The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

29 March 2007

Talk Radio Remote Broadcasts


NYT Exposes Remote Broadcast Deception

When an on- air personality makes reference to working or living in your city, isn't it safe to assume he's actually there with you?

During those nasty blizzards, shouldn't your favorite talker or news anchor tell you when he's really broadcasting from sunny Florida?

In one of radio's dirtiest little secrets, that's sometimes simply not the case. Now, the New York Times has picked up on this trend, exposing one of the medium's most notorious examples:

LOS ANGELES, March 27 — When people hear the radio host Joe Crummey on Phoenix’s popular KFYI murmur sarcastically, “We don’t have enough human rights activists in this town,” they know he means Phoenix.

Ditto for when he offers to assess the “east side west side traffic right now.”

As it turns out, Mr. Crummey, whose favorite talk show topics include immigration, patriotism and Arizona politics, is indeed reporting for duty in the valley. Just not in the Phoenix Valley.

Rather, it is here, in the San Fernando Valley, where he works via the Internet from his home on the top of a hill in the Studio City section of Los Angeles. Listeners in Phoenix are none the wiser.

Armed with four computers, a digital recorder, a constant stream of Fox News and a professional microphone, Mr. Crummey holds court for three hours each weekday during Phoenix’s drive-home time slot — from about 400 miles away in a neighboring state.

“I admit that it is obvious that listeners infer that I’m there,” Mr. Crummey, whose pitch signals talk-radio host at “hello,” said during a tour of his home broadcasting operation. “Most people don’t know I am not. But I’m just on the radio talking about their town, and I guess they can take it or leave it.”

Here's an alternate link to the story.

With its focus on one particular host, the NYT failed to mention at least two past flaps of a similar nature, found here and here. And a few guys have been getting away with this deception for years.

The key issue is honesty: are you pretending to live and work in a city hundreds of miles from your real home? Otherwise, there's nothing inherently immoral about doing a live remote broadcast.

Over the years, your Radio Equalizer has quite often hosted shows for one city from studios in another, sometimes on opposite coasts. What seems to work best is to either come clean about your real location, or make no claim whatsoever about where you are.

Faking a presence in the other city, however, is not only sleazy, but a newspaper expose waiting to happen. In this case, no less than the New York Times smelled something funny going on in Arizona.

UPDATE: the competition weighs in.

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  • Wow - this really blows the lid off the industry...

    I'm sure you're working hard to find ties to AAR hosts culpable for like dishonesty, which you will then loosely blame on Al Franken, without any real evidence whatsoever.

    And to cynch it - none of the visual aids you use will be of those directly culpable, but will all be of Al Franken appearing evilly money-hungry.

    Waiting for it...

    By Blogger TJ, at 29 March, 2007 15:51  

  • At a time when Boston's FM talk station was bannering "Live and Local," their host Jay Severin was hosting from his apartment in Manhattan, where you could frequently hear the fire trucks in the background.

    He lied about this on the air repeatedly until he was caught by the local weekly. Just a reminder that these rightist trickster talk hosts are FIRST AND FOREMOST, LIARS!

    By Blogger gregrocker, at 29 March, 2007 19:25  

  • TJ, this tells me something that has been around since Telecom 96 came out--less competition, more compression of stations and the use of voice tracking. I am AGAINST such a practice. Why? It all sounds forced and fake.

    Nothing smooth about it and if you make a mistake, you try it again with VT. I would like radio hosts to live on the edge--make a mistake--YA CAN'T GO BACK!

    Now it doesn't shock me that KFYI--A CLEAR CHANNEL STATION--would do this! Then again, they shut down the WELI (960 New Haven) news department leaving news to comes from--are you ready--SYRACUSE, NEW YORK! Their only live local programming is hosted by Jerry Kristafer, a Hartford/New Haven veteran.

    If you ask me, if I lived in Phoenix and it came down to KFYI or KTAR--now at 92.3 on FM--the choice is clear--KTAR. And I'm glad they it seems are calling KFYI on the carpet.

    By Blogger The Real Bob Anthony, at 29 March, 2007 21:38  

  • patriot world?

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 29 March, 2007 23:48  

  • Severin actually broadcast from his house in Sag Harbor, L.I.; there was a barn with a studio built in.
    WBZ's Gary LaPierre would broadcast the snowy Boston conditions from
    sunny Florida.

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 30 March, 2007 04:06  

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