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For Jamie Markley, Hosting MVR Feels Like More Than a Job

When Markley talks about MVR, you get the feeling he’s talking about a daily event he loves to be part of, more than a job. 

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If you hang out with friends and talk about life, politics, and goofy stuff, you should get a radio show. Jamie Markley did. 

“Our show is extremely natural, I think that’s one of the things we hear a lot,” Markley said. 

He’s talking about Markley, Van Camp and Robbins, heard on more than 125 radio stations across the country. Three ostensibly different guys from different generations that just like to shoot the s***.

“It sounds like three friends who get on with each other like only friends can. To me, maybe it’s because I had a big brother growing up, it’s the jawwing back and forth. It’s endearing, never mean spirited.”

He was a jock in Peoria for 10 years, married for three, when a morning job in Rockford opened when his station in Peoria was sold. He spent two years there, then he heard a station was looking for a morning person in Peoria. 

“My wife and I were just starting out with our kids and both of us had family in the Peoria area,” Markley said. We didn’t know what we were going to do. At the time I had an offer to do afternoons in Indianapolis. We were trying to take on The Bob & Tom Show. My wife wanted to get back home to Peoria. Nine months later we got back there.”

Before a career in radio, bands like KISS meant a lot. Markley wore a KISS shirt as a kid, and that can speak volumes about a person. I know because I wore one too.

If you didn’t listen to KISS, then you weren’t a kid in the 70s. Markley reminded me of a rock adage: ‘Rock and Roll is either going to hit you in the eyes or the heart, but it’s going to resonate with you somewhere.’ 

“Not only was KISS not your parent’s band,” Markley said, “they weren’t your uncle’s band either. It was something you hadn’t heard. When most people hear Rock and Roll All Nite, they still turn it up on the radio to this day. It’s music that keeps you young.”

Markley said one of the first albums he purchased was KISS Destroyer

The band KISS indirectly got Markley in trouble in Sunday school. 

“I grew up in the Methodist church. One time I had a KISS belt buckle and my Sunday school teacher went crazy. It was a Gene Simmons dragon belt buckle. I think I wore it on purpose.”

Alive was already out. One of my first albums was Aerosmith’s Toys in the Attic. I don’t think there’s a bad track on the album with songs like Uncle Salty.” 

According to Markley, Aerosmith was in bad shape in the mid-80s, doing lots of drugs. Joe Perry left the band after the album “Night in the Ruts.” Then Aerosmith came out with “Done with Mirrors” in 1985.  

“It was an album only Aerosmith fans bought,” Markley said. “It had a horrible marketing campaign. I saw them on that tour and they were terrible and wasted. Then they did the duet with Run DMC in 1986, got clean and sober, and released “Permanent Vacation,” their big comeback record in 1987.

Once in the radio business, Markley had the perk of meeting a lot of touring rock acts. “Eddie Van Halen was very cool,” he said. Pushed to choose between David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar incarnations of the band, Markley said he had to go with Lee Roth.

“When I was on rock radio, I was just a ‘rock dog,” Markley said. “All those guys were my heroes.  I was at Alpine Valley for Van Halen. Scorpions, Metallica, I was turned on to rock by my older brother and sister. It was Boston, Eagles, a lot of different stuff.” 

When Markley talks about MVR, you get the feeling he’s talking about a daily event he loves to be part of, more than a job. 

“It’s smart to be informed, but I think it takes more work these days to figure it out,” Markley explained. “There are so many differing agendas being played out. When you look around, with just the people you know, there’s a lot of amazing people. A lot of the conflicts are things covered by nose. I’m not saying there aren’t awful things going on. The difference is how we approach it on the show. We’re just honest and tell people how we feel.”

Just because Markley is on the radio, people seem to feel his opinion on a matter might mean more than most. Markley said that’s way off base. 

“If I’m going to a family gathering, or meeting old friends from high school, I don’t feel like I need to talk about my political perspectives or comment on everything in the news. I’m just there to have a good time. Sometimes people say they’ve got to get my opinion on something. I’ll tell you if you want my opinion, but I don’t feel any need to talk about it. There are some people who hear my opinions who never want to talk about that topic with me ever again. But I promise you’ll know how I feel on the air about every single issue.”

Markley was in no shape or form pushed our conversation to a higher plane, it just went there.

“When I was younger and said I was a Christian, I’m not sure what that meant,” Markley said. “I recall talking to my mom when I was 20 years-old. Some girl I knew had gotten pregnant. The conversation was rolling and my mom said you shouldn’t have sex before marriage. I told her that wasn’t realistic.” 

