Thursday, March 5, 2009

Radio's top personalities shine beyond ratings book

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Saturday, July 5, 2008
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

The Arbitrons, the spring 2008 radio ratings, have arrived.

Arbitron measures the number of listeners each radio station in a specific market, like Phoenix, has.

It showed a "revised" winter listing where Beth and Bill, originally No. 1, slipped to No. 2, behind Spanish-language KHOT-FM (simulcast at 105.3 and 105.9).

In the spring book, Beth McDonald and Bill Austin, KESZ-FM (99.9), are again kings. No. 2, as expected, and with a very close share, was KFYI (550), home to Russ Limbaugh in Phoenix.

Again, placing third in the "non-revised" spring book is KHOT.

Interesting is that KTAR, originally a news station once owned by The Arizona Republic, continues its slide I predicted in a column last year. It fell from No. 10 to No. 12. For decades, this station was No. 1 in the market, but changing to a talk station format over news, it has slipped continually since trying to compete with KFYI. Yet management and owners fail to see why it is falling and take steps to fix it. It's like the old TV ad, "I've fallen and can't get up."

Writing occasionally for The Republic has its perks. After the story on the winter Arbitrons was published, I received a terrific e-mail from Dave Pratt. Pratt has been on the air in Phoenix almost longer than anyone (he's been on Phoenix radio since 1981). I even have a hat he wore as a member of the Sex Machine Band at his 18th anniversary celebration on KUPD. His e-mail arrived a day after Beth and Bill celebrated their 18th year together on Phoenix radio. They are closing in on Pratt's 20-year record at one radio station in Phoenix.

Since Pratt has been plugging his soon-to-be published book on his station of more than five years, KMLE-FM (107.9), Dave Pratt, Behind The Mic, 30 Years in Radio, I may as well help him since sale proceeds go to charity. Check it at

Pratt is a legend in community leadership. He established the Pratt Dental Clinic to help impoverished children get dental care. He's a business partner with Alice Cooper and concert promoter Danny Zelisko. I can't image where Phoenix would be without Pratt.

Same with Beth and Bill. I've pointed out in the past their station is geared toward Baby Boomers, but there's an adage, "Know thy market." Boomers may be the largest audience in Arizona. Beth and Bill serve their market excellently. In a field strewn with me-too stunts, like bogus phone calls, no other station has copied their original Mamma Jo on Mondays, Friends' Day Wednesday or other bits.

Beth is probably the pioneer in delivering celebrity gossip in Phoenix -- having done it for what seems forever at 6:20 each morning. It is a tradition to see what celebrity shares yours, or a friend's, birthday.

In 1986, Denver and Phoenix would flip-flop for the 20th-largest radio market in the nation. According to the spring Arbitron, there is in excess of 3 million radio listeners, placing Phoenix 15th (only five places ahead in a quarter of a century?), behind the island of Puerto Rico but in front of San Diego!

At 15 million listeners, New York City is the No. 1 radio market followed by Los Angeles, with 10 million listeners. Albuquerque is No. 69, for those who wanted to know -- just over a half-million listeners, same as in 1970. Tucson is No. 61 with 800,000 listeners -- a far cry from the fewer than 200,000 in 1970.

Here's hoping Hillerman writes another book

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Author: Richard Kelleher , The Republic

Welcome to what hopefully will run a very long time, the annual Tony Hillerman birthday celebration. A belated one this year. Hillerman is a noted author who specializes in mysteries based on Navajo characters usually taking place on the Navajo and Hopi nations. Born May 27, 1925, in Sacred Heart, Okla., he celebrated his 83 birthday this year.

He was also my journalism professor at the University of New Mexico.

Much of what I knew about Hillerman, how he would sway back and forth on a podium while teaching, preferring to be behind a typewriter, was covered in last year's Northeast Phoenix Republic column. Many people responded about what fans they are of Hillerman's.

