I’ve been alive since the Kennedy administration, and I’ve never been inside the White House. Dr. Sebastian Gorka had been on American soil for a mere five years before he felt the plush blue carpet of the Oval Office under his feet.
The British-born Hungarian-American media personality, military and intelligence analyst, and former government official, served under President Donald Trump as a deputy assistant for strategy from January 2017 until August 25, 2017. It’s not how long you do something. It’s about being asked to do it in the first place.
Despite serving in a presidential administration, Gorka puts his pants on one leg at a time.
“I walk my dogs, shoot my guns, and read books,” Gorka said. He loves to read but doesn’t have time for fiction. “I read stuff that’s in my former wheelhouse–national security, strategy.”
By his bedside is a recent book by Victor Davis Hanson, The Dying Citizen. I have no time for turgid autobiographies, or the like”
Gorka has two children. His son recently earned a classics degree. My son is versed in ancient Greek, Roman scholars. Anything that applies to Western civilization. My daughter is studying to be a therapist.”
Gorka said when he’s asked by a younger demographic how to be successful, he always says the same thing.
“Switch off your stinking phone. Read a book for an hour a day. Preferably anything that was written 400 years ago or more. You will start to become an educated person.”
Gorka said social media is designed to limit us to the attention of a gnat. Make sure we don’t do anything substantive.
“When you understand Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates banning their children from devices like iPads, you start to understand the picture. TikTok is specifically designed to cause your attention span to flick every sixty seconds. It’s not a world conspiracy, just a money maker. They have to get that revenue.”
Does he admire people like Henry Kissinger?
“I think he’s one of the most destructive people in modern American history,” Gorka explained. “He’s not as smart as he likes to think he is. With Nixon, they opened up the channels to China and now we’re paying the price. Back then it looked seductive in the middle of a bi-polar conflict. To weaken our enemies. Drive a wedge between Moscow and Beijing.”
Gorka said Kissinger looked smart 50 years ago. In hindsight, Gorka said he doesn’t look so good.
“Now China has a GDP larger than ours. They have hegemony over many countries. The American elite like Kisinger thought if we opened up economically to Communist China, we’d open them up politically. They created an economic giant with labor camps. Nike is using those to make their trainers. We created that. Or rather, people like Kissinger did.”
Gorka said he grew up under real leaders like Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II.
“They made decisions that weren’t driven by the transitory proclivities of the people. They made hard decisions but ones that paid long-term dividends. Together, Clinton and Tony Blair sabotaged the whole concept of true leadership. Clinton would talk about the current polls. He’d determine one day they cared about the environment, the next day it was taxes. Their decisions were predicated on popular polls. They’d tell the country they had a policy to fix that, whatever it was.”
Gorka said strategy is long-term thinking. Presidents like Nixon, Eisenhower and Truman possessed the gift of foresight.
“History is written in centuries, not months or years,” Gorka said.
He said in America, once the election is won, the party starts to think about reelection the following day. That’s all that matters. The days of the statesman have disappeared.”
What do you know about Trump?
“He’s a voracious reader,” Gorka said. “People called Ronald Reagan a ‘amiable dunce,’ yet he wrote hundreds of speeches for General Electric on the strength of free markets and economy.”
Gorka said these speeches were reportedly written by Reagan himself.
Gorka said Trump sleeps about three hours a night, constantly consuming information.
As we’ve heard from other sources, Trump doesn’t use a computer or a cell phone.
“He loves to print stuff out and read it. I’m the same way. Give me a hard copy of an article rather than have me read it on a screen. Sometimes there’d be so much stuff on the resolute desk when a visitor was coming, we had to clear it off quickly to be presentable for the obligatory photograph he gave as a memento.”
Gorka said everybody wants to know what Trump’s really like.
“I’m sorry to disappoint you, but the man you see at a rally or walking toward Marine One is the same guy you talk to in the White House, behind closed doors. In a city like D.C. where everybody has perfect hair and perfect teeth but is two -faced behind closed doors, he’s actually the real deal. The man you saw on The Apprentice or a cameo in Home Alone 2, or speaking in front of 60,000 people. He’s the same thoughtful guy.”
As an example, Gorka pointed out an experience with his wife, Katie.
