This week, Paradis and Dr. Swain spoke in a one-on-one interview in Part 2.
Here is the transcript of that interview:
CP: How did you make the choice to pursue academia when making the choice regarding your career path?
CS: Well, I anticipated that I would become a University professor or choose academia for a career. When I did get into college, and the job market. I was only interested in being prepared to get a well paying job and at that time I had set my ambitions on becoming a store manager at a boutique in the mall. I just assumed that I would manage a store at a mall. Growing up as a child. I can tell you that of the 12 children, my mother would say that I was the most serious. I can remember always having this unresolved tension from a feeling that there was something I was supposed to do. I never felt I fit in with my family. I was very, very shy—so shy that I would literally forget how to speak. I could be wanting, needing, something, you know, asking for a piece of bread or something and I would just be frozen. Do you know that expression ‘cat got your tongue’.. I was like a live version of cat got your tongue because if there were times when I just couldn’t formulate words, but my mother said that, I was kind of skittish—that I used to hide behind in fear of people. I don’t know why but I felt as if I had been dropped out of space. Becoming a University professor and the person I am today, that’s not something that I sat down one day and said, ‘oh, I want to become a professor, I’m going to have this media platform.’ That was the furthest thing from my mind.’
CS: I was a work study student with 10 hours, but the regular employees would not show up and they would have a crisis, and I would work nights, or weekends or whenever they had a crisis. So, the director of the library created a full-time job for me nights and weekends 40 hours a week, and I hit that job while I was getting my Bachelor’s Degree. I went to school during the day and I went to the library at night to work circulation. It was a job where there were not a lot of people using the library, I was in the library, I could bring my children there and was surrounded by all those books. That’s when I first realized that I could write a book. I looked at all those books and I realized that if those people could write a book, then I could write a book, too.
CP: And not just one book, but many successful books. You also went on to be a guest analyst or panelist for network television news, networks on both sides of the political spectrum. How did that come to fruition?
CS: I spent my life being very very shy, having the Christian conversion experience in 1999. And I felt that God removed my fear of public speaking and He impressed on my mind He’d given me a message bigger than me and that I should focus on pleasing Him in the message which enabled me to speak. So then that’s when I started doing media, and here I am today. But it started back then, God just totally lifted the fear off me.
CP: Wow. What an incredible Journey and powerful story to be able to share, and inspire and empower others.
CS: God has empowered me in ways that I never imagined and he’s taken away my fear, not only public speaking, but my fear of death. That’s why I can be bold, is because I believe God has called me to speak truth. And that’s where but the consequences to myself. That’s why I can do what I do and I think ‘how did I end up at Princeton?’ or ‘how did these things happen?’ God put certain people in my path. All kinds of people. But, at the end of the day, I feel like God elevated me to the position, and gave me the platform. And I was not even called into the Kingdom to be saved and to be a follower of Jesus Christ, until after I had been tenured at Princeton, after I had won National prizes and after I had made a splash. Then He put into motion circumstances that led to my conversion. So, the people that want to discount me or call me all sorts of names, it’s a little bit more difficult because I had their Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, and they say ‘Oh, she used to be a great scholar’ but she lost her mind, I say that because they’re the ones that gave me the awards and the prizes in general.
CP: When did that transition from Democrat to becoming more conservative and ultimately Republican begin?
CS: When I became a Christian, I gradually became more conservative, because I was a Democrat when I had my conversion experience. But, as I grew in my faith, I became more and more conservative. As I became more conservative and I started speaking out, that’s when the political left came against me. So, I would not have been tenured, won prizes, or be who I am if I had been a Christian, publically, I believe, back during the time when I was working very hard, you know to make my mark.
CP: So it’s safe to say you’ve always valued hard work?
CS: I’ve always believed, you know, in America. I’ve always been proud to be an American and I always believed that you worked hard enough that you could overcome the circumstances of your birth, and I’ve never viewed myself as handicapped because black or female, or born in poverty; never have viewed those as handicaps. I think, had I seen myself as handicapped, maybe I would not have worked as hard.
CP: You certainly have led an incredible life. As far as your role now, what message is most important to share with other Americans and how do you go about delivering that message?
