Connect with us

BNM Writers

Jared Hart Is Delivering Nothing But Facts to New Mexico

Jared Hart said in his experience, there is still a hunger for the facts, which he intends to give to the listening audience of New Mexico.

Avatar photo



Let’s get this out of the way; Jared Hart is not a nerd. Still, I’m perplexed at how while still in high school in the 90s, he knew who The Drifters were. He was familiar with the Four Tops and knew songs belted out by Janis Joplin. Who was this kid?

His radio career was born partially from his ability to identify those and many other eclectic tunes off the top of his high-school head.

“I have a step-sister my age,” Hart began, “In high school they wanted us to do a job shadow as an assignment. To spend the day with some professionals in the area. I told her I was going to call up KGOR radio out of the blue and see if I could do my job-shadow there.”

The dubious step-sister said he was nuts, they’d never let him do it. She did hedge her skepticism and said if they did let him do it, she wanted in.

KGOR let them shadow.

“It didn’t seem like it mattered much to them,” Hart explained.

When they got to the station, they heard the DJ play a few songs. Hart leaned to his step-sister’s ear and said the first song was Me and Bobby McGee. He then informed her the second song was This Diamond Ring by the Four Tops.

“I told her I was surprised they were playing these songs,” Hart said. “The DJ overheard me and said, ” Why do you think that? I said because these were more Woodstock songs, and KGOR was more of a Leader of the Pack station.”  (The Shangri-Las.)

The DJ pressed Hart, testing his musical acumen. He played another song and asked Hart to name the title and artist. Hart told him it was On the Roof by The Drifters. The DJ played a couple more and Hart named them as well.

“He was amazed,” Hart explained. “He told me I should work there. I told him thanks, but I couldn’t be an intern for free, and had to save money for college.”

The DJ said, ‘Who said it was an internship?’ Hart was just 18 years old and landed his first radio job.

“They threw me on the board on Saturdays,” Hart said. “I started in the summer and then that September, 9/11 happened.”

Hart had an idea he would go into journalism at the University of Nebraska–Omaha but majored in graphic design. He wrote for the high school paper, then his college newspaper.

“Ever since I was a teenager I liked to argue,” Hart explained. “I often took the other side of an argument just for enjoyment. That’s the way I was with my parents. A contrarian my whole life. It’s something talk radio used to do very well. You can’t always stand behind the pitchfork. Sometimes you have to be in front of it. Whatever perpetuates the conversation.”

Later, Hart worked for the NFL as a producer for Oakland Raiders pre and post-game shows.

“When I was working as an NFL producer, I learned you had to be quick on your feet as you had a lot of things thrown at you at once. You had to get the feel of the broadcast. Constantly prioritizing.  Something always needs to be executed immediately, and you have to identify what that is. There’s a ton of pressure and no room for a meltdown.”

Hart said there’s one disheartening thing about the work he’s done on film sets.

“There is no ‘Attaboy,’ or ‘job well done,” he said. “In radio it’s different. If you work hard and do well, you can get more money, get rewarded, and get promoted. All you have to do is shut up and work hard. In film, it’s much more political.”

Hart has worked in radio and film since 2001, including feature-length films and documentaries.

He’s currently the operations manager at Cumulus-owned KKOB and KNML in Albuquerque. Before that, it was WPHT where he helped transition the station from its 90s style of talk to a humorous and relevant political station.

The man enjoys film and spent some time working in the industry. Hart said high-quality projects are shot in New Mexico. News of the World, with Tom Hanks, was filmed there. Hell or High Water, Breaking Bad, Stranger Things, and Better Call Saul, among others.

“Those aren’t California mountains you see in the background, those are New Mexico mountains,” Hart said. “New Mexico has done a good job in creating long-term relationships with filmmakers. Strong incentives to shoot there. Not just a shoot and leave situation.”

Hart said unequivocally podcasts are the future.