“She was a political appointee with the DHS,” Gorka explained. “She didn’t work in the White House but was over at Homeland Security. President Trump met her twice for about three minutes each time. Once I asked the President to help her with a problem and he brought in Sarah Huckabee to resolve the issue. Then, a year and a half later, I was back in the Oval and he asked, “How’s Katie?’”
In another instance of what Gorka refers to as kindness, he was at a Christmas party at the White House. He explained hundreds of people were there and those with the right colored ticket were to be taken in to meet President Trump for a Christmas photograph.
“It was a VIP thing,” Gorka explained. “The military aide finds you at the party and whisks you away to the China Room. That’s where you meet with the first lady and the president. We walked into the room and the president nodded at an aide as we’re taking the photos. He hands the president a manilla envelope.
Inside was an article I’d just written on Trump’s forgetting policy. He told me, ‘Nice job, Sebastian.’ This is a man running America, and he takes the time to do this for me with his distinctive signature and personal message on the printed article. That’s a special kind of man.”
Gorka said Trump obviously liked the article, and held on to it for two weeks before bringing it out at Christmas as a gift.
“The people that hate him and are threatened by him,” Gorka said. “I like to remind my fellow Americans, every single president before Mr. Trump is connected. Every previous president was a member of the political or military elite. Until President Trump arrived on the scene. Every single one from Washington to Obama. All were Senators, or retired Generals. Not President Trump. He’s not one of them.”
Gorka explained 64 million Americans said they’d tried that. They no longer wanted that.
“He won the first time he ran and that is a massive threat to the establishment, both Left and Right. He’s not owned by Big oil, or the unions, or Big Pharma. He hasn’t had to kiss the ring. He owes them nothing. And no one owns him. So, they have to discredit and destroy him since they can’t control him.”
Gorka maintains there is no such thing as real journalism any longer. He said when the Internet came into being, the newspapers panicked. “They made their money from classified ads. The Internet took that away. A website costs nothing. Now the papers had no revenue streams. Reporters used to travel the world, hunt down Al-Qaedi, interview Bin laden and turn in a 15,000 word series on the situation. That doesn’t exist anymore.”
He said nowadays they hire a 22 year-old recent graduate, give them a Gmail account, a laptop, and they’re good to go.
“The idea always was accuracy came first. We know that’s no longer true. Now it’s publish first, damn the accuracy.”
“Just five years after becoming a U.S. citizen, here I was walking around the West Wing. In France, if you don’t speak high French, you’re not going to be allowed into the inner circle to work in the Elysse. It’s a cliche, but I lived the American Dream. I came here with my wife and kids with nothing. I’m the son of a man who escaped from prison in communist Hungary.”
The day after President Trump’s inauguration, Gorka said he went to work at 8:00 the next morning.
“It still gives me goosebumps. It was unbelievable. An Army staff sergeant guided me through the barricades into the Eisenhower building where I filled out my details with HR, and received my badge.”
The world can be perceived to be in turmoil on many fronts. Gorka said there is no time for Americans to despair.
“From the Founding Fathers we’ve taken on the greatest powers in the world. From King George, to Hitler, to Stalin and the Jihadists. To give in to desperation is un-American.”
Gorka said he lives in the swamp. He lives, breathes and eats politics. He’s convinced most Americans don’t adhere as closely to the political landscape as he does.
“Most don’t follow the news,” Gorka said. “They don’t rumiante on a brain-fart from a hackneyed politician. They just want to make a car payment, get new shoes for the children for the new school year. I’ve been called a Nazi by mainstream media. That word has weight. Six million people were lost to genocide. Sixty million people died in WWII. Extreme radical verbiage is not on our side”.
He said conservatives look at the other side as good people with bad ideas.
The Left looks at conservatives as bad people.
What about guns?
“I really believe without a shadow of a doubt they want to take guns away,” Gorka explained. “I hope there is never a compromise. On the campaign trail you hear people wanting to ban the AR-15. I say if they ban one they’re going to ban them all. Guns are part of the unique birth of our nation. It’s the right of people who live here to combat a tyrannical head of state. The Second Amendment is the ultimate guarantor of our liberty and has been since we became a free Republic.”
What about presidents and age?