CS: I believe in what I’m doing in this mission, and I believe that the American people need to awaken. And that they need to realize that our Constitution is all we have and then we stray so far from it, American will not exist. And so, those are the things that really motivate me and propel me forward. I try not to attack people. But, I try not to be ugly.
CP: I know that you’re using your voice, more than ever, with your podcast and recently, how well-received the Prager U piece and interview on Candace Owens’ show were. There have been so many positive reactions and it seemed so genuinely enjoyable for both yourself Candace.
CS: That was the first time I had anything more than an extended conversation with her. The one released on January 11, ‘Let Me Teach You About Racism’ that one got 2.3 million views very quickly, within seven days, but it got stuck at 2.3 million, the last time I looked.
That video, with Candace has million views and if you total up all my Prager work, which includes my individual videos and interviews on Prager U and shows like Candace’s, close to about 70 million people have seen me at some point. I’m speaking about issues that a number of people think are important.
CP: And you are doing the podcast now, are you enjoyIng it?
CS: I do enjoy it. And the interview is a different time of years. I mean, I’m interviewing more young people. I’m going to be interviewing an actress, Samarie Armstrong, who was under fire a few months ago. She got in trouble because she stood up for America. But, I believe I’m making a difference through my podcast, and with my show conversation. And if I was on a network, I would be concerned about getting canceled, because I had offended someone. And so, I’m building my own brand, slowly. I’m in control of it. But of course, like Twitter, particularly, Facebook could take me off, YouTube could take me out. I’m on the other platforms. I’m very much aware that we live in a time where when you speak in truth, you’re going to offend people and there’s a cost to pay. But I’ve never been tempted to get off YouTube, Facebook or Twitter because they might take me off. I don’t want to just speak to people who agree with me. I think it’s more important to reach a broader audience and it’s okay if trolls follow me, and as long as they’re not attacking me, I will respond to them when I can. I just want the dialogue.
CP: Absolutely. The ability to have the conversations that people may disagree with but tactfully without attacking those who may have a differing opinion from yours. I did want to ask about the impact that Lou Dobbs and Don Imus, either deliberately or unknowingly, had on your professional journey with the media. One of the more pivotal moments having to do with Imus. Being that it was such a significant time in your career, I wanted to ask about your experience with his program and eventually, becoming a returning panelist on network news..
CS: I had met Lou Dobbs at Vanderbilt, maybe two or three weeks before the Imus story broke, about his comment about the women’s basketball team. At the time, I had a new book, this was 2007, it was on immigration. So, I was hoping that I would be Lou Dobbs’ show about to speak about my book, but when I got the phone call from his bookers, they said, ‘Mr. Dobbs wanted us to call you about the Don Imus story. And at the time, I had almost no television experience, when they asked me about the story, and what I said, it really went viral. I said that as a black woman, I was more offended by the rappers degrading women all the time, and actually felt like because they were doing it, that Imus felt like he could do the same thing. But, I believe I was the first person to draw parallels to the rappers and how they continually degraded women. After that, Lou Dobbs, himself, called me and he told me that he wanted me to be a regular and that he was going to give me a megaphone for my voice. And I eventually became a paid contributor to CNN Lou Dobbs. That lasted for a couple of years. I was totally inexperienced, but what I did say resonated with the public, and it got picked up and, and at that time, I drew attention to the culture of rappers how they degraded black women.
CS: I was totally inexperienced at the time and I think that, you know, TV will stand by and want you to go fast, fast, fast. But more recently, I’ve been on some shows where you have more time to develop more challenging ideas. But, I don’t just want to spout off, I really want to think about what I’m saying and what it means. But, I also believe, if I have this platform, there are things that need to be spoken. What I say resonates with people, because some of them may have had the same thoughts, but they didn’t know how to express it. And so when I say it, then that’s like, it’s an aha moment for a lot of people and it crystallizes what other people feel and what they’re thinking. A lot of times, it’s not the deep gray and things I’m saying it’s more of, I can look at something that everyone’s been looking at, and I can call it out for what it is, and then they recognize that I’m right and that resonates with them.
