Radio NX Changes & Thoughts on Neil Rogers

You may notice a slight change to in the immediate future. Following a few days away from the site and a couple of well earned vacation days, I’ve decided to drop the “Trades” section of the daily news updates. Instead of the list of radio trade news, the radio trades that have rss feeds will now have their news updates incorporated into the sidebar.

I also learned after coming back from a couple of days touring the Texas hill country that long-time South Florida talk legend Neil Rogers has decided to hang-up his hat. I’ve got kind of mixed feelings about the departure of Neil from the Miami-Fort Lauderdale airwaves…

Early in my radio career, when Miami-Fort Lauderdale was still one of the great talk radio markets in the US, Neil was my radio companion driving home every night following my 6-10 pm shift on WSHE. I’d listen to Neil and think… damn, that’s what radio is supposed to sound like! This is long before Neil went “over the edge” and was still a traditional topical talk host, making his rounds on WNWS and WKAT.

A few years later I ended up working down the hall at Zeta 4 when Neil was on WINZ. This is Neil’s “Blue Period” when he decided to pull a Howard Beale and essentially crack the mic one day and say…. “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Neil owned the South Florida market, with double-digit ratings. Neil’s ratings were so stellar, that the powers at WINZ decided to put Neil on the air in the mornings at ZETA. It was Neil, The Bird and Captain Dave (Dave Caprita). At this time I was handling Creative Services for ZETA so I jumped in the fray and started producing song parodies and bits for Neil’s show. This lead to me filling-in as a Neil Rogers’ show sidekick when “The Bird” or “Captain Dave” would take time off and Dave and myself handling the fill-in duties when Neil was out on vacation. I ended up working again briefly with Neil at WIOD for a few months before Neil jumped ship to WQAM.

Neil Rogers was the best “solo” talk show host I have ever heard. He commanded the airwaves with a presence, humor and style unlike any I have ever known or heard. His influence was both a blessing and curse to the South Florida airwaves. Talk show hosts moving into the market would hear Neil and the sky would open… They would think… “Wow! That’s the way you do it! I wanna do a show like that.” Unfortunately, no one else could. As consultant Walt Sabo once pointed out, they just didn’t have the years behind the mic that Neil did. Trying to do a free-form show like Neil was all but impossible, without Neil’s experience and cunning. They all fell flat on their face. Neil openly “slammed” the other hosts that would enter the market and South Florida listeners would turn on the new hosts like a pack of wolves. What “Neil God” said was gospel. Neil soared, and unfortunately South Florida talk radio stagnated. Now Neil is gone and Miami is a talk radio wasteland.

I had the chance to listen to Neil in the last year or so and as much as I hate to admit it, his show was but a mere shell of its past glory. Neil no longer took calls and read email on the air for four hours. When he was on vacation, which was often, his board-op George would fill in. As gallant of an effort as George gave it, there was just no filing Neil’s shoes.

So… have a happy retirement Neil. I’m glad I had the opportunity to work and learn from you. You were the absolute best.

John Ford