Last year, following the 2006 release of Shape Shifters, he said he was done writing. A St. Patrick's Day communique from, as I still respectfully call him, Professor Hillerman, stated: "Have a book idea in my head but too pooped out to start it."

This is how Hillerman writes books. He thinks them through, goes on a trip to the Four Corners. Then he puts them to paper, then edits the heck out of them, and lets others edit them before they are complete.

So I'd be willing to say there is yet another book coming from Hillerman. Remember, you heard it here first.

In 1996, Hillerman was listed as New Mexico's 22nd-richest citizen by a newspaper called Crosswinds. It was on the Internet, so who knows how accurate the information is. At $25 million, he lags way behind the Maloof family. When I knew them, they were beer distributors. Now they own much of Las Vegas and even become regulars on the TV show Vegas. They clock in at $450 million. Yes, they are the richest family in New Mexico.

Still, Hillerman making this list is very good for a former professor and journalist.

One recent online review stated Hillerman's books are anthropological. When I was his student, he was good friends with fellow UNM Professor Frank Hibben. Hibben came to fame for finding the Sandia Man around 1935. A Time article in 1940 made him a bigger celebrity than Albert Einstein. I still remember seeing Hibben and Hillerman strolling from the school's Anthropology Department to the student union for lunch. Yes, Hillerman does have a passion for anthropology.

I recently discovered another Hillerman plum. In a 2004 New York Times op-ed piece, Hillerman wrote that presidential candidates should be required to take IQ tests. That idea will stand the test of time.

The most famous lesson Hillerman instilled upon me was to "stay current." One article noted in the late '80s that Hillerman had cassettes of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. Maybe that explains why on my external drive can be found Aly & AJ, Hannah Montana, OneRepublic and Jack's Mannequin. As Hillerman said "stay current."

For those who want to know a deep, dark Hillerman secret, he had a poker club. It met every Tuesday.

One member was one of my classmates, Jim Belshaw, who went on to big things at the Albuquerque Journal. "I think the relatively low stakes are one of the reasons the game has lasted as long as it has. We play for just enough to keep your interest but not enough for anyone to get hurt." For more than 35 years, Belshaw has been a Hillerman confidante.

"Unfortunately, Hillerman no longer plays. Tony has run into health (issues) and he's just not up to the task of four hours at a poker table."

As devoted Hillerman fans, let's hope Professor Hillerman does complete that next book, and as Spock would say, "Live long and prosper." We know about the prosper part.

Turns out Phoenix is quite an unusual radio market

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

Arizona State University public relations professor Len Gutman received an Arbitron diary for the spring 2008 rating period. So did his wife, Leslie, a stockbroker.

Arbitron is a company that sets advertising rates for local radio stations. It sends books to people like Gutman and they list what stations they listen to during a seven-day period.

Arbitron utilizes a formula that ranks stations according to responses they receive from the Gutmans and thousands of others. When the rankings are released, radio stations can raise -- or need to lower -- their rates according to their Arbitron ratings.

KESZ, the Beth and Bill station, will take a substantial hike in its rates after the winter Arbitron ratings. The station took a jump to nearly a 6 percent share of the radio audience, the highest of any radio station since quasi-news outlet KFYI reached that level in summer 2007.

Could it be playing holiday tunes over the winter months paid off? Usually, the station panders to Baby-Boomer tastes, but during the holidays, the station switches to Christmas music.

It could also be that Beth and Bill moved its annual Thanksgiving Day show to the East Valley from Paradise Valley Mall where it had held court for years. This move could have exposed the station to more listeners. It should be noted, the station was also No. 1 in fall 2007.

The Gutmans appear like they are not going to impact Phoenix radio advertising rates. "We only listen to XM satellite," Len said. He said Leslie listens to a Top 40 format (there really isn't a commercial Top 40 outlet in Phoenix) and CNBC. Gutman listens to a station that plays independent record labels and '80s music. Both on XM.

He also said he listens to "my (San Diego) Padres" ballgames, also available on satellite or Internet radio.

