John Schuster

Talk radio in Tucson is filled with a smorgasbord of paid programming, referred to as brokered shows. Hosts pay for the air time, and in exchange cut a deal with the station to sell advertising in an effort to make back their costs. 

Generally speaking, this is the reason there’s such a hodge-podge of programming during the weekends. The brokered shows on weekdays generally stick close to the way a station is programmed—you’ll pay for political/current events driven talk on a station geared toward politics and current events, which is what hosts like John C. Scott (KEVT 1210 AM) and Bill Buckmaster (KVOI 1030 AM) do—but on Saturdays and Sundays, anything goes. If the staff at a computer store wants to host a show, pony up the coin and the station will try to find a slot. Same holds true for a real estate show, a show with a focus on veterans, even a program dedicated to Tucson’s restaurant scene.

Matt Russell’s On the Menu Live! has established itself as one of the more successful brokered programs in the market, and one of those reasons is the time slot: Saturday afternoons at 4, just when folks are gearing up to consider evening eating options. The success of the program has a lot to do with the time it airs, and Russell’s former host, AM 790 KNST, didn’t much care about what popularity and following the program might have had. It cared about the bottom line, and another suitor with deeper pockets really liked that time slot as well.

“They were approached by a guy who does a financial show who was very attracted to the Saturday at 4 p.m. slot, so attracted to that slot that he had a whole lot more money for that hour than I did, and they decided to do it,” Russell said. “(KNST was) looking for ways to keep me with iheartmedia (formerly Clear Channel, the conglomerate the owns KNST), but the dates and times are critical to the success of the show. I cover the culinary and cocktail scene, and there are days and times that work for that content and days and times that don’t. The inventory they had available—Sunday morning, Sunday night—just didn’t fit in with the weekend happy hour backdrop against which I broadcast.”

But it didn’t mean Russell was out of options. Part of building a popular show, not to mention being a client who pays on time and brings money into a station, is a welcome combination for other radio outlets. Russell hardly missed a beat as he transitioned the program to KEVT AM 1210.

“I decided to go with Power Talk 1210 because I’m really attracted to their spirit about local, and given the personality of my show and the kinds of content we like to cover, we’re very much a local-driven program,” said Russell, who also writes a column for Inside Tucson Business. “More often than not we’ll be interviewing local restaurateurs and independent restaurant owners. Being associated with Power Talk 1210 for us made perfect sense. I was able to maintain my day and time slot, which was very attractive because I have to migrate an audience from one station to the other, so that was very beneficial for us.”

Russell generally broadcasts On the Menu Live! from remote locations, meaning the show will originate from a specific restaurant that has been willing to pay for that service. It’s not a cheap expense to be the focus of a weekend afternoon program, but On the Menu’s reputation is such that Russell is booked with remotes well into April.

“We find the energy and potential in food and beverage, and those are the kinds of stories we like to tell,” Russell said. “We appreciate the opportunity to continue to do remotes. We’re booked out at least into mid-April. That tells us the marketplace is eager to hear the kinds of stories we tell, but the restaurateurs themselves have found a way to connect with customers through our broadcasts. It’s really encouraging for us.”

In addition to listening to On the Menu Live! during its weekly broadcast Saturdays at 4 on KEVT, Russell’s website, onthemenulive.com, has a link to a live streaming option and archive of other On the Menu broadcasts. The program is also available through the tunein app. 

 

“I get listener feedback from a number of people in Southern Arizona, but I am struck by how many listen to this program out of the market,” said Russell. “With our relationship with tunein, we’ve gotten calls from about 20 states and I got a message from a chef in Sydney who says he never misses one of our shows.”

 

Jackson adds to awards nomination tally

KIIM FM 99.5 afternoon drive host/Program Director Buzz Jackson is up for another country music award nomination, this one from the Academy of Country Music.

Jackson has been nominated for medium market personality of the year. He’s pretty much become a regular in the category. 

This year’s competition: Roger, Tom, Melissa, DJ Thee Trucker from WPCV/Lakeland, Fla.;  Cash And Carey (ooh, that one’s clever), KWEN/Tulsa; Steve Lundy, Gina Melton, KXKT/Omaha and the team of Scott Wynn and Sue Wilson from WQMX/Akron.

Awards are slated for April 19 in Dallas.