Carl DeMaio comes from a background lifted from a Charles Dickens novel.
Not for a moment is he asking anyone to feel bad for him—quite the contrary. DeMaio has done quite well for himself, owning and selling two companies for millions of dollars. He is stronger for challenging experiences.
“My father walked out when I was 13 years old,” DeMaio said. “I was infuriated. He left as my mom was dying of cancer. Just two weeks before she died. He was just a bad seed.”
As a teenager, DeMaio had to grow up fast.
Born in Dubuque, DeMaio said he didn’t spend much time there. But, after his mother passed away, DeMaio was sent to boarding school. He ended up reuniting with his sister years later and is close today.
There wasn’t a lot of time for DeMaio to entertain dreams or much thought of the future. It was survival. He was immediately sent to Georgetown Preparatory School.
Georgetown University was next up for DeMaio.
He earned good grades in high school and started applying for financial aid. But there was one very large problem. To get the financial aid, DeMaio needed to provide parental income information.
“Since I didn’t have parents, they were still asking me to provide my parent’s tax forms,” he explained. “I remember going to meet with a Jesuit priest and explained my predicament. He informed me the system was not set up to accept students in my position. They didn’t know how to handle it.”
The priest made a couple of life-altering keystrokes on the computer, and suddenly, DeMaio’s application was restored and accepted.
“I arrived in Georgetown with $36 cash in my pocket,” DeMaio explained. “Obviously, I needed to get a job immediately. My number one goal was to find a way to purchase health insurance. I didn’t know where I was going to get the money.”
“I only had two suitcases when I arrived at Georgetown. I lived in the dorms each year because of my scholarships and financial aid. The dorms were part of the package. I was on a meal plan, but nobody was using theirs, so I got rid of that.”
The Georgetown dorms were his home–in a literal sense. Not designed for o year-round residents, they closed the dorms on Christmas, spring break, and summers.
“They just locked the doors, and I had nowhere to go,” DeMaio said. “Occasionally, I’d go to my Aunt’s house in Ohio, visit my brother in Dubuque. But I slept in my car a lot at a rest stop. A few times, I was able to sneak back into the dorms.”
In another cost-saving measure, DeMaio needed to shorten his tenure at Georgetown to defray the costs.
“I’d structured my credits at school so I could get out in three years. I did it by the end of the first semester of my senior year. That’s when he ended up getting a full-time job. I took classes that didn’t require class participation.”
DeMaio found Georgetown too liberal for his conservative tastes.
“That’s the big urban myth that if you’re coming from a poor background, you must be a Democrat. The reason I’m a conservative is because I learned early on about the failings of government and the value of personal responsibility.”
In retrospect, he found most students were immature and did too much partying.
“I do regret not having more of a social life while I was there. In all my years at Georgetown, not once did I go into a bar for a drink, and it was such a party school. People tell me I must have had such a great time. I didn’t. I was up at 6:00 a.m. and off to my job.”
During his first semester, DeMaio worked on Capitol Hill with a consumer advocacy group. Later he got a job with the California Raisin Advisory Board placing stories.
Do you remember the commercials with the dancing raisin in sunglasses dancing to I Heard it Through the Grapevine? That’s them.
Today he’s the host of The DeMaio Report on Newsradio 600 on KOGO in San Diego.
He started two successful companies early in his career, and his interest in politics intensified.
“I got fed up with the political scandals in San Diego. I sold my companies and ran for Mayor. I fell short, losing to Bob Filner, who was later removed from office in a sexual assault scandal.”
After he ran for mayor of San Diego, radio wasn’t immediately on his mind. But that changed quickly. He got a call as some people felt otherwise.
“I didn’t know if I could take over a show and talk for three hours, five days a week,” DeMaio explained. “I don’t consider myself a broadcaster or media personality. Even though I am on the air. I don’t go to broadcasting events. I think our show is different in the way I conceive the show. I don’t want to do standard talk or outrage radio. A lot of the topics I talk about are outrageous, and the public can be upset by some of them. It’s not my goal to upset them – but to inform and, more importantly, to empower them to take action to make a difference.”
DeMaio said he’d used his radio presence more as a community forum – and he set up a campaign committee on the outside of his radio show – called Reform California – as a way people can take action and as a vehicle for DeMaio to sponsor projects to investigate government and hold it accountable.
“I might rile people up about the latest scam or how city hall is handling their money,” he explained. “I’ll talk about things that my audience should be upset about and help them find ways to take action through our political action committee Reform California.”
DeMaio appears as a guest on a variety of media outlets as chairman of Reform California.