“I love the line Reagan gave in response to a question of his age in his race against Mondale– ‘Iwill not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.’ Gorka said when you consider President Biden, you have a man who has had two brain aneurysms. “You don’t have to be a medical professional to see he’s battling dementia.”
He related how President Biden screamed at an employee at a Ford plant.
“If an individual loses a filter, they say things they shouldn’t. A reporter asked Biden if he planned to run again, and he turned around and snapped, ‘What do you mean?’ Trump never did that on camera. Biden will do it at the drop of a hat. Because that loss of filter is a symptom of dementia.”
Can Ron DeSantis beat Trump if they go head-to-head?
“The way Trump can fill a stadium is astounding. Nobody since FDR could do that. Ron DeSantis can’t do what Trump does and could never beat him. Nobody can mobilize people like Trump. Whatever you believe about the 2020 election, he received more votes than any incumbent in history.”
Gorka said DeSantis is successful because like in the Austin Powers movies, DeSantis is the Mini-Me to Trump.
“He is replicating Trump politics at a local level. He’s the junior version. If he’s sane he won’t run against Trump. One of them would have to move their domicile address as the president and vice president can’t be from the same state. If Ron is smart, he’s on the veep ticket in 2024, then slides into the top slot in ‘28.”
Then DeSantis’ little feet can stand proudly on that resplendent blue carpet.
Jim Cryns writes features for Barrett News Media. He has spent time in radio as a reporter for WTMJ, and has served as an author and former writer for the Milwaukee Brewers. To touch base or pick up a copy of his new book: Talk To Me – Profiles on News Talkers and Media Leaders From Top 50 Markets, log on to Amazon or shoot Jim an email at [email protected].
King Charles Already Facing Headwinds After One Episode at CNN
If viewers are coming to watch King Charles in the first place, they want to hear from Barkley first and the most. This show is not a democracy for multiple voices.
Gayle King and Charles Barkley joined a long list of personalities on Wednesday who’ve tried their hand at hosting a cable news show, King Charles.
The previous cast of characters at CNN in particular have included comedians as famous as D.L. Hughley and Bill Maher, history makers like Connie Chung, tech executives such as Campbell Brown, and even a former governor – Eliot Spitzer – who was forced to resign in shame.
CNN, unlike MSNBC and Fox News, doesn’t have the privilege of choosing political sides for ratings because of the gravitas their name exudes in the journalism world. Bringing on famous figures in pop culture to give their take on the headlines seems like a natural solution to competing with idealogues on opposing networks. Unfortunately for CNN, though, it’s a solution that never seems to work – including this time around.
The debut episode of King Charles began with a Man-on-the-Street segment featuring King and Barkley asking random folks walking around New York about today’s politicians, Joe Biden’s age, and Taylor Swift and Beyonce. The segment also showcased the duo’s newfound chemistry and announced the upcoming guests over the next hour similar to a late-night comedy show.
It was a great way to bring the audience in. Viewers got to see an intro that is uncommon in the cable news world, they got to hear the opinions of people who are just like themselves, and it showed the quality production value this show is bringing to the table from the jump.
As viewers got to the set, it was obvious CNN put a lot of time and effort into making this program a success. The wardrobe of the talent, the studio design, and the color scheme were extremely polished. The guest list of this show for the first episode on cable news was also very impressive. Fat Joe, Steve Kerr, and Van Lathan may not be A-list celebrities, but they each bring a respective following that is different from the type of guests that normally populate CNN and its rivals.
One of the first problems this show faces is that despite its name, there isn’t much King and there isn’t much Charles. King moderates panels that have a lot of interesting things to say while Barkley utters a comment or two on the side. It’s almost as if it’s forgotten that Barkley is a key force in bringing this show to fruition in the first place.
The guests that were part of these panels had a lot of interesting perspectives to give. Lathan brought some humor to a discussion about George Santos when he discussed his love for the Congressman’s high jinks. CNN primetime host Laura Coates also joined the show for two segments and provided much-needed legal expertise during a conversation about Young Thug’s ongoing trial in Georgia.
While the discourse was good, Barkley is one of the most boisterous personalities television has ever seen. America has tuned into his antics for decades whether they agree with what he’s saying or not. LIV Golf almost paid him hundreds of millions just to get his opinions on a random golf tournament every week. If viewers are coming to watch King Charles in the first place, they want to hear from Barkley first and the most. This show is not a democracy for multiple voices.