“Radio used to be the tribal thing that podcasts have moved into,” he said. 

“I have a friend that runs a super-successful podcast. When they have a podcast party, four-thousand people come out. It’s like a midnight movie like Rocky Horror Picture Show or Avenger movies.”

Hart said in a lot of ways we’ve become numb to all the political luggage thrown at us each day. But Hart said in his experience, there is still a hunger for the facts.

“Everywhere I’ve been during my radio career there have been political debate watch parties,” Hart said.

Debate watch party?

“When I was in San Francisco, we had a very educated listenership that didn’t want to watch the debates alone at home on TV. They wanted a more communal experience. One night there was a Giants and A’s playoff game scheduled at the same time as a debate, and 250 people showed up. We didn’t think anybody would show up for a VP debate with that kind of a heavy sports night, but they did.”

Hart explained as far as attending a debate watch party goes, it’s not all about rallying behind the same candidate, it’s about people talking about a shared experience.

“It’s kind of like a cruise to Italy,” he jokes. “These experiences touch people in different ways. With podcasts, people are already truly fans of the subject of the podcast.”

He admits he’s never seen the political climate as turbulent as it is today. But Hart said it’s not like it has never been this way before. Every generation thinks the sky is falling, politically speaking.

“I’m sure when Thomas Jefferson opposed John Adams, at the time they figured nothing was going to be that terrible again,” Hart explained. “I’ve covered five presidential new cycles. Every time you think what was happening at the time never mattered more. It was the same with the administrations of Clinton, Bush, Obama. It always seemed like you were dealing with an existential crisis.”

Hart said there is a lot of Doom Scrolling these days by all age groups.

(I know. I’m old. Doom Scrolling: ​​obsessively scanning social media and websites for bad news, triggers the release of stress hormones that can affect your mental and physical health.)

“People are always looking for the beast to be fed, the quicker the better,” Hart said. “Just because you want to refresh your Twitter feed doesn’t mean news is going to move that quickly. The New York Times spends months writing in-depth pieces and we just want something now.”

Attracting and retaining listeners is the name of the game and Hart said there will always be pressure regarding the ratings.

“Nobody tunes into our stations to hear something boring,” Hart said. “We’ve made a conscious decision to try to not make the station solely political like many talk stations in the country. We don’t allow any name-calling. Only one person was Hitler. The government is not the Nazi party. You can say someone’s policies are stupid, but we stop short of calling someone an ‘elf on the shelf.’”

To keep shows moving in the right direction, Hart said producers play a key role.

“We need exceptional call screening to make this vision work,” Hart said. “When I first arrived here it took a few months for people to get a feeling for what I was trying to do. A few producers didn’t want to go along with the change and moved on.”

Hart said you can’t say whatever you want on his stations. He said there are plenty of outlets to post whatever you want. Again, no name-calling is a general rule.

“The word ‘hate’ is degrading,” he said. “Just because you don’t agree with someone doesn’t give you permission to say that word. Part of the reason I was brought in here is the station used to be the voice of New Mexico. Now it’s the voice of a small faction of the Republican Party here. I don’t think staying on one side or the other is a viable business model. This is the first election since I’ve been here where we’ve had significantly more Democratic dollars spent on advertising.” You don’t get spending from both parties by ostracizing one of them.

The first two mega-stories that Hart recalls since he broke into radio were the invasion of Iraq and the Terry Schiavo story.

“It seemed there was room for two sides of the debate regarding each issue. There were a lot of tempers flaring, but the discussion was more thoughtful than today. We as radio stations are not the ringmasters. At the same time, hosts need to feel some freedom and they need to know we have their backs. I have to defend them. I need to deflect criticisms.”

Hart said he’s thrilled with Albuquerque. No surprise as it is the Land of Enchantment.

“It’s phenomenal,” he said. “My wife and I needed to get out of the East coast grind. We needed to get away from throngs of people. Out here we have the expanse, the western sky. In general, there’s a great vibe here. I walk more, eat healthier, and drink less.”