Markley questioned how someone could go to Sunday school and not know the basic tenets of Christianity.

“There were a lot of things that happened to me in a 36-hour period when I was 31 years old,” he said. “My mother was dying, my wife became pregnant, and the radio station I was at closed. A few weeks later my mom died and I started to spiral. I was in a different town, away from support.” 

Then came the booze, and Markley said things got pretty bad.

“I knew if my family was going to make it, we had to go back to Peoria,” he said. “I thought that would fit all our issues. I wasn’t ready for all that came my way.”

His path to spirituality was realized through all things, an MMA fighter. The man is Ryan Blackorby, who is also from the Peoria area.

“He truly had faith,” Markley explained. “My wife had been babysitting their first child. At the time he was doing some work for a children’s home.”

Markley said Blackorby had come to discover his faith a year or two earlier. The two friends started talking and Markley told him he’d never really read the Bible, and he’d never really been involved in Bible study in his life. 

“I think that turned out to be a good thing because we could talk. I saw him as a guy I liked,” Markley said. “When you think of people who have faith, you sort of envision a stereotype. But here was a real Christian guy and I wanted to know what that believing was really like. I can remember us getting together for lunch and I’d ask some basic questions.”

Blackorby told Markley to start with the gospels. Then they could discuss his interpretations. 

“I remember reading Matthew one day,” Markley said. “It was a Saturday in January of 2001. Suddenly, I realized all of what I was reading made sense. I realized I couldn’t fix things on my own as I was still drinking way too much. 

My wife and I talked and decided we should start reading the Bible. She jokingly called me a ‘Bible-thumper.’ I was trying not to be too pushy about my new realizations. She said that was good as I’d gotten drunk a few nights before.”

Markley knew his drinking had to stop, one way or another. He kept establishing drinking limits, like getting in a few quick ones. You’re not an alcoholic if you can stop, right?

“I might have a couple, and sometimes I’d just go ‘all in.’ Finally I realized, ‘Okay. I can’t do this anymore. As far as my career has gone, I think audiences perceive you a certain way. The subject of drinking pops up occasionally. You have to know my co-host Scott Robbins and I used to party a lot.” 

Markley said when he shares something about his drinking problems on the air, listeners would thank him for sharing. They’d say, ‘I had a drinking problem and when you said you had the same thing I felt God was coming through.’

“It’s so hard to seek sobriety when you’ve been doing it for such a long time,” Markley said. “Scott Robbins and I come from music radio. Especially when you’re doing a morning show, you’re trying to develop an on-air relationship with a friend. Alcohol was a buffer.”

When Markley talks about something personal on the air with Scott Robbins or David Van Camp, he is talking to a friend. 

“In the end, that’s what it is,” he explained. “ That’s what makes our show special. When you admit to your friends you have a problem.”

Markley said the Bible is complex. For instance, when you’re reading about the Garden of Eden, is that supposed to be taken in a literal sense? Or is it a metaphor? There’s got to be some wiggle room in there.

“There are all types of writing styles in the Bible,” Markley said. “One disciple tells a story about the history of man. Another talks about the creator. When I hear different people get their take on the Bible, it’s fascinating. Having someone like Blackorby get me through has been very fortunate for me.”

He never went to AA. When he quit, he went to a counselor who urged him to go to AA. 

“I understand it works for a lot of people,” Markley said. “If I fall off the wagon, I’ll probably go. There’s a Christian version of AA.”

Even though he’d never attended an AA meeting, he said it was an eerie experience. An alignment of powers that sure looked like they wanted him to go to a meeting.

“I was going to try to quit smoking. It was the last vice I needed to quit,” Markley explained. “I wanted to take a drive, and it was okay because I was sober. I remember it was New Year’s morning. I drove by the river just to sit. I was thinking about the coming year. I thought maybe I’d map out some goals for the year.”

Markley said a car pulled up and out popped a guy who was wearing a veteran’s jacket. 

“I figured I’d have just one more cigarette before I quit. I went up to him and told him I’d give him five bucks for a cigarette. He told me to just take one.”

Markley did. In mid-smoke, another person with a veteran’s sticker on his bumper pulled up and Markley figured it was some kind of veteran’s meeting. 

“I thought that was cool. Then I saw a woman pulling up who didn’t really look like she’d served in the military.”

Soon, other people started showing up at the same time. A light went on for Markley.

