Saturday Night at WPLP
‘UNDERDOG’ MAKES ADS FUN
Miami Herald, The (FL) May 14, 1986
Author: LINDA THORNTON Herald Staff Writer
You may not know his name or his face, but almost anyone who listens to
radio knows Dick Orkin’s voice. He’s the hapless underdog character whose humor
actually makes radio commercials fun to listen to, as in this excerpt from a
now-familiar ad for Hollywood Honda:
Wife: Okay, Sam, now when the car salesman first comes up, you say . . .
Sam (Orkin): I’m just looking.
Wife: And when he comes around the second time, you say . . .
Sam: I haven’t made my mind up yet.
Wife: Uh-huh, and when he comes up to you the third time, you say . . .
Sam: Beat it buster, before I break your nose!
Wife: Oh, you’re gonna be perfect. No pushy salesman’s gonna talk you
into buying the first car you see. Open the door . . . (heavenly music) Oh, my!
Car salesman: Hello. Welcome to Hollywood Honda. Is this your wife?
Sam: No! I’m just looking!
Salesman: Would you like a cup of coffee, ma’am? Sir?
Sam: I haven’t made my mind up yet!
Wife: Sam! This is marvelous, it’s such a friendly atmosphere.
Salesman: Well, here at Hollywood Honda, we don’t believe in pressure or
hype. How about some coffee for you, sir?
Sam: Beat it, buster, before I break your nose!
Commercial writer-actor-producer Dick Orkin has always appreciated the
value of humor. As a beginning disc jockey in Pennsylvania who was bored with
the then-new rock and roll, he chose instead to conduct mock interviews from an
imaginary elevator, and was fired. He studied Shakespeare and Sophocles as a
graduate drama student at Yale University, but it was a parody of Batman that
would prove to be his most famous characterization. Chickenman, a 3-to-4-minute
comedy serial that was heard locally in the late 1960s on WQAM, gained
notoriety for Orkin in major radio markets across the country.
Now, as the head of Dick Orkin’s Radio Ranch and Home For Wayward
Cowboys, a commercial production studio in L.A. that creates national comedy
spots for well-known products including Pepsi and AT&T, as well as customized
local spots for various clients (such as the Hollywood Honda ads), Orkin is
doing his part to change the image of radio’s most dreaded feature — the
commercial. For his efforts, he’s won more than 100 industry awards.
“Some advertisers feel that using humor in advertising is chancey . . . but dry, straight humor in advertising is not only folly, but also a risk,” said Orkin last week, while in South Florida to address a meeting of the South Florida Radio Broadcasters Association. “There’s so much commercial clutter in radio, and the commercials’ claims and promises are very imitative. There’s more to it than simply driving the message home again and again. Radio is an entertainment medium. You need to entertain the listeners.”
Orkin relies on the no-pressure, no-hype theory in writing and voicing
commercials. His spots don’t sound like ads; they’re more like mini-dramas.
“The message should be personal and casual, as if allowing the listener
to eavesdrop on a conversation,” said Orkin.
His voice, though heard on only about 50 percent of commercials produced
by the Radio Ranch, is unmistakable. He often plays the same kind of character,
a lovable loser. He works with a team of writers, producers and actors, some of
whom are well known for other roles (such as Florence Halop of Night Court and
Lorenzo Music, who played Carlton the doorman on Rhoda).
A NEW SOUND
For the past several weeks, I-95 (WINZ 94.9 FM) has been moving toward a
format change, gradually weeding out its Latin/ urban dance music and replacing
it with more adult-oriented rock.
Today, the station’s change in direction became official. I-95, formerly
known as a Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR) station, is now calling itself 95 WINZ
and dubbing its format “Contemporary Adult Rock.”
“It’ll be contemporary music, uptempo, not wimpy, but not acid rock
either,” said Gabe Baptiste, program director for 95 WINZ.
95 WINZ is gearing its new sound toward 20-to-40-year-old listeners who
don’t appreciate disco/dance club sounds and want more than ballads, people who
do like current and recent rock and roll, but who draw the line at hard rock or
“The marketplace has been saturated with CHR, AC (Adult Contemporary)
and AOR (Album Oriented Rock) for years, but no one’s taken a chance with
something different,” said Gary Lawrence, vice president/general manager of WINZ
AM and FM.