Gutman said he didn't know how Arbitrons worked until he received "the book," as those in the radio industry call it. He was in the dark about top-rated radio stations in Phoenix. "I believe KTAR would be Number 1 on AM and KMLE Number 1 on FM." Good guess.

Top-rated stations in Phoenix for the winter book of 2008 were: KESZ-FM (99.9), followed by KFYI-AM (550), and KHOT/KHOV-FM (105.3 and 105.9), a Spanish language simulcast owned by Univision, with most of its programming coming out of Los Angeles.

Those are the top three stations in Phoenix.

What an unusual radio market Phoenix appears to be. The fourth top-rated station is smooth jazz KYOT, followed by oldies station KOOL and then country outlet KNIX, all on the FM dial.

I would have thought KNIX would have come out higher than KYOT or KOOL during this rating period. They had the drama of Tim & Willy leaving the station and their final show during this rating sweep.

Dave Pratt's KMLE, a country station Gutman thought was tops, was No. 9. KTAR, which is now an FM station, held tight at No. 10, where it has been for several rating periods.

Goes to show people who got the book for the winter rating period were not that "into" country.

It will be interesting to see how listeners like the Gutmans impact the spring Arbitrons, which should be released early this summer

NE Phoenix working as Valley's hub

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Friday, May 16, 2008
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

Fifteen Fortune 500 companies and a "new city center" from Loop 101 to Carefree Highway are the predictions of a visionary who foretold of the Desert Ridge/CityNorth growth a decade ago.

Walter "Skip" Brown was the administrator responsible for purchasing land for Paradise Valley Unified School District until his retirement two years ago. He still keeps an active ear to the ground on northeast Phoenix growth.

Nearly 10 years ago, he accurately predicted that Reach 11 would become "Phoenix's Central Park." Brown said all of Phoenix would move north. This was before the CityNorth project was envisioned.

After reading a networking book by local author Larry James, I decided to reconnect with Brown and get his insights for the near future of northeast Phoenix, nearly 10 years after I first encountered his visionary projections.

We discussed the Desert Ridge mantra of "Live, Work and Play." It was my contention that the area is rife with low-paying positions, like retail, janitorial and maid service at Desert Ridge's resort.

Brown the visionary had a totally different perspective. He envisioned firms such as American Express; Sitix, the wafer manufacturing plant at Tatum and 101; and Mayo Hospital all drawing Fortune 500 companies to the area. He pointed out that PetSmart joined the Fortune 500 in 2007 and is located in the corridor he sees as the future of Phoenix. Phoenix added one-third more Fortune 500 firms in 2007 over 2006, jumping to six located in the state; two in north Phoenix.

"Why wouldn't someone move here?" the visionary said of Fortune 500 companies moving to northeast Phoenix. He said the area is a transportation hub -- including airports such as Dear Valley and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway, both of which he called "underutilized" -- has terrific weather and has a plentiful supply of data networks. He mentioned he had the privilege to tour the former Arizona Republic/Phoenix Gazette building on Van Buren Street, which he describes as a telecommunications wonder with all the telecom equipment located in that building alone. There are similar telecom projects throughout metro Phoenix that will attract industry -- and Fortune 500s.

"We need to nurture them," Brown said about the relationships needed to attract Fortune 500s. He said he believes that task will fall to the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. He realized government agencies have development departments, but Brown sees the chamber taking a leadership role in bringing new businesses or expanding current companies, such as PetSmart, to move them into the Fortune 500.

He said the state will auction two large parcels of land in the area for more development. He said home builders such as Pulte have projects planned throughout the region. He believes this area will grow beyond anyone's expectation.

Because he grew up in Phoenix but went to college at the University of Arizona, he also sees growth for the state in the corridor between Tucson and Phoenix.

While sitting in Kierland Commons, he looks at the townhouses and those still being built. "This is working so well ..." and he trails off in his thoughts as if to indicate the growth throughout northeast Phoenix is included in that "working so well."

