(by Ed Ryan) For 21 years now Phil Hendrie has been broadcasting a unique style of radio theatre that, it’s easy to say, only he can pull off to perfection. He’s been doing it night after night, week after week, year after year. Most of you probably know that Hendrie artfully and without mistake, bobs and weaves, in and out of male, female and child-like voices errorless and for hours every night. He does it so seamlessly that some callers are duped into believing the voices are actual guests and their outrageous comments to Phil, the straight-man host, are real. Even after two decades Hendrie gets callers not only believing the routine but outraged enough to call in. Hendrie cannot get a caller involved, he just creates and adds him – or her – to the routine. Those that DO get the show belly-laugh as the caller unravels with rage and Hendrie eggs the guest (him) on while supporting the callers position. For those of you new to the radio business we would encourage you to give Hendrie a listen. We’ve been living in a lifetime filled with political talkers, mostly from the right, launched by Rush and followed by many. Most consultants tell you if you are unique, you’ll have a place in radio. Stand out. Don’t be a follower, etc. etc. Hendrie is, perhaps, too unique for radio. And, his show is too unique to have others try to steal what he does. His characters have grown their own fan bases, some of them have their own Facebook pages and Twitter accounts which, of course, are all monitored by Hendrie. You would think he’d be a perfect morning man for today’s radio. You get a 3-5 person team for the price of one and no need for co-ed bathrooms. Yet, on most stations, Hendrie is heard from 1AM to 4AM. Up until recently, technology has been a good friend to Hendrie. That may be changing. Now, he makes a significant amount of money online but worries that may be in jeapordy. Michael Robertsons DAR.FM ranks Hendrie as the 5th most recorded show behind Rush and several NPR programs. That’s good news right? A sign his show is popular. The flipside of that is that Hendrie has built up a significant online revenue stream with his backstage pass but now fans can record his show for free on DAR.FM and ditch the annual cost they pay to listen to the show. DAR.FM allows listeners to record the show and have it sit in the cloud for playback whenever it’s convenient for the listener. And, 1AM to 4AM, when the show is live is not very convenient. Now Hendrie’s fans pay an annual fee to listen to archived shows and watch him perform his comedy on Phil TV. If DAR becomes part of the mainstream what will happen to Hendrie’s extra paycheck? Can you say dwindle Bobbie Dooley? Hendrie has thoughts on all these topics. He never worries about what others in the industry think and he’s never politically correct. That’s always a breath of fresh air for an interviewer. I had a chance to talk to Phil at the Radio show in Chicago. Here is that interview. CHECK OUT PHIL’S WEBSITE HERE – On the Radio Show panel in Chicago you had strong feelings about the radio industry as it is today.The radio business is following to the letter the model of failure the auto industry followed. Trying to tear a dollar in half to make two dollars is not making better cars or better radio shows. You make cow dung while you’re chasing the art of manipulating the consumer into spending more for cow dung or inferior cow dung. And of course it is chasing down and mastering the art of passing your debt off to bigger and more distant entities until you are owned by people who could care about radio, they have a seat-cover company to run. Radio will die the death of a thousand cuts unless it pays more attention to its product. And it’s not cow dung, no matter how fresh. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a business with more disdain for its own product than radio. These people are literally, troubled and disgusted and distracted by radio shows. Because it’s no longer anything you can hide from. The artist is doing his job. But the managers can’t sell it, can’t market it, can’t promote it, can’t pronounce it, can’t protect it. The talent shortage is at that level. – Your thoughts on PD’s and GM’s and how they run their stations today? Well this question follows what I was just saying. But let me give you the bottom line on these people. I have been approached by just about every heavy hitter in programming who wants to tell me how “brilliant” I am. Not one of them has put me on their stations and here’s why: To do that is to have to position my show properly, sell it, in other words do some actual work. Management has for years used the old stand-by argument that talent is the problem. Well, they can’t do that anymore. No can do, brother. FOR SYNDICATION INFO ON THE PHIL HENDRIE SHOW VISIT THE TRN WEBSITE Now they’re getting push back from guys like me telling them to get off their ass and go out and get some business done. And if you can’t do that without hanging onto a ratings book or PPM like a security blanket then let’s