“I’m like, “Oh, this is an AA meeting.” I’m like, okay, I give. I understand why I was in this place. That’s the only one I ever attended. People went around and introduced themselves. I had actually commented to friends “I saw more love in that room than in a lot of churches I’ve been to.”

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News Radio Should Celebrate Audio-First Decision From Ron DeSantis

As radio programmers, hosts, and salespeople, we should be doing cartwheels and leveraging this moment.



Ron DeSantis launched his 2024 Presidential run on Twitter Spaces on Wednesday night to much fanfare. By now, you’ve seen the hot takes on how the enthusiasm for DeSantis crashed Twitter or, depending on your preferred candidate, the rollout was a disaster and is a sign of things to come for his campaign. I’ll let the opposing campaigns and fanboys/girls, and news radio hosts hash that part out between themselves.

What’s far more interesting from a media perspective is DeSantis’ platform choice. It was not legacy media. He did not choose Fox News, Newsmax, etc., but more interesting was the fact he chose an audio-first medium on Twitter. There was no visual element at all.

Ron DeSantis did the equivalent of a radio interview to announce his 2024 bid. Yes, he hopped on Fox News later that evening with Trey Gowdy, but the official announcement and first media interview came on Twitter, without any video component. 

As radio programmers, hosts, and salespeople, we should be doing cartwheels and leveraging this moment.

For too long, TV has been overrated. It’s been a perfect storm. You have politicians who love seeing themselves on TV to feed their egos, and many of their advisors and media buyers have backgrounds in the medium, so it becomes an echo chamber.

From the ridiculous overspending during election season on overproduced, phony, repetitive television spots that produce diminishing returns (rather than the far more cost-effective and impactful radio ads), to the obsession with capturing every TV opportunity they can, TV has become overvalued in recent elections.

Ron DeSantis’ decision on Wednesday night may have been the move that makes many realize where they have missed the boat in recent years. 

If used in a calculating manner, DeSantis’ moment can benefit radio programming and sales.

Programmers should be pitching any of their local candidates in legitimate races that matter to try and get their candidacy announcement on radio. “If Ron DeSantis can go audio-first, why isn’t it good enough for you?” This would bring earned media for the candidate and radio station and the TV hits would follow.

On KCMO, we landed the announcement interview with former KC TV anchor Mark Alford, who used that springboard to win an open U.S. Congressional seat in 2022. 

From a sales perspective, this could also be a game changer in helping PACs, agencies, and campaigns understand the personal nature of the audio-first medium, which radio still dominates, despite what the naysayers claim.

During the 2022 cycle, radio did exceed its estimates in political advertising with $310 million, compared to the projections of $270 million. But that’s peanuts compared to the $4.73 billion spent on broadcast TV, according to this article from Radio Insight.

That is absurd. And it is the very definition of diminishing returns. Whether it’s a Presidential candidate in a key state or city, or more appropriately for this column, a local U.S. Senate, or congressional, candidate in your market, there are two paths.

One, they can become another overplayed, tune-out TV ad, where their ego is stroked and they get noticed in the grocery store, but they don’t get the value from the spending they need. 

Or, two, they can own radio, which will be more cost-effective, impactful, personal for the listener, oh, and reach a potential voter that is 10-15 years younger, on average, than those still watching broadcast TV. 

None of this is to suggest that TV is not important, of course, it will forever be critical to have a visual component for politicians in the 21st century. But it’s not everything. It never has been and it never will be, despite what the differential in ad spending suggests. 

If audio-first is a good enough launch for one of the front runners to land in the White House in 2024, I’d say it’s more than good enough for anyone else entering the political arena at any level.

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Twitter Facing Several Questions After Multimedia Struggles

Everyone should have the ability to say what they want but that doesn’t mean they have the ability to make up their own truths that aren’t factually based.

Jessie Karangu



When Kim Kardashian broke the internet and Twitter, we marveled and were astonished at her attempt and it worked. Her infamy continued to skyrocket more positively than negatively because she embraced her sexuality in a sensual but respectful way.

When TMZ broke the internet, they became a dependable source for news about celebrity deaths even if the method behind their madness was and still is pure madness.

On Wednesday, when Elon Musk and Ron DeSantis broke the internet it was just plain trash.

Your local waste management company couldn’t fix the travesty that was Wednesday night on Twitter. Tech issues, hosts having trouble connecting, listeners hearing nothing — that was the main story of what was allegedly supposed to be the launch of Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign.

