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Harry Hurley Has Embraced Digital Media at 95.5 WPG

Digital is not only here to stay but also incredibly powerful. It’s an amazing way for those that want additional content. We utilize our app very well…It wasn’t that long ago that if you missed it, you missed it.

Ryan Hedrick



A photo of the 95.5 WPG logo and Harry Hurley

Talk show host Harry Hurley possesses a genuinely distinct perspective within talk radio. Three decades ago, in a seemingly different era, Harry thrived as a hotel-casino executive under the leadership of former President Donald Trump.

Harry Hurley characterizes his former boss as someone who was relentlessly committed to achieving excellence, in stark contrast to the portrayal offered by the mainstream media. At a certain point, Harry Hurley reached a breaking point in his career and decided it was time for a change. Leveraging his business expertise, he crafted a proposal to present to general manager Dick Taylor and program director John Speeney. 

The presentation impressed them, so they spontaneously hired him on the spot. Harry’s enduring determination and strong work ethic, traits President Trump had recognized in him, have paved the way for his tremendous success in radio. After thirty-two years and countless radio broadcasts, Hurley has made a name for himself as one of the elite talk personalities in the business. 

Hurley firmly believes that talk radio will take on an unprecedentedly pivotal role in informing the nation about the impending 2024 presidential election. He highlights the 1992 U.S. election, which saw Bill Clinton emerge victorious, as a glaring illustration of what transpires when one side isn’t fairly represented.

According to him, a substantial article in The New York Times criticized the lackluster George Bush economy, which propelled the Democratic president to victory. Fast forward two years, with talk radio surging in popularity and Rush Limbaugh captivating millions of daily listeners, and the Republican party achieved a historic win by seizing control of the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in four decades. These events marked a watershed moment in how politics were reported and perceived.

Sixteen years ago, Harry Hurley established The Hurley in the Morning Charity Foundation because he believed that he was responsible for giving back to the community as a broadcaster. He will host his annual charity dinner on September 29 at Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. Brian Kilmeade will join Harry Hurley in raising substantial money for charities at the event.

One of the causes that Harry Hurley is most passionate about raising funds for is the Broadcasters Foundation of America, which exclusively supports radio and television broadcasters in acute need. The Hurley in the Morning Charity Foundation has raised millions of dollars for numerous worthy causes.

In this interview with Barrett News Media, Harry Hurley discusses his path to talk radio, his experience working as an executive for President Trump, what role talk radio will play in covering the 2024 presidential election, how he prepares for a national talk show as opposed to a local one, and why Townsquare Media is leading the way when it comes to digital media. 

Ryan Hedrick: How long have you been at WPG Talk Radio 95.5? 

Harry Hurley: I have been very blessed to be at one radio station my entire career. I started on July 1st, 1992, and I am still signing on Monday through Friday at the same station I started with 32 years ago.  

RH: Do you ever listen to old tapes of yourself to see how much you’ve evolved and where you came from? 

HH: Not as much as I should, but I just listened to a tape of an interview I did with President Trump from about 15 years ago. I heard how much, over 15 years, I have evolved. Your voice becomes a little bit deeper as you get older, and you sound different. With experience, you get better at what you do.  

RH: What has changed with Atlantic City since you started your show there? What makes the city unique?  

HH: Atlantic City has evolved a lot. If you went back 35 years, you’re thinking about a town that is just casino-centric. We came out of the disaster of the Democratic National Convention of 1964, which basically wrecked Atlantic City because the city didn’t manage such a national event well.  

What was gratifying was becoming almost a monopoly in the East of casino gaming because only Las Vegas and Atlantic City had casinos. So, it gave a great advantage. We had a monopoly; we were recession-proof. Part of that, though, is a two-edged sword because you can get comfortable. I think we could’ve done a lot more in the first 20 years than we did.  

So, you think of Atlantic City as a beach, boardwalk, Atlantic Ocean, and casinos, but we’re very diverse. We have a technology aspect: the aviation technical center (William J. Hughes Technical Center). The other thing that people don’t know about Atlantic City is that more people come to Atlantic City every year than the Magic Kingdom.