CP: I mean, that sounds like it’s your gift?
CS: I do believe I have a prophetic gifting. I’m able to see things before other people. So I recognize that about myself. But I know that God gave me this platform, and then I’m answering the call to speak and not worrying about the consequences, because if I’m worried about the consequences. So, I have to trust the process. I have had a few opportunities. I believe that if there’s something I’m supposed to speak on, the opportunities will come.
CP: Well, that groundedness has to provide a lot of comfort, because that is not exactly the norm in this industry. It is what makes you so stand out so much and sparkle because you do genuinely think about everything. Words have repercussions and consequences and there are messages that you don’t want that attached to your name. I think a lot of people fail to be deliberate with their words or comprehend the magnitude of what they do say.
CS: I think when a person like me has a platform, they have a responsibility to think about the implications of what they want to do and say, and this weighs on me with the media. There are some books I need to write and I want to have a more lasting impact. For me, I’m always thinking ‘okay, how can I balance what I’m doing?’ I’m currently doing my podcast, my internet TV show and I do think about radio. But, when it comes to meeting with people, and the media interviews and all these things like that, I need to carve out time that I can write, I can rest, I can exercise. I feel like my life is not always as balanced as it could be and should be. So, I’m approaching the season where I want to be able to spend more time writing, thinking and maybe relaxing.
CP: Well you’ve definitely been busy and I appreciate you giving me so much of your valuable time. I’m just going to wrap it up with a little bit of word association. So, just share the first word that comes to mind when you hear said person’s name. I can’t imagine anybody better for us to kick it off with than Candace Owens.
CP: Rush Limbaugh?
CP: Don Imus?
CP: Steve Bannon?
CP: Mike Huckabee?
CP: President Trump?
CP: Lou Dobbs?
CP: Laura Ingram?
CP: And for yourself, what would you like people to associate Dr. Carol Swain with?
CS: I think mature, speaker, transparency. I tend to be very transparent. When people say, ‘oh, you should never do this’ or ‘you should never let people know what you’re thinking..’ I believe in transparency. I want to be authentic. I want to be real. I want to be transparent. My decision to wear my hair naturally, after many years of straightening my hair and wearing wigs and weaves. I feel like to be authentic, you have to be who you are—that includes how you look.
I’m just trying to reach people using as many platforms as possible. And people can follow me as a supporter on Facebook, and Twitter and now TikTok.
CP: I will be sure to include all of the ways to follow your work at the conclusion of the interview. Are there any other projects you’ve been working on?
CS: Everything is on the website BeThePeopleNews.com. Recently, my show Conversations with Dr. Carol Swain, which is that intimate, huge Internet TV show kind of setting, has been made available as a podcast, so people that want to listen, can through any one of the platforms.
I have so many new things going on. But it’s all about communicating and getting it out. Using my voices and doing the things I believe God has called me to do. I do know that along the way, I may be shut down, but I will just keep going until it happens.
CP: Well, I love your attitude. It’s so infectious. It makes me feel like I can, you know, go out and change the world after my conversation with Dr. Carol Swain.
CS: I mean, that’s what I want to do. I love that this is happening. People have approached me about running for office. I say that I’ve had the conversation but I think about if through my various platforms, which includes my YouTube videos, you can reach young people and excite them and they can go out and change the world. I can have a great impact moment motivating people and equipping them, and maybe then, I can become a member of Congress. But if you think about my life and the impact it’s going to have, I think I can reach more people this way.
CP: Absolutely, kind of like Carol Swain’s Master Class. Thank you so very much for your time.
Follow Carol Swain on Twitter at @CarolMSwain , on Facebook, YouTube with Prager U and Dr. Carol M. Swain : Be The People News, her podcasts Be The People and Conversations with Dr. Carol Swain all of which can be located on the website BeThePeopleNews.com. And make sure to check out her brand new Tik Tok account too!
Project Veritas Fights Back
Project Veritas filed a lawsuit against the New York Times late last year, and Sean Hannity invited O’Keefe on his Friday radio program to share the details of recent developments.