Hart makes New Mexico sound like Los Angeles—without the water.

Subscribe To The BNM Rundown

The Top 8 News Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox every afternoon!

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

BNM Writers

What Chris Licht Got Right, and Wrong, During His CNN Tenure

Chris Licht faced an impossible mission of improving ratings without Donald Trump and with a staff he alienated.



The departure of Chris Licht from CNN was abrupt but expected after a string of missteps. His criticism of his predecessor Jeff Zucker spilled into criticisms of the network’s coverage of Donald Trump and the Covid pandemic, which undercut his staff. Journalists who stood up to conspiracy theories and election falsehoods from the very top felt betrayed.

I’ve known Chris for 30 years, when he served as an associate producer at a KNBC/CNBC for a daily half-hour program centered on the O.J. Simpson trial. Later, we were colleagues at NBC and kept in touch while he was at CBS and I was at ABC. He is whip-smart, congenial, worked well with big talents like Joe Scarborough, Charlie Rose, and Gayle King, and, until now, had a stellar track record.

And in his latest and biggest post — despite being put in an impossible position — did some things right, which I will highlight in a moment.

But first that impossible position. His new bosses at Warner Bros. Discovery wanted a restructuring and high ratings. They insisted on less calling out of misinformation and more “both sidesism”. So Licht had to derail the CNN train and then try to lift it back on the ratings track. No small job. Especially in a news climate that is in decline.

All the cable networks — who depended upon Donald Trump’s unpredictable, often treasonous and dangerous style — have suffered ratings decline. Fox numbers are down and so is MSNBC. The viewing public no longer has to tune in every minute of the day to see what the President is going to do or say. Life has largely returned to normal for most people.

So CNN, which could once depend upon airing and then fact-checking Trump’s latest absurdity, had to find new content.

Licht’s decision to emphasize down-the-middle news gathering seemed like a solid response to life without a bombastic — some say irrational — President.

Just cover the news, at which CNN is great. It’s the first place to turn during a mass shooting, a war, or natural disaster. But those are inconsistent events and cannot be depended upon for steady ratings. That’s the environment Licht stepped into.

He reacted with some good moves. His midday CNN News Central program, 3 hours of straight news, positions itself well to cover breaking news. It’s followed by Jake Tapper and Wolf Blitzer, also emphasizing news coverage.

However, unfortunately, the list of mistakes is a lot longer. Starting with Don Lemon. His “whole thing” in primetime was to be provocative and with a strong progressive bent. Licht attempted to turn Lemon into what he is not, an easy-to-watch, not opinionated host in the morning. A broadcast that was supposed to keynote the Licht agenda blew up in months. Lemon had an opinion on everything and could not get along with his co-hosts, which in morning TV is critical. The all-important chemistry was not there.

His meeting with Republican politicians on Capitol Hill to invite them back to CNN sent a message that they would no longer be challenged for disinformation. And Licht balanced the commentary panels on CNN with GOP election deniers who shouted over questions they could not answer, in turn sticking to talking points. A move that did little to attract viewers from Fox, and instead drove away legacy CNN viewers accustomed to progressive analysis and Republicans who respected opposite opinions.

Next, his attempt to normalize Donald Trump with a CNN Town Hall, somehow expecting the old rules of decorum would work became a disaster. Trump has to be covered. 30% of the electorate supports him, as do nearly 50% of Republicans. But a live Trump supporter audience overwhelmed Kaitlan Collins who was drenched by a firehouse of lies and deception.

And finally, there was Licht’s decision to make his criticisms of staff and their former coverage public in The Atlantic. A profile that made his gym trainer appear to be his top adviser.

To sum up: Chris Licht faced an impossible mission of improving ratings without Donald Trump and with a staff he alienated.

It was an opportunity wasted and a good man self-defeated.