We are a small city in one respect but a major destination resort in the other. The city feels small, but it’s also big. We have a lot going on. We also have a lot of universities and medical centers that do great work. We are very fortunate to be where we are.  

RH: Your path to talk radio stardom was different; tell us how you decided to switch your career from casino executive to talk show host. 

HH: I’m proud of that; I’ve had two careers. I was the senior hotel executive for President Trump at one of his Atlantic City casinos, I always take great pride in that, because I loved my career, and I was a younger husband and a young father at the time. At the time, I decided that I loved my job, I was good at it, I loved taking care of customers, loved the action, loved the decision-making, loved the authority that President Trump gave me.

The only problem was that I was going to end up being a bad husband and a bad father, and that was not acceptable. So, I told my wife, ‘I’ve got this idea; I think I could be good at it.’  

There were only two local shows at the time in the market, and I had appeared on both when I was a candidate for local office in my hometown, and I fell in love with talk radio. I loved it and before I fell in love with it. I decided I would go make a pitch to WFPG (World’s Famous Playground); now WPG (World’s Playground), same station, slight modification in the call letters.

I created this nice presentation, and I came without an appointment, and much to my delight, the general manager Dick Taylor, and the Program Director, John Speeney, who I always remembered to remember after all these years, two great guys, and who became great friends, and much to my absolute delight and amazement, they hired me on the spot and away we went on July 1st, 1992.  

I decided I’m the new guy and better come out big. No governor had ever appeared on any local Atlantic City talk show, and Governor Jim Florio agreed to come on with me. I knew him from work that I did with him on the Ventnor City Board of Education. He wound up staying for the entire first program I did.  

RH: What kind of boss was President Trump to work for?  

HH: This is the beautiful thing about this. I get to say what’s true instead of this garbage that we hear all the time. He was a great employer; obviously, he expected excellence. He didn’t demand that we were there seven days a week; we put it on ourselves. It was early in an industry where it had never existed before in our marketplace, and we wanted to be great. We wanted to be four diamonds, four-star, five diamonds, five-star if we could. Doing that required a significant commitment.

As executives, we were always there. It was basically seven days a week. President Trump, the time I was with him, which was about two and a half years before I left for my talk show, was a great employer. Everything that you hear about him is not true. He was incredibly generous, an incredibly good boss, extremely tough, but I didn’t mind that. He was reasonably tough, he wanted excellence, and he settled for nothing less. My time with him was exceptional.  

RH: How do you push back against the suppression of news and fake stories in the mainstream media, and how do you earn the trust of your listeners? 

Harry Hurley: I inundate my audience with the truth. I am relentless about pounding facts, I have opinions and let my audience know when I am giving my opinions. But when I am giving a fact, for example, Hunter Biden has been under investigation for over five and a half years, and nothing happens, and they were racing to get President Trump into four courtrooms around the country, and they’re breathlessly wanting to start these things in a few months, it’s obvious.

Anyone willing to embrace the truth knows we have a two-tier justice system. It’s an absolute disgrace, and they know President Trump is going to defeat them, so they are coming at him with everything they have. (The media) always have a scam, whether Russian collusion or a big lie. Everything they accuse President Trump of — look at President Biden — twenty or more fake names where there are no bricks and mortars. It’s just a money-shuffling operation. So, I just pound the facts.  

RH: The company that owns WPG is Townsquare Media. They focus heavily on and carry out dynamic digital strategies. How do you balance your radio show and produce the digital content they want?    

HH: I talk about the digital content when I’m on the air. When I am writing for digital, I reference what we’re doing on the air. It’s not competing; it’s perfectly in concert. Townsquare Media has revolutionized the digital platform in our business. We are new talk media.

Digital is not only here to stay but also incredibly powerful. It’s an amazing way for those that want additional content. We utilize our app very well so that people who want to go back can check out our published podcasts. We podcast everything so that nobody has to miss anything. It wasn’t that long ago that if you missed it, you missed it.