James O’Keefe leads perhaps the most successful undercover journalism operation in the country today, Project Veritas. Time and time again, he and his group have done the job most in the media no longer want to do – holding those in power accountable and uncovering the truth that these entities hide from the public.
It is true that many Americans feel that today’s mainstream media serves as little more than an advocacy appendage of the liberal left. O’Keefe and his supporters, meanwhile, believe it is his organization that does the job the media no longer cares to do.
Project Veritas filed a lawsuit against the New York Times late last year, and Sean Hannity invited O’Keefe on his Friday radio program to share the details of recent developments.
Last month, a New York judge refused to dismiss the suit, implying that it had “substantial basis in law to proceed.” The move in no way foreshadows the suit’s ultimate outcome, but it was such a big development in favor of Project Veritas that former president Donald Trump personally congratulated O’Keefe in a video recorded at Mar-a-Lago.
Fox News reported online in March that the “judge denied the paper’s motion to dismiss the suit by the right-wing guerilla news outlet over the Times’ portrayal of Project Veritas’ reporting on alleged voter fraud in the congressional district represented by Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. last fall. Times reporters Maggie Astor and Tiffany Hsu described Project Veritas’ reporting as “deceptive,” “false,” and “with no verifiable evidence.” Fox News also quoted the judge as saying, “The facts submitted by Veritas could indicate more than standard, garden variety media bias and support a plausible inference of actual malice.”
“James O’Keefe comes under constant, never-ending, non-stop fire. There have been more lawsuits, attempts to silence, cancel, shut down his operation,” Sean Hannity pointed out on his radio program last week. “The untold story here is that every single time that these accusations are made against his organization, or they’ve tried to take Project Veritas to court, that’s just another tactic of trying to silence people…they’ve won. They’ve never once lost a lawsuit against them.”
Hannity also mentioned the high price O’Keefe has paid so far to fight back in this particular battle against the well known newspaper.
“Yes it costs a lot of money, it’s cost us a quarter million dollars to get to this phase of the litigation,” O’Keefe said. “We’ve taken on the New York Times and their army of lawyers and we’ve won this historic motion in the State of New York Supreme Court. This judge, Sean, this is like one of the first times ever, one of the few plaintiffs since the 1960’s, unlike the Sarah Palin case, she sued the New York Times over the Op-Ed page. We sued the New York Times over a news article in the A Section, Sean, where they called our voter fraud videos deceptive. They said that we used unnamed sources, which we did not. They said we had no evidence. We did have evidence.”
Hannity has long been a public supporter of Project Veritas, often promoting their work and sharing their reporting on both radio and television. A frequent critic of the mainstream media, for both their overt and covert liberal bias, Hannity offered O’Keefe a chance to air his side of this confrontation.
“The judge in this historic 16-page order has said that it was the New York Times that acted deceptively. That they used misinformation by putting their opinions in the news article.” said O’Keefe.
Ironically, the decision in New York last month came the same week a federal judge said “we are very close to one-party control” of the media.
The lawsuit will now proceed with discovery and depositions, and time will tell where the facts lead.
Sean Hannity will undoubtedly keep us posted.
CNN Rebounds To Edge FOX News In The Ratings
“CNN edged FOX News with 25-54 viewers, due to all-day coverage of the April 2nd car ramming attack at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. that led to one police officer dead as well as the suspect.”
Photo courtesy of CNN
CNN snapped Fox News Channel’s three-week winning streak in the cable news universe in the key adults 25-54 demographic in total day (6 a.m. to 5:59 a.m.). This week, according to Nielsen Media Research, CNN (210,000 viewers aged 25-54) edged out FNC (204,000), due to all-day coverage of the Apr. 2 breaking news of a car ramming attack at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. that led to one police officer dead as well as the suspect.
