At the crossroads of broadcasting and technology, Kim Komando found her niche in radio by creating her own network. She then used that network to bring knowledge to the masses and will soon be inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
But Komando, who grew up in New Jersey, wasn’t planning a life in broadcasting.
Her connection to the tech world started with her mother who was with Bell Labs as a system analyst. Her father worked for United Airlines, giving the family plenty of free flights.
Komando’s first job out of school was for IBM. She tried her hand at television on Fox as Komando, an attractive blond, was told she had a face for the medium.
“I really didn’t like the scripted nature of it,” Komando told BNM. “I felt like I was just reading a prompter.”
However, some people would also say she had a “voice for radio,” and it all began with a Saturday late night call-in show about computers on Phoenix’s KFYI.
“As soon as I sat in front of a radio microphone, I was home,” Komando said.
At the time, Komando was selling computers for Unisys as a district manager. Komando graduated from Arizona State University at the age of 19 in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems.
By her mid-20s, she was willing to leave a $150,000 a year salary on the table. Money notwithstanding, she wasn’t happy with the job and consulted with her parents. Komando quit to forge a radio career. There was no need to find a radio name, as Komando is her given name.
“People thought, in the beginning, that I had to make that up,” she said. “But I never took my husband’s name, not even legally, because I am Kim Komando.”
Despite the notoriously low pay, Komando wasn’t discouraged. In fact, she was quite determined. She had a sense of building her brand from the start— as Komando would write syndicated newspaper columns and formed the Komando Corporation in 1992.
Around that same time, Komando sold the “Komputer Tutor” training tapes via informercial that was a “screaming success.”
She landed a deal for running a computer section on AOL (America Online), but getting radio stations for the unproven commodity would prove to be more challenging.
“None of the big companies would syndicate my show, so I did it myself,” she said. “Those were pretty humbling beginnings,” she admitted. “Quite frankly, I didn’t know what I was doing.”
Fortunately, her husband, Barry Young, a Phoenix on-air personality, did. By 1995, they had formed WestStar MultiMedia Entertainment, where ultimately her brand would come to life nationally.
“He taught me radio formatics and he built our first studio,” Komando said.
Aside from her husband, Komando didn’t look to any broadcasters for help, although she credits Fred Weber, who gave her the first radio job, with a special bond. But she always listened to radio. Komando recalls taking her Walkman with AM/FM bands on a trip and would hear stations pop in and out from different markets.
“I thought that was so slick,” she said.
At her fledgling company, Komando was the talent, but also handled affiliate relations and sales.
The Kim Komando Show
Today, Komando’s three-hour weekend show is heard on more than 400 affiliates nationwide. A daily tech update airs worldwide but she does her best to “super serve” the stations. Komando will add a localized “tag” or outro for any affiliate that requests it, so listeners think she’s part of that particular radio station’s on-air team. She even provides an assist with station imaging and records any ad copy for free.
Generating multiple pieces of online content daily, Komando also distributes to station’s websites, “so it looks like they have a tech section.”
It was a slow incline for Komando as only two stations were initially on board—one in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which is still part of the network, another in Augusta, Georgia—WGAC, which also remains loyal to Komando.
She gained traction when Tom Clendening, the former boss at KIRO in Seattle, asked for a demo tape of the show. He wanted the cassette overnighted, but Komando, paying out of pocket, didn’t want to spend extra for the sample to just sit on his desk.
After he hung up, Komando worried that she was too demanding. However, Clendening called with tape in hand the next day and enjoyed the demo so much he was willing to air the show on KIRO AM and FM, Saturdays and Sundays.
While Komando’s tech update is heard in the top market on New York’s WCBS-AM, they haven’t added her weekend show.
The show is done through barter, splitting the advertising time with affiliates. H sponsors include T-Mobile and LinkedIn.
As the technology space has grown in the past 20 years, so has Komando’s presence.
“I have no debt. I have no investors,” she admitted.
“The show is actually more relevant today than it ever has been,” Komando said. “It affects everybody in, pretty much, every aspect of their lives.”
Cars, Homes and The Hall
In an effort to keep her show as fresh as possible, Komando reviews shows every quarter.
“If you don’t innovate, you’re going to evaporate,” she said. “The show you hear today is probably quite different than the show you heard two years ago.”
