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The Chicks on the Right Created Space for Listeners With Nowhere to Land

Amy Jo Clark told BNM’s Jim Cryns that when The Chicks on the Right started its podcast, it was their goal to create a spot for people who had nowhere to land.

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The Indianapolis Star

I can love two Chicks at once. I’m not being politically incorrect, it’s the truth. The Chicks on the Right are two charismatic, beautiful, entertaining and energetic women who have a highly popular podcast. I adore them. They’re also not afraid to kick some ass when required.

The Chicks are Amy Jo Clark ( a.k.a. Daisy) and Miriam Weaver (a.k.a. Mockarena a.k.a. Mock.) In a previous incarnation, Clark was a medical writer and communications consultant in the private sector. Weaver worked in corporate human resources. Amy Jo has a degree in English rhetoric and composition from the University of Tennessee and a master’s degree in communications from Southern Polytechnic State University in Georgia. Miriam has a psychology degree from the University of Kansas.

These are smart Chicks. Tough Chicks. Opinionated Chicks. Engaging Chicks. Hilarious, too. 

You can’t fake the laughs or reactions they offer on their podcast. As a listener or watcher, you’d smell it if they were being disingenuous and that would cheapen the whole experience and vibe of the show.

“I have a tattoo of a daisy,” Clark said. “When we first started out I didn’t know what to call myself. So, it was a no-brainer. I chose Daisy. (Or Day-Z as it’s sometimes spelled.) 

Weaver asked for a little help from her husband regarding a moniker.  “He said you like to mock people, so how about Mockarena? I said, ‘That’s perfect.’ At times that is truncated to Mock.”

There’s momentum with the podcast you can feel it in your bones. I picture the Chicks as a young ingenue sitting at the counter at Schwab’s drugstore in Los Angeles about to be ‘discovered.’ In this scenario. In my opinion, the Chicks are going to take the country by storm. 

The Chicks said that’s not their end goal. They’re happy where they are. They’re not sure they’d even enjoy more high-profile success. 

“I would love lots more listeners and watchers in the morning,” Weaver said. “I’d love the growth of our podcast to a larger audience. But we’re not interested in fame at all. A bigger community would be welcome. Fame is not what we’re looking for. We’re not aiming to be on TV. We did enough television promo for the book. There’s all the fuss about makeup, hair. TV is exhausting.”

Would being ‘bigger’ kill some of the chemistry? Probably. Just ask the Beatles. 

Clark said when they started their podcast, it was their goal to create a spot for people who had nowhere to land. 

“We wanted to appeal to people who felt they didn’t belong anywhere,” Clark explained. “We felt like dorks when it came to some things so we imagined other people felt the same way. Some people may disagree with everything that comes out of my face, but that’s okay.”

They work extemporaneously at times, and that’s part of their charm. “We did an election night podcast live from Florida and we just shot the shit for four hours,” Weaver explained. It’s not just about subscribers or listeners at this point. Sufficient to say there are a lot of them. They worked together on a radio show at WIBC in Indianapolis. David Wood, who wasn’t the PD at the station yet at the time, was a casting agent of sorts.

“They just have infectious personalities,” Wood said. “They’re smart, funny and I can’t say enough good things about them. They’re not shoving anything down your throat. They definitely have their point of view. They can bring a hot take.”

Wood said the Chicks were booted off Facebook for a short time, some kind of content thing. 

“I’d been following their website and watching them on Facebook. They were talking about bailing on Facebook,” Wood said. “I emailed them and said, ‘You don’t know me from Adam; you didn’t ask me for any advice.’ In spite of that, I still gave them my opinion. I told them not to abandon Facebook as it was the biggest bullhorn out there at the time. I told them to continue with their brand.”

Wood said Weaver emailed back and thanked him for his unsolicited take. 

“They had videos on their site and I remember them sitting in a bedroom with tiaras on their heads,” Wood continued. “I hadn’t seen anything quite like it and I started thinking about how they’d sound on the radio. So I turned the screen away from me and just listened to them.”

He liked what he heard. Wood invited them to come into the station to talk. 