King and Barkley have been fixtures of American pop culture for decades. Their presence on any platform holds a lot of weight. King’s tenure at CBS has helped make their morning show more relevant than it ever was before and more competitive ratings-wise. Barkley has set a standard for the art of analyzing sports on television in a way that even John Madden couldn’t.
The first 20 minutes of the show need to be focused on them and their viewpoints. Because of King’s role at CBS, viewers won’t be able to get many opinions out of her, but at the very least there is some journalistic perspective she can provide or perspective from her decades as a celebrity and Oprah’s best friend. This should be the Black version of Live with Kelly and Mark. King and Barkley can talk about their weeks, their lives, and their families and run down the various headlines that are having the most impact on society in an unscripted format.
The show also needs to be live. If they want to film some interviews outside of their timeslot to air later in the show to accommodate an important guest, that’s fine. But the beauty of watching Barkley on television is that it is live and you never know what to expect or what’s going to come out of his mouth. When you take that aspect of excitement away from a program like this, it just seems like one of those celebrity podcasts that no one asked for and ends up getting canceled after a year or less.
In today’s climate, if you’re hosting a show, especially a weekly show, there’s gotta be some type of headline that comes out of that show. There has to be something that forces viewers to adjust their schedules to want to tune in because many viewers’ habits are already established in the first place. A talk show like King Charles — discussing pop culture in the middle of primetime competing with live sporting events, The Golden Bachelor, or a reality show based on Squid Game — is going to have a hard time surviving.
CNN has established itself as the straight news alternative with up-to-the-minute analysis involving the latest breaking politics and world event headlines. Viewers have already told CNN that’s what they like about the network particularly in primetime. It may not be as highly rated as MSNBC and Fox’s lineups but it is much more advertiser-friendly than Jesse Watters or Rachel Maddow.
During times of volatility like the upcoming election, and the wars in Ukraine and Israel, CNN’s ratings tend to bump up higher and occasionally beat MSNBC and other entertainment networks. Interrupting that flow of news in primetime when it has been difficult for CNN to keep a primetime lineup intact for years won’t help matters at the network at all. Continuity matters to viewers.
CNN makes enough revenue and has enough of a positive reputation that becoming a major contender in primetime should no longer be a main focus. As long as the network doesn’t flounder as it has in the past, maintaining 500,000 viewers a night and peaking in the millions during major breaking news stories is something their parent company should be proud of. It is much easier to sell to advertisers than an opinionist who has the potential to explode your company’s stock every night depending on what they say.
Is there space for King Charles on CNN? Yes. Around 5 PM ET, another cable news network across the dial leaves their newscasts and opinion programming to the side for a panel show that is the highest-rated telecast on cable news. The panel discusses political headlines but also delves into pop culture and trending topics you would read about on X/Twitter.
CNN should move King Charles to Wednesdays at 5 PM ET to directly compete with The Five and provide perspectives about the world from two individuals who aren’t tied to a specific political party and have way more pull socially than all of The Five’s hosts combined. Create a happy hour type of environment on air where King and Barkley aren’t held to rigid restrictions, truly get to be themselves, and serve an audience around that hour that is more receptive to talk and discussion given the other shows that air during daytime hours on the big broadcast networks.
CNN also needs to dedicate more resources to promoting the duo. A replay of King Charles should air after Inside the NBA every week so that his fans are aware of another platform Barkley participates in. The show should have a social media presence of its own.
A sneak preview of the show should be promoted each week on both CBS Mornings and Inside the NBA. The duo should go on a press tour across various shows, podcasts, TikToks, blogs, and everything in between to gin up interest in the broadcast.
CNN should also use one of its sister networks – HLN, truTV, or even OWN – to boost the reach of this show given the figureheads that star on the show and the potpourri of topics that are discussed that don’t necessarily have to do with breaking news and politics that normally fill CNN’s airwaves. A boost in viewership could bring in a different type of advertiser and more profits. Barkley is already a showman for other products and could easily be utilized in commercials that air during the show.