These days, a major focus for Komando is giving back to callers. A woman spoke to Komando about a man stalking her college daughter after connecting on Tinder. The investigation hit a dead end with police, so Komando stepped in.
“I called in some forensics folks, and we should be serving an arrest warrant to this guy pretty soon,” she said.
Another time, a dad and 11-year-old daughter called the show. She was starting a Disney princesses-themed podcast and asked Kim for pointers.
“I told her how to do the podcast and make sure she smiles… because that comes through. So in my inbox now is her first podcast for me to listen to and critique.”
While the brand is all Komando and she is the only voice on her product, she is mentoring three people.
“I’m hoping that at some point they can have their own podcast first,” she said.
Mentoring is new for the veteran broadcaster, as she explains how important it is to tell the story.
“This is not a TED Talk,” Komando said. “You have to be entertaining and then you can be informative.”
Radio, unlike other mediums, is an intimate way for interaction. You may be speaking to millions at any given moment, but the hosts who do it well can talk directly to one person.
“I can have a great conversation in, like, 2 to 4 minutes, that’s it,” Komando said. “If it requires help afterwards, I call them. I use my personal cell phone number. I get emails and texts. They’re all really just good people.”
As many show hosts will do, Komando, at times, will bring the audience into her own personal experiences, including discussing her mother’s battle with cancer.
“They know who I am. It’s full transparency,” she said.
However, delving into politics is one area that Komando avoids at all costs on her show.
In addition to her advice on the air and online, she also has been writing columns for USA Today for approximately 20 years.
“I probably work 40-50 hours a week. I don’t have to, but it’s just that I want to,” she said. “I could retire but I don’t want to. I still am having a ball.”
Her main studio is in Phoenix. It’s where her employees are based, although many have been working remotely since the pandemic started.
Komando is also fully equipped at her homes in Santa Barbara and Beverly Hills.
While she has reached the pinnacle of her profession, Kim says the hard work combined with expertise and personality were ingredients for success. One perk of that success is enjoying her hobby—collecting cars. She’s building a garage to hold 13 of them. Her favorite car — which she owns—the 2012 Mercedes Benz SLS.
She doesn’t like to discuss future plans until they come to fruition, but Komando is working on something “that will revolutionize the way that we’re disseminating some of the content right now and some of the broadcasting products.”
In the short term, Kim is excited to be immortalized in the National Radio Hall of Fame later this month.
“That was never a goal when I started out,” she admitted. “You start looking at all of the people who’ve been inducted, like Limbaugh, Hannity, Bing Crosby, all these stellar names. I’m up there too. How the hell did that happen? I’m very humbled.”
Looking at how far she’s come in the industry, she’s delighted to share her insight with so many listeners.
“I’ve been very blessed, I really have. By just doing a good, honest day’s work, I think everybody appreciates that,” she said. “But at the same time, it’s been a really great ride.”
Media Fanning the Flames of Hate
Time will tell if Eric Bolling’s accusations against the media continue to hold true.
While most Americans thought “hate had no home here,” many are now calling out the mainstream, liberal media as they continue their pattern of stoking division across the nation.
Newsmax host Eric Bolling began his Friday evening program, “The Balance,” by chiding many of his media colleagues.
“To paraphrase the patriot Paul Revere, the woke mob is coming; the woke mob is coming!” Bolling warned. “Folks, this is not a drill. America is bracing itself for yet another wave of riots. The woke mob is threatening violence and mobilizing. The trial of Kyle Rittenhouse isn’t even over yet, but it’s looking more likely that the defendant could be found not guilty, and that does not sit well with the woke mob or the Leftist media.”
Bolling then cut to a clip of MSNBC host Joy Reid.
“If you want to know why Critical Race Theory exists, the actual law school theory that emphasized that supposedly colorblind laws in America often still have racially discriminatory outcomes, then look no further than the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse,” Reid said.
“They have made this trial about race, isn’t that right, Don Lemon?” Bolling asked, then playing a clip of CNN’s Lemon calling former President Donald Trump racist numerous times.
“Nine times in two minutes,” Bolling continued. “They love calling people racists. The Left makes everything about race, even when it comes to a court case where no one involved is black.”
He then cut to these mainstream media headlines from the past week.
A sobbing Kyle Rittenhouse already won – even before his trial is over.