On Twitter Spaces’ biggest night, it made the platform seem out of space and out of touch with the rest of society. When you fire key engineers from your staff, only allow groupthink in your office quarters, and don’t feel the need to answer to anyone because you’ll still get bank credit even if Twitter goes bankrupt, this is the result. Hubris.

At the beginning when things went haywire and nothing was working, the stream drew about 600,000 listeners. By the time the stream actually started working it was down to 100,000 concurrent listeners. Media journalist Oliver Darcy joked that more people are watching CNN at 3:00 AM than were listening to Twitter’s live stream.

With that being said, drawing 600,000 listeners is no small feat. If used effectively, Twitter can become an influential voice in this upcoming election.

Twitter, as a tool, has always been impactful. Journalists, commentators, and newsmakers have used its real-time functionality to shape the national conversation. Twitter as a company hasn’t played too much of an editorial role other than putting their name brand on town halls and debates until the Musk reign. The company has already been able to secure conservative brands Tucker Carlson and The Daily Wire to join their alliance. Both entities plan on posting daily videos to counter the “mainstream media narrative.”

It’s extremely smart to have them posting original content natively to the site. It will increase engagement, it’ll increase the amount of time users spend, and their success could convince other news organizations to produce content that is exclusive to the site.

In the past, Twitter has partnered with BuzzFeed and even the NFL to try and steal a share of television’s audience but it hasn’t proven profitable or viral. Tucker Carlson’s removal from Fox has caused a major splinter among conservative media audiences and could be an answer to Twitter’s content desires. They’ll be serving an audience that can’t find what they want anywhere else.

The problem Twitter faces is that it has already established itself as the place for real-time content and breaking news, as well as the most active social home for many of our country’s most reliable sources. Whether Elon Musk realizes this or not, he has a moral obligation to ensure the user experience stays as neutral as possible even if he wants the company to become a conservative brand. 

Musk needs to make an effort to bring Democratic representatives in to commit to Twitter Spaces sessions as well. A conversation doesn’t exist if two sides of the spectrum aren’t involved and, eventually, interest in Twitter’s political media initiatives will die off because Dems will seek audiences on bigger platforms Twitter can’t compete with.

The Biden campaign could decide to solely focus on TV audiences, YouTube, and webinars just like they did in the last election and still have a chance to win, leaving Twitter’s efforts irrelevant. They could even use Twitter’s tools to promote themselves without the help of Musk. It won’t help Musk or Twitter the brand feel more reliable or trustworthy among Americans without allowing both sides to speak. Twitter has to sell itself to everyone as the tech home for political conversations in the world of fragmented media.

If he’s going to go the activist route with conservative Spaces by having supporters of a particular politician moderating the discussion, then he should do the same thing for Democratic politicians who appear on Spaces as well. A word of advice going forward, though: A journalist always makes the most sense. Journalists are trained to be objective and facilitate conversations for a living. Everyone knows how to cook scrambled eggs, but I guarantee you Rachael Ray’s scrambled eggs hit differently.

Twitter can look to CNN as an example of what happens when a town hall is technologically sound and the moderator treats their panelist with fairness. Since Trump’s town hall, CNN has been able to garner time with Mike Pence and Nikki Haley. Both candidates saw the jump that the town hall gave Trump in attention and hype among his base and, quite frankly, understand that they can reach more people on TV than online. Trump’s town hall reached 3 million viewers. After DeSantis left his Twitter Spaces, he promoted his candidacy on Fox News to the tune of 2 million viewers, ironically Fox’s largest audience since Carlson was let go.

Musk also needs to create a tab dedicated to news and have running video options and audio options that display straight news along with conservative and liberal opinionists. These feeds are already available on other platforms. Why not sell advertising against it and keep viewers right on Twitter where they are already having the discussions? The best thing about Twitter’s old BuzzFeed morning show is that you could multitask.

You could catch up on news and thoughts on your feed while live video discussing what was trending could be placed towards the bottom of your phone screen with the window in window option on Apple devices. Users didn’t have to leave the app to catch up on what was happening in the world.

Allowing Carlson and The Daily Wire to become the only two sources of media that are promoted or favored on the app will only heighten tension before the election and will literally put lives at stake because of the possibility of both outlets spreading misinformation. 

This goes into the next idea to make Musk’s “public square” a safe and accurate space for everyone. Musk needs to either contract or hire fact-checkers. The fact-checkers should be in charge of verifying Community Notes, adding Community Notes to streams/videos/tweets that are posted by publishers to correct or clarify anything that was said, and creating videos of their own based on trending topics or viral videos that aren’t accurate.

