10 Questions with ... Heidi Hamilton & Frank Kramer
October 16, 2012
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Heidi: Worked in Country radio at the beginning of my career.
WUBE 105.1 and WYGY 96.5/Cincinnati -- Morning show producer, host, helicopter reporter. Moved to L.A. in the summer of 1997 and started working as a news-traffic reporter in July 1997. I met Frank Kramer in January of 1998 and we've been working together in some capacity since then at Star 98.7, KLSX 97.1, KABC 790, HeidiandFrank.com and now 95.5 KLOS.
- WLUM/Milwaukee, morning host 1993 "Frosty and Frank"
- KALC/ Denver, morning most 1993-1999 "Frosty, Jamie and Frank "
- KYSR/Los Angeles, morning host 1997-1999 "Jamie, Frosty and Frank"
- KLSX/ Los Angeles, midday host, 2000-2009, "Frosty, Heidi and Frank"
- KABC-A/Los Angeles, midday host, 2009-2010, "Frosty, Heidi and Frank"
- Toad Hop Network, Los Angeles, Internet Talk Radio, midday host, 2010 to Present, "Heidi and Frank" heidiandfrank.com/toadhopnetwork.com
- KLOS/Los Angeles, morning host, 2012 to RIP, "Heidi and Frank"
1) What was your first job in radio? Early influences?
Heidi: My very first job in radio was at a very small AM station in Greensburg, IN called WTRE-A. It was the summer before my freshman year in college. I was a news reporter. I would attend local events, City Council meetings etc and then report on them. I got the bug for radio when I would run into people who were excited that they heard me do a news report on the radio. I think I made a whopping $100 that summer.
Frank: First job in radio was doing mornings. I fell into this career and I am so grateful that it happened.
2) What led you to a career in radio? Was there a defining moment that made you realize "this is it"?
Heidi: Radio was my "B" plan. I came to L.A. to be an actress. I think when I realized this is what I should be doing is when a women came up to me and told me that she was very sick with cancer and that I helped her get through a really awful time in her life. She said our show kept her company while she was having chemotherapy treatments. It feels good to touch people and know that you've made a difference in their lives in a good way. Radio is powerful that way. It's very intimate.
Frank: My good friend and morning partner, Frosty Stilwell, called me out of the blue and told me his co-host in Milwaukee had been fired. He asked me if I would be interested in joining him on the air during my Spring Break from college. Of course I said, "hell no," "I'm going to Florida and chasing tail." He assured me there were "women" in Milwaukee and that he would buy all my beer. The defining moment happened at the end of the week when the PD offered me the job as co-host on the morning show. I quit school with six weeks to graduate and have never looked back.
3) When did you guys meet and how did you begin working together?
Heidi: Frank Kramer and I met at Star 98.7 in L.A. He was part of the new morning show and I was brought in to be the traffic reporter. I did very little traffic reporting. I usually just gave my opinion on whatever it was they were talking about. There was an instant chemistry. It was easy.
Frank: Heidi and I met when she worked for Metro Traffic and she would provide the daily reports for our morning show "Jamie, Frosty and Frank" on Star 98.7. When Frosty and I were hired to do the midday shift at KLSX, they asked us if we would be interested in bringing on a female, and if so did we have anyone in mind. Heidi, during her traffic reports, would sometimes be brought into the conversation and she consistently had a funny comment and a good attitude. So, we had her in to do a test show. The idea was to do this with many female candidates, but after the one test with Heidi we made our choice.
4) You guys made a strong name for yourself as part of the midday show at KLSX here in L.A. when it was an FM Talker. What can you take away from that experience that has prepared you for mornings at KLOS?
Heidi: It's important to be willing to tear down all of my own walls in order to be a compelling host. I learned that if I was willing to share something personal and not be afraid of how I would end up "looking," then other people would be willing to call in and share their story. You have to connect with people. They have to feel like they can relate to you in some way. Doing midday radio is much tougher than morning radio. In the morning people are captive in the car in rush hour traffic. Middays taught me that you really have to be compelling. We had to make sure that we could be interesting enough to make listeners want to sit in their cars a little longer on their lunch hour just to hear what we were going to say. Middays were a great training ground for me.
Frank: I started doing mornings early in my career, so this in nothing new to me. Doing midday is a much tougher shift when if comes to getting an audience who has to physically search you out on a daily basis. In morning (drivetime), the audience is somewhat captive. You become part of the routine when the alarm clock turns you on, and then they get in the car, turn the key and you are there. With all the successes that I've had in my early career doing mornings, middays really taught me to earn it, and I want to bring that same mindset back with me to KLOS.
5) After KLSX flipped to Top 40 and Amp Radio, you guys went on to do Internet radio quite successfully. Now that you're back on terrestrial, what is your take on Internet radio?
Heidi: I will always cherish Internet radio. It kept us alive and relevant for two years and we had a lot of fun. I loved the free-flow forum of the show. Internet radio gives talk show hosts a lot of time to discuss and nurture good topics and conversations.
Frank: Internet Radio is the future. I believe that in order for terrestrial to maintain its strength and relevance it has to have a significant digital footprint. I created an online network, "toadhopnetwork.com," out of necessity to give the Heidi and Frank Show a home. It is now one of the largest, online talk networks that hosts premium content, as well as free ad-supported content. It's exciting to work for a company that recognizes the importance of Internet content delivery and I am currently working with Cumulus to help bring the entire company further into the Digital arena.