– NBC Think
Kyle Rittenhouse deserves an award for his melodramatic performance on the witness stand. – USA Today
White Judge refuses to allow Black Lives Matter protesters killed by Kyle Rittenhouse to be called victims in court. – Black Enterprise
“The judge is white and bad. Rittenhouse is acting,” Bolling continued, paraphrasing the media’s overarching message. “Is it me, or are these media outlets writing their headlines to make it sound like this court case is fraudulent?”
Viewers then saw another clip of Lemon on CNN from last week, where the host shared his opinion about the trial’s judge.
“His demeanor, the way he refers to the prosecution, the way he looks at Kyle Rittenhouse like it’s his grandson. I mean, come on, America,” Lemon said. “I mean, for me, I don’t know how they look at it legally, but for me, that’s cause for a mistrial.”
The program then played a cut of MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, adding his view of the televised trial.
“This judge is an absolute joke. He’s been a joke from the very beginning,” Scarborough commented. “It’s absolutely disgusting the way he’s conducting himself on the stand there. He’s obviously playing for the audience, a certain audience.”
“Did you hear all that they are literally saying the judge is intentionally trying to give Kyle Rittenhouse every chance possible to get off,” Bolling followed up. “Listen, for better or worse, our justice system is based on innocent until proven guilty. You should get every chance to prove your innocence. But not to Liberals. To them, you’re guilty even if you’re innocent because the media’s pushing this insane notion that this court system is rigged because of racism.”
Time will tell if Bolling’s accusations against the media continue to hold true. And due to its television coverage and transparent viewing options, citizens can judge the merits of the case for themselves.
As for the media’s intentions, they’ll be able to make up their minds on that account as well.
Fox News Dominates Election Coverage
“Fox News led the way in election night coverage, averaging 4.79 million total viewers and 977,000 in the key 25-54 demo.”
Election Day in the off-year (the year following a presidential election) from Nov. 2nd highlighted the week in news. Among the key races in the country that evening were for governorships in Virginia and New Jersey and mayoralties in New York City and Boston. In Virginia, Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat and former Governor Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial race, while the race for New Jersey governor between the incumbent Democrat Phil Murphy and his Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli was then too close to call (results of Murphy’s win were made official the next day).
Fox News Channel led the way in election night coverage on Nov. 2, averaging a robust 4.79 million total viewers and 977,000 in the key 25-54 demographic in prime time (8-11 p.m.), according to Nielsen Media Research. They were the network’s best off-year election night figures in its history. Fox News was well ahead of their cable news competition. CNN, which soared to No. 1 over during the 2020 presidential election period and the few months after, ranked a distant runner-up among adults 25-54 with 355,000 from 8-11 p.m. MSNBC was close behind with 289,000 in the demo but easily topped CNN in total prime time audience, delivering 1.55 million viewers vs. CNN’s 1.08 million average.
Fox News Channel’s leadership on off-year election nights are nothing new, as the following time window breakdowns of that night attest. But the figures of current reflect the increased drawing power that these cable news networks all experience today, despite the precipitous decline of cable TV households along with a growing amount of options for entertainment.
Early Evening 7-8 p.m. ET (based on total viewers and adults 18-49)
Fox News Channel
Nov. 2, 2021: 3.175 million / 429,000
Nov. 7, 2017; 2.728 million / 284,000
Nov. 5, 2013: 2.005 million / 278,000
Nov. 2, 2021: 1.585 million / 165,000 (6:51-8 p.m.)