In conjunction with the name and format change, 95 WINZ started off the
day today with a new weekday morning (6-10 a.m.) disc jockey, Roger Cary.
Long-time local listeners may remember Cary from his overnight air shift at the
former WFUN in the mid- 1970s, or from his news anchor/weekend jock days at WQAM
in the late 1970s (while that station was still playing Top 40).
Since leaving South Florida in 1977, Cary has worked in several markets,
including Phoenix, Dallas, San Diego and most recently, as morning disc jockey
at KZBS in Oklahoma City.
Earl “the Pearl,” who has been filling in on the WINZ-FM morning show
for the past few months, has been moved to the 6-10 p.m. weekdays slot. Deejay
Dennis Reese, formerly heard from 6-10 p.m., has not been given a new on-air
shift and is “reviewing his options with the station,” according to management.
* Beginning Monday, WVCG (1080 AM) will drop some of the
Spanish-language Radio Familiar programming that previously dominated its
weekday schedule and replace it with more “oldies,” information and talk.
Morning Madness, a rock and roll oldies show hosted by Jerry Powers and Roby
Yonge, will be extended two hours, to run from 6 a.m. to noon weekdays. Arnold
Henry’s Caribbean Explosion will now be heard from noon to 2 p.m., followed by
Caribbean Rhythms (co-hosted by Ron Burke and Eddie Edwards) from 2 to 4 p.m.
Alan Beshany’s Money Line will debut on WVCG from 4 to 5 p.m., followed by Ed
Kaplan’s Sports Exchange (5 to 6 p.m.), Sex With Marilyn (featuring sex educator
Marilyn Volker) from 6 to 7 p.m., and Haitian programming from 7 to 8 p.m.
Radio Familiar will be heard from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
* In last week’s column, I reported that WNWS (790 AM) management
recently offered a job to WINZ (940 AM) talk host Neil Rogers. Since then, I’ve
been told by WNWS vice president/ general manager Dennis Collins and program
director Lee Fowler that while they did meet with Rogers to discuss the
possibility of his future availability, they never actually offered him a job.
“We met with (Rogers) to determine the status of his contract (with
WINZ), to find out if he was available, but no job was ever offered to him,”
said Fowler. “From a legal standpoint, we’re prohibited from offering him a job
(while he’s under contract with another station).”
photo: Roger CARY, Dick ORKIN
Memo: RADIOEdition: FINALSection: COMICS/TVPage: 3E
Record Number: 8602070538 Copyright (c) 1986 The Miami Herald
WNWS SAGS IN RATING GAME
Miami Herald, The (FL) May 7, 1986
Author: LINDA THORNTON Herald Staff Writer
In the first Arbitron rating book after WNWS (790 AM) merged with WGBS,
reaction to the consolidation seemed favorable. The station rated a 3.9 in the
fall 1985 Arbitron — not the sum of both stations’ former audiences, but a
competitive share nonetheless.
But in winter 1986, the first full quarterly Arbitron measurement of the
combined WNWS/WGBS venture, WNWS was down in overall audience to a 3.1 (topped
by WINZ 940 AM’s 4.1 and tied with WIOD 610 AM’s 3.1).
WNWS has already taken steps to remedy the decline. Sagging ratings
played a large part in the departure of former weeknights host Bev Smith. WNWS
management offered to transfer Smith to the overnight show, but under the terms
of her contract, she had a right to refuse and leave the station. She did.
Smith began a new job this week at WKIS-AM in Orlando.
“Bev had a warmth and sensitivity that will be missed by her listeners.
But, unfortunately, it never translated into any ratings mandate,” said Dennis
Collins, vice president/general manager of WNWS and WLYF (101.5 FM).
According to Collins, WNWS’ decision to release morning news anchors
Chuck Dent and Gretchen Graham from their contracts and to replace them with
former WINZ anchor Ken Taylor and former WNWS anchor Tom Schafer was not
ratings-oriented. The husband-wife news team of Dent and Graham drew WNWS’
biggest audience share in the recent Arbitron).
“It wasn’t tied to ratings or performance,” said Collins. “It was a
contractual opportunity we had and took advantage of, because we thought we had
a better team to bring in.”
Dent says that he and Graham still aren’t certain of the reasons for
“We were rather shocked, more so after the ratings came out,” said Dent.
“We had no (previous) indication that they weren’t pleased with our work, and
they (still) haven’t given us any reason. They said nothing was wrong.”