Richard C. Kelleher is a media relations specialist living in northeast Phoenix. Reach him at

SEE SIDEBAR: "Whither northeast Phoenix?," page 29.

SEE RELATED STORY: "District 2 boasts amenities coveted by families, employers," page 29.

Freedom of press a gift worth celebrating

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Saturday, May 3, 2008
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

Recently I read a local public relations blog concerning whether or not the site should run a press release it received from some agency.

My answer was freedom of the press, but that is something we may be losing as new media takes center stage.

Freedom of the press is so critical, the United Nations celebrates World Press Freedom Day today. The UN site carried this message, "Throughout the world, 3 May serves as an occasion to inform the public of violations of the right to freedom of expression and as a reminder that many journalists brave death or jail to bring people their daily news."

Recently, I studied how people reacted when television came along. It was much the same stories now being written about the so-called "social media" or new media. It's media. It includes television, newspapers, radio, Internet, even town criers. Everything changes, but we must protect our freedom of the press; even now in the 21st century when media is changing to focus on Internet, including the recent page redesign of

The local Web PR site/blog brings to light that many local PR people have no idea who John Peter Zenger was. Any journalist and most PR people coming out of journalism should know Zenger was a father of freedom of the press in the United States. He was the George Washington of freedom of the press.

Zenger's life and jail time for freedom of the press are too lengthy to get into here. I spent much of a year in college studying Zenger, first in history of journalism and then journalism law. I encourage everyone to learn something about this period of our nation's history, the early 18th century, just before we became a nation.

Why should every Arizonan be concerned with freedom of the press? We've had many local government officials who want to shut the door, violating open meeting laws. The public has a right to know what its elected officials are doing.

According to Reporters Without Borders, more than one-third of the world's people live in countries where there is no press freedom.

Cuba just got cellphone privileges. Wait till Cubans discover that cellphones now have GPS and can track their every move. Most Cubans still can't have Internet access -- and Cuba is only 90 miles south of the U.S. We should be broadcasting free Internet like we broadcast Radio Free Europe. Cuba is one of those countries without freedom of the press.

We in the U.S. are lucky to have freedom of the press. It is so important, our forefathers included it in the First Amendment. Arizonans, let's celebrate World Press Freedom Day today. Maybe we should all turn our lights off for an hour.

Hopefully Web sites, among them TMZ, will mature and take a hard look at their responsibilities. Press freedom may be a right, but it is a hard fought privilege and those dealing in the media (that includes marketing professionals dealing with advertising, public relations and Internet) need to treat it as respectfully as you would carry dynamite or nitroglycerin. Words are even more volatile.

Believe in mayor's 'global city'

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

Mayor Phil Gordon contradicted himself in his fifth State of the City address in downtown Phoenix last week.

"Too many jobs have been eliminated," Gordon said at the beginning of his speech. "The price of gas is too high. Even an optimist like me cannot ignore it." There you have it. The mayor of Phoenix is declaring a bad economy.

* This on the day the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee released its report stating a half-billion dollars were brought in by the Super Bowl. That doesn't include the April NASCAR race and all of those lucrative spring-training games.

* Less than two weeks before the mayor's speech, Arizona State University announced, "The Arizona Business Conditions Index is edging back to growth territory. The March reading moved up to 49.3 from 46.3. A reading above 50 represents a growing economy."

* The mayor's comments on a bad economy came a day following this report, "NetPro Computing Inc. said its first-quarter revenue grew 32 percent over the same period in 2007."

The mayor did redeem himself after taking shots at Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

"We will weather the storm and do it better than most," the mayor said. "People are coming to Phoenix. Very often before they come here, they find employment.

So is it good or bad, Mr. Mayor?

Gordon said he wants Phoenix not to be the nation's fifth-largest city, but the "first global city of the 21st century."

A lofty goal, but as the mayor said of all the economic achievements in the past five years: "None of these happened by accident. We went after them." He believes in his global city for the 21st century. If the mayor can believe in them, so can I.