CNN was the top cable news outlet that afternoon, from the moment news had broke within the 1 p.m. ET hour thru to 4 p.m. ET (the following figures based on total viewers and adults 25-54):
CNN: 1.356 million, 303,000 adults 25-54
Fox News: 1.305 million, 225,000 adults 25-54
MSNBC: 1.177 million, 164,000 adults 25-54
CNN: 1.703 million, 392,000 adults 25-54
Fox News: 1.509 million, 255,000 adults 25-54
MSNBC: 1.414 million, 221,000 adults 25-54
CNN: 1.606 million, 400,000 adults 25-54
Fox News: 1.483 million, 277,000 adults 25-54
MSNBC: 1.473 million, 222,000 adults 25-54
All three cable news networks experienced growth from the prior Friday (Mar. 26) within the same 1-4 p.m. time slot. CNN gained 72 percent (1.56 million, from 0.90 million), MSNBC grew 44 percent (1.35 million, from 0.94 million) and Fox News increased 21 percent (1.43 million, from 1.18 million).
MSNBC (1.93 million) — which usually airs their popular Nicolle Wallace program “Deadline: White House” — surpassed CNN (1.42 million average) at 4-6 p.m.; Fox News (with its popular discussion panel program “The Five”) led all of cable news at 5-6 p.m. with 2.59 million viewers. Among adults 25-54, though, CNN was tops in the 4-6 p.m. slot with 342,000 viewers within the demo; Fox News averaged 295,000 and MSNBC 249,000.
It was just the second week within the past six weeks CNN led all cable news outlets among adults 25-54. Fox News had led in the other four weeks.
For the entire week, concluding Apr. 4, Fox News Channel was tops of all cable networks. While prime time has been key to the network’s lead, their morning programming has also led their cable news competition. “FOX & Friends”, which airs weekdays from 6-9 a.m. ET, delivered 1.2 million viewers and 219,000 in the 25-54 demo for Mar. 29-Apr. 2, topping CNN’s “New Day” and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” across both categories and extending the program’s streak over MSNBC — the previous morning leader from Election Day 2020 thru Feb. 2021 — for six consecutive weeks in the demo and two weeks in total viewers.
Here are the cable news averages for Mar. 29-Apr. 4, 2021 — the total viewer figures were cable’s three best marks for the week in total day:
<strong>Total Day (Mar. 29-Apr. 4 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)</strong>
- Fox News Channel: 1.198 million viewers; 204000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 1.019 million viewers; 149,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 0.816 million viewers; 210,000 adults 25-54
<strong>Prime Time (Mar. 29-Apr. 3 @ 8-11 p.m.; Apr. 4 @ 7-11 p.m.)</strong>
- Fox News Channel: 2.186 million viewers; 358,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 1.639 million viewers; 237,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 1.023 million viewers; 275,000 adults 25-54
Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top CNN program and its associated rank) in total viewers:
1. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Wed. 3/31/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.251 million viewers
2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 3/31/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.134 million viewers
3. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Thu. 4/1/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.082 million viewers
4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 3/29/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.000 million viewers
5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 3/30/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.989 million viewers
6. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 4/1/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.926 million viewers
7. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Tue. 3/30/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.897 million viewers
8. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 3/30/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.821 million viewers
9. Hannity (FOXNC, Mon. 3/29/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.805 million viewers
10. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 3/29/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.769 million viewers
44. CNN Newsroom (CNN, Fri. 4/2/2021 2:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.703 million viewers
Top 10 cable news programs (and the top CNN program and its associated rank) among adults 25-54:
1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 3/31/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.515 million adults 25-54
2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 4/1/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.513 million adults 25-54
3. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 3/30/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.506 million adults 25-54
4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 3/29/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.501 million adults 25-54
5. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Wed. 3/31/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.494 million adults 25-54
6. Hannity (FOXNC, Mon. 3/29/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.486 million adults 25-54
7. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Thu. 4/1/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.474 million adults 25-54
8. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Tue. 3/30/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.460 million adults 25-54
9. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 3/30/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.451 million adults 25-54
10. Hannity (FOXNC, Thu. 4/1/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.445 million adults 25-54
14. Cuomo Prime Time (CNN, Thu. 4/1/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.412 million adults 25-54
Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research
Scott Masteller’s Sports Radio Days Prepared Him For News Talk
“So many careers have been damaged by going down the road and taking the wrong turn. I think it’s the job of a program director to be looking out for their talent and helping them navigate through all of these challenges that are taking place.”
