Open Mic

Open Mic

"Blogosphere" boom launches Pundit Review hosts into global talk radio

By Gerry Boyle '78 | Photos by Tracy Powell


 
Said Jackson, "We bring the best of the blogosphere to your radio.—

That was the pitch, delivered after they finagled their way into a function attended by the owner of the station, WBIX. He passed them on to the program director. "He said, 'I'll give you a show on weekends.' We were like, 'Awesome!'— Whalen said. "And then he says, 'You have to sell your own commercial time.'—

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Kevin Whalen ‰92
Photo by Tracy Powell
So they did. Except they sold it to themselves, paying their way onto the air: 13 weeks for $5,200. "That was the only way two thirty-five-year-old guys could walk off the street and get started,— Whalen said.

That was their first break. Dan Rather provided the second. It was Rather who broke the story about evidence of President Bush's alleged no-show National Guard career. That story was retracted after documents associated with it were found to have been faked by a source. The first to discredit the piece? A blogger.

"We went from nobody knowing what a blog was,— Jackson said, "to guys we interviewed being on the cover of Time magazine. It was perfect.—

The show became enough of a hit that the station wanted to continue, but the station owner ran into financial troubles and the Pundit Review pair decided to move on. With the help of a producer, Whalen and Jackson put together a three-minute highlight tape. They packaged it in a cardboard cube with the pitch printed on its sides, and Jackson's wife, Anne, (both Pundit Reviewers are married with children) hand delivered it to WRKO, the biggest talk-radio station in the Boston market. The box landed on a Thursday. With another stroke of good luck (Newsweek retracting its story about desecration of the Koran; WRKO pulling a Newsweek radio show from Sunday nights), Whalen and Jackson were on.

The idea, said WRKO Executive Producer Tom Shattuck, was to give Pundit Review a one-night shot, like a TV pilot. "They were just great,— Shattuck said. "A lot of times with broadcasters, it's just a matter of filling the air. These guys have so much ammunition at the ready because they're rabidly politically minded anyway. If you care about the subject matter, you've got a library of conversation.—

And with the show's connection to the blogosphere, a world of people with whom to converse.

While the radio's signal reaches a chunk of New England, its streaming live audio finds listeners via the Internet. To get the word out, Whalen does a Web search (technorati.com) prior to each show and sends out as many as 100 e-mails promoting the week's guest and Pundit Review to sites where that guest's blog has been linked. Michael Yon's site (michaelyon.blogspot.com) alone gets an estimated 200,000 visits per day, and all of those people will see notice of his upcoming Pundit Review appearance. "It works like a charm,— Whalen said.
 
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