“We started them on weekends for six months,” he explained. “After that, our afternoon drive personality was retiring. They were up for doing afternoons, filling that slot. They were an anomaly in drive time, two women. But they were very successful.”

They were a program director’s dream. A fantastic duo just appeared in front of Wood’s eyes. A brick of gold landed in his lap.

A midday slot opened and the Chicks opted for the move.

“I’m not sure they knew afternoon drive was a higher profile gig,” Wood explained, ‘but they seemed happy to go to middays because they had family responsibilities. It didn’t occur to them that they were giving up a prime spot.”

Wood said he was certainly disappointed when they left the station, but he understood the reasoning. 

“Amy Jo left first to do a corporate communications gig. We had a producer on the show.  I hired Rob to produce their show and he already had chemistry with them, so I created Mock and Rob. That show was also successful.”

The podcast started as a side hustle. Since they started working on this podcast full-bore in the spring of this year, the Chicks said things are going strong. 

“We’ve been around for 14 years,” Clark said. “I think you could describe our base as a cult following. Not underground but a distinct niche. People will come up to us and say, ‘I’ve heard about you guys.’ We’re not well-known across the board, but we do have subsets of fans.”

They describe themselves as counter-conservative, apparently a market that has gone underserved. Theirs is a distinct brand. 

“We decided to devote 100 percent of our time and efforts in February of this year. We’ve been best friends since 2008,” Weaver said. 

Their friendship is what drives the on-air chemistry. As PDs will tell you, that’s not easy to find and nearly impossible to fake.

“We would be terrible at trying to act, to fake who we are,” Clark said. “In the beginning, a lot of PR people came to us and suggested tweaks and changes. ‘You need to do this or that.’ We resisted all of that and stayed true to ourselves.”

As they prep for their show, the Chicks say they know what they are going to cover based on their prep work, but nothing about the show is scripted. “We know what stories we’re going to cover as a base and starting point,” Weaver said. “Beyond that, we have no idea how the conversation is going to go.”

Think of it as a friendly free-for-all. Two women sitting, having coffee, talking honestly about anything they feel like.

“A lot of what we do is raw material,” Clark said. “When people listen to us I think they feel they have a spot at our dinner table. It’s very comfortable and inclusive. It’s like we’re a small club and everyone is welcome.”

A club that welcomes everyone. We need more of that in the country. 

The Chicks probably agree on 90 percent of what they discuss, but that doesn’t mean they don’t differ on occasion. “We disagreed with each other on the air the other day,” Weaver said. “It was about the 2024 election. I said I didn’t think Trump was going to win, and was pretty pessimistic about the GOP’s chances, and some of the audience blew up on me.” 

They have a magic that takes place whenever they are together, even though they do their podcast from different locations. The magic is impossible to replicate. They’re lightning in a bottle. If they could be replicated, radio stations and podcast producers across the country would jump at the chance. There’s no checklist for success.

“I’m in a constant state of amazement that so many people listen to us,” Weaver remarked.  Clark credits their authenticity.  “Listeners get that we’re not stuck-up. We’re one of them. They hear what we genuinely feel. It’s important to us to build our community. We love the experience of our meet-and-greets.”

The women look like they’re having way too much fun. I suspect they are.

“We don’t have to report to anyone but each other,” Weaver said. 

The Chicks do a weekday morning show. They also deliver Deep Dive, a weekly show separate from the daily podcast. On Deep Dive they offer their unique take on the world, from the dinner table to the swamp. 

With Deep Dive they can focus more on a specific topic. Last week they discussed the backlash that conservative commentator Candace Owens faced recently when she asked men to weigh in on their opinion of women’s use of Botox and fillers to enhance their lips.

The duo added their own views of the ever-growing use of injectables, wondering why so many women ‘put all that crap in their faces.’ See? They have fun, but they’re not going to hold back.

They get instant feedback from watchers and listeners. “We have live comments so we can get the pulse of what is happening all the time,” Clark said. “We see it live, in real-time. If people are outraged by something we say, they can weigh in quickly.” 