“In my contract with KOGO, I’m allowed to appear on other channels and stations. It’s a very unique negotiation. Out of respect to KOGO, I don’t reference other stations on our air or the show I will be on.”
DeMaio oversees campaigns: Restore Public Safety, Defeat Gavin Newsom, Stop the Mileage Tax, and School Board Reform.
DeMaio said he’s interested in the hottest stories of the day on his show.
“I want you to be the smartest one at the dinner table. I’ll certainly cover national stories, but I’m always trying to bring it back to the San Diego impact.”
His take on the 2020 election outcome is unique from most conservative talk show hosts. As someone who has spent 20 years in politics and running campaigns, DeMaio has a command of the intricacies of election laws.
He wholeheartedly agrees with Republicans and President Trump that the 2020 election was conducted improperly, but he also concedes that Trump’s legal team failed to meet the high standard of burden of proof that courts require to overturn the result of an election.
“I believe the way the 2020 election was held should never be repeated again, and that should be our focus,”
DeMaio points to the use of outdated voter rolls, and mailing ballots to everyone using ancient voter rolls opens the door to widespread fraud.
“You’re sending all these ballots into the wilderness. Under the old system, people had to physically show up. In the 2020 election, we fundamentally changed how we voted. From voters casting ballots to ballots casting ballots. For Trump to say all that happened, he could be right if it was enough to change the election. But once ballots are out in the wilderness, you can’t track them, and it is hard to prove how many were intercepted and illegally cast – let alone who they were cast for. Shame on state and national Republicans and their operatives for not throwing a temper tantrum when the rules were first changed in July and August of 2020!”
When DeMaio started his companies, he couldn’t get any loans. So, he maxed out his Discover card. They were allowing kids with no credit to get into $25,000 in debt. “In 1998, $25,000 was a lot of money back then, especially for a kid right out of college.”
“One of my companies was the Performance Institute; the other was the Management Institute. Essentially the same bottle of wine with different labels.” I’m proud of what I’ve done. Proud of what I did. Proud of what I did. The real pride is not just the good work we did but also the background and chances we’ve given a lot of bright young people right out of college. I’m not concerned with what degree they earned. I’m looking for the right attitude.”
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].
With Nielsen, Is There Life After 54?
If the industry truly believes that Nielsen should offer more demos, it’s time to ask the relevant questions and get the answers.
There’s been some discussion of late about whether it’s time to change the standard demos that Nielsen uses for reporting radio audiences.
Dan Mason began the debate a couple of months back with an argument for three demos: 12-19, 20-40, and 41-64. Steve Allan at Research Director has added his thoughts with the suggestion that Nielsen drop persons 6-11 and 80+. Beyond the lack of buyer interest in these demos, he sees it as a backdoor way to increase the PPM sample. Perhaps because more discussion is a good thing, I’ll offer my two cents.
There is likely no way that Nielsen will ever remove the 6-11 and 80+ PPM panelists even though the data are essentially meaningless for radio. PPM is now used for both audio and video. In the latter, PPM measures out-of-home audiences for local TV in the metro areas of DMAs. Remember that TV measures down to the age of two and while Arbitron never dropped that low (can you imagine a three-year-old with a PPM?), the design was that PPM would measure both radio and television. Because video likes a big number, the 80+ issue is probably off the table as well.
Let’s move on to Dan Mason’s suggestions. Radio has been battling with the “you’re dead at 55” issue for decades. In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, I was the operations manager of WSPA-FM in Spartanburg, South Carolina which ran the beautiful music/easy listening format. I clearly remember Ted Dorf at WGAY in Washington (same format) starting a 35-64 committee, the goal of which was to show the value of the older audience and bring dollars into that demo. That was more than 40 years ago and nothing much has changed.
Even with the lack of dollars for older demos despite the incredible spending power of the boomer generation, why can’t Nielsen offer more “standard” demos? In the “old days”, there were limitations based on processing software and even the size of the printed ratings report (remember the horizontal Arbitron books?). Today, the E-book is barely used and processing power is essentially unlimited.
The limitation may reside in the systems used by Nielsen to process the local markets. The old Arbitron processing systems were somewhat limited and rebuilding the system was usually behind other priorities. I do not know if Nielsen has updated the processing system, but if they have, it shouldn’t be hard to offer more “standard” demos, whether Dan Mason’s suggestions or others. If Nielsen has not updated the systems in the decade since the Arbitron acquisition, then we’re back to my recent column asking the paraphrased Ronald Reagan question of whether you’re better off now than you were ten years ago.