Nov. 7, 2017; 1.924 million / 333,000
Nov. 5, 2013: 1.119 million / 136,000
Nov. 2, 2021: 0.773 million / 159,000
Nov. 7, 2017; 1.144 million / 330,000
Nov. 5, 2013: 0.424 million / 107,000
Prime Time 8-11 p.m. ET (based on total viewers and adults 18-49)
Fox News Channel
Nov. 2, 2021: 4.791 million / 672,000
Nov. 7, 2017; 3.138 million / 462,000
Nov. 5, 2013: 2.724 million / 402,000
Nov. 2, 2021: 1.553 million / 216,000
Nov. 7, 2017; 2.531 million / 490,000
Nov. 5, 2013: 1.035 million / 171,000
Nov. 2, 2021: 1.078 million / 273,000
Nov. 7, 2017; 1.516 million / 461,000
Nov. 5, 2013: 0.663 million / 173,000
Post-Prime Time 11 p.m.-midnight ET (based on total viewers and adults 18-49)
Fox News Channel
Nov. 2, 2021: 4.041 million / 630,000
Nov. 7, 2017; 1.659 million / 285,000
Nov. 5, 2013: 1.269 million / 297,000
Nov. 2, 2021: 1.151 million / 170,000
Nov. 7, 2017; 1.805 million / 351,000
Nov. 5, 2013: 0.487 million / 72,000
Nov. 2, 2021: 0.917 million / 244,000
Nov. 7, 2017; 0.979 million / 282,000
Nov. 5, 2013: 0.363 million / 75,000
Late Night midnight-2 a.m. ET (based on total viewers and adults 18-49)
Fox News Channel
Nov. 2, 2021: 2.403 million / 436,000
Nov. 7, 2017; 0.990 million / 169,000
Nov. 5, 2013: 0.827 million / 149,000
Nov. 2, 2021: 0.692 million / 90,000
Nov. 7, 2017; 1.076 million / 229,000
Nov. 5, 2013: 0.357 million / 57,000
Nov. 2, 2021: 0.605 million / 155,000
Nov. 7, 2017; 0.644 million / 212,000
Nov. 5, 2013: 0.192 million / 42,000
Although MSNBC and CNN declined from four years ago, both performed significantly better than eight years ago even though back then, there were more homes subscribed to a cable service.
The week’s other notable news development was the bipartisan passage of President Biden’s infrastructure plan. Although it was negotiated at one-third of its initial proposal ($1.2 trillion vs. $3 billion), it still represents one of the largest federal investments for infrastructure in U.S. history.
Biden held a press conference on the morning of Saturday, Nov. 6, proclaiming the deal. “We did something that’s long overdue, that long has been talked about in Washington but never actually been done,” he said. The President even referenced some key Democratic losses in the elections from Nov. 2, having stated that voters “want us to deliver. [On Friday] night [Nov. 5, 2021], we proved we can. On one big item, we delivered.”
Like Election Night, the rankings of the cable news networks based on their Nielsen ratings were similar for Biden’s Saturday morning press conference. Fox News Channel was tops in the 10-11 a.m. ET hour with 1.535 million viewers and 296,000 adults 25-54. MSNBC, a distant runner-up in total viewers (852,000 from 10-10:32 a.m.) but behind CNN in 25-54 — MSNBC with 108,000 during the 32-minute time frame while CNN averaged 111,000 adults 25-54 (alongside 682,000 total viewers) for the 10-11 a.m. hour.
Cable news averages for November 1-7, 2021. Fox News Channel extended their streaks to 38 weeks as cable’s most-watched network in total viewers..
Total Day (November 1-7 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 1.646 million viewers; 278,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 0.656 million viewers; 79,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 0.491 million viewers; 111,000 adults 25-54
- HLN: 0.188 million viewers; 55,000 adults 25-54
- Newsmax: 0.149 million viewers; 24,000 adults 25-54
- CNBC: 0.138 million viewers; 28,000 adults 25-54
- Fox Business Network: 0.103 million viewers; 12,000 adults 25-54
- The Weather Channel: 0.101 million viewers; 21,000 adults 25-54
Prime Time (November 1-6 @ 8-11 p.m.; November 7 @ 7-11 p.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 2.809 million viewers; 453,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 1.136 million viewers; 160,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 0.730 million viewers; 173,000 adults 25-54
- Newsmax: 0.189 million viewers; 41,000 adults 25-54
- HLN: 0.188 million viewers; 50,000 adults 25-54
- CNBC: 0.173 million viewers; 43,000 adults 25-54
- The Weather Channel: 0.120 million viewers; 27,000 adults 25-54
- Fox Business Network: 0.048 million viewers; 8,000 adults 25-54
Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top MSNBC and CNN programs with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:
1. The Ingraham Angle (FOXNC, Tue. 11/2/2021 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 5.146 million viewers
2. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 11/2/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 4.926 million viewers
3. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 11/2/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 4.303 million viewers
4. Virginia Showdown (FOXNC, Tue. 11/2/2021 11:00 PM, 60 min.) 4.041 million viewers
5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 11/3/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.918 million viewers
6. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 11/3/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.893 million viewers
7. Hannity (FOXNC, Wed. 11/3/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.537 million viewers
8. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 11/4/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.483 million viewers
9. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 11/4/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.366 million viewers
