Radio’s problems continue to multiply. Personalities have been one of local radio stations’ last advantages and reasons to hold audiences. Over the past several years, prominent air talents have retired without a batch of up-and-coming stars to replace them. That trend continued in Seattle, WA where Danny Bonaduce wrapped up a nearly 60-year show biz career and is hanging up the headphones after a 12-year run on KZOK.
Without reservations, I can say Bonaduce is the hardest-working air talent I’ve ever known. After James Brown passed, Bonaduce could make a legitimate claim he is the “hardest working man in show business.”
Bonaduce got his start in acting at three years old, making appearances on Mayberry R.F.D., The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, and Bewitched. The role he would become most known for, Danny Partridge on The Partridge Family, made Bonaduce famous.
Like many child actors, after the series that brought him fame ended, Danny Bonaduce battled drug and alcohol addiction issues.
Bonaduce was looking for his purpose in life when we first met in the late 1980s. At the time, I was programming WYSP in Philadelphia. Bonaduce lived in the area and became a frequent Howard Stern Show guest. Decades later, I hired him as WYSP’s final morning personality from 2008-2011. That’s when we truly got to know and appreciate one another.
Other radio stations in Philadelphia were paying attention to Bonaduce’s appearances on the Stern Show. After hearing him with Stern, WEGX, then CHR Eagle 106, hired Bonaduce for evenings. His success on the air in Philly led to a role on the Power 92 Morning Zoo, in Phoenix where trouble once again found him.
Bonaduce made headlines when he was charged with assaulting (what police reported at the time was) a transvestite prostitute. Eventually, the news quieted down, and he found his way to The Loop in Chicago, where he refined and developed his on-air presence.
Danny entered the national dialogue again with the 2005 VH1 premiere of the reality series Breaking Bonaduce. Although the show doesn’t always portray him in a flattering light, it led him back to radio. He began doing a show on KLSX in Los Angeles.
During a trip to Los Angeles, I heard Danny Bonaduce on the air for the first time in years. He had improved dramatically. His likability and charisma jumped through the speaker. Since KLSX was also a CBS Radio station, a sister station, I inquired about his availability for mornings on WYSP.
My initial thought was Bonaduce could do mornings from L.A. back to Philly. The three-hour time difference meant doing a morning drive from the west coast would be difficult. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that he was interested in returning to Philadelphia and doing his Los Angeles show from the WYSP studios. He did that for several months until KLSX changed the format.
He was consistently WYSP’s highest-rated daypart throughout his run. We decided to flip WYSP to WIP-FM in 2011. Danny Bonaduce was liked throughout CBS Radio, and the company found a home for him in Seattle, where he and Danni Sarah, who became his on-air partner in Philly, remained through ownership changes until Friday, when he retired. Sarah will remain on KZOK.
Those who have never met Bonaduce in person should forget what they think of him – good or bad. In person, he is one of the most intensely likable and generous people I’ve ever met. On several occasions during his WYSP run, we had to tell him to take time off after he got sick from working so many days in a row.
CBS Radio’s CEO, Dan Mason, put together those two aspects of Bonaduce’s character and suggested a promotional idea. Several years earlier, the Million Man March occurred. Mason’s idea was for Bonaduce to commit to a “Million Man Handshake.”
Bonaduce embraced the concept enthusiastically (as he did with almost everything presented to him). We printed thousands of business cards for him. Every person he met received a card with a hand-printed number on it. I don’t recall how high the count grew over his run, but I believe it went into six figures.
Fourteen years later, I still proudly have card #1 in my wallet, signed to “my badass boss” by Danny Bonaduce.
Perhaps nobody I’ve worked with understood show business better than Bonaduce. An example of his showmanship was on display during a sales meeting with representatives of Corona Beer. After walking into the conference room, shaking hands, and saying hello, Danny stood silently long enough to be awkward. There was a moment of fear because you never knew what Danny would do.
With impeccable timing and a big grin, he reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a Corona. He popped it open and gulped it down in one swig. Afterward, he said, “Now I’m ready to begin this meeting.” Slack-jawed, the Corona folks were putty.
No stunts were off-limits. On the air with Danny during his final show, I recalled the time he walked barefoot across a gauntlet of about eight feet of mousetraps. Sarah reminded us of when he lost a bet with Chicago DJs and pierced his ear – with a nail gun! Then, because the D.J.s were disrespecting him, Bonaduce took the nail gun and did the other ear. Van Gogh had nothing on Danny Bonaduce!
