UPDATE: After Jeff Reisman - the general manager of WIND - read the article which was sent to him - he wrote: "Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I will address with Bryan. Customer service and the "listener experience" are highly important at AM 560, thus your feedback will be acted upon. On behalf of the entire station, I apologize."
One of the problems with Chicago talk radio is not only the number of syndicated talk shows that are not about local topics, but are manned by – for lack of a better term – lousy workers. Not the on-air talking heads, but the people behind the scenes manning the phones and dealing with the radio station's public.
Case in point: On Friday, while tuning into Joe Walsh’s Freedom program - on WIND-AM, 560, the Answer – the over-modulation of Joe’s voice was unbearable. While Joe always talks loud – often screams to make his ultra-conservative point of view known to his listeners - this was different. Joe could hardly be understood due to the quality of his voice coming through the radio speakers.
Having taken the trouble to find the phone number of WIND and call the station, a man who was at first less audible than Joe on the air answered the phone. He was asked if he was involved with the Joe Walsh program, and he then clearly snapped, “Obviously!!”
He was asked, “Obviously? You don’t have to be a smart ass with listeners.” How in the heck is a caller supposed to know they didn’t get the sales’ staff line, the manager’s office, or some switchboard operator that has nothing to do with Joe’s show? Rudeness doesn't fly when you're in a competetive business - but this guy never got the word!
No, I didn’t hang up – though maybe I should have – and continued with the reason for calling. After explaining that I was a regular listener of Joe’s and never had the problem I was currently having with the poor audible quality of his voice on Friday afternoon’s show. the guy on the phone said the audible quality of the show bothered him, too, but he couldn’t do anything about it. He reasoned that he could do nothing because Joe was in Washington, D.C. - instead of the Chicago radio studio.
Suggesting that he could call the Washington, D.C. facility so they could tweak something on the other end in Washington, D.C. fell on this guy’s deaf ears. Before hanging up, I asked the guy his name. He said, “Brian.” I said, “I’ll be talking to your boss.” He light-heartedly - and in a very unthreatened, secure voice - pronounced, “OK,” and hung up. (Upon further examination at the WIND web site, it appears "Brian" spells his name "Bryan.")
Wow! Just wow!
As hard a time as talk radio – particularly political talk radio – is having in the Chicago market in current times, one would think radio station management would put someone without a smart-ass attitude in charge of answering the phones when “clients” and listeners take the time to give them a call.
Will I listen again? Yes, I enjoy Joe Walsh’s informative show a great deal. I don’t always agree with the former Republican House of Representative from Illinois’s perspectives, but I believe he has the best political talk show on the airwaves in Chicago at that hour. The very best. Will I call again if they have a problem with their quality of producing the show again? Heck no. I’ll just change the dial like I did today and listen to something that is audible and listenable through my radio speakers. No way will I subject myself to "Brian" again.
Joe Walsh deserves better representation on the phone, as does any radio station's on-air personality in the city. The listeners and clients who attempt to communicate with the public airwaves deserve much more respect than experienced in this episode as well.
If this was the only bad experience had when trying to call radio stations, the reaction wouldn't be as such. Unfortunately, however, it is becoming quite common to get cold, arrogant, and non-assistive persons answering the phones at Chicago's talk radio stations. None have been as bad as Brian – but some have been less than stellar, to say the least.
Calling WBBM-AM, NewsRadio78, is the exception. When calling for follow-up on a news story or to report a traffic concern to the traffic department, respectful professionalism is evident at that facility. Professionalism apparently starts at the top and travels to the rest of the staff at WBBM-AM. People pick up on that type of operation and tune in! Look at their tremendous ratings to see the results of professionalism!
Some stations, however, need to oil up that revolving door and get rid of the people that are holding them back from being all they can be.
Joe Walsh, incidentally, is on WIND-560 the Answer on AM radio in Chicago every weekday afternoon from 5:00 to 8:00. He obviously puts a lot of hard-work into planning and presenting his show for Chicago’s politically-minded listeners. Though there’s a lot to debate about what he has to say, one is extremely well-informed about Chicago and national politics and current events via his work.