Dent says he and Graham plan to remain at WNWS until May 23 when their
30-day notice period runs out. They haven’t made a decision about future
employment. Smith has since been replaced on the 9 p.m. to midnight weeknights
show by former overnight host Jerry Wichner. Wichner is now up against WINZ’s
Neil Rogers, who drew a 7.7 share of nighttime listeners in the winter Arbitron.
“Whether Jerry will beat Neil Rogers in the ratings or not, I don’t know
and I don’t care,” said Collins. “We just want to strengthen that day part.”
Other recent changes at WNWS include the departure of afternoon news
anchor Tom Sirmons, who resigned from WNWS to take a job at KNX news radio, a
CBS owned and operated station in Los Angeles.
WINZ to WSST?
The deadline is drawing near (May 15) on I-95’s (WINZ 94.9 FM) decision
to adopt the new call letters WSST. The Federal Communications Commission has
approved the proposed name change, a move often accompanied by a switch in
New WINZ AM and FM vice president/general manager Gary Lawrence won’t
elaborate yet on his and program director Gabe Baptiste’s game plan for I-95.
But Lawrence does hint of a specific goal, soon to be announced, for the
station’s recent variation in sound. Formerly defined as a Contemporary Hit
Radio (CHR or Top 40) radio station, I-95 recently tossed out most of the Latin
and urban dance rock in its playlist and replaced it with more adult-oriented
“It won’t be dramatic changes, it will be subtle. We won’t be Top 40,”
said Lawrence. “The music will have a broader appeal. We’ll be going after most
stations in this market.”
Lawrence added that other upcoming plans for I-95 include the
appointment of a new morning (6-10 a.m. weekdays) disc jockey. I-95 deejay Earl
“The Pearl” has been filling in on mornings since the “Morning Zoo” was fired in
Rogers and WNWS
Regular listeners to Neil Rogers’ show know by now that WNWS offered
Rogers a job recently. This was in March, about the time that Rogers was
complaining on and off the air about WINZ’ then-fluctuating management.
“We heard rumors, like everyone else, that he might in fact be
available,” said Collins.
After a few follow-up contacts between Rogers and WNWS, the matter was
dropped. (Rogers has nearly two years left on his contract with WINZ.)
While his competitors at WNWS and WINZ-AM discuss contemporary issues
between newscasts from 5-6 p.m. weekdays, WIOD’s Mike Miller is trying a new
program format to attract rush hour listeners.
During the last hour of his 2-6 p.m. show, Miller turns the microphone
over to an assortment of local and syndicated guests in a news magazine-type
segment entitled Good Afternoon South Florida. Features include an entertainment
report by WIOD’s Janet Cowan, two 10-minute newscasts by anchor Debra Boyd, two
sports reports by Rick Weaver, financial analysis by Gordon Williams, a few
words from Paul Harvey, and some advice from “Dear Margaret and Steve.”
“We felt that most people on their way home didn’t want to hear heavy
news being discussed. We bring them up to date with two news segments, and also
try to offer a fast-paced hour,” said Miller.
Linda Thornton will be a guest on Mike Miller’s program from 2-4 p.m. Friday on WIOD (610 AM).
photo: Mike Miller (r)
Edition: FINAL Section: AMUSEMENTS Page: 3E
Record Number: 8602050637 Copyright (c) 1986 The Miami Herald
IT’S LYF AT THE TOP AGAIN
Miami Herald, The (FL) May 2, 1986
Author: LINDA THORNTON Herald Staff Writer
Aside from two marked shifts of the dial to favor a nighttime talk host
and a new Spanish station, there were few big surprises in Arbitron radio rating
service’s winter 1986 survey of the Miami/ Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood radio
Most of South Florida’s long-time favorite stations held their own in
the winter book. Life (WLYF 101.5 FM) again proved most popular with an 8.9
share of listeners on an overall average, boasting even higher numbers during late mornings and afternoons, when its easy listening format is a natural for office listening.
An impressive 6.0 share of total listeners over age 12 propelled South
Florida’s only full-time rock station, WSHE (103.5 FM), into second place (it
ranked third in the fall book), followed by Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR, or Top
40) Y-100 (WHYI 100.7 FM) and Spanish-language WQBA (1140 AM), which tied for
third place with a 5.7.