We love digital, but we don’t reveal our station analytics as a company. Our footprint is unreal. We own our market, and I couldn’t be prouder to be an employee of Townsquare Media. I love our focus on both broadcasting and digital. Being an on-air personality is something I love, along with the spoken word format. I was a very young reporter for the Press of Atlantic City a very long time ago. I was one of the youngest reporters in the country with a byline, so I always loved to write. We write multiple pieces of digital content every day of the week.  

RH: You also do regular fill-in work for Fox News Radio. How does your preparation routine change when you fill in on national shows? 

Harry Hurley: It’s not that much different because I open every day by doing a national hour, so I am very well versed on the national issues, and then we talk about the local issues as well. Townsquare Media is very big on being closely aligned with our community.

I know where I am at the time. If I am guest hosting The Brian Kilmeade Show, The Guy Benson Show, or Fox Across America with Jimmy Failla, I just couldn’t be more grateful to Brian, Guy, and Jimmy. Their producers are unbelievable and have treated me with incredible respect.  

RH: Is audience engagement different during one of the national shows than your local show? Do you get more phone calls? More social media interaction?  

Harry Hurley: I don’t want for phone calls on my local show. You never want for phone calls on Fox News talk. They have it set up beautifully. Brian [Kilmeade] is on 9-12, Jimmy [Failla] is on 12-3, and Guy [Benson] is on from 3-6. It’s just perfect what John Sylvester (Vice President of Fox News Media), Maria Donovan (Director of Talk Programming, On-Demand Programming), and all their teams have done.

I love working for all of them. Any time they call me to fill in, I make sure I give it all the energy I can because they deserve it.

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King Charles Already Facing Headwinds After One Episode at CNN

If viewers are coming to watch King Charles in the first place, they want to hear from Barkley first and the most. This show is not a democracy for multiple voices.

Jessie Karangu



A photo of Charles Barkley and Gayle King

Gayle King and Charles Barkley joined a long list of personalities on Wednesday who’ve tried their hand at hosting a cable news show, King Charles.

The previous cast of characters at CNN in particular have included comedians as famous as D.L. Hughley and Bill Maher, history makers like Connie Chung, tech executives such as Campbell Brown, and even a former governor – Eliot Spitzer – who was forced to resign in shame.

CNN, unlike MSNBC and Fox News, doesn’t have the privilege of choosing political sides for ratings because of the gravitas their name exudes in the journalism world. Bringing on famous figures in pop culture to give their take on the headlines seems like a natural solution to competing with idealogues on opposing networks. Unfortunately for CNN, though, it’s a solution that never seems to work – including this time around.

The debut episode of King Charles began with a Man-on-the-Street segment featuring King and Barkley asking random folks walking around New York about today’s politicians, Joe Biden’s age, and Taylor Swift and Beyonce. The segment also showcased the duo’s newfound chemistry and announced the upcoming guests over the next hour similar to a late-night comedy show.

It was a great way to bring the audience in. Viewers got to see an intro that is uncommon in the cable news world, they got to hear the opinions of people who are just like themselves, and it showed the quality production value this show is bringing to the table from the jump.

As viewers got to the set, it was obvious CNN put a lot of time and effort into making this program a success. The wardrobe of the talent, the studio design, and the color scheme were extremely polished. The guest list of this show for the first episode on cable news was also very impressive. Fat Joe, Steve Kerr, and Van Lathan may not be A-list celebrities, but they each bring a respective following that is different from the type of guests that normally populate CNN and its rivals.

One of the first problems this show faces is that despite its name, there isn’t much King and there isn’t much Charles. King moderates panels that have a lot of interesting things to say while Barkley utters a comment or two on the side. It’s almost as if it’s forgotten that Barkley is a key force in bringing this show to fruition in the first place.

The guests that were part of these panels had a lot of interesting perspectives to give. Lathan brought some humor to a discussion about George Santos when he discussed his love for the Congressman’s high jinks. CNN primetime host Laura Coates also joined the show for two segments and provided much-needed legal expertise during a conversation about Young Thug’s ongoing trial in Georgia.

