A 4-part interview — “Life at WNST” (part 2)

January 10, 2012 | Drew Forrester


RL — Let’s finish by talking for a moment about the competition in town.

DF — Sure.  It’s highly competitive.

RL — You like that?

DF — Absolutely.  To me, it’s like an athletic event.  We think we’re better than you.  You think you’re better than us. Let’s find out.

RL — So who is the best in Baltimore?

DF — WNST is.  I listen to the competition all the time, I’m not afraid to admit that.  I listen because I want to hear what they’re offering.  Is it so captivating that I can’t turn the dial?  And the answer almost always is, “Eh, it’s OK.  I can take it, leave it, or switch over to the Springsteen channel on Sirius.”  I don’t really listen to ‘NST all that much because I don’t really like knowing what Thyrl or Glenn think about a subject or a story because I don’t want to frame my opinion on it and have what they they think in the back of my mind. It needs to be organic. But I listen to the competition a lot and I think we’re better than them.  I think the radio we do is better.  I think we provide better reporting.  Our web-site is so much better than everyone else’s that they should put the mercy rule in effect. I think — no, I know — that we know more about Baltimore sports, all Baltimore sports, than anyone else in town.  I go to the Towson Center and the RAC and Reitz Arena and Hill Field House.  I don’t see anyone there but WNST people and the occasional writer from The Sun if the game or situation calls for it.  But when Towson plays Hofstra on a Tuesday night in January, WNST is the only one on the scene.  Everyone in town came out to UMBC when they beat Hartford a few years ago to go to the NCAA tournament.  Nearly all of those folks haven’t been back since.

RL — The ratings suggest that the competition is winning your mythical athletic event.

DF — Sure.  I understand that.  It’s easy to say, “the ratings show you’re losing to the competition” and assume that’s the gospel.  I have no idea how many people listen to WNST.  Or my show.  But I know this.  In November, we dropped off about 4,000 cans of food to Bea Gaddy’s house and the Canton Baptist Church.  In December, we took about 800 coats and winter apparel items to Helping Up Mission downtown.  I have no idea how many cans and coats our competition could collect.  Maybe more.  Maybe less.  As far as I can tell, they never try to do it.  If we’re measuring “who does better radio?” based on ratings, I think that’s silly. My local pizza place in Parkville makes the best pizza in town, in my opinion, but they definitely don’t sell more pizzas than the local Papa John’s or Pizza Hut on Joppa Road.  But because the family-owned place down the street from me sells less pizzas, does that mean their pizza isn’t better than the big boys?  I don’t think so.  I’ve had all of them.  My little mom and pop place makes a better pizza than those other places, period.  To me, the question of “what are your ratings?” should never be connected with “does your station do good radio?”  But it gets lumped together all the time because the people who oversee the whole ratings thing are living in the stone age, still.

RL — Your competition might read this and say “game on”.

DF — That’s fine.  I don’t worry much about that, personally.  I don’t see the same energy level from the competition that we have at WNST.  I can think of three different guys on the FM station in town that I haven’t seen ONCE at the Ravens complex this season.  Think about that.  There are guys who work on the radio in Baltimore talking sports and they haven’t been to the Ravens facility one time this season.  How is that possible?  Then I hear the FM station bragging with a pre-recorded announcement about how they are “Baltimore’s sports leader”…and some of their on-air people haven’t been to Owings Mills this football season.  That’s laughable.  And only I know that.  It’s not necessarily something I pass along to the listeners or the readers, but I know it, because I’m out there.

RL  — Is the competition between stations in town what you would consider “heated”?

DF — It’s heated enough that our competition goes around town telling sponsors and potential sponsors that WNST isn’t a good advertising buy because “no one listens to WNST”.  They sell against us when they’re out selling for themselves.  So, in that sense, I think in theory it’s very heated.  For the most part, a lot of us are friends, professional friends, if you will.  But we all have pride, too.  We think we’re good.  They think they’re good.  They’d like to see us go away, we know that.  The competition in town has been trying to bury us for years, but they haven’t done it.  Hell, one of them tried suing us to get us out of business.  It’s part of the day-to-day grind.  Like I said before, we think we’re better than them and they think they’re better than us.  It’s all good.  But we do more for the community and the city of Baltimore than anyone else in town. That’s something that can’t be challenged.