CNN already implements a similar simulcast strategy with CNN This Morning by airing the show on HLN. CNN’s sister network brings in an extra 70-100,000 viewers every morning and at times, it is the highest-rated program of the day for HLN. WBD also utilizes the strategy often when they’re broadcasting the Final Four and it has helped college basketball’s national championship become one of the highest-rated sporting events of the year even when it is exclusively on cable.
King Charles has a lot of potential but it is already on a short lease. Variety reports that CNN is looking at the show as a “limited-run series.” Its first episode drew 486,000 viewers, according to Washington Post’s Jeremy Barr. Two weeks prior, the show it replaced known as Newsnight drew 525,000. There is potential to make a statement and stand out amongst everyone else in cable news but only if CNN will let the show and its hosts fully breathe.
Jessie Karangu is a weekly columnist for BNM, and graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but comes from Kenyan roots. Jessie has had a passion for news and sports media and the world of television since he was a child. His career has included stints with USA Today, Tegna, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sightline Media. He also previously wrote a weekly column for our sports media brand, Barrett Sports Media. Jessie can be found on Twitter @JMKTVShow.
The Road to Radio Stardom Has Changed For the Better
The landscape in the industry is changing even faster than many of us realize on a day-to-day basis.
The old adage in radio was to start in the smallest market you could get a job in and then keep working your way up the ladder and end up in the biggest market you could reach. However, that model, while still having a purpose, is in large part not as linear as it once was.
The era of social media, digital media, and work-from-anywhere has dramatically changed the way we view personalities.
For years, we assumed someone in a Top 5 market was obviously more talented than someone in market No. 25. While that is still likely true, in large part, it’s far from that black and white. Having worked in small markets like Woodward, Oklahoma, to then the No. 1 market, New York City, to now Kansas City, I can say there are incredibly talented broadcasters in markets well outside the Top 100, and there are some really mediocre broadcasters in the No. 1 market.
And with the way the world has shrunk, courtesy of technology, it doesn’t require one to necessarily make that leap to a market to simply increase a broadcaster’s exposure to then (hopefully) land that bigger and better job.
Now, thanks to all the various social media platforms that broadcasters need to reside on, broadcasters can develop enormous followings and garner regional and national attention without having to “prove” themselves in a Top 5 or 10 market.
This is a win for broadcasters. None of this is about settling or resting on your laurels, but it means you can become a national personality from nearly any market in America today. It’s not just New York and Los Angeles. And the examples are all over the country.
Clay Travis from Nashville. Dana Loesch from St. Louis. Steve Deace from Des Moines. I could continue with a list of really talented people, but you get the point.
Social media, for all its pitfalls, has allowed local and regional broadcasters to build larger followings beyond their cities and parlay those into larger opportunities. And they’re able to do it without living a NOMAD lifestyle.
That being said, that’s not judging anyone who wants to live it. I’ve made 3-4 major moves in the last 10-12 years. We all typically do it to some degree. New places bring new challenges and opportunities and larger markets typically bring larger paychecks.
But the broader point is that we can be pickier on our next move if one even makes sense. That doesn’t mean that jumping five to ten market sizes isn’t the right move, it may be. But it no longer has to be, because you need the exposure in the larger market to keep working up the ladder to then land in a major market to make the most money possible.
Broadcasters can now generate revenue away from just their salaries and bonuses via exclusive online membership opportunities, digital footprints not connected to the radio station, influencer routes on social media and several other creative ways to create multiple revenue streams, which would be wise in the current climate, anyway.
Ultimately, the landscape in the radio industry is changing even faster than many of us realize on a day-to-day basis, and there are creative paths and advantages to today’s climate that can be taken advantage of, if personalities play their hand right.
Pete Mundo is the morning show host and program director for KCMO in Kansas City. Previously, he was a fill-in host nationally on FOX News Radio and CBS Sports Radio, while anchoring for WFAN, WCBS News Radio 880, and Bloomberg Radio. Pete was also the sports and news director for Omni Media Group at K-1O1/Z-92 in Woodward, Oklahoma. He’s also the owner of the Big 12-focused digital media outlet Heartland College Sports. To interact, find him on Twitter @PeteMundo.
3 Tips on How to Get Station and Market Research Without the Whopping Budgets
Many of us have not seen research in a while. I am going to give you some poor man tips for getting the pulse of your community.