Weaker dollar a strong boost for Arizona tourism

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Friday, April 11, 2008
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

The college professor responsible for me taking my first journalism course, the late Jim Crow, said a good journalist would steal ideas from other journalists.

Toward the end of March, an enterprising television reporter went to the Grand Canyon to cover all the Europeans viewing the state's most visited tourist site.

His point was that the U.S. dollar at that time was worth roughly half a euro. Wish I could remember which station he was on, but I am a channel flipper. If truth were known, he probably practiced what Crow preached and stole his story idea from someone else. If not, I will practice Crow's theorem.

The reporter was pointing out that the devaluation of the U.S. dollar is not necessarily a bad thing, and it isn't. It makes the U.S. a vacation bargain.

It also means anything manufactured or grown in the U.S., such as corn or beef, is cheap in Europe. Other countries are now importing like we were 15 years ago.

Unfortunately for us, many things like computers and cars are manufactured in China or Korea, meaning as the dollar loses value overseas, everything we purchase, including petroleum, costs us more.

In the mid-1980s, a wise man pointed out that even then the only thing the U.S. could offer the world was knowledge.

The media focus on the price of gas, scaring business owners into laying off employees.

The flip side is that the U.S. has some of the most brilliant minds in the world in the area of architecture, graphic design, computer programming and even mall development.

Donald Trump is taking advantage of this by building throughout the world.

Local author Robert Kiyosaki in his book Rich Dad Prophecy said smart investors will prosper while others only see catastrophe. Trump is a perfect example.

Dan Harkins could be expanding his entertainment expertise throughout Europe at what appears a bargain price to Europeans while he still makes a healthy profit.

The point is, someone needs to stand up to the floodtide of bad economic news and say: "Quit your panic. This is not a movie theater on fire."

Recently, I gave a presentation to a civic group about how good our state's economy is.

When you look at the tourism dollars flowing into Arizona, we're in the best shape the state has been in for more than 100 years.

This state built its economy on tourism. Since the '50s and '60s, when our major marketing tool was Arizona Highways, we've focused on tourism. We have lots of activities like spring training to draw tourists -- even to the Grand Canyon. We're one of the top cities nationally in golf courses per capita.

The civic group I presented to was meeting at a restaurant on a Monday night, and the restaurant was so full it was turning people away.

Monday night is the worst night of the week for restaurants, yet this springtime, tourists packed them.

My only question is: Will restaurants accept euros? They should!

Thriving businesses suggest sour economy is myth

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

Recently I wrote that business leaders might be creating economic hard times from what they pick up through the media, whether it is real or not.

To me, it appears the media are trying to create a recession. Let's look at some stories since February from various media outlets, including The Arizona Republic.

"Many Believe U.S. Already in a Recession," from Yahoo. "Sixty-one percent of the public believes the economy is now suffering through its first recession since 2001," according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll.

Another online headline shouted: "Auto dealers prepare for rough times." Reading the story led to something entirely different: "At Owen Ford in Jarratt, Va., owner Alton Owen Sr. said he is blessed to have a stable, older customer base that likes Ford's current product line. His sales were up 15 percent in January over the same month in 2007.

"Average dealer pre-tax profit, though, remained fairly strong through November, up 6.6 percent compared with the year-ago period."

The Republic ran this headline, "Valley home prices tumbling," but there is the good news from the story, too. "The best performers were Phoenix and the Northeast Valley area of Carefree, Cave Creek, Fountain Hills, Paradise Valley and Scottsdale. Both regions fell about 1 percent from October 2006 to October 2007." I'll gladly lose 1 percent from my home value, which has risen 500 percent in 10 years.

Here's some other local bad economy news: "Ariz. bankruptcy rates rise 63 percent. The 967 statewide filings in January represented a 63 percent gain over January 2007, according to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the district of Arizona. Phoenix-area filings rose 78 percent to 708."

Also: "City cutting jobs. About 500 jobs are expected to be cut under the budget that City Council members are expected to approve next month, City Manager Frank Fairbanks said."