While the discourse was good, Barkley is one of the most boisterous personalities television has ever seen. America has tuned into his antics for decades whether they agree with what he’s saying or not. LIV Golf almost paid him hundreds of millions just to get his opinions on a random golf tournament every week. If viewers are coming to watch King Charles in the first place, they want to hear from Barkley first and the most. This show is not a democracy for multiple voices.

King and Barkley have been fixtures of American pop culture for decades. Their presence on any platform holds a lot of weight. King’s tenure at CBS has helped make their morning show more relevant than it ever was before and more competitive ratings-wise. Barkley has set a standard for the art of analyzing sports on television in a way that even John Madden couldn’t.

The first 20 minutes of the show need to be focused on them and their viewpoints. Because of King’s role at CBS, viewers won’t be able to get many opinions out of her, but at the very least there is some journalistic perspective she can provide or perspective from her decades as a celebrity and Oprah’s best friend. This should be the Black version of Live with Kelly and Mark. King and Barkley can talk about their weeks, their lives, and their families and run down the various headlines that are having the most impact on society in an unscripted format.

The show also needs to be live. If they want to film some interviews outside of their timeslot to air later in the show to accommodate an important guest, that’s fine. But the beauty of watching Barkley on television is that it is live and you never know what to expect or what’s going to come out of his mouth. When you take that aspect of excitement away from a program like this, it just seems like one of those celebrity podcasts that no one asked for and ends up getting canceled after a year or less.

In today’s climate, if you’re hosting a show, especially a weekly show, there’s gotta be some type of headline that comes out of that show. There has to be something that forces viewers to adjust their schedules to want to tune in because many viewers’ habits are already established in the first place. A talk show like King Charles — discussing pop culture in the middle of primetime competing with live sporting events, The Golden Bachelor, or a reality show based on Squid Game — is going to have a hard time surviving.

CNN has established itself as the straight news alternative with up-to-the-minute analysis involving the latest breaking politics and world event headlines. Viewers have already told CNN that’s what they like about the network particularly in primetime. It may not be as highly rated as MSNBC and Fox’s lineups but it is much more advertiser-friendly than Jesse Watters or Rachel Maddow.

During times of volatility like the upcoming election, and the wars in Ukraine and Israel, CNN’s ratings tend to bump up higher and occasionally beat MSNBC and other entertainment networks. Interrupting that flow of news in primetime when it has been difficult for CNN to keep a primetime lineup intact for years won’t help matters at the network at all. Continuity matters to viewers.

CNN makes enough revenue and has enough of a positive reputation that becoming a major contender in primetime should no longer be a main focus. As long as the network doesn’t flounder as it has in the past, maintaining 500,000 viewers a night and peaking in the millions during major breaking news stories is something their parent company should be proud of. It is much easier to sell to advertisers than an opinionist who has the potential to explode your company’s stock every night depending on what they say.

Is there space for King Charles on CNN? Yes. Around 5 PM ET, another cable news network across the dial leaves their newscasts and opinion programming to the side for a panel show that is the highest-rated telecast on cable news. The panel discusses political headlines but also delves into pop culture and trending topics you would read about on X/Twitter.

CNN should move King Charles to Wednesdays at 5 PM ET to directly compete with The Five and provide perspectives about the world from two individuals who aren’t tied to a specific political party and have way more pull socially than all of The Five’s hosts combined. Create a happy hour type of environment on air where King and Barkley aren’t held to rigid restrictions, truly get to be themselves, and serve an audience around that hour that is more receptive to talk and discussion given the other shows that air during daytime hours on the big broadcast networks.

CNN also needs to dedicate more resources to promoting the duo. A replay of King Charles should air after Inside the NBA every week so that his fans are aware of another platform Barkley participates in. The show should have a social media presence of its own.

A sneak preview of the show should be promoted each week on both CBS Mornings and Inside the NBA. The duo should go on a press tour across various shows, podcasts, TikToks, blogs, and everything in between to gin up interest in the broadcast.