It was surprising to hear that Bonaduce was retiring. Not working is an unnatural state for him. I spoke to him off the air later in the day of his last show. He explained the health condition that has made work difficult for him. He has Hydrocephalus. I had to look it up.
Hydrocephalus is a neurological condition when fluid collects around the brain. Bonaduce explained to me that he has a tube that drains from his brain down around his ear and ends at his stomach. According to the Hydrocephalus Association, the condition is not rare. It’s as common in infants as Down’s Syndrome and more common than spina bifida. In adults, it causes symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease. Although there is no known cure, they treat the condition with brain surgery.
That’s consistent with what he told me when I asked him about retiring. “There was a picture of me in a wheelchair, and I don’t remember it happening.” He said he was on the air and doing a contest to give away Trevor Noah tickets. “Right in the middle, I forgot what I was supposed to do. Sarah had to save me. I had to walk out of the studio.”
Bonaduce explained that he felt fine and there was no pain. “I just lose my balance and memory sometimes.”
He had one brain surgery earlier this year and said he has “been in and out of hospitals for a year.”
We talked about some of his biggest accomplishments. When he was seven, he was in a movie with Elvis. Bonaduce calls that his “showstopper.” He recalls Elvis giving him a Cadilac. “Okay, it was a pushcart, and he gave one to all the kids on the set. It would probably be worth a lot now.”
Yet Elvis doesn’t figure into his most impressive accomplishments, nor does the Partridge Family or radio. That’s left to a witch. “I was brought back as another character on “Bewitched.” ”Do you know how rare that is,” he asked me: that and his relationship with his wife, Amy.
Danny and Amy are retiring to a Palm Springs, CA house. He promised Amy that he would go six months to a year without needing hospitalization before thinking about returning to work. Although it may not be radio, my hunch is we have not heard the last of Danny Bonaduce.
Andy Bloom is president of Andy Bloom Communications. He specializes in media training and political communications. He has programmed legendary stations including WIP, WPHT and WYSP/Philadelphia, KLSX, Los Angeles and WCCO Minneapolis. He was Vice President Programming for Emmis International, Greater Media Inc. and Coleman Research. Andy also served as communications director for Rep. Michael R. Turner, R-Ohio. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or you can follow him on Twitter @AndyBloomCom.
Proof That Both CNN and Fox News Manipulate Their Audiences
Playing with numbers and technicalities is a function of what the media does today. Since the average person just reads the headline, viewers will likely move on if it confirms their own bias.
When news organizations collide, journalism loses. Last week, CNN posted on X saying “US inflation cooled down in January, offering some relief for Americans who have suffered through the steepest price hikes in four decades.” The same day Fox News posted “BREAKING: Inflation rises faster than expected in January as high prices persist.”
While these are seemingly opposite statements, both can be true at the same time. More importantly, both of these outlets are manipulating their audience.
People like their own opinions and want those opinions verified by others. This is what social media has done to news: You read the post, see your opinion is valid, and then move on to the next clickbait (confirmation bias). More importantly, both of these tweets are true because one is based on an estimate, and one is based on actual numbers.
Looking at CNN, while their post on X seems positive, their business headline is a little less positive, “Inflation cooled last month, but some price hikes continue to cause pain.” The change from tweet to headline is striking. One says Americans are getting inflation relief, the other says inflation continuing to cause pain. In today’s world of “Read the headline and move on,” this is why people feel CNN lies. Its post is in conflict with the headline— even though both are true statements.
It’s not until you read the article that people can see how this is possible. The outlet notes overall inflation did cool when comparing January 2023 (6.4%) to January 2024 (3.1%). Four sentences into the article it says, “CPI rose by 0.3% in January.” It goes on to break down why inflation is still high and causing pain in the pockets of Americans. Although the X post is factually correct, people on the right side of the political spectrum feel CNN is untrue because they see the inflation problem in their bank account.
Meanwhile, the Fox News X post and Fox Business headline are identical, “Inflation rises faster than expected in January as high prices persist.” However, the keyword here is “expected.” Inflation did cool year-over-year. However, because Fox is comparing the January 2024 number to what experts expected the number to be, what they have posted is factually correct. This nuance is sometimes lost on readers.
