10 Questions with ... Brian Whitman
December 1, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Voices for the Rick Dees show, KIIS-FM/Los Angeles, 1991-2005; KKBH/San Diego, 1995; KGB/San Diego, 1996-97; WABC/New York, 1997-2007; WPLJ/New York, 1997-98 (interim); KABC/Los Angeles, 1998-2005; KLSX/Los Angeles, 2005-2008; KRLA (AM 870 The Answer)/Los Angeles, 2012-present.
1. Since we last talked, you've become an integral part of a morning show on a station on which you're "the liberal" among staunch conservatives. Is that how you see your role, or is it more nuanced than that? How do you define what your role is on the show?
My role on the Morning Answer is the role of anchor and bus driver. My talented co-hosts (Ben Shapiro and Elisha Krauss) depend on my 30-plus years of running a radio show. I drive the bus at the same time I "drive the bus" -- fire audio, drops, etc. -- and offer counterpoints to the conservative arguments as an admitted liberal - THE ONLY ONE SALEM EMPLOYS!
2. Despite your (still!) relative youth, you've been in talk radio for years, and you've done all kinds of talk, from "guy talk" at KLSX to political talk now to voices on morning shows. With that, how do you see talk radio moving forward from here? Are you optimistic about the future of talk radio in general, and political talk or lifestyle talk in particular?
I see this year coming as huge for News-Talk with the election. I had great fun on FM Talk with Tim Conway, Jr.; I got into radio to entertain and make folks laugh. No matter the contemporary format I'm in (talk or not), my goal is the same - to entertain an audience.
3. How do you use social media in conjunction with your work? Do you use it to engage with the audience, for show prep, or in other ways, and how critical are Twitter and/or Facebook in that regard -- and which do you find more important?
All three members of The Morning Answer tweet 24/7 with our listeners. I rely on social media for breaking topics, too. It allows for you and your audience to establish a bit of a community. We also have a Morning Answer Facebook Page, which we will use a lot. If we reference a story or photo, we'll put it on the FB page so the entire listening family can check it out!
4. Obligatory 2016 election question: How do you see the races playing out? Will Hillary hold on, does Bernie have a shot, will Biden step in, and, of course, will Trump hold on, fade out, or implode? And why do you think Trump appeals to his followers?
The Democrats (I'm one - and successful on the most conservative talk stations in America for 20 years because I'm funny and entertain the audience) are set with Hillary. It's spicy on the GOP side. I don't see an implosion for Trump because all traditional political rules DO NOT apply to him. His bucketload of insults and half-truths would deep six any other candidate but not him. I'm embarrassed for Republicans and America.
5. Has it ever occurred to you to run for office? Why or why not?
No. I have and have always had great jobs. And, there's a few skeletons. I'm a private guy, ultimately!
6. We've discussed this before, but let's update: Who have been your influences, inspirations, and heroes in the business?
I'll name three: Scott Shannon (who discovered me), Rick Dees (who fine tuned me) and Alan Colmes, my greatest influence as a talk host. Grew up hearing him in New York. His versatility is wonderful. I love Alan! I love Scott and Rick, too!
7. What one moment of your career so far has been the peak? What's the one most memorable high of all of your years in radio?
My FAVORITE job to date was hosting nights with Tim Conway for three years from 2005-2008 on 97.1 FM Talk (KLSX). As a member of The Rick Dees Show, we were a family for 14 years, and that's so special. And four years in, I love my current team on The Morning Answer!
8. You did podcasts several years ago; looking at what that business was like back then, and based on your experiences, do you see podcasts as a viable business, as a competitor to talk radio, as a compliment to talk radio, or something else?
I believe 99.9 percent of podcasters would give a limb to be on the radio. Those of us who make radio look easy have talent. So many have tried it (cuz it sounds easy) and they turn out DREADFUL podcasts. During times of unemployment, I have podcasted. The whole while, I told the audience my goal was to get back on the RADIO. So grateful I have been on AM 870 for almost four years!
9. True Confessions: What’s one thing the general public doesn’t know about you that would surprise them?
I listen back to every minute of every show I do every single day. It's the best way to learn and get better.
10. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career so far?
You must entertain an audience. They must like you, love you... and if your goal is to get them to change their mind or solve the world's problems, they won't hear a word unless you entertain them first!