But the most interesting results in Arbitron’s breakdown of winter
listening habits were on the AM dial.
Neil Rogers, WINZ’s (940 AM) 8 p.m.-to-midnight weeknights talk host,
proved true to his grandiose title of “King of South Florida talk” in Arbitron’s
measurement of 7 p.m. to midnight weekdays (which includes the last hour of John
Broward’s show and all of Rogers’). During those hours, 7.7 percent of people
listening to radio were tuned in th WINZ-AM — a bigger share than that of any
other station. Rogers’ surge (from last Arbitron’s 5.6) apparently accounted for
much of WINZ-AM’s rise in Arbitron’s overall winter listening survey.
WINZ-AM was the top-ranked news/talk station with a 4.1 share of total
listeners. WNWS (790 AM) fell from a 3.9 to a 3.1 in its first complete Arbitron
survey since merging with WGBS last fall. Ironically, its highest rating in the
winter was a 3.9 share for 6-10 a.m. weekdays, a time spot dominated during that
survey by news anchors Chuck Dent and Gretchen Graham, who were recently given
notice of dismissal from WNWS.
News/talk WIOD also slipped, from a 3.3 to a 3.1 share of total listeners overall. The station rose slightly in all weekday dayparts but suffered low ratings on weekends.
Spanish-language Radio Mambi WAQI (710 AM), which purchased the former
WGBS frequency last fall, was the most promising newcomer in Arbitron’s winter
survey, nearly doubling its rating to a 3.5 share of total listeners. WQBA (1140
AM) was still the top-ranked Spanish station, holding onto a 5.7 share of total
listeners for five consecutive Arbitron rating periods. Other Spanish stations
ranked as follows: WCMQ (92.3 FM), 3.6; WRHC (1550 AM), 3.2; WQBA (107.5 FM),
2.7; WCMQ (1220 AM), 1.7; WSUA (1260 AM), 1.4; WOCN (1450 AM), 1.0.
Among contemporary music stations, WSHE was No. 1, followed by CHR Y-100
and Adult Contemporary WAXY (105.9 FM). SHE’s highest ratings were at night
(6.5). Y-100’s 5.7 overall share, and its 21.6 share of teen listeners, shows a
recovery from last Arbitron’s drop in listeners. CHR I-95 (WINZ 94.9 FM)
repeated its 3.5 total listener rating. CHR newcomer 96 X (WCJX 96.3 FM) fell a
bit, from its initial 2.0 to a 1.5; while “Contemporary Adult” Majic (102.7 FM)
rose slightly in most dayparts.
In the year since its debut, Hot 105 (WHQT 105.1 FM) has been gradually
slipping in the Arbitron ratings, from last winter’s 4.5 to this winter’s 3.3.
But Hot is still burning from 7 p.m. to midnight weekdays, when deejays Bo
Griffin (6-10 p.m.) and Freddie Cruz (10 p.m.-2 a.m.) and the station’s urban
contemporary sounds lured a 5.5 share of listeners. Black/Urban WEDR (99.1 FM)
also pulled an admirable 5.2 share of listeners from 7 p.m. to midnight.
WAXY was the top-rated Adult Contemporary station with a 4.0 overall
share, followed by Love 94 (WLVE 93.9 FM) with a 2.5 (a drop from the fall’s
2.9) and 97 A1A (WAIA 97.3 FM), which repeated its former 2.3 share.
Joy (WJQY 106.7 FM), whose easy listening format includes semi-current
pop hits, was sixth place among all South Florida stations, though its 3.8 share
was its lowest rating in more than a year.
In other assorted formats, country music KISS (WKQS 99.9 FM) rose
one-tenth of a percent to a 3.5 share of total listeners, while country WQAM
(560 AM, which is owned by the same company as KISS) dropped exactly that amount
to a 1.3. WTMI (93.1 FM), the area’s only classical music station, repeated its
fall 2.2 share (but still hasn’t pulled up to last year’s 2.6/2.8 ratings).
Nostalgic pop WKAT (1360 AM) moved up to a 1.9. Its competitor in
Broward, WFTL (1400 AM), also inched upward, to a 1.4.
photo: Neil ROGERS
Memo: RADIO also see: ARBITRON WINTER RATINGS Edition: FINAL Section:
Index Terms: LIST RANKING Record Number: 8602040357
Copyright (c) 1986 The Miami Herald