The story explained that is 5 percent of the city's workforce. The cuts are due to the state cutting shared revenue to cities due to an estimated $1 billion state deficit. The story doesn't mention that the state is posting at least 25 jobs a day, sometimes as many as 100, at, which is the application site for state jobs. While the city is cutting, the state is hiring. Some recession or budget crunch. All the state-funded higher education employment sites, like Arizona State University and Maricopa County Community College District, are posting jobs.

A Republic article stated business was off at downtown businesses during the Super Bowl, yet from the article these comments: "Scottsdale restaurateur Sam Fox uses a dramatically different description to sum up a week that saw sales surge 200 percent at his Olive & Ivy and Sauce restaurants at the Scottsdale Waterfront.

"At Kierland Commons, adjacent to the New England Patriots' headquarters hotel, the Fox restaurants North and Greenhouse set sales records last Saturday."

Scottsdale Fashion Square even benefited. Traffic at the mall was up 20 percent to 35 percent on the peak days leading up to the Super Bowl, helped in part by an NFL wives fashion show on Feb. 1. "Last Saturday alone, 14 helicopters landed on the mall's helipad to drop off shoppers." Heck, I didn't even know there were helicopter pads there.

"Another downtown institution, Majerle's Sports Bar and Grill, had a better week, with business up 25 percent to 30 percent and the tips lucrative, said manager Randy Lavender."

Here is an article from the middle of February: "Levi's 4Q profit more than doubles best year since 1996.

"The San Francisco-based company said Tuesday that it earned $267 million during its fiscal fourth quarter ended Nov. 25, up from $96 million at the same time in 2006."

Back in the 1980s, there was a restaurant chain's ad that became very popular, where a woman shouted, "Where's the beef?" I say the same thing to employers pulling jobs because of a bad economy.

Show me this bad economy. I don't see it.

Economy weak? Spenders refute it

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

It was one of those delicious days, when the temperature hovered in the two-week gap when Phoenix goes from 60 degrees to 100-plus. It was an 85-degree day dripping with sunshine.

Baseball bats were cracking in Scottsdale and in many other ballparks throughout Arizona. There were probably 10,000 people, spending as much as $100 each, at this ballpark. If my math is correct, that's $1 million in circulation for this game. That doesn't include the brew and snacks after the game.

I was almost at the point of listening to voices of doom about our economy. Since gas went over $1 a gallon, I have curtailed my travels and had not been out and about in years. I needed this day to open my eyes to the reality of what a prosperous economy there is in Phoenix.

Old Town Scottsdale has radically changed since I first set foot there in 1965. There is still a blacksmith shop. Tourists were planting green -- dollars, just as Midwest farmers plant this time of year for fall harvest. After seeing this planting, I know Arizona's economy is due for an abundant harvest.

The 101 freeway was a huge parking lot, even at 1:30 on a Friday afternoon. There were at least three lanes of cars. If the average car was worth about $20,000, I was looking at billions and billions of dollars, each containing a tank full of gas with prices above $3 a gallon. Meanwhile, city buses were empty.

Common sense told me that if this were truly a bad economy, buses would be full and the roadways would be vacant. In impoverished countries, citizens take the bus or walk or ride a bike.

Granted, there's inflation. I predicted this years ago when gas prices hit $3 per gallon. Matter of fact, I predicted $4 per gallon gas in a Republic article last year -- and was totally off the mark. Today I feel the prognosticators -- and the media feeding into it -- of a recession are creating what they want. As far as I can see, we have a robust economy in Arizona. We've just come off a Super Bowl, golf tournament, running event and car shows that all have pumped money into the economy.

Desert Ridge mall was full of cars in early March, again about another billion in metal, chrome and petrol. That means people were shopping or going to the movies on one of the nicest days in Phoenix's history. Why?

Sure, the housing market is recessed. When someone offers a home loan where all you pay is interest on the loan, and nothing on the principal for paying on the house, it would take an idiot to think you're buying a home. You're paying someone else's mortgage with the interest.