CNN should also use one of its sister networks – HLN, truTV, or even OWN – to boost the reach of this show given the figureheads that star on the show and the potpourri of topics that are discussed that don’t necessarily have to do with breaking news and politics that normally fill CNN’s airwaves. A boost in viewership could bring in a different type of advertiser and more profits. Barkley is already a showman for other products and could easily be utilized in commercials that air during the show.

CNN already implements a similar simulcast strategy with CNN This Morning by airing the show on HLN. CNN’s sister network brings in an extra 70-100,000 viewers every morning and at times, it is the highest-rated program of the day for HLN. WBD also utilizes the strategy often when they’re broadcasting the Final Four and it has helped college basketball’s national championship become one of the highest-rated sporting events of the year even when it is exclusively on cable.

King Charles has a lot of potential but it is already on a short lease. Variety reports that CNN is looking at the show as a “limited-run series.” Its first episode drew 486,000 viewers, according to Washington Post’s Jeremy Barr. Two weeks prior, the show it replaced known as Newsnight drew 525,000. There is potential to make a statement and stand out amongst everyone else in cable news but only if CNN will let the show and its hosts fully breathe.

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The Road to Radio Stardom Has Changed For the Better

The landscape in the industry is changing even faster than many of us realize on a day-to-day basis.



Photo by Alan Levine CC BY 2.0.

The old adage in radio was to start in the smallest market you could get a job in and then keep working your way up the ladder and end up in the biggest market you could reach. However, that model, while still having a purpose, is in large part not as linear as it once was.

The era of social media, digital media, and work-from-anywhere has dramatically changed the way we view personalities.

For years, we assumed someone in a Top 5 market was obviously more talented than someone in market No. 25. While that is still likely true, in large part, it’s far from that black and white. Having worked in small markets like Woodward, Oklahoma, to then the No. 1 market, New York City, to now Kansas City, I can say there are incredibly talented broadcasters in markets well outside the Top 100, and there are some really mediocre broadcasters in the No. 1 market.

And with the way the world has shrunk, courtesy of technology, it doesn’t require one to necessarily make that leap to a market to simply increase a broadcaster’s exposure to then (hopefully) land that bigger and better job. 

Now, thanks to all the various social media platforms that broadcasters need to reside on, broadcasters can develop enormous followings and garner regional and national attention without having to “prove” themselves in a Top 5 or 10 market.

This is a win for broadcasters. None of this is about settling or resting on your laurels, but it means you can become a national personality from nearly any market in America today. It’s not just New York and Los Angeles. And the examples are all over the country. 

Clay Travis from Nashville. Dana Loesch from St. Louis. Steve Deace from Des Moines. I could continue with a list of really talented people, but you get the point.

Social media, for all its pitfalls, has allowed local and regional broadcasters to build larger followings beyond their cities and parlay those into larger opportunities. And they’re able to do it without living a NOMAD lifestyle.

That being said, that’s not judging anyone who wants to live it. I’ve made 3-4 major moves in the last 10-12 years. We all typically do it to some degree. New places bring new challenges and opportunities and larger markets typically bring larger paychecks. 

But the broader point is that we can be pickier on our next move if one even makes sense. That doesn’t mean that jumping five to ten market sizes isn’t the right move, it may be. But it no longer has to be, because you need the exposure in the larger market to keep working up the ladder to then land in a major market to make the most money possible.

Broadcasters can now generate revenue away from just their salaries and bonuses via exclusive online membership opportunities, digital footprints not connected to the radio station, influencer routes on social media and several other creative ways to create multiple revenue streams, which would be wise in the current climate, anyway.

Ultimately, the landscape in the radio industry is changing even faster than many of us realize on a day-to-day basis, and there are creative paths and advantages to today’s climate that can be taken advantage of, if personalities play their hand right.

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3 Tips on How to Get Station and Market Research Without the Whopping Budgets

Many of us have not seen research in a while. I am going to give you some poor man tips for getting the pulse of your community. 

