Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Miami's Neil Rogers

Neil Rogers.....Miami (repost)

      There was only ONE Uncle Neil....and for many years in Miami radio he was the king .
      Neil would be my third choice as top radio personality behind Gary Dee in Cleveland and Wally Phillips in Chicago.
      Before we go on let me remind you that these are my personal choices...and I’m sure many of you will disagree but it’s my life and my blog so let it be.  But you are free to comment.
      Neil became my best friend.
      We worked at three Miami stations together, WNUS...WINZ...and WIOD.
      At WNUS Neil did issue talk.....he was good at that but nothing special.  During the Cuban invasion from the Mariel boatlift we both spoke out against it.     We had patrol cars parked in the station lot to detract any crazy gun play but it was a tough time.  The Mayor of Miami blasted us and called me the “Joseph Gobbles” of Miami.  
      The tension became unbearable and I took a job at WWDB-FM in Philadelphia to get away from it.  
      Neil hung in and eventually moved to WINZ and that’s where he blossomed into a spectacular talk host with a unique approach.  
      Call it the “sweet & low” war of words against the habits of the elderly.  He made fun of the old folks incessantly every hour of his show.  
      This lambasting caught on to the point that younger and younger listeners began to tune in...and some made comedy material which Neil encouraged.  He was well into this when WINZ needed a talk host to follow his craziness.  He recommended me and after four years in Philly (and one year on Phoenix at KFYI with Tom Lykis...more on him later) I made the move back to Miami.
      I had not heard Neil’s crazy new war of words with the old folks.
I started talking issues the first day on the air...but that night we went out to dinner (the first of many times) and he said “what do you want to talk about that crap for...just come in and have fun...like I do!
      I listened to him closely and decided he was right.  He had touched a nerve... something that nobody would talk about in public...and turned it into huge ratings success.  He was already number one in most demos even with younger listeners and before we would be finished in a couple of years 10 am until 6 pm we would be number one in ALL demos INCLUDING TEENS!
      That’s correct...no AM stations in the entire nation were number one in teens but WINZ-AM was...beating every FM rock station in Miami.  Can you imagine having more high schoolers listening to your talk show than those listening to rock on FM!  
       It took me about a week but I also found my “thing”.  
      Miami Vice was shooting on the streets of Miami...the hottest tv show on the air and I was big on Miami Vice. I rolled with that...telling listeners the shooting location each day where they could see  Don Johnson and the rest in action.  
      Neil hated that show and started to rib me incessantly which sent my ratings skyrocketing and since I liked Miami Vice...they seemed to like me.  They called and asked me not to tell where they were shooting...the crowds were getting too big and I made a deal...bring some of the cast for a studio show and I’ll do that. 
      The main guy to agree was the Captain...Edward James Olmos and he and Michael Talbott and Charlie Barnett (Noogie) sat with me for the whole three hours and Don Johnson called in talk chat with us.
      But Neil was the guy.  A lot of folks continued to talk and push Howard Stern...but I called Stern’s agent one day and told him Neil Rogers was head over heels better than Stern’s sex talk.  I wanted Neil to go national but it didn’t happen.
      Later in this blog I’ll deal with Neil and our success in getting thousands to tune in everyday.
      But he was certainly on top and doing something nobody had ever done before.  Winning the war with the Sweet & Low gang!




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