What about the third-party processors: other companies that use the Nielsen data, for example, agency buying systems? Nielsen can require certain data to be made available as part of the future licensing agreements for data access. Still, the companies would also have to make software changes that will take time.
Let’s make the generous assumption that these changes will take place. Who wins? It seems that most radio formats would do well if at least one buying demo went up to age 64. And yes, I know 35-64 has been available for decades, but let’s consider Dan’s 41-64 for the moment. News/talk will be helped along with classic rock (how many classic rock songs were recorded after the mid-80s?).
Those of us who are older don’t act like our parents (full disclosure: I do not fall in any of Dan Mason’s new demos) so I can see Adult Contemporary, Country, Urban AC, and other formats doing well. Public radio has also been aging so it may be easier to sell underwriting and their outside offerings that can carry spots. The various commercial Christian formats should look good, too.
Where does this leave us? If the industry truly believes that Nielsen should offer more demos, it’s time to ask the relevant questions and get the answers. Assuming Nielsen can make the software changes in a reasonable period of time, it’s up to the industry to convince agencies and advertisers of the value of these new demos over the ones they’ve used literally for generations. That will be no easy task, but making the data easily and readily available will help.
Let’s meet again next week.
One of the radio industry’s most respected researchers, Dr. Ed Cohen writes a weekly column for Barrett News Media. His career experiences include serving as VP of Ratings and Research at Cumulus Media, occupying the role of VP of Measurement Innovation at Nielsen Audio, and its predecessor Arbitron. While with Arbitron, Cohen spent five years as the company’s President of Research Policy and Communication, and eight years as VP of Domestic Radio Research. He has also held the title of Vice President of Research for iHeartMedia/Clear Channel, and held research positions for the National Association of Broadcasters and Birch/Scarborough Research. Dr. Ed always enjoys hearing your thoughts so please feel free to reach him at [email protected].
The Latest Example of How to Not Produce a Debate
If there is a blueprint on how not to put on a debate, it was Wednesday evening.
As if it couldn’t get any worse, it did. For the first time since it’s been my job to watch a Presidential debate for a living, I turned one off. After 82 minutes (9:22 p.m. CST, not that I was watching the clock or anything), I had enough. I couldn’t subject myself to the torture that became the second GOP Presidential debate on Wednesday night from the Reagan Library.
If there is a blueprint on how not to put on a debate, it was Wednesday evening, and there are multiple reasons why, beyond the usual bemoaning of “the candidates won’t stop talking over each other.”
The debate was overproduced. In the opening there were videos of Reagan (nice and well done, don’t get me wrong), each anchor had various lines they were reading between each other, which felt forced and unnatural, and as a result, it took over three minutes from the opening of a debate to a candidate finally speaking.
I understand TV isn’t radio, but in a PPM world, imagine taking three minutes to get to your content, when people are tuned in at that moment to consume the content you’ve been hyping up and promising for weeks. Time is a zero-sum game. Every minute a candidate is not speaking, because a moderator is, or a pre-produced piece is playing, can’t be gotten back.
Give people what they came for. A 15-second welcome, a 60-second introduction of the candidates, if that, and dive into the questions is a 90-second process. Keep these things moving and give the viewers what they came for. And that’s the candidates.
The debate lacked direction and clarity. Anchors spent far too much time asking long-winded questions with ridiculous and unnecessary details. As a viewer, it came across like the anchors were trying to impress us, rather than asking a question, getting out of the way, and letting the candidates — you know, the people running for President — try to impress us. They’re the ones who I want to be impressed by because they’re the ones we’re being asked to vote for.
Also, the topic direction had little flow and was disjointed. On certain topics, only one to three candidates would get to answer questions on the issue. I’ve laid out the case for keeping the flow of a debate and moving it along, but only giving half the stage the chance to answer questions on the most pressing issues in the country is a disservice to the voter who is there to here what everyone had to say.
At one point in the debate, Chris Christie was asked about a looming government shutdown, which was followed by a childcare cost question to Tim Scott and then it was an immigration/dreamers question back to Chris Christie. And that was in a five to seven minute span. Huh?
Rather than finding the six to seven big topics and diving into them with each candidate, while letting the candidates then organically and respectfully spar, it was like watching an ADD-riddled teen try and bounce between topics with no clarity or purpose.
And Yes, the Candidates
Of course, there were plenty of these moments that typically derail debates, notably primary debates, where multiple people are talking over each other and no one is willing to give in to be the first one to shut up. Then, the debate begins to inevitably sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher and suddenly the obnoxious noise even makes your dog look at you and wonder what in the hell you’re watching.
There were too many candidates on stage and then the moderators also ended up losing control, like what happened last go around.