Subscribe To The BNM Rundown

The Top 8 News Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox every afternoon!

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

BNM Writers

6 Tips For Dealing With Publicists

I’ll give you my rules for the people slinging guest pitches.

Avatar photo



Especially for morning drive shows using the news wheel, ‘newsmaker’ guests are a part of the format. Beware of publicists that may be stealing bread from your station’s mouth. I’ll give you my rules for the people slinging guest pitches.

No Local Pitches From Publicists

We are often told to keep it local. I generally agree with that statement, but working with a local publicist is a bad idea. Publicists usually get paid for any appearance. If this is a local business, you are stealing money from your station’s bottom line. Why isn’t the guest purchasing advertising from the station? 

Depending on the market, the publicist may be making enough money that would be better used on a spot campaign on your station. I programmed a station with the news wheel with “newsmaker” guests every half hour. A local doctor was talking about the ‘innovative’ procedure his office provides. Post-show, I called in the morning show host and producer. I asked if they stole from the company. These guys said, “No!” 

Then I explained that the doctor was just given 12 minutes of free advertising. The publicist got paid and the station got nothing. I also explained that that the host could have made money with endorsement spots. Now, that was never going to happen. I suggested that the host speak with sales about this amazing doctor. Of course, the doctor never met with the account executive. Lesson learned.

You Are Enriching Them, So Make Them Work for Their Dough

You booked a guest from a publicist. Make them work for the money. Have them provide all the information that you need. A picture of the guest for social media. The interview is on your time, not theirs. 

I had a publicist ask if I could pre-record their amazing guest at 4 in the afternoon, I said no. I only do guests live except in extraordinary circumstances. Occasionally, I’ll do a hit with one of the weekend syndicated hosts on my station. He does a local show at the same time that I am on the air.  So, that is fine. I would pre-record Donald Trump and Joe Biden, but almost no one else. 

It’s Your Show. Ask the Guest Your Questions. 

If a publicist provides a list of suggested talking points, shred them. Do not do the interview for the guest or publicist, do it for your audience. Ask the questions that are focused on your listener. 

The guest is getting free air time and the publicist is getting paid. If the guest and booker don’t like that? Who cares. I don’t do my show for them. I also never tell any guest about the questions that I could be asking. If there is a news story that is related to the guest, I am asking about that first. Being topical is your job.

The Emails Often Look Like the Endcap at Walmart

Here is what I mean: Publicist offers someone very cool. You contact them.  The guest that the publicist offered is unavailable or ‘already’ booked at the time you need. So, the publicist highlights other potential guests that are not that appealing. 

Just like the endcap at Walmart, the email looks appealing. Unfortunately, it is only to get you to open the email. 

I received an email offering a really top guest that would be perfect for my show. I called the publicist and she told me that her guest was open at my time. Awesome. I thought that I had a good score. 

I booked 3 days ahead and the publicist let me know that the guest was unavailable the afternoon before the interview. Since the guest was never confirmed, I didn’t promote it. 

When to Cut Ties With a Publicist 

If the guest slinger only provides people who are only wanting to sell stuff on your show? Move along. Obviously, all guests need to plug their stuff. We all know this. 

About a decade ago, New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey was booked on The Dan Patrick Show. Part of the reason was he was going to plug Qualcomm. Well, Matt Harvey didn’t want to speak about anything but Qualcomm. It was a sales pitch and nothing else. 

Publicists should have their clients prepped so that they are booked to talk about their expertise and will get a chance to plug their book or service. 

How to Get Guests Off the Talking Points

In the ’90s, I produced The Barbara Carlson Show in Minneapolis. The great actor Karl Malden was booked to promote the Oscars. 

Let’s say that Karl was not in the mood to discuss anything but the Oscars. So, Barbara wasn’t going to let Karl get away with it. She buttered him up, telling Karl that he had a sexy nose.  Then Barbara asked Karl if he had snorted cocaine at those amazing Hollywood Parties. 

