Photo Credit: Mandy Sroka Photography
From left to right: Oscar Santana, Chad Dukes. Drab T-Shirt. Sven Lloyd
Santana felt that he had a good run with their show and that all was lost. He had no idea what to expect next. His phone rang an hour after he found out he lost his job. It was someone from CBS who told him, “We are going to try to make you a talk show.” Apparantly, Michael Hughes, a general manager of all the stations at the time, believed in Big “O” and Dukes. The duo were offered a day time shift in Baltimore, which is an even better situation to be when you are a DJ, because you have a bigger audience.
They went to Baltimore and learned an important lesson there. “We had an amazing run; however, one thing you don’t learn when you are a young broadcaster is that you have to play by the rules. You can’t tell your general manager to ‘’F’ off,’ because they will find a way to make you leave when they can.” Big “O” and Dukes were fired again and had to split up and find different jobs. “We were on the beach.”
This is an expression that means the show is on a break. Three months later Santana and Dukes got together and decided to get their show off the beach and on a podcast. At this time it is 2005. It turns out that at that time there were not that many talk shows that were on iTunes. Today that is not the case. Their show was starting to get traction and they decided to start applying for jobs at stations all across the nation. They found an opportunity in Phoenix, AZ to do a night time show and flew down to do a three day three night trial.
“The most interesting thing about radio is that people will hire you to do a certain job and then people will ask you to change what originally made you successful. The first couple days we did what they wanted and they hated it. The last day I looked at Chad and said ‘Let’s do our own show.’ They loved it.” Santana and Dukes headed back to the East Coast and two weeks later they were offered the job. “We had a phenomenal time. We continued to carry our listeners from Baltimore to Phoenix because of the podcast. We became number 1 for the nights.”
All was well but then the station flipped into a top *40 show. Once again radio proved to be a cruel mistress. Fortunatley though they were brought back to D.C. to work at WJFK. “If you are in radio you know what WJFK is. We went from market 15 to 8.” They took a night show and were doing so well that they were moved to do a day show. “We had a five hour talk show every day and just killed it and had fun. We had a great promoting staff.” By this time Santana is thirty. For his thirtieth birthday party he had a moon bounce and mini horses and they broadcasted while the party was going on. “We could talk about anything. Break ups, girls cheating on us, it was just honest and real. We did an hour on the show every Friday about snacks. We would rate and discuss new snacks on the market. It was called snacks of the round table. That’s the type of fun radio we had.”
Two years go by and then the business model for radio changed, which caused a dramatic event in talk radio world across the nation. Radio shows were being measured by how many people were listening or had their radio turned on rather than the previous way to measure which was having people keep a diary of shows they listened to. “The stations like ours that were captivating were not mass appeal stations anymore. The mass appeal were stations that played Christmas music starting in November. A dentist can put it on and that would count as a listener, but are they really listening? I would say not. It’s background music.”
Hot talk stations were all in trouble and then it hit. A massive voice in the radio world lost his job “Adam Carolla. He was the writing on the wall. When his talk station in Los Angeles flipped, I remember taking a proverbial gasp of air that swept across the nation. If Adam Carolla is going down that’s going to come to us.” Santana and Dukes were like Tea Leoni and Maximilian Shell in the 1998 film Deep Impact. Their characters are on a beach waiting to be owned by a coming tsunami wave, because they can’t run away. “We were one of the last shows to be flipped.” Big “O” and Dukes was on the beach again.
Dukes went on to do a sports show and Santana walked away from terrestrial radio to pursue a job in marketing. It’s 2009. Santana discovers that Adam Carolla has turned his show into a podcast. “This man took his brand of radio and said ‘I’m going to try something new.’ And if you ever hear the first podcast that he ever did. It was equivalent to a man walking on the moon for a broadcaster. He didn’t know what was happening. I got chills listening to it, because I knew what he was doing. He was freeing what he did on the radio into an hour long format. We weren’t in a world of by the way you have to have a radio license or an FCC license or a studio for that matter to do this. You need a mic, a computer, audio editing software, an internet signal and some bandwidth. Adam was fired on Friday and half a million people showed up on Monday morning and crashed the servers. That’s when it started.”
Santana knew that he had to make a podcast, but couldn’t hook up with Dukes, because he had started a different job and the schedules didn’t work. “It wasn’t the right time yet.”
Photo Credit: Phil Worthington
From left to right: Robb Spewak, Buzz Burbank, Mike O’Meara, Front. Oscar Santana
He decided to reach out to his friend Mike O’Meara, who also lost his talk show, and encouraged him to get one going. “He’s a legendary broadcaster. I hounded Mike. He calls me seven months later and said ‘I want to hear about your podcast idea and the rest was history. He got Buzz Burbank, best news guy in the country, Robb Spewak, who is just a perfect flow with Mike O’Meara. The whole Mike O’Meara crew that was on terrestrial radio was back on the podcast world.”
Santana figured that he would be part of the team on the business side, but as fate would have it he was asked to do something else. O’Meara asked him, “Can you be a fourth mic on the show? I was happy. It felt like something special was happening.” Dukes reached out to Santana to see about getting their show going again. “It was like you know we should just record something and see what happens and we started and have resurrected Big “O” and Dukes. We do it once a week and I do the Mike O’Meara show that is five days a week.”
The pinnacle point for Santana was when iTunes got on FaceBook and did a vote to see what are the most popular talk show podcasts. A fan sent Santana the following picture and all was well.
If radio is a cruel mistress then I guess the podcast is a soul mate. Not that Apple needs the plug, they apparently have more money than the U.S. government, but I would advise you to get one and start checking these shows out. I personally listen to them shows everyday at work and laugh hystericaly amidst the quiet office. My co-workers think I’m insane and they are correct. Anyway, that was truly epic.