10. Special Report with Bret Baier (FOXNC, Wed. 11/3/2021 6:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.329 million viewers
44. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Thu. 11/4/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.005 million viewers
111. Election Night In America “2021” (CNN, Tue. 11/2/2021 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.230 million viewers
Top 10 cable news programs (and the top CNN, MSNBC and HLN programs with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:
1. The Ingraham Angle (FOXNC, Tue. 11/2/2021 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.028 million adults 25-54
2. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 11/2/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.012 million adults 25-54
3. Virginia Showdown (FOXNC, Tue. 11/2/2021 11:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.904 million adults 25-54
4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 11/2/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.890 million adults 25-54
5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 11/3/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.758 million adults 25-54
6. Fox News At Night (FOXNC, Tue. 11/2/2021 12:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.690 million adults 25-54
7. Virginia Showdown (FOXNC, Tue. 11/2/2021 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.644 million adults 25-54
8. Hannity (FOXNC, Wed. 11/3/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.626 million adults 25-54
9. Special Report with Bret Baier (FOXNC, Wed. 11/3/2021 6:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.538 million adults 25-54
10. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 11/4/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.529 million adults 25-54
27. Election Night In America “2021” (CNN, Tue. 11/2/2021 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.432 million adults 25-54
61. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Thu. 11/4/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.313 million adults 25-54
197. Forensic Files “Naked Justice” (HLN, Sun. 11/7/2021 6:30 AM, 30 min.) 0.133 million adults 25-54
Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research
Plenty to Take Away From Steve Somers’ Legendary Career
“Somers was the first talk show I ever called, close to 20 years ago, and was the person I would listen to while doing middle school or high school homework in the evenings.”
As Steve Somers gets set for his final show this Friday night, there’s plenty to take away from one of the most legendary careers in sports talk radio. And it’s not just about what Steve did behind the mic for decades at WFAN. It’s also about who he was as a person.
Having spent a few years as a freelance anchor, I spent many nights walking in and out of Steve’s studio every 20 minutes for a 20/20 update. And even in the early days, when some nerves existed sitting next to Steve, working with him, and being on the FAN, there was no one more soothing in the building. Although, he did have a habit of taking his effortless, late-night style and building up to the toss to the update anchor where by the time he mentioned your name, he was like Usain Bolt coming down the final 10 meters of a race.
But then, he’d give you a look, wink, and/or smile, leave the studio, and get his 14th cup of coffee. He also is the only person other than my mother to call me “Peter.” Why did he do it? I have no idea. But I didn’t mind it. Also, I didn’t feel like having to correct him.
On a personal note, Steve Somers was the first talk show I ever called, close to 20 years ago, and was the person I would listen to while doing middle school or high school homework in the evenings.
Fast forward ten years, when getting the chance to work on his show, he was always genuine, interested in you, while at the same time keeping himself incredibly humble, almost to a fault.
For as long as I worked there, Steve was one of the most-liked guys in the building because, despite his longevity with the station, he wanted to grow with it. He got to know the new faces, the part-time faces, who were coming in and out of the building. He wasn’t looking around the studios, barely recognizing anyone, and beamoning the “good old days,” as many in his shoes might do.
And while he liked to talk sports in the hallways, he also talked about life. He would talk about his path through the broadcasting world, where he succeeded, where he failed. These stories could come before a show, during a game broadcast when he would have downtime, or possibly even during a commercial break. Sometimes the stories felt like one of his monologues, the difference being you didn’t know the end result, as you did with the game he was talking about on the air.
Speaking of monologues, no Steve Somers story is complete without mentioning them. While I admittedly haven’t heard one in a long time since moving out of the New York area, they were art. Although if you saw the scribble on the yellow notepad, you probably wouldn’t think so. But when you heard them, the way they were written and delivered, there was nothing like it in sports talk radio. They were clever, funny, just enough sarcasm while also being informative. It was storytime. And it was trained to listen. You had to adjust to it, but once you adjusted, there was nothing like it.
And as far as I’m concerned, no one in sports talk radio will tell a story as unique as Steve Somers ever again.
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