Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Spin on The Ted Williams Phenomenon

First of all, I am ginuinely very, very happy for Ted Williams, the homeless ex-radio jock, who, overnight, was discovered by millions through a viral video. An amazing story indeed, that made us all feel warm inside.

But today, while reading about all the job offers Williams has received, in just the last 48 hours, a disappointing realization came over me. Reading about the "feeding frenzy" of potential employers that surrounded Williams like hungry vultures (he even has an agent now) started to sicken me.

Why? Because I realized that these employers are only doing it for their benefit. They don't care about Williams. They just want the press.

If Williams hadn't gone "viral" would they still be beating down his door?

If Williams didn't have millions of YouTube views, but rather just "walked in" to fill out an application, or called any of those radio stations for a job, do you think he would've had the same results?

I'm guessing that these same employers, who are anxious to use Williams' misfortune for their gain, wouldn't have even returned his call. But as soon as they realized they could "get famous," they ascended on the guy like a pack of junkyard dogs on a steak.

Well radio, I've got news for you...there are thousands more Ted Williams out there. They may not all be living on the street, but how many radio people do you know that are out of work, trying the best to feed their family, and relentlessly searching for another gig? I know major market jocks who'll take anything now, just to survive--and they've never had drug or alcohol problems.

So to all you radio stations out there who are kicking yourselves for not grabbing up Ted Williams before the other guy did. Rest assured, there are many more Teds out there. Go get 'em.


  1. "Present!..." ( meant metaphorically...)

    A female radio compadre and I were joking about creating our own cardboard signs, and standing out by the interstate...

    I also am happy for him. I know what it's like to be homeless, and don't wish it on anyone. But I'm very familiar with people being used for their name, and then being disposed of (Jessica Hahn...she really thought she was going to get a chance to have a career...she got her feelings hurt).

  2. Very Well said R Dub! Give it to them straight!
    When you think about all thats happening with his story, you're absolutely right. They probably wouldve laughed him right at the door. They are all about making money and getting hits.

    Sad, but true. People work in strange ways, but I'm honestly happy for Ted Williams, although its coming from all this hoopla. At least he is thanksful and very gracious about it all. Most folks who have any opportunity liike this, they are arrogant beyond words. Which is the absolute worst.


  3. Well said Dub. I am very happy for this man, good for him. Let's just hope he stays on the right track and the fame doesn't bring him back down, because these organizations will put him right back on the curb. BTW, any offers out there want to buy me a house? No? Ok how about pay my mortgage?

  4. The truth always hurts when you see it! But even if its for the radio companys benifit..Something good came out of this..Its kinda like the holidays..People are rude of mean to those with signs and get pissed when you see someone who seems helpless and has lost there way..But BANG Its the Holidays..Ohh now its Merry XMas..its the time for giving a shit..Rite!! It always takes one moment like this for people to see that its not about just one week or one day in the year to give!
    But if it takes ONE Ted Williams to point the way..THAN Give me another Ted Williams..Viral or not!! Just just what I think!

  5. Lets also be realistic Dub, a station won't hire jocks unless they have an idea of what that Jock can do for the station Mr Williams does have some great production pipes, not sure how he sounded in an Airshift, but the fact of the matter is - What can Ted Williams do for's business

    Now, the question I have is - if these stations and agencies can now open up budgets to hire - will they close them if Ted Williams doesn't accept the position. Are they following FCC EOE guidlines by posting these positions so every possible and potential employee could apply? With so many jocks out of work, it would be a nice turnaround - call it the Ted Williams Act and provide positions but it all comes back to - what can they do for the station...

  6. "If Williams didn't have millions of YouTube views, but rather just "walked in" to fill out an application, or called any of those radio stations for a job, do you think he would've had the same results?"

    I say YES. But he didn't. He stood with a sign and waited for a miracle. That's what happened, "a miracle" and its human nature to gawk and try to profit from a "miracle".

  7. I just find it ironic that the station taking credit for this is owned by Clear Channel.....who fires people by the buttload. Instead of taking credit for something a newspaper writer did, hire some of the lost souls back. Take credit for that.

  8. Radio will survive because it can differentiate itself from other sources for music, like Ipods, Internet music sites etc...and one major difference will be that the music is "hosted" by right air talent, plain and simple. We need to be finding the next great ones and that requires more jobs for air talent not less. There are some very good broadcasters out there who have big hearts,and do care about people, who also get what I just said, lets hope that this is wake-up call.


    PS I remember when Jessica Hahn was hired by KOY-FM I was at KZZP, guess who she worked with... Glen(Beck) & Tim (Hattrick)

  9. I get your point, but am not so upset about it as you seem to be.

    So companies decided to make him offers for press? So what? If the offers were legitimate, and they had every intention to honor the offer, they've still done a good thing by helping him out.

    An example is the Cleveland Cavaliers. They made an offer to hire him as an arena announcer ON SALARY, AND buy him a house. Not sure if you've ever had an NBA arena announcer job, but the pay is awful. It's not salary, first off. And it usually ranges from $50-$200 per game. They offered him an annual salary, and to buy him a house. They were going above and beyond to help him out. And so they got attention for doing that. Again, so what?

    Doing something that helps someone else because there may be a big benefit to you is not completely wrong. It may have signs of selfishness, but at the end of the day if you are being honest and honorable, good for you. Taking advantage of an opportunity is completely acceptable so long as you are not negatively affecting others in the process.

    And to answer your other question: If Ted Williams (pre-viral success) walked into my lobby asking for a job, then immediately started showing off his voice, you bet your ass I'd be doing whatever I could to hire this guy in some way. Even if for contract VO work when possible. I'd go record him in the studio, and send his stuff to radio people I know.