Scott Masteller has undoubtedly been one of the most fundamental and profound power players in the News Talk/Sports format during his significantly extraordinary career. Masteller has shaped talent, and influenced programming and implemented strategies nationwide while still maintaining pristine relationships within the business. One of his best qualities though goes beyond the actual radio X’s and O’s. It’s his willingness find time to speak and offer advice to those who he’d crossed paths with during his broadcasting journey. Masteller’s career has included a number of memorable stops. The latest one, which he’s been at for the past six years, involves programming and leading Baltimore’s historic heritage station WBAL. Scott and I caught up to reflect on his career and talk about some of the biggest challenges facing the radio business today.
Chrissy Paradis: What convinced you to pursue a career in radio and broadcasting?
Scott Masteller: It started when I was in college. I met a guy who was involved in the college radio station. He invited me to come down and check out the station, and I pretty much fell in love with the whole idea of being on the radio. I was a jock playing music and the more I would do, the more I got interested in it. Then, I got my first on-air job at a small station in Williamsport, Pennsylvania and I was actually really happy there for a long time. As things evolved, other opportunities presented themselves and that started me on my journey traveling across the country to be more involved in broadcasting.
CP: And that saw you shift from playing music to working in two of the more challenging formats – sports and news talk. Those formats involve being on-mic for 40-50 minutes an hour. You chose to direct your focus behind the scenes, working in programming with a number of local stations. Eventually the call came though to move to Bristol, CT to serve as SVP of ESPN Radio where you’d have a hand in shaping the network’s content and working with affiliates across the country. How did that opportunity manifest itself?
SM: I was on-air earlier in my career, and I modeled them. A lot of people don’t know this, I did minor league baseball for five seasons, three of which, I was in Wichita, Kansas. I wasn’t making any money and there was an opportunity to go to a station in Lexington, Kentucky where I became a host and play-by-play guy and the Program Director, so from that point on, everywhere I went, I was on air and the program director. From Kentucky, I went to Salt Lake City, from there I went to Portland, Oregon where I spent five years. About two years in, they felt that I could be more effective as a program director without an on-air role. At first I fought it, because I loved being on the air, but I had been doing more of the part-time stuff and focusing more on strategy and coaching—giving feedback, developing balance, and at the same time I was going to conferences, meeting people and networking. I became aware of an opportunity in Dallas, Texas. ESPN was putting an owned and operated station on the air, and I love challenges, especially building and fixing things. I was able to secure that position and so I went to Dallas. I ran ESPN 103.3 for five years, and we did some good stuff. Then after that run, I was asked to move to Bristol to become the Senior Director of Content, and oversee all the studio programming for the ESPN Radio Network.
I was there for quite a while, for about eight years. From there, it just kind of evolved. But through that process, I met a lot of people that I really respect. People that mentored me, gave me great feedback with my ideas, and helped me learn the business, so to speak. I’ve had a pretty good run, and been fortunate to find the next job when I wasn’t looking. I just tried to do a good job where I was, and from that, other opportunities presented themselves.
CP: You mentioned having an opportunity to coach, work with and develop shows and talent who have pretty recognizable names in the industry. What was the most pivotal project that you worked on that you feel has played a significant role in developing your skill set?
SM: Well, the first big town I worked in was in Portland, Oregon, and before he became a network megastar Colin Cowherd was the midday host at the sports station I managed KFFX. I got to know him, and learn about him and he just was tremendous to work with. To work with such amazing talent even early on, helped me learn about what it’s like managing high profile personalities.
When I went to Dallas, one of the best shows I was ever associated with was led by the longtime sports columnist and talk show host in the market, Randy Galloway. Randy was well known for his coverage of the Cowboys, very opinionated. We built the show around him, with some players to support him. I feel that’s one of the best shows that I was ever part of. Randy was awesome at what he did. He’s retired now, but I do stay in touch with him and found him to be tremendous.
Then when I went to Bristol—so many talent, but once again, Colin was there and I got to watch him, and the way he prepped and executed his show. His prep process is just so impressive. I walked in early in the morning, and he would be in there with his production team figuring out what he’s going to do. The best talent, make it easy because they’re so dedicated to being great.