80-year-old Karl lost his cool. She got him off the talking points. It became an interesting interview. 

The publicist was really mad about this. It was really good radio. It’s always about good radio and not pleasing some guest that is a one-time hit. Please the audience. Make memorable radio.

We all use publicists.  Realize that you are their meal ticket.  I am always surprised that I don’t at least get a holiday card from the publicists that I use on a regular basis.  Don’t be naïve about these people.  Hey, we all must make a living.  They are a tool for you to use as you please. 

Subscribe To The BNM Rundown

The Top 8 News Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox every afternoon!

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

BNM Writers

Samantha Rivera Is What Every Live Reporter Should Strive For

Bill Zito



Moxie. It’s a great word and it is not used enough these days. Maybe it’s not applied enough because not enough people have it, or not enough people show it. Samantha Rivera has moxie.

That is no patronizing remark, it is an unquestionable fact if you ask me, so do not even go there.

Samantha Rivera is a sports reporter for CBS News Miami, but she hit the jackpot in Las Vegas during a live shot at game two of the Stanley Cup Final.

What did she do you ask?

She did her job, with a flourish, strength, and without even breaking eye contact with the camera.

It’s the age-old story; a jersey-wearing nitwit sees the camera, the mic flag, and decides to bust in on the live shot.

Samantha Rivera’s live shot. And as we all have seen by now; she was not having it.

I am no play-by-play champion, so I recommend watching for yourself if you haven’t already. In this instance, watching an act of capability and composure takes extraordinarily little time.

Look, I still like sports and I still understand the motivation some fans have when they’re at a game or at a bar or even on the street outside the arena.

And as one of the inaugural season ticket holders for the Florida Panthers, a former South Floridian, and a guy who shares a first and a last name with the Panthers GM (I came along first, I checked), it’s not like I wasn’t keeping tabs on the game anyway.

But back to the fans, let us remember something: fan is short for fanatic or fanaticism.

Sports fans are much like those with strong political leanings, although in my observations sports fans usually have a little bit more on the ball and they possess a greater knowledge of the facts involved.

But we need to remember something else as well: reporter is short for somebody with a job, a job that has to get done, often in a challenging environment.

When the journalist meets the village idiot, for all our sakes the journalist has to win.

And Samantha Rivera won. And it was a victory we all should appreciate. News and sports coverage remained that one degree smarter as a result of a professional doing her job and doing it well.

We were spared a black eye, a dose of ridicule, and a round of catcalls because Samantha Rivera stepped up to the plate and went to bat for herself and for all of us really, and she did it at hockey game.

A great moment has gone viral, everybody is covering it and CBS Miami has an exceptional story to tell. They even got to interview their own reporter, a reporter who was the story.

This is one of those times when a reporter making the news is a good thing.

No idiot is calling a colleague a reprehensible name and getting fired here.

A professional’s personal life is not sending their career over a cliff in this scenario.

This time the reporter is seen pushing back against wrongful interference and emerging victoriously.

No big fight, no injuries, no penalty box.

Of course, there is at least one mutant out there still looking for high-fives for the half-second of screen time his shoulder and a third of his face got.

A live shot is not a “free swim” for the moronic, that lesson was reinforced in of all places, Las Vegas.

Live coverage is fun because it’s challenging but what I think should be called to attention here is how well Samantha Rivera handled things and did the job all while keeping a “take no shit” attitude.

I believe it’s a good representative look for a reporter.

That’s the way it’s done, the way it needs to be done and all the praise this pro among pros is getting is just.

Samantha Rivera now has the only shot she will ever need for her reporter reel.

So, in this case, it was a good thing that what happened in Vegas did not stay in Vegas.

Subscribe To The BNM Rundown

The Top 8 News Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox every afternoon!

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading


BNM Writers

Copyright © 2023 Barrett Media.