    I watched the video on YouTube when it had fewer than 600 views -- it was nowhere near viral. After hearing only his first line of talking I made the comment, "Could we use this guy somehow?"

    With that said, good post! I don't agree with you completely, but appreciate you providing the open forum for radio people to talk about it.

  10. Thanks Rico! That's what the blog is for. Agree or disagree, it's about discussion and possible solutions. Love your show!

  11. SO TRUE! I'm so happy that I cried for this guy. It was like GOD saying..."I looked out for this guy & I won't forsake you either". I'm on a hip hop station right now for NO MONEY ...LITERALLY...JUST to be heard with the hopes that I can land a job. As we ALL know; it's easier to get something when you're on air than when you're off. Unemployment is running out & I can't lie...I'm a tad bit nervous for me & my kids. As a single mom, that's not cool. After this, I thought "OMG! will we have to move into one of the many homeless shelters I raised money for in the past & make a youtube video of it, just for me to be looked at for a job???!"

  12. Dub, very well said. Radio is a sad medium at the moment. Instead of grabbing talented jocks who are very much available, they only grab what's in their own immediate interest. Very well said, and radio peeps need to be aware of your forum!

  13. Honestly His Voice is amazing... If he would have walked into our station said im homeless and i'll voice anything for 2 dollars, we would have put him on the payroll and i know hundreds of other mid-small market stations that would as well.

  14. I would love to add intelligent and thought provoking comments to this article, but it seems after 25 years of Radio all I am qualified to do is utilize every break in my show in Market "who gives a damn" to talk baout how wonderful our website and Twitter/Facebook pages are. I used to think I might one day earn my stripes and work my way up to a Major, but now.....that's why I went back to school.

  15. Never give up my friend...

    But when things slow down, it NEVER hurts to school yourself. I'm starting the University of Arizona next week as a junior. I applaud you!

  16. See I'm one of those people who probably would've hired him before. But if I had my way I'd be the crazy cat lady of radio and just hire everyone who was out of work. I spent too long "on the beach," to not feel for someone who's out of the racket at the moment.

    That being said, I worry for Homeless Ted that when the frenzy is over, these people aren't going to have his back anymore...

  17. Seems to me the message to talent is to make yourself famous! That means something more than having a great voice or doing a good show, but finding a way to connect with people. That's what makes you marketable and creates value. Ted found a way to do that, even if it was unintentional. Most air talent spend their time trying to be good DJs instead of important personalities. We need famous people who happen to have a radio show! The audience will find them and respond.

    Tracy Johnson

  18. Ya know, when I created this website, I noted that this wasn't just a negative board for old radio guys to "complain," but that maybe we can find some new ideas and solutions, and Tracy, your post is an example of just that (the idea/solution part!) Thank you!

  19. Yeah, radio programmers are crazy for wanting to hire a guy that millions of people already know and is top of mind.

    For shame radio! Why would you want to do that?

    Why would you want to have a voice who is set apart because he's well known, and because of his story, when you can have a voice who is far less well known and familiar to your audience?

    Come on man, not rocket science here. It's not just radio who embraced him, sports, television, etc... This isn't about radio. It's about famous.

  20. I think you missed the main point--and that was to encourage radio to go out and find MORE Ted Williams...famous or not, there's tons of GREAT voices and personalities out there who can bring good radio to the table.

  21. Same here , happy for him but dissapointed in the system. I am a musician and it floors me when people get famous because of something stupid (not saying Teds talent is stupid but the majority of viral sensations are truly undeserving and a joke at best) SO after working years on my craft and paying all those dues and selling over 35,000 cds on our own , we STILL can't get radio play or a record label support... SO , should we set up on the side of the road with a big sign ? Is that the only way to get people to pay attention anymore ? Do we have to challange Lynyrd Skynyrd to a cage match for someone to accept that Skynyrd isn't the only southern rock band around? Cuz one they aint and two , we'll kick thier ass , on stage and off... Congrats Ted , play my record man!


    RamblerGang dot com

  22. No, I don't think I missed the point.

    The point is that being a great radio personality wasn't what they were after. They were just looking to be part of a big story.

    Just like the Today Show.

    Just like the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    It's not hard to find guys with a good voice. It his hard to find guys with a good voice who have a great story and 10 million youtube views.

    Out of work radio people should work harder on having more than just a story that says "I have a great voice on the radio."

    That's not what they were chasing.

  23. I'm nobody special, I'm a college drop out with a dream of being in radio, I've done student radio and internships, but I can't catch this guy's luck, not even my friend can who's a recent college grad!

  24. Hey Daniel ARE special...all you have to do is find your voice, your point of view and figure out how to package and present it....and with so many tools at your disposal (online, mobile, video, blogs, etc), there's really no reason you can't create your own future. Don't sit around and wait to be discovered. Figure out what unique content you have to offer and make your future.

  25. What Guy said!

    Great point, Tracy...

  26. I could not have said this better. I knew as a young boy that I wanted to do radio. I would listen to "Hot 103 Jamz" out of Kansas City, Missouri. I got my first shot at a station in Topeka, Kansas at the age of 16. I fell asleep on the board and got fired, but I kept pushing on. I had a couple of opportunities arise after that, including an opportunity to design and program a radio station in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which might I add is currently the market leading CHR. I left there for Omaha. After Omaha, I got into some FEDERAL LEGAL TROUBLE. Now, do you think that if I held a sign up that said "EX-CON NEEDS WORK," I would have had anyone bite on that? I'm happy for Ted Williams, but sad that even the guys that don't have a criminal wrap can't even get a job. Sheeeeeesh!