Everyone should have the ability to say what they want but that doesn’t mean they have the ability to make up their own truths that aren’t factually based.

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AM Radio Will Still Ride Along…For Now

The math itself is simple. You don’t use what you don’t want. And you probably won’t use what you don’t believe you need.

Bill Zito



In our last chapter on the fight to keep the AM radio in your car, things were not looking so good for the Sunday morning religious shows, exhaustingly predictable talk hosts, and the largely underpaid local news anchors.

But Ford has apparently heard the call from lawmakers, FEMA, and a variety of other concerned citizens, enough at least that they have announced they will back off their plans to do away with AM band in their new vehicles. For now, at least.

So, I will say the U-Turn decision by Ford is nice. Yes, I would venture to say it is nice. But is this a victory or merely a stay of execution?

And since no matter what, AM radio is not disappearing or soon to become unavailable, why don’t we just say this is more a case of bail continued until sentencing day.

What it means is there will be more cars and trucks with AM radios on our roads than we thought there would be last week.

How much of an impact will it make? I don’t think it will make much at all.

There are still a lot more car manufacturers going ahead with their plans to do away with AM so the math will not be grounds for celebration.

The math itself is simple. You don’t use what you don’t want. And you probably won’t use what you don’t believe you need. Even if you might need it now and then.

My vehicle has a trailer hitch. I don’t use that either. I don’t need it. It just happens to be there.

In other words, it does nothing for me and for many people neither does AM radio.

Where do you think these car makers got the idea in the first place to take the AM band out of the vehicles?

I’m sure they asked a few people.

How likely are you to not buy this car if it doesn’t have an AM radio in it?

Ever hear of market research? We did this already.

I’m glad, for now at least, that a few more people will have a choice. We deserve that. We are the ones buying stuff. Treat us with respect.

I have expressed this opinion before. You can put an AM radio everywhere but if the content is not worth the effort, then all it becomes is a receptacle for go-to emergency broadcasts and possibly some inane chatter or white noise to fall asleep by.

I’ve said this before too: Give them something worth listening to and they might listen. They might give it a try and they might actually like it. But here is the trick. Now that you have them, how do you keep them?

Well, now you must be consistently good or at least not awful. That’s harder than it seems, just zigzag across the country and find out.

Oh, when you do you have to turn your AM radio on and keep it on. No cheating, no flipping to the FM or satellite or your own playlists or podcasts or audiobooks.

Could you do it?

The blame for subpar content or a lack of listener-friendly programming is not all the fault of those behind the microphone or those producing, writing, or booking. But you already know that and so do I.

So just look up.

If management or corporate executives are physically upstairs as opposed to around the corner or down the hall. My experience over the last few years has been they are rarely in the building.

But regardless of where they physically might be they are often the ones behind all that glitters or does not.

I have found a good clue to what you might be getting on the air can be taken from a glimpse at the station’s website.

Most stations and managers put a great deal of emphasis on driving viewers, listeners, and readers to their home page. So, go there but go past the landing page with the obligatory three web stories that are less than 24 hours old and delve a bit deeper.

You are most likely to find a lot of material from last week, last month, and even last year if you click on a few sections. Some outlets I have some familiarity with have a mostly corporate-run website with plenty of room though for local elements like news stories, programming schedules, and show host biographies.

You’d think at minimum they would update their lineups, their show schedules, and add some information to entice that reader back to the air product. You’d think.

Nostalgic as I might be, I do not particularly care who was hosting in 2021 nor do I want to listen to an interview with a losing mayoral candidate from a year and a half ago. If your air drives somebody to your website or vice-versa, there should be something of value waiting there for them.

Remember, respect for the audience, the customer is always right, or karma is a …

Back on that cross-country trip, you are likely to find some good things in your travels, largely local and national sports talk, maybe a bit of financial chat, or solid religious conversation. But is it enough to fight off the eviction of AM from your car?

And don’t forget the demographics. The only time my kid listened to the AM band was to hear me (once) and even that took a bit of prompting. Her generation and the one after her, are the last chance to bring on some additional support.

After then, who will be listening?

Tell us why these stations need to stay there when we can generally find them or what they offer in other configurations.

Just as I asked last time, what can AM do that others cannot?

If I know my gene pool, my grandchildren are not going to be fighting for AM radio in their space boats or their flying cars.

CDs maybe.

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