6) Okay ... now is the question that most people are probably most curious about. Tell us about the process of replacing a legendary duo like Mark & Brian and landing one of the most coveted morning gigs in America at KLOS/Los Angeles.
Heidi: I think Frank and I have been dreaming of taking over for Mark and Brian for a long time. KLOS is a legendary station with a powerful signal. We would talk from time to time about how great it would be to get all of those ears. We knew that KLOS would help us grow our show bigger and we wanted that opportunity. Honestly, we have been welcomed with open arms. I'm sure there are plenty of people who are mad, sad and really not happy with us as a choice, but I haven't heard from them. People just want good radio and we get up every morning and do our best to give it to them.
Frank: I don't believe we are trying to "replace" Mark and Brian. That cannot be done. To be given the opportunity to follow such and iconic duo is an honor that I am truly humbled by. I respect them as some of the finest that have ever played the game. Many will say they wanted this gig, but no more than Heidi and myself. The critics are very vocal, and I welcome all of it, but you don't get this job if you don't deserve it. I have 19 years of experience doing mornings and Talk Radio, 15 years in L.A. and 12 of those years working with Heidi. At 42 and 39, we have an incredible amount of experience and we have every intention of owning this market. The Mark and Brian era has come to an end and now it is time move forward. We Are back, and ready to take the helm and lead KLOS for another 25 years.
7) How has the early response been to your show? Have you heard from any old Mark & Brian fans?
Heidi: The Mark and Brian fans are calling our show and coming out to events. They say they were upset that Mark and Brian left, but are happy they have given the Heidi & Frank show a chance because they are having fun in the morning with us.
Frank: The early response from the audience has been very warm. We do have a fan base of our own, who have reconnected with us at KLOS, but the Mark and Brian fans have welcomed us and given us a chance that few new host would ever get. The fact that Mark and Brian retired has softened the usual blow that comes with being the new guys. Although our shows are different in many ways I feel our relationships with our fans are very similar and it won't take long for new bonds to be made.
8) Describe a typical morning show meeting for you guys. a) What is the process? b) How much show prep do you do and what are some of the key benchmarks of your show?
Heidi: We usually stay for about two hours after the show to talk about the next day's show. We create a map of sorts to have a general idea of what the next day is going to look like. I'll usually work for another two hours when I get home to keep up with current news/stories. When you do a radio talk show the "prep" never really stops because whatever is happening in our lives can potentially become a good radio topic. We're always hyper-aware of what could make great radio.
Frank: Show prep has always been a 24-hour process. We develop a daily outline of topics and news to be discussed, with some new benchmarks for prizes. But we have always given each other the bare minimum for where we plan to go on any topic or news story. The success comes from being genuine and hearing things for the first time along with the audience. Scripted bits are something that we will never do ... unless we are spoofing it. The biggest challenge for us is fitting things into the new clock and playing the PPM game. I'm enjoying the challenge to adapt as most of the time I'm just trying to entertain myself.
9) Tell us one of the best morning show moments on KLOS since your Sept 4th debut?
Heidi: My favorite moments? It's all a blur really. We have so much fun every day, but I will say Listener Floyd calling in and Pirate School still makes me laugh.
Frank: One of the best moments was on our very first show when Mark Thompson called the show and passed us the torch with his blessing. Truly a class act and to get that endorsement was something he didn't have to do.
10) Who is funnier and why?
Heidi: Me. You should be ashamed of yourself for asking.
Frank: Heidi ... It's hard to find a woman who is willing to fall through the coffee table. She does it without a second thought and is the best female host on the radio bar none. Even when she is not funny, it's funny. Now that's talent.
You guys talk for a living but give us the lowdown on your favorite music ... both artists and songs?
Heidi: I love Classic Rock like Aerosmith, Eagles, Elton John and Country music like Little Big Town, Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton. If you saw my playlist when I go for a run, it's Dance Music, Hip-Hop etc. I'm very schizophrenic when it comes to music. I love everything except that spooky awful death metal stuff.
Frank: I bond with bands that I have seen live. I recently went to a Black Keys concert and was blown away. Those guys are so talented and the sound could already be added to the Classic Rock playlist at KLOS and fit right in to the mix. I also love Tom Petty, John Mellencamp (once sat at the end of his driveway in Indiana drinking apple schnapps), grew up with AC/DC, Prince, Loudon Wainwright, Bocephus, Avril Lavigne, Tupac, and Bobby Vinton.
Are you guys more into TV or movies and what are some of your favorites of each?
Heidi: There is so much good TV these days that I haven't watched a movie in a year. My favorite TV shows are "White Collar," "Breaking Bad," "Homeland," "The Good Wife," "Damages," "Sons of Anarchy"and I will never turn off an old "King of Queens" rerun.
Frank: I love good TV. "Homeland" is my current favorite, followed by "Boss" with Kelsey Grammer.
- Cartoons: "Archer," "American Dad"
- Sitcoms: "Bored to Death," "Wilfred," "The New Girl," "It's Always Sunny," "Louie," "Raising Hope," "Workaholics."
- Late Night: Conan, "Fallen"
- News: Honey Boo Boo
What do you read in the bathroom?
Heidi: I'm a lady so I don't use the bathroom. It just ascends into the heavens magically. Oh, who am I kidding? In the bathroom I'm usually reading one of those magazines that reminds me that "stars are just like us." Really ... I had no idea that J Lo drinks coffee. I hate myself for even buying those things. Although if they called, I would happily do a photo shoot ... a highly airbrushed photo shoot!
Frank: What do I read in the bathroom? I like Ass daily on Twitter.