“But even if we see someone criticize what we said, that doesn’t mean we’re going to change our course or apologize,” Weaver pointed out. “Some listener/watcher may get mad at me for my take and say something like, ‘Daisy needs to reign in Mock. Set her straight.” 

The Chicks don’t like being told what to do.  “It’s not our job to police each other’s opinions,” Clark said. “We will never change what we’re talking about just because someone gets offended. They can bite me.”

The show mixes it up and the loyal base digs it. You never get the feeling the Chicks are beating you over the head on a topic with a polo mallet. The dialogue is real and it comes across that way. The Chicks have the ability to attract people to the show because of who they are, not just because of what they talk about or say. You may listen to Tucker or Levin to hear their view or rant of the day, but I’m willing to bet it’s not because they make you feel comfortable or welcomed to the table.

There was a video on YouTube recently which showed a mother rescuing her daughter from a raccoon attack on their front porch. Weaver said she might have hugged the raccoon after it was dashed against the ground. Clark said she’d have taken out her Glock. That should speak volumes about their personalities, at least at that moment. Either can take the other stance on a different topic. 

“We feel an obligation to at least be knowledgeable about all the news,” Clark said. “at least a little. If not we’re going to sound like complete idiots. We’re total dorks, super-fun and grateful every day.”

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BNM Writers

As History Unfolds, It’s Important for News/Talk Radio to Remain Focused on Playing the Hits

It’s cliche, but we are living through history. And your audience is coming to you for the latest on this unfolding history, with opinions, analysis, and an ability to move the story forward.

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The age-old radio adage is to “Play the hits”.

It applies more directly to music stations, but the phrase can also relate to sports talk and news/talk. So, suppose you’re like me, and you’ve found yourself behind a microphone on a news/talk station the last couple of weeks. In that case, you might be having an internal conversation about whether you’ve focused too much on the national political discourse since the unforgettable Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden debate on June 27th.

My short answer is: No, you’re not too focused. 

But in an effort to not stop this column at 100 words, I’ll explain further.

I’ve long advocated for focusing your local shows on your local radio markets as much as possible. It will separate your show from the national syndication that can be piped into any station nationwide. Your local flair is what will build your credibility in your community. It’s what will separate you. Local will win. 

And given that it’s been an unusually predictable few months in the election news cycle, there hasn’t been much to lean into on the national political side. Joe Biden was the unimpressive, octogenarian incumbent going up against Donald Trump, who rolled quickly through a primary and was set to be at the top of the Republican ticket for a third-straight election cycle. It was a rematch of 2020, a period in American history most Americans would prefer to forget, given the state of the nation at the time. Unfortunately for many, they are being forced to relive it. 

However, what happened two weeks ago in Atlanta between Donald Trump and Joe Biden has given a massive jolt to an election season that had been relatively boring. Tens of millions of Americans were tuned in that evening, and given Biden’s debate performance, it has kicked off two weeks of speculation of Biden dropping out, party infighting, replacement conversations, various media reports, and drama that we haven’t seen around an incumbent President in an election year since 1968.

It’s cliche, but we are living through history. And your audience is coming to you for the latest on this unfolding history, with opinions, analysis, and an ability to move the story forward engagingly and entertainingly while also, when appropriate, bringing on guests who will provide them with insight they can bring to their conversations with friends, at the water cooler, on group texts and on social media.

In a perfect world, you can also localize these national stories by getting reactions from local officials, reading/playing their social media reactions on your show, or if you’re in a swing state, your options beyond that are unlimited.

But now that we are in a national news cycle that has been on fire, don’t force yourself into local talk. Find your top local stories that are compelling and impacting your radio listener’s day-to-day lives, and work to blend it with the historical moment we find ourselves living through on the national political stage. And always be working your hardest to think of and find new angles, while moving the story forward.

In the end, just like your local CHR station has to play Taylor Swift multiple times an hour, you need to give your audience what they want and “Play the hits.” We’re living through history, after all.

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James Golden AKA Bo Snerdley Relishes New Nationally Syndicated Weekend Show

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun.”