No research budget? No problem! Ok, many of us have not seen research in a while. I am going to give you some poor man tips for getting the pulse of your community.
These are tried and true methods that I have been using my entire programming career. Disclaimer: getting great unbiased research is a tremendous tool to strengthen your station or show. I have learned a few tricks that may help you assess your community and audience.
Use Your Station’s Database for a Small Survey
Usually, you must hold the carrot of winning a couple of hundred bucks for a participant. There are many advantages to this method. You are likely to have P1s who love your product and have a commitment to the station. Talk about cool!
Building the questions is the tough part. You don’t want to ask leading questions that mirror your thoughts or the attitudes of the audience. I like open-ended questions. I would also like to know about the participants’ demographics.
For whatever reason, my station’s database is different than the actual listeners to a news/talk station. You may find your database like mine: 70% women. Of those women, a large portion are in their 20s and 30s. Sadly, this is not your audience. You will need to willow them out as you compile the information.
The questions need to be about the audience, not about your station.
-What are your people doing for fun?
-Do they like to travel?
-How long is their commute?
-Do they have kids?
-Are they married?
-Are they happy with their school district?
-What is their biggest concern?
People love to talk about themselves. Let them do it and then sprinkle in questions about the station.
-Are there enough traffic reports?
-Have you ever called a show?
-How was your interaction with the host or producer?
-What is your favorite restaurant?
-How much time do you watch sports each week?
You certainly can add many questions like this. Knowing your audience allows you to reflect on their lives, concerns, and interests.
Be A Spy
I love doing this one at lunch. Pull into a restaurant that appeals to businesspeople in your area. Get a table near a large group and start writing down the conversation.
Are they griping about the boss? What are their concerns? Do they tease each other? How much do they speak about their significant other? Are they discussing something they read, heard, or watched?
Just write down their conversations. I have taken this information and crafted promos and liners around it. It is a small sample size, but if the group is in your target for the station, you can learn a lot of good stuff. This just costs the price of lunch and a beverage. DIY at its finest.
Quick On-the-Street Surveys
This is another way to get a pulse on the community. Does your town have an event geared to the community? Go out with a producer, a salesperson, and give three quick questions. You need to guess the age of the participant. Ask for their ZIP code. this is to determine whether they live in your area.
Then three quick questions. I like to use multiple choice.
-How frustrating is the traffic? 1 to 5 with 5 meaning very agonizing.
-Your biggest concern: Crime, Taxes, Money, or family?
-How long have you lived in your home? These are quick questions to give you a pulse on your neighbors’ concerns.
None of these are as good as a solid perceptual. I have read a lot of research, and the conclusions are the biggest concern. Years ago, I worked for a company that did several perceptuals. I was asked to read them by my format captain, who was new on the job. I read them carefully over the weekend and typed up a short report. The conclusions were completely different than the data.
I am sure that if you have the opportunity to do a research project on your station, you will want to know the unvarnished truth. If you are in the enviable position of interviewing the companies that do research, you need to know the following things:
-Are the conclusions what I want to read or need to see?
-How is the best way to assess the data provided?
-Will the data allow me to develop an action plan to grow my ratings?
If you want research to confirm your preconceived thoughts, skip the expense. If you want to maximize your return, learn how to critically read the data.
What is your action plan following the study? There should be a clear path to allow you to identify vulnerabilities, opportunities, and strengths. All of these are equally important.
Once you know your vulnerabilities, you can strategize to shore up your weaknesses. Once you know your opportunities, you can address them and create another path for your brand to succeed. Knowing and perhaps confirming your strengths allows you to use these as a base point for your brand’s continuing success.
Don’t mess up good research. These are wonderful windows on your station and community. They are key to helping you create a listener-focused experience that will support your station for years to come.
Don’t be frightened to have some of your personal conclusions destroyed. Is this about your ego or is it about your team, station, and market?
Peter Wilkinson Thiele is a weekly columnist for Barrett News Media. He currently serves as the program director, and morning host of Newstalk KZRG in Joplin, MO. Additionally, Peter has held programming roles in New York City, San Francisco, Little Rock, Greenville and Hunstville. He has also worked as a host, account executive and producer in Minneapolis, and San Antonio. You can reach him on Twitter at @PeterThiele.