The article does not mention inflation is down year-over-year. However, nine sentences into the article, the business outlet says, “Inflation has fallen considerably from a peak of 9.1%.” The nuance of “expected” combined with the lack of mentioning year-over-year inflation is down is why the left side of the political spectrum believes Fox lies.
Let’s be clear, neither CNN nor Fox News have lied (on this one specific topic). They both chose to present the same data differently. It also needs to be noted, CNN and Fox News are not the only outlets that do this. They all do. Playing with numbers and technicalities is a function of what the media does today. Since the average person just reads the headline, viewers will likely move on if it confirms their own bias. The problem is twofold.
- Facts are no longer direct but skewed to fit a narrative.
- Some viewers accept headlines and posts without diving deeper into the article.
We have been trained to share a headline without reading the article. We’ve known this since 2016 when Columbia University and the French National Institute found 59% of shared social media links were never read. We’ve gone from headlines selling newspapers, forcing people to read the articles, to headlines being shared on social media, but people won’t read the articles.
This is only a small part of why The Messenger failed: neutrality. The sentiment of unbiased news was well-intentioned. However, America has lacked unbiased news since 1987 when the Fairness Doctrine was abolished. Many on the left believe this has helped right-leaning outlets. This is false. Not only has it benefited both sides of the aisle, it can be argued the progressives have benefited more than the conservatives (but that is a different article for a different day).
When news outlets collide, the American public loses. Not because we lack news, but because we lack the ability to read the full scope of the issues in one place. Outlets are not forced to present all sides of the political argument or present the entirety of data sets. Additionally, news is not being fully read. Headlines are now king. Shares, clicks, and likes keep the lights on in newsrooms. Most importantly, facts are now nuanced. This forces debate instead of continuity and cohesion.
Krystina Alarcon Carroll is a columnist and features writer for Barrett News Media.She currently freelances at WPIX in New York, and has previously worked on live, streamed, and syndicated TV programs. Her prior employers have included NY1, Fox News Digital, Law & Crime Network, and Newsmax. You can find Krystina on X (formerly twitter) @KrystinaAlaCarr.
Does Dealing With Criticism Ever Get Easier?
Engage in the content of the criticism and ignore the rest – or at least take the high road. If that gets difficult, end the conversation.
Thick skin. If you work in media, you gotta have it. If you don’t, you either won’t last or you won’t sleep – or both.
Even if you are neutral politically, super nice, and in it for all the right reasons, there always will be people who criticize you, and some will even make it personal.
Having “thick skin” is a cliché I’ve been thinking about and dealing with for years. I find it fascinating that, somehow, I am way more sensitive at home than I am at work – and by at work, I mean on the air for hours every day.
Even the angriest of listeners are engaging, and engagement is what I want. Sometimes, it can throw a show off-balance, but if handled properly, it should never fully derail you.
Over the years, I have modified my professional behavior, perspective, and attitude, yet my foundational approach has not changed. It began with my first full-time television job when a journalist/mentor of mine told me not to ever act interested in ratings. Rather, he said, focus on my performance and content — the rest would take care of itself.
In my first two anchor/host jobs, it worked wonderfully. I immersed myself in the job, and the ratings were strong. I thought it was a mandate to always take this approach, although in retrospect, I was probably more lucky than good. Regardless, following that mantra actually allowed me to learn my craft and not be overly aware that ratings mattered.
Ignorance was journalistic bliss.
Flash forward to 2024 and it all seems rather naïve, but I think the approach really works well with criticism, too, whether it be on social media, through phone calls or even with fellow hosts.
Just a quick note on nuance: Look at the sentence four paragraphs above – don’t act interested. Looking back at the guidance given by my mentor, his point also seemed to be that even if you are laser-focused on how a show is rating, don’t make it a major topic of conversation, and don’t let people think it defines you as a broadcaster and journalist.
All of it may seem like advice from Fantasyland, but in an indirect way, this approach also makes me less vulnerable to criticism. I simply don’t focus on it too much, and over time, it stopped bothering me even if I did focus on it. Make sense?
Of course, it’s not as if I like it when a listener rips me or the show, either directly or on social media; but I never engage emotionally, and if I do respond in any way, it’s usually content-focused.
That’s the key.