And when I left ESPN, I decided to go a different direction. I went into news and news talk, where I’m at now at WBAL, which is a heritage radio station. In the last year, we put together a new morning show where we took two of our highest profile talent, Ben Clifford Mitchell IV ( he goes by C4) and Brian Nieman. It may be one of the top two or three shows I’ve ever worked with because they have incredible chemistry and they want to get better every day.
The great talent are always trying to make themselves better. They’re never satisfied with where they’re at and when you look at Mike and Mike and the success they had, they were always focused on getting better. They weren’t waiting for feedback from somebody else to get better, they were focused on doing it themselves. That’s really what makes the job for a programmer kind of easy, if you have those kinds of people to work with.
CP: There’s definitely no shortage of opinion in spoken word whether it be news or sports. Some are very comfortable speaking their minds and not worrying about the potential consequences, and others may toe the line whether it’s due to fear or not wanting to earn the wrath of the audience. The mic, as you know, can be a dangerous place sometimes. How do you handle that with your staff?
SM: It has proven to be even more dangerous in 2021 than anytime previously. We spend a lot of time with our talent every day, making sure that everybody has a smart game plan for what they’re going to do on the air. You’ve seen so many careers damaged by going down the road and taking the wrong turn because of the scrutiny that everything is under right now. I think it’s the job of a program director, to be looking out for their talent and helping them navigate through all of these challenges that are taking place. That allows them to go in and create great content that people will want to listen to. But, things you could do on the air, two years ago, you may not be able to do today, just because the landscape has changed.
CP: In terms of working in news-talk with WBAL—how did you feel the experience of working in sports prepared you for what felt like a natural, effortless transition? After working with these high profile hosts and covering national stories, how did that play a role in your evolution into becoming a news talk programmer?
SM: The one thing ESPN prepared me for that they had a paid strategy in terms of how they integrate news content with personality oriented content. The work that takes place there, in terms of the news division of ESPN, you have to have so many sources, to put a story out. You have to have a smart strategic plan for what you’re going to do, and understand that there are certain times the story is bigger than anything that’s going out over the air; that all plays into what takes place at a station like WBAL. The collaboration at our station between our news department and our programming department, I believe is the secret sauce that builds to the success of our radio station.
I meet every day with Jeff Wade, our news director, and we’re always strategizing on what the big stories are, how many press conferences we’re going to carry and then how we are going to react to those press conferences—it’s a much different approach than you might see at some other radio stations, because of the fact that our company is committed to news content. Basically, we’re part of a television company—that plays into all of our strategies on a regular basis.
I think that’s one of the biggest strengths that we have, that we can react to the news stories, while still evolving and developing topics, which still, to this day, I believe for any talk show host, the topics are what will make or break you; you pick the right topic, you’ll get quarter hours. You pick the wrong topic, you’ll lose.
CP: There’s one thing that you’ve been lucky enough to learn, it’s that authenticity is essential. Having transparency on the air, it’s palpable. And there’s a strong bond that you can build with your listeners through it. What elements do you see as the most integral part of tackling topics on the air; the host’s opinion, the passion, or the feeling of honestly connecting with the listeners?
SM: I think it’s a combination of all those elements. One of the words I use a lot with talent is tone and how you present your ideas on the air. You have to be real. You can’t be fake. The audience is so much smarter than some talent realize, so if you go down a path, and it’s not real and genuine, the consumer will see right through that. Usually when that happens, they quit and go elsewhere. The consumer holds all the power now because there’s such a saturation of platforms, devices, and content selections that your content has to stand out every day. The host cannot assume that the listener knows, you have to explain it to them.
I think that’s a big part of the process.
The other thing, which has always been part of what I believed in is that you can’t be mean spirited. You can be passionate, you can be opinionated—you can show that emotion on the air, but it’s got to be real. Because if you’re not real, they’re not going to stay and listen.
CP: As you’ve developed your philosophy for managing and working with talent, what is the best advice you could give somebody that you’ve benefited from yourself? A tried and true Masteller-tested method.