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Radio host, radio executive, producer, author, and a jack of all media trades. Since he was 14-years-old James Golden (AKA Bo Snerdley) has devoted his entire life to the media industry.

The on-air talent’s weekend show —The James Golden Show — just became syndicated through Red Apple Audio Networks.

“I really appreciate having the platform that WABC has provided. It’s a wonderful thing to have a show that’s now in a bunch of different markets and growing! It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun,” he said.

Long before Golden hit the airwaves as ‘Bo Snerdley’ on The Rush Limbaugh Show, he was a teenager visiting his cousin, DJ Gerry Bledsoe, at work. “It was a mind-blowing experience for me. So many things happened that day. In fact, that day was when one of the older guys there, the guy who’s had a reputation as being a real grumpy, curmudgeon type guy, for some reason, took a liking to me.”

He let Golden into the show where Golden learned how to cut tape. “It took me a lot of years before I actually got a job, and ironically, it was at the same station, doing marketing and research, looking at ratings and learning how to analyze ratings and learning how to do marketing. Later on, I moved into the programming side and started doing music research.”

James Golden was one of the first in the country to do music research which led him to WABC. There he worked with the station’s transition from music to their first talk program.

“I think in life you’re given the sort of the things that you need to fulfill whatever destiny you have. I had always been interested in news, politics, and all of it. This dual love I had for music, it allowed me to transition when the station changed format and to become their senior producer of news. And it was at ABC some years later that I met Rush Limbaugh. And of course, that turned into a 30-year relationship.”

The Author of “Rush On The Radio,” recalled the first time the pair met. “So my first day working on his show, I brought him some news stories. I was in the habit of doing that before I even worked on his show. I developed a friendship. When I saw something interesting, that I thought he would be interested in and I would take it to him. So it was a smooth transition for me being rotated on the show.”

It wasn’t before long James Golden became Bo Snerdley. “So I walked in, dropped off some stories, and on the way out he says, ‘Well, everybody on this call screen has got to be a Snerdley, have you come up with your name?’ So The Daily News was on his desk, and it was on the sports page. Bo Jackson was in the news for some of the headlines, but I just wasn’t able watch it. So I just said ‘Bo’ and walked out. Little did I know that for the rest of my life, I’d be Bo. But it’s great and I love it. I’m comfortable with either one.”

Golden recalled the time spent with his friend saying, “No words can ever describe it. He was the best that there ever was to me, or ever will be in the industry. His talent, as he said, was on loan from God. But it was something unique. The incredibly intelligent, incredibly hardworking. 30 years in, he still brought it. Even when he was sick, [Rush] did as much of the work that he could to make sure that his show was extremely well researched and well delivered.”

While working on Rush’s show, James Golden also had his own weekend show. He worked 7 days a week for years. Today, he is back at his radio home. “Back at WABC, doing six days on air with them, and it’s just been a wonderful ride for me.”

Throughout the years, the former executive producer turned host has seen significant change in the industry.

“For some people, it’s not as much fun as it used to be. And I’ll just speak frankly about that. When the bean counters took over because of corporate interest — instead of it being a lot of different families with smaller radio groups, it moved into more of a big business — for a lot of people a lot of the fun was taken out of it, because those decisions that used to be made locally are now being made by regional managers or by national managers, some of whom had more of a background in sales and didn’t understand the programing,” he shared.

“So there’s always that schism. And so for a lot of people in the industry, I have friends who have left the industry because it just was no longer fun for them.”

Another big difference? You no longer have to work your way up through the markets.

“You had to work your way up through lower markets to get to a higher market. You don’t have to do that now. People that are just good at what they do, if they have very good communication skills, you can learn how to become [one of the] best radio hosts. There’s only one best radio host and [Rush] passed away, but it is still about your ability to tell a good story. To understand and to I think it really is how much you are in love with the medium yourself.”

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The Difference Between News/Talk Radio Programmer and Bureaucrat

The sad part is these people achieved their high positions by successfully programming actual radio stations to real people in specific markets.