Engage in the content of the criticism and ignore the rest – or at least take the high road. If that gets difficult, end the conversation.
You have the conch. Never forget that.
Ultimately, you’ll feel better, especially knowing you did not take the bait and handled it professionally – no need to create any more tension than is already out in the media eether.
That brings me to the moment a host of a show on my station was sharply critical of an interview I had done, saying it was soft, and not holding the guest (a sitting U.S. Senator) accountable enough.
Specific questions were put forth that absolutely should have been asked, according to the host, and honestly, it was used as a chest puffer for that person to show why certain guests were scared to come on that later show.
And … I thought it was great.
Well, maybe not great, but I actually had no problem with it. First and foremost, they were talking about it, which is good. When I can provide that kind of grist, it’s good radio. It wasn’t always easy to listen to — I was still in the office doing some booking — but for some reason, it did not bother me. This from a guy who gets a one-second side eye from my wife of 20 years, and I think our marriage is in trouble.
In the end, a few of the criticisms were helpful, believe it or not: One or two of the suggested questions put forth on the later show should have been asked.
It’s all part of the balance I seek to create a place where members of both political parties feel comfortable coming on our network. I always reserve the right to ask difficult questions, and I do ask them (apparently not enough for some), but I also try and be balanced and manage relationships.
It’s delicate, and sometimes, elicits criticism – sometimes deserved. Meanwhile, I just focus on the content, naïve as that may be.
Brian Shactman is a weekly columnist for Barrett News Radio. In addition to writing for BNM, Brian can be heard weekday mornings in Hartford, CT on 1080 WTIC hosting the popular morning program ‘Brian & Company’. During his career, Brian has worked for ESPN, CNBC, MSNBC, and local TV channels in Connecticut and Massachusetts. You can find him on Twitter @bshactman.
CBS Mornings Scores Big Post-Super Ratings Win
CBS Mornings became the most-watched program from 7-9 a.m. in total viewers for just the second time ever for a CBS morning news show.
The historic ratings milestones continue for CBS as a result of Super Bowl LVIII.
Less than nine hours following what turned out to be the most-watched telecast in U.S. TV history to date (120.25 million of the near-124 million watching Super Bowl LVIII did so on CBS), CBS Mornings became the most-watched program from 7-9 a.m. in total viewers for just the second time ever for a CBS morning news show.
For the Monday, Feb. 12 edition of CBS Mornings, which featured co-host Nate Burleson from Las Vegas, the site of Super Bowl LVIII, and a visit from Jon Stewart in New York to promote his Daily Show return (which generated great ratings milestones of its own later that night), it delivered 2.9 million total viewers including 654,000 within the key 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research. It marked its best total audience and demo figures since Feb. 4, 2022.
CBS Mornings topped ABC’s Good Morning America, the usual morning news viewer leader, by a mere 7,000 viewers; it also outdrew NBC’s Today (2.86 million) by 49,000 viewers.
CBS also bested ABC in A25-54 by +103,000; the sixth time CBS Mornings has led over Good Morning America this season based on the key demo.
This was not the first time a morning show benefited from a halo effect of what the network had aired the night prior. Mar. 8, 2021, was the first time CBS won in the morning. It was the day after Oprah Winfrey’s primetime interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry had aired which drew 17.1 million viewers for CBS. The Mar. 8, 2021 edition of CBS This Morning featured an exclusive interview with Winfrey and the premiere of never-before-seen clips from the Meghan and Prince Harry discussion, had delivered 4.793 million viewers with 1.026 million of them in the 25-54 demographic.
The program changed its title to CBS Mornings in September 2021.
For this 2023-24 season, CBS Mornings has the smallest deficit margin in viewers with ABC’s Good Morning America since the 2017-18 season and the tightest margin in A25-54 ever.
Douglas Pucci is a Bronx native and NYU graduate analyzing news television ratings for Barrett News Media. He did an internship at VH1’s “Pop Up Video” in 1997. After college, Pucci went on to design, build and maintain websites for various non-profit organizations in his hometown of New York City. He has worked alongside media industry observer Marc Berman for over a decade reporting on all things television, first at Cross MediaWorks from 2011-15 then at Programming Insider since 2016. Pucci also contributed to the sports website Awful Announcing. Read more: https://programminginsider.com/author/douglas/