hire some young guys out of college or wherever who are hungry and who can. But the management and programming guys don’t like that kind of direct talk from talent. Shoe’s on the other foot though now. Talent is hiring former managers and programmers. That’s where their future lies so they need to start seeing things from our perspective. How can they be better? There was a window where they could have been. But, with the exception of a handful of people out there, (my guys at KFI, Robin and Greg) they can’t anymore. They are strictly order-takers. And they know it. Their primary concern is implementing the strategy coming from the Mother/Father computer at The Shareholder Complex. I get the sense you are not a big fan of corporate radio. That’s not true. All I’ve ever worked for are radio corporations and I can tell you the ones I loved and enjoyed working with. Cox, Greater Media, CBS, Clear Channel, Rounsaville Radio, Noe Broadcasting. I had great times at all of them. What I’m NOT a big fan of are lazy-ass corporate broadcasters going after the “low-hanging fruit” (code for ‘I don’t work that hard’) waiting for the order to come in or selling your talent out and booking these “embedded” inter-mercials that the audience doesn’t know from. It’s money, sure and it’s God-awful radio. The cashbox comes to mind. This was a device from the furthest rings of hell that squeezed more minutes out of an hour while turning the show into unlistenable drek. They are the people I referred to at the beginning…looking to tear a dollar bill in half and make two – How much interaction do you have with listeners who get what the show is about?I talk with a lot of them on Twitter but frankly I don’t do too much interacting with those active people who do Twitter or comment. There’s a reason for this. My time is best spent trying to improve my art, everything about it. That’s why I have listeners. It’s not best spent jaw-jacking with them. There have been some horrible and misconstrued reactions to me communicating with listeners. In communicating with one who had started a podcast I decided that I didn’t want him to do it anymore and asked that it be taken down..and I was nice about it the first 20 times I asked. But some people you can’t be nice to. – Why not take your show on the road to theatres? I’m going to. It’s time, it’ll be fun and I’m eager to do it. I will most likely have to produce it myself but we can start small, a theater in San Diego or LA and then take it national and make millions upon millions and laugh and sing You are doing very well with your backstage pass.Thank God what I had fun doing on the radio found a loyal, sometimes cranky, rabid audience. They are possessive of the show, they are Kathy Bates in ‘Misery,” ready to break my legs if I screw something up. In other words they love the hell out of what I do and we charge a subscription price that’s do-able for them. We offer archives and the daily show. We throw in our video-casts. We have blogs. We have an uncensored comment section that has given voice to every kind of person under the sun. We have some merchandise. It’s real “Ma and Pa” and they have more direct access to me than ever before which creates all kinds of situations. Some real drama sometimes. LISTEN TO A CLASSIC PHIL HENDRIE PODCAST HERE- You are not real happy with your work being recorded and played back for free. You are in a unique position because you are one of the few successful radio personalities making money online. How can you combat this and do you plan to.Yes, I plan to. But that’s for me to know and for them to find out. It’s outrageous. I had some clown tweet me that it’s like TVO. TVO is integrated into one’s system and is licensed by the concerned parties. No harm, no foul. It’s business. Along come a variety of companies in a variety of places with a variety of access to the different streams. And guess what? Not all of them are available. Well now how about that? They are not available because the parties that own them don’t want them made available for their own business reasons. Now we come to Phil Hendrie. Here’s a guy who is the ultimate victim of this because by speaking out he has made himself a target. Is there anyone in broadcasting speaking up on his behalf? No. Are there any high-powered, industry lawyers out there that want to advocate on his behalf? Hell no. The NAB maybe? No. And here’s the OTHER good part. If I say anything about this publicly…I’m the a&*%$&! In the words of my close, personal friend Dale Dye “It’s a beautiful f*&%$+%& war.” However, the good news is this. It’s going to get better. We have a DMCA that is in force. And frankly, the US Pirate Party, a group that I thought at first would oppose what I’m fighting for, agrees with me. They want to streamline and clarify the process and I’m with that. Feedback me about the Phil Hendrie interview at [email protected] or leave your comments below.Pictured here (left to right) Radio Ink editor Ed Ryan, Phil Hendrie and Streamline Publishing Operations Manager Tom Elmo.