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A photo of a piece of paper showing bar graph research

No research budget? No problem! Ok, many of us have not seen research in a while. I am going to give you some poor man tips for getting the pulse of your community. 

These are tried and true methods that I have been using my entire programming career.  Disclaimer: getting great unbiased research is a tremendous tool to strengthen your station or show. I have learned a few tricks that may help you assess your community and audience. 

Use Your Station’s Database for a Small Survey

Usually, you must hold the carrot of winning a couple of hundred bucks for a participant.  There are many advantages to this method. You are likely to have P1s who love your product and have a commitment to the station. Talk about cool! 

Building the questions is the tough part. You don’t want to ask leading questions that mirror your thoughts or the attitudes of the audience. I like open-ended questions. I would also like to know about the participants’ demographics. 

For whatever reason, my station’s database is different than the actual listeners to a news/talk station. You may find your database like mine: 70% women. Of those women, a large portion are in their 20s and 30s. Sadly, this is not your audience. You will need to willow them out as you compile the information. 

The questions need to be about the audience, not about your station.

-What are your people doing for fun?
-Do they like to travel?
-How long is their commute?
-Do they have kids?
-Are they married?
-Are they happy with their school district? 
-What is their biggest concern? 

People love to talk about themselves. Let them do it and then sprinkle in questions about the station. 

-Are there enough traffic reports?
-Have you ever called a show?
-How was your interaction with the host or producer?
-What is your favorite restaurant?
-How much time do you watch sports each week? 

You certainly can add many questions like this.  Knowing your audience allows you to reflect on their lives, concerns, and interests. 

Be A Spy

I love doing this one at lunch. Pull into a restaurant that appeals to businesspeople in your area. Get a table near a large group and start writing down the conversation.

Are they griping about the boss? What are their concerns? Do they tease each other? How much do they speak about their significant other? Are they discussing something they read, heard, or watched? 

Just write down their conversations. I have taken this information and crafted promos and liners around it. It is a small sample size, but if the group is in your target for the station, you can learn a lot of good stuff. This just costs the price of lunch and a beverage. DIY at its finest. 

Quick On-the-Street Surveys 

This is another way to get a pulse on the community. Does your town have an event geared to the community? Go out with a producer, a salesperson, and give three quick questions. You need to guess the age of the participant. Ask for their ZIP code. this is to determine whether they live in your area. 

Then three quick questions. I like to use multiple choice. 
-How frustrating is the traffic?  1 to 5 with 5 meaning very agonizing.
-Your biggest concern: Crime, Taxes, Money, or family? 
-How long have you lived in your home?  These are quick questions to give you a pulse on your neighbors’ concerns. 

None of these are as good as a solid perceptual. I have read a lot of research, and the conclusions are the biggest concern. Years ago, I worked for a company that did several perceptuals. I was asked to read them by my format captain, who was new on the job. I read them carefully over the weekend and typed up a short report. The conclusions were completely different than the data. 

I am sure that if you have the opportunity to do a research project on your station, you will want to know the unvarnished truth. If you are in the enviable position of interviewing the companies that do research, you need to know the following things:
-Are the conclusions what I want to read or need to see?
-How is the best way to assess the data provided?
-Will the data allow me to develop an action plan to grow my ratings? 

If you want research to confirm your preconceived thoughts, skip the expense. If you want to maximize your return, learn how to critically read the data. 

What is your action plan following the study? There should be a clear path to allow you to identify vulnerabilities, opportunities, and strengths. All of these are equally important. 

Once you know your vulnerabilities, you can strategize to shore up your weaknesses. Once you know your opportunities, you can address them and create another path for your brand to succeed. Knowing and perhaps confirming your strengths allows you to use these as a base point for your brand’s continuing success. 

Don’t mess up good research. These are wonderful windows on your station and community.  They are key to helping you create a listener-focused experience that will support your station for years to come. 

Don’t be frightened to have some of your personal conclusions destroyed. Is this about your ego or is it about your team, station, and market? 

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