OnMedia: A pretty fair day for radio
It was a coincidence that I planned to drop by Phil Cianciola's podcast booth at the Wisconsin State Fair on Thursday, the day after his old radio show was rocked by big news.
I had to ask him first about Jonathan Green's Wednesday afternoon announcement that he was retiring from the afternoon shift at WTMJ-AM (620) at the end of the year. It's been nearly a year since Cianciola was axed from that very program.
Not surprisingly, Cianciola didn't have much to say about that.
"I just try to stay focused on my product and that's what I've done since the day I walked out of that door for the last time," he told me.
Would he be interested in going back to WTMJ?
"I don't waste my time on silly speculation, That's like saying if Brett Favre would come back to quarterback the Packers, would they take him? I've got to focus on the real world, the real world right now is all about the Philcast."
That's the podcast he launched last fall and that he's sustained, daily, ever since, producing 200 daily shows. Cianciola's the only professional Milwaukee broadcast going that independent route. For the record, he's a free-agent, although OnMilwaukee.com hosts his daily podcast.
Cianciola took his Philcast to a different level opening day of the fair, setting up in a spot near the stage at Rupena's, which is his host.
"As I call it: almost live, almost happening, the Phil-Fair-cast," he said.
He's already been asked to come back to do another day, although it's not clear if that'll happen this year. Cianciola did a series of interviews Thursday, posting them throughout the day. The top guys at the Fair and the state Department of Tourism dropped by.
"I think we had 'em on before anybody else had 'em on here at our little podcast," Cianciola said. "I'm very proud of what I've accomplished over the how many months since you and I talked when we kicked this thing off last fall."
At the fair, he was joined by his usual Thursday podcast guest, former WKTI-FM afternoon voice, Jim "Lips" LaBelle.
Whether he comes back to fair this year, Cianciola will have daily reports -- featuring such insider information as where the best bathrooms are -- on the regular Philcast.
You can keep track of him at his website.
Meanwhile, over at the WTMJ booth: More conventional radio was underway at the WTMJ-AM (620) broadcast booth in the Journal building. Some power problems at State Fair Park had silenced Jeff Wagner's show earlier Thursday.
But things were up and running as Green was preparing to do his first show since his announcement the day before that the 66-year-old broadcaster was retiring at the end of the year.
"I knew that I would retire when I turned 66, or at least I thought I would. In fact, I have known since February, for sure, that I was gonna do it.," he told me. "But the only reason I made the announcement this early was State Fair and our connection with the audience here."
Green had an interesting response when I asked about the reaction to his announcement.
"I'm getting nice comments from people. It's actually a little bit less than what I got back in 1981 when I quit, and back then we didn't have e-mail. I had a habit back then of sending a postcard to anybody who sent me a letter, and I sent out 400 postcards out back then, and the station I went to back then, in Tampa, Florida, paid the postage on them."
Green assured me that his voice won't disappear completely from WTMJ when he retires.
"Yes, sponsors. I'm still working on how that'll work out. I have a lot invested in them, they in me and the station included. It's a three-party partnership now. If I were to just pull up and not do that, the sponsors would be disappointed and the station would lose a lot of revenue. I have good friends in all these sponsors, I have worked in partnerships with almost all these people that I've endorsed over the years.
"I drive their cars, sleep on their beds and wear their hearing aids -- and drink their Clausthaler."
You'll be able to follow Green on his website, which now features his announcement that he's retiring.
"You know, if I get to where I feel like I have to do a radio show again, I might be able to do it on the Internet from my basement."
Our State Fair: The interviews I did were a good excuse to get out to the first day of the Wisconsin State Fair, one of my favorite annual events. One of the few things I miss from my old newspaper days is the chance to spend a couple hours in the Journal Sentinel booth talking to readers.
And, no, I can't stop myself from humming this at least once a year. Luckily, I didn't do it yesterday on the Brown Deer Freeway Flyer heading to West Allis:
This just goes to show why so many of us left with Phil- Green is a crotchety old goat with zero class. Get over yourself old boy; there are more people out there counting down the days than there are bumming over your leaving.
In response to Green's "basement" comment, I would rather listen to a good guy that cares about people and his community doing a high quality showgrum in his basement, than some one that only cares about number 1 doing a show from radio city. Keep up the good work Phil!!!
What a a mean-spirited, egotistical sad last comment from a grumpy old man. I skirted the TMJ booth entirely at the fair, and sat with where the real talent was on Thursday, at The PhilCast showgrum at Rupena's. Ding!!! Mark in Whitewater
Scott, I felt the same way about his "basement" comment. Way to stay classy there, Jonathan.
As if we didn't already know Green was a bitter old man. Congratulations TMJ looks like you picked a real wiener...I mean winner. Keep up the good work Phil! We love listening to the showgrum. You rock!
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