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Let’s talk about the worst aspect of every news/talk radio programmer’s job: commercial stops, those designed traffic jams that occur every ten or twenty minutes bringing your excellent content to a dead halt. And so, you wait, knowing full well that you’re losing a significant percentage of your audience to button pushers looking for a station where talkers are still talking and news is still being broadcast.

The way most news and talk radio stations operate today commercial clutter takes up 20-30 minutes of each programming hour. It would be nice to say that’s because your inventory is sold out thanks to great ratings but we know better. It happens because it’s allowed to happen. Some of that load is likely bonus spots and far too much of it consists of recorded promos that use branding phrases begging the listener to wait through the clutter.

Yes, commercials are necessary but there are some things to consider that might make them less annoying and potentially informative and entertaining.

Warning: old fart flashback straight ahead.

When I was a young program director I had the authority to reject any spots that I didn’t feel met our standards. Yes, I’m quite serious. I didn’t exercise the option often but if a spot was of lousy audio quality, badly produced, boring, or even just plain stupid, I could kick it back to the sales exec and/or ad agency and ask them politely to make it better.

You might think that could result in an impolite opposite reaction. It never did, not once. From time to time I talked with an advertiser or his agent and they always said the same thing: You’re the expert. I want my time and money spent well on your station.

Sales execs could get annoyed but usually went along as good teammates without too much grousing. Besides, schmoozing clients with better ideas is part of their art; the best enjoy it.

Often these conversations would lead to brainstorming sessions with the production director. (Remember that creative and crucial position?) Ideas were tossed around, writing began and a highly effective ad was usually the result.

If you’re a program director or air talent today your mind must be reeling. It has probably never occurred to you that you could have the authority to actually determine all of your news/talk station’s programming, not just the words between the breaks, every blessed minute. Why not? You’re responsible for your station’s content 24/7 though you have no control over half of it.

Most program directors in corporate-owned stations today have been hired as functionaries at the end of a long chain of corporate bureaucrats. Your days are filled with layers of programming and sales hierarchies. Presidents have lieutenants, regional and format V.P.s, who send out the memos and convene Zoom meetings to address general issues with generalized answers.

They dive into recent studies and charts for boilerplate policies, seldom suggesting anything bold or of local significance because they can’t, they don’t know your town. The sad part is these people achieved their high positions by successfully programming actual radio stations to real people in specific markets. They’re smart enough to know that what worked in Boston might not fly in Amarillo – except in a vague, general way.

As a local PD today your log is bloated, your programming is filled with syndicated shows, and your hands are tied. 

Unless you have a creative fire in your belly and the guts to assert it.

Dream up great promotions that will excite your audience in your hometown. Enlist the members of your on-air, newsroom, and production staff. Invite them to a pizza place for some brainstorming. Don’t make it mandatory, suggest it will be fun and exciting because it will. Your crew will be happier and bubbling tomorrow. Before long fresh ideas will start trickling in regularly because everyone is enthused, involved, and feeling appreciated. You’ll all make each other’s great ideas even greater. You’re having fun and it’s contagious.

If you can ignite a spark of excitement and faith from your GM and sales department you might find yourself with the programming reigns in both hands.

You weren’t hired to be a clickbait expert, you are a radio expert. You know more about the stuff that comes out of the speakers than anyone else at the station. And you can identify problems and turn them into opportunities. You need to spend your days refining the product, not in endless meetings trying to implement generalized corporate buzzspeak into local program policy.

Attend the Zoom meetings, be a cheerful good soldier but if called upon speak your mind with truth and passion. It’s infectious.

Explain to your boss why you should be allowed to reduce the on-air clutter by as much as half and that you need to spend most of your time every day with your news and talk talent because they’re your stars. It’s why they pay you. The station and the community are all that matters to you.

Tell her/him you’ll read the interoffice memos faithfully and join digital meetings when you can but that the corporate culture will mostly just have to take care of itself.

And, oh, by the way, you need the authority to reject bad radio commercials.

You may not get everything you ask for but I promise you’ll earn some respect.

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