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Elon Musk Continues to Make Unconventional News

Against the grain, he made a late-Friday announcement – a mere sentence – that might just change our lives in ways we cannot yet comprehend. 

Rick Schultz



A photo of Elon Musk and the X logo
(Photo: Getty Images)

Normally, late Friday news dumps are designed to get things out there that you really don’t want the public to focus on. They usually involve information you know you must make public, although you would hide it if you could. Politicians know this process all too well. But as he always does, Elon Musk broke the mold of this conventional wisdom when he dropped a news bomb on the world late Friday.

“Elon Musk sharing himself on X that Tesla will unveil its long-awaited Robotaxi on August 8th,” CNBC host Brian Sullivan began on Last Call Friday evening. “The news sending shares of Tesla up after hours.”

Robotaxi is Tesla’s long-awaited technological marvel where fleets of A.I.-powered Tesla vehicles might transport passengers around all day without a human driver. Some have the vision that you’ll be able to eat, sleep, work, read, or do whatever else you’d like in the vehicle, as it drives you to your destination. These future thinkers believe Tesla’s Robotaxis won’t even have steering wheels or pedals.  

And on Friday, Elon Musk said Tesla will unveil this technology in a mere four months.

“This is one of those that’s going to have more speculation than anything because we didn’t get much from Elon Musk today except for one post on X late this afternoon. It said Robotaxi unveiled on 8/8. August 8th. Alright, so what does that mean?” Phil LeBeau, CNBC Auto and Airline Industry Reporter, said. “Well, a lot of questions here. First of all, what are we talking about in terms of entry into service? Where will the location of Robotaxi be? Certainly not going to be widespread. It’ll probably be in one specific area, maybe geo-fenced area. What’s the level of autonomy? Remember, full self-driving is not full self-driving. It’s nowhere close to it.”

This part of the report goes against some online videos and first-hand accounts that show drivers traveling long distances with very little, if any, human intervention. While noting the technological development, the analyst seemed to indicate that Musk’s announcement creates more questions than answers in his mind.

“And has the technology evolved to where it could be? And where is the vehicle going to be manufactured?” LeBeau asked, rhetorically. “As you look at this, this all sets up the question that will come when Tesla reports its Q1 results on April 23rd. A lot of questions will be about the Robotaxi, because Brian, at the end of the day, on paper the Robotaxi – or any autonomous taxi service – makes complete sense. You strip out the driver, you lower the cost. Fantastic. Here’s the problem. We are nowhere close to having the level of autonomy widespread, where this can take off. Now, has he cracked the code? We’ll find out in the months to come.”

LeBeau brought up the point about Tesla’s upcoming earnings report, which many feel will be underwhelming especially after what some see as a dismal deliveries report last week. Sullivan continued, adding that Tesla this month has offered free self-driving upgrades to vehicle owners, which has led to an explosion in full self-driving miles logged by Tesla drivers. And the more miles driven, the exponentially faster the A.I. technology can improve. 

Sullivan welcomed his next guest to discuss the topic. 

“Robotaxis. Everyone’s been waiting. Is this a big deal?” he asked Gene Munster, Deepwater Asset Management Managing Partner.

“Brian, it is a big deal. And I think it’s important context to the investment. Phil framed it in well in terms of what the potential impact is, just higher margin. Before I do that, I just want to mention, this is probably coming at the cost of not pursuing the cheaper Model 2 $25,000 vehicle that was on the table. They’ve talked about that. That probably is now on pause and all the focus is on Robotaxi,” Munster said.

Some analysts opined over the weekend that Musk may have been forced to make the announcement after a Reuters report that said Tesla was putting their $25k vehicle project on pause. Others in the know, such as Sawyer Merritt, Farzad Mesbahi, Herbert Ong, Alexandra Merz and many other Tesla experts, have noted that it is believed both the Model 2 and Robotaxis may be designed on the same general platform. It is their belief that shifting focus to Robotaxi may work in tandem with the development of Model 2, rather than against it. Time will tell if this thesis, popularized through information from Walter Isaacson’s 2023 Elon Musk biography and elsewhere, proves true.

For his part, Merritt posted Friday that while it took Tesla 3.5 years to hit one billion miles driven on FSD, he thinks it will take less than sixty days to hit the second billion.

As a whole, the mainstream media has been in full “Elon bad” mode for more than a year, as he has disrupted their framework of control by opening up his platform X to free speech and information sharing. It has been extensively detailed how the media and liberal cultural elites have recoiled because X has been opened up from its days of being the liberal echo chamber, Twitter.

Some also think the media has been anti-Musk because he poses a business threat to their major advertising partners from the auto, banking, and artificial intelligence industries. As the popular Invest Answers program has chronicled, Musk is a major disruptor and the old guard is fighting back. So in recent years, the elite corporate media’s knee-jerk reaction is to take a negative view toward whatever Elon Musk says or does. This CNBC conversation, however, included both the unknowns and the potential of the hard-to-fathom, futuristic advancement.

“I suspect the reason why they’ve made that change here recently is they have more confidence in some of that beta that you were just talking about. The response so far including our own Andrew Murphy from Deepwater who’s been following this uses this technology, has been that this is a step function improvement,” Munster added. “So we’re getting much closer.”

Munster offered more context to his thoughts and how these developments may provide a benefit to Tesla investors.

“It will take a long time to get there. Three, four, five years. But to put it in perspective, if they do a million Robotaxis. That’s a number that Elon talked about in 2019. A million Robotaxis. And those Robotaxis earn $250 a day each. And they take a 15% take rate on that. That adds ten billion to the operating line, the net income line,” Munster said. “That is basically double what their current net income is. Again, it’ll take a long time to get there. But if you just think about the levers and about shifting this company in a whole different direction, back to the growth topic. This has the potential to do that.”

Elon Musk is nothing if not unconventional. And against the grain, he made a late-Friday announcement – a mere sentence – that might just change our lives in ways we cannot yet comprehend. 

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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.



A photo of Donald Trump and Joe Biden

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.”



A photo of James Golden
(Photo: James Golden)

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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Photo of Radio Board

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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