners. I’ll also be helping to train their sales force.
I am beginning to be in demand as an infomercial host. I have shot one with classical guitarist Esteban and will be filming one with Vanna White in December. The Esteban show is so successful that I’ve received dozens of offers. Most are for “miracle ingestibles,” so I’ve respectfully declined.
I’ve left out the Alien abduction story (featured prominently on the bio I sent to Art Bell’s syndicator), the affair with Lady Di and the time I saved the world from the Red Menace.
TV = Tabloid Weather?
Philadelphia region has just endured the latest onslaught of winter
weather. First it was snow, then a lot more snow, then rain, and
finally a bit of flooding.
network television viewers are trying to “survive” Fear Factor,
Get Me Out of Here, I’m a Celebrity, Joe Millionaire, and yes,
what do these two things have in common? Sensationalism. Either it’s
“The Next Storm of The Century,” or watching Melissa Rivers eating
a live Llama. Everything in today’s world of television and radio is
“the biggest, best, worst, most destructive (insert noun here) in
for those docile days of “Tonight, an ER you won’t want to
miss.” Or, “Several inches of snow expected before the storm
it’s, “Thursday, on a special crossover episode of Scrubs,
several members of the cast of Friends will die in scathing
agony.” And let’s not forget, “We could be looking at 3 feet of
snow, the destruction of civilization as we know it and the complete
obliteration of our economy. I’ll be back with the end-of-the-world
forecast and more after these words…”
IT! ENOUGH! IF YOU CAPITALIZE EVERY WORD, JUST LIKE THIS PARAGRAPH,
THEN NOTHING IS CAPITALIZED!
importantly, if you sensationalize every event, then no event is
thought when John Bolaris left (who could forget winter storms Aaron,
Broderick and Claude?) the weather forecasts in this town would take a
turn for the better. But Glenn Schwartz and his “team,” are more
sensational than John ever could have dreamed. And let’s just forget
about the fact that they missed last weekend’s 4-6” of snow
forecast for Saturday. (Schwartz did his best CYA by finding a spot in
Northern PA that had about 4”).
10 overlooked their Saturday blunder on-air. (I wonder how many events
were cancelled for what was a light dusting of snow in most areas?)
Rather, they concentrated on the Sunday storm, the one that started
almost 8 hours before they predicted. The totals kept getting bigger
and bigger, like Schwartz’s ego when he became 10’s “default”
chief meteorologist. I honestly don’t think he’s a bad guy, just
“under the spell” of a Sensationalist News Director.
NBC 10 isn’t the only guilty party. Channel 3 (remember, Kathy Orr
originally worked with Schwartz and Bolaris) was also predicting the
return of Godzilla along with major death and destruction too.
just like “Reality TV.” Sensationalism sells! The more sensational
a show is (any show, entertainment or newscast), the more viewers it
to have been a fly on the wall when some TV exec said, “I’ll bet a
lot of people will watch someone completely humiliating or possibly
even injuring themselves.” That phrase was the birth of Reality TV.
It makes Allen Funt and Candid Camera seem as tame as Sesame Street.
In fact, they have even dwarfed the extremely exaggerated Saturday
Night Live skits where Joe Piscopo did a very funny parody of Funt.
But Piscopo’s bit wasn’t real. It was very clever satire that
showed what could happen if a concept like Candid Camera went
unchecked by the boundaries of good taste and common sense.
That’s the problem. TV execs realize that they can be gross and
outrageous and get viewers without the expense of little frills like
gifted writers and actors. As long as we watch in record numbers,
they’ll get more and more outrageous…until someone pushes the
envelope too far. Remember Opie and Anthony?
local TV, how many times has some “suit “ said, “Hey, it’s
snowing. Let’s take millions of dollars worth of TV journalists and
show our audience the snow everywhere.”
of course, is repeated in radio. I’m sure whoever draws the shortest
straw at KYW has to take the station SUV out and see how far he or she
can make it up the Turnpike before they get stuck in the snow and have
to burn and eat the cameraperson for survival. (Wait a minute…what
an great idea for a new reality show! Donner Party, 2003. This
is huge! Have to pitch it to UPN. WB’s getting too
for the “President’s Day Storm,” let’s give credit where
credit is due. Cecily Tynan on 6 ABC (I miss calling them WPVI)
initially gave two scenarios for the “event” (one big, one small),
before jumping on the sensational bandwagon.
Tom Lamaine at CBS 3 treated it like a winter storm in his forecasts
(Kathy Orr must have been napping when he was on). No need for massive
grocery purchases, topping off gas tanks, renting a dozen videos. It
was a storm, nothing more and nothing less. Tom has always been a
shining example of what a television meteorologist should be.
Knowledgeable, soft-spoken, non-alarmist and entertaining.
Guarino at Fox Philadelphia is also an excellent local weatherperson.
He even gives a synopsis of the much heralded computer models on the
Fox Philadelphia website, http://www.foxphiladelphia.com.
And to him, a storm, summer or winter, has also always been a
storm. Not Armageddon, Pearl Harbor and Hurricane Agnes all rolled
into one. He doesn’t sensationalize a storm or minimize it.
And, like Lamaine, he is entertaining to watch without all the
“doom and gloom.”
As I said earlier, when everything is sensationalized, nothing is
sensational. TV reality shows and over-the-top TV and radio weather
forecasts and coverage should eventually burn themselves out.
often will Americans tune in to see a librarian from Des Moines eat a
live squid? It will probably get a little worse before it gets better.
(The Real Beverly Hillbillies?) But when some inventive, aka
“hungry,” network decides to raise the bar with well-written and
produced drama and comedy…and succeeds…watch out for the stampede.
how long will local TV viewers stay tuned to compare the snow totals
in Bucks, Montgomery and Chester Counties? When something better comes
along, people will watch. Maybe some enterprising TV station will show
old movies, not unlike Rainout Theater that WFIL-TV, (the
original Channel 6) ran when a Phillies game was cancelled. It would
be different and might just get an audience.
then, like many, I’m watching less TV. And my newfound spare time my
has given me the opportunity to pursue the really important things in
life. Things like shopping for duct tape and plastic sheeting so my
family and I will be safe. Hey, they said it on the news, it must be