SM: One, when a talent asks you, did you hear my segment on such and such today? Be honest with them. If you did hear it, tell them you heard it and tell them what you think. If you didn’t hear it, say I’m sorry, I missed it. I’ll pull the audio and then give you some feedback. But the more you can listen to what they’re doing, that’s what talent want feedback on and what do you think of that segment? They’ll say ‘was I okay in that interview? or ‘was I over the top or where I need to be?’ I think that’s critical.
Also, the program director needs to be part of a support system for the talent. I’ve always had this thing ever since I was a program director—I don’t like to go in the studio when somebody is on the air. I don’t like to call the hotline to the studio unless I really, really have to. Why? Because when I was an on-air talent, there’s nothing that I was more nervous about, then when a program director would come in and stand behind me while I’m doing my show. And I’d be thinking, ‘you know, what, if you’ve got something to say, I’ll listen to you and I want the feedback, but can you wait until I’m off the stage?’
I believe it’s important that the talent knows you’re in his or her corner, to help them get better and to succeed. Nothing gets me more excited than when I see a talent grow to the next level, get a great rating book, and are able to showcase their skills.
It’s also important to know when to have the conversation with the talent and when to let them be and wait. Choosing wrong may impact them.
CP: 2020 has been such an unprecedented year and it’s thrown a lot of curveballs to the industry, but especially the news talk format. What did you do to adjust your station to the dynamics at hand with coverage of the pandemic? Was it more about adapting and reacting or deliberately planning?
SM: From the beginning of the pandemic, we had numerous meetings on how we were going to maintain our quality and how we were going to take things to the next level. The thing about WBAL is we’ve got talk shows, we’ve got news, local news and we produce the Baltimore Ravens in the National Football League, and we actually oversee the production of the games; so we had to figure all that out.
It was kind of starting to come together as we would go because we’ve got really smart people, amazing people that know what’s going on. We all worked collaboratively together and figured that out. Once we got to that place, where we were good, then it was about just continuing to produce content like we normally do. That’s what we’ve really tried to do and even today, we’re still working primarily remotely, but the listener gets the same quality product they’ve always got—that’s what our goal is.
CP: What is your proudest moment (or one of the proudest moments) of your career thus far?
SM: One of my proudest moments was having the confidence to transition from sports to news talk, and being able to get the job at WBAL in Baltimore. It’s a heritage radio station with a tremendous history and I respect the heritage of what that station is all about. While at the same time we’ve done some really good stuff to build it to a higher level. When I left ESPN, I thought I’d stay in sports forever, but this came up, and I saw how important this station is. I’ve had as much fun working for WBAL as anywhere I’ve ever been.
CP: You’ve been significantly helpful to me in helping me find my voice, encouraging me to pursue the career goals and aspirations I had for myself, understanding that they in fact were attainable, and recognizing how essential authenticity is in this industry. I feel very lucky to have learned this valuable information so early in my career and carry it with me as I venture forward. Which mentors/mentor helped shape you, and gave you that confidence to embark on the amazing journey that’s been your career?
SM: I was fortunate that my one uncle, Bob Masteller, was an amazing mentor to me, because my dad passed early. He would always say, ‘Scott, you need to have a board of directors!’
So, there were several people, some from the business, some from outside the business. My wife, Carol. And a couple of people in the industry, Bruce Gilbert at Cumulus, Rick Scott, the well known sports consultant and then different GM’s that I’ve worked with that have really made an impact on me over the years.
It’s a collection of all those voices, and we don’t always agree, but that’s healthy, and I continue to call on all of them today to help me navigate through different challenges. The more that you can have other people who you trust; that to me is a really good thing.
CP: What would be your advice for someone who is looking to begin their career or grow their career in the radio industry?
SM: It’s just real simple: network, network, network. And then network some more! The more people you can meet, the more relationships you build. And then, when you find somebody you can trust, try to cement that relationship, so it becomes more than just somebody you can connect with on LinkedIn, someone you can reach out to when you have questions, thoughts or ideas.
Those relationships are the key to being able to be successful. The more you can get to know different people, and it may be someone you meet today, that may not do anything for you for five years, but at some point, you may cross paths and that person’s aware of something.. It’s just about meeting different people and that can help you find your voice.