But as I wrote last month, this debate format is a broken system. But for some reason, we keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
Ronald Reagan was rolling over in his grave watching that debacle last night. It’s too bad he’s not still here to try and help fix it.
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 Ideas to Turn CNN Max Into a Streaming News Juggernaut
The last thing CNN needs to do is to have CNN Max hiding in plain sight.
It is so easy to find a gamut of stories and opinion pieces within the past year or two criticizing many different aspects of CNN and the way it operates. Many of those evaluations have been absolutely fair.
Now though, it is time to give CNN credit where it is due.
This week marked the launch of CNN Max and it has been as seamless as a fresh glazed donut coming straight out of the oven. The stream’s video quality is crisp. Commercials are inserted properly. Most of the exclusive programming feels exactly like something you would see on linear CNN.
But the most fascinating thing Warner Bros. Discovery has been able to pull off is the ability to stream most of the same programming that airs on domestic CNN via Max. It is a stroke of business genius and puts the company and network ahead of its counterparts when it comes to offering a quality streaming alternative. As has been mentioned in the past, the network has been able to bypass MVPDs and stream their primetime anchors without permission from cable operators because CNN Max is mostly a direct simulcast of CNN International which airs U.S. programming live overnight while Europeans are in bed.
Despite the successful launch, there are still some tweaks that could improve the product exponentially. One major benefit would be to have replays of programs that viewers may have missed from earlier in the day. Each show on serves a specific purpose and although similar coverage of news is told throughout the day, each anchor has a unique way of stringing the narrative together. Viewers deserve to get the chance to see how a story develops throughout different parts of the day and see specific segments in its entirety that may not get clipped for social media.
Viewers also need a chance to fully sample CNN Max’s exclusive programming and at the moment, if you don’t watch it live you’ve missed it forever.
Speaking of clips, it’s important for highlights of the day to be available quickly within the Max ecosystem. On CNN Max’s first day, Kasie Hunt scored an exclusive interview with Sen. Joe Manchin that made headlines.
Unfortunately, the only way a viewer could see it if they missed it live was if they scoured the network’s website for it or waited for a clip that the social media team would eventually put out. Part of being a modern-day news organization requires accessibility to be at its best at any given time of the day.
If viewers have a difficult time finding out the major highlights of what’s been on air, it may be harder to convince them to try a new product.
Viewers also deserve the opportunity to subscribe to alerts. News breaks on a consistent basis and unless you’re scrolling through your social media feed all day 24/7, it is almost impossible to follow everything that’s happening. Max needs to provide an option for specific types of alerts dealing with breaking news or major storylines that have developed live on air on CNN Max with the option to tune in now or to see clips or full episodes that deal with a specific headline. Alerts will increase engagement and maintain a relationship with the consumer they may not be able to get at another major entertainment app that streams similar programming as Max.
Promotion within the app is also important. While Max did an awesome job of showcasing the various shows that are live at any point during the day, it used the same graphics of the same hosts with the same descriptions every day. Viewers who read promos on entertainment apps are used to seeing different plot lines and convincing pictures showcased once a week whenever a new episode of their favorite show is ready for viewing. Max needs to treat news stories in the same fashion.
As stories break throughout the day, Max needs to promote their live programming with information blurbs containing new developments and questions that viewers might get answered by tuning in. Show previews could also promote featured guests. Using the same stale graphic of a host, show name, and generic show description will eventually become stale and annoying for viewers. Viewers will unfortunately train their minds to ignore the static messaging.
Warner Bros. Discovery also needs to take advantage of CNN Max’s predecessor. CNN Plus was able to maintain a decent amount of followers on social media – at least 35,000 on Twitter. Turn that page into a promotion spot for CNN Max that aggregates clips, promos, and previews of what viewers can expect on Max or what they may have missed.
As the brand develops a presence on social media, it will also develop name recognition among future cord-cutters who are deciding between Max and other services. The last thing CNN needs to do is to have CNN Max hiding in plain sight. CNN Max can be additive to cable ratings if people have an understanding of where and how to access it.
CNN Max is creating a direct relationship between the consumer and CNN. It’s a relationship that has always had a middleman. Unfortunately for the cable industry, the middleman is slowly dissipating away.
With this newfound bond, the network should take advantage of the digital real estate it has access to and create real interaction with viewers. Optional polls, factoids, written descriptions of stories on screen, or even biographies of the guests on air at any given time could provide viewers with an extra reason to stay tuned in. It keeps viewers occupied and helps elongate the amount of time viewers spend on the stream and the app as a whole.
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.