Why regulators let mortgage companies get away with this is beyond my grasp. Legislators let loan sharks and spurious business people get away with a lot of corruption.

So why have the media shifted their attention to how bad the economy is rather than ferreting out corrupt business practices? You would have thought they would have learned their lesson in the savings and loan collapses last century.

As for me, again, I don't see a bad economy. I see bad sectors, but there will always be bad sectors. Let's dwell on how good the economy is overall, not how bad a few sectors are.

Gloomy media business forecasts often aren't right

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Saturday, March 1, 2008
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

The federal government is about to hand out your tax dollars to fix a bad economy. Politicians are claiming they can solve the bad economy. Media are reporting 17,000 jobs lost in January, "the first such reduction in more than four years."

Sorry, but I don't see a bad economy in 2008.

Charlie Baumgartner, executive director of Arizona Centennial, noted Phoenix is floating on a sea of green. He wasn't referring to all the golf courses prospering right now, but dollars in circulation. Especially since we just witnessed a Super Bowl, P.F. Chang's race, FBR Open, Barrett-Jackson auto show and more. We are now just entering the "high season" of springtime tourists.

Bob Mayo, managing partner at Roy's in the Desert Ridge resort, said his restaurant had the best January it has ever had and is going steamrollers for February.

Northeast Phoenix resident Bob Morgan, a board member of United Methodist Outreach Ministries, said the non-profit for homeless had its greatest December ever.

One thing that has always boggled my mind is that high-powered business leaders, those making millions each year, base their opinions and decisions on what they see in the media, written by reporters sometimes making only $10 per hour. Here is an example from the first week in February:

"Experts: Recession on horizon for Arizona."

More economists now believe Arizona is already in a recession -- or will be by the end of the year -- because growth in consumer spending is anemic and fewer jobs are being created. A survey of Arizona's top economic forecasters found that 35 percent believe a recession has begun in the state, and three-fourths believe a recession will be at hand by the end of the year."

Business leaders see this and institute plans of layoffs, ignoring the fact that Scottsdale Fashion Square had more cars in its parking lot on the last day of January than during the Christmas season. I saw a man with 10 shopping bags going through a very busy mall that day. Rows of buses lined Marriott Desert Ridge Resort in recent weeks.

The same day The Republic reported "Recession on horizon," here were a couple of overlooked stories:

* "Palo Verde: Now hiring."

* "Dollar rallies against 15-nation euro."

Scottsdale author Robert Kiyosaki said in his Yahoo blog, "As Warren Buffett has said, it's important for society to have accurate and informed sources of information. While I agree, I sometimes wonder about the many financial journalists, both in print and the electronic media.

"The problem with much of the financial news in print and on the Web, radio, and television is that it comes from journalists who may not be investors. When I listen to most journalists whine and cry about the subprime mess, the slowdown in the economy and the volatile stock market, I can all but tell that they're not really investors." I would add, or business-minded.

When it comes to business news, I always felt media are usually six months behind what is happening. If we do have a bad economy this year, it won't be from the rising price of crude, which should have impacted our economy more than two years ago, but had little effect.

A bad economy will occur because business leaders listen to the media and create a recession. There seems to be a group-think going. Group-think works for business decisions, too.

Relatives and friends are telling how two weeks ago businesses had help-wanted signs in their windows. When the bad economy was announced, those signs were removed. Business is still at the same level as when those signs were placed. Budgets are the same. The only thing that has changed is businesses listening to media claiming there is a bad economy.

Forget the news about a recession. There's an adage, if you're working, it's a good economy. If not, it's a bad economy. Where do you stand?

PV Mall can help local musicians

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Friday, February 15, 2008

The article by Richard Kelleher , Northeast Phoenix Republic community columnist, regarding music having died in northeast Phoenix (Opinions, Feb. 8) struck a resonant chord with me.

A short few years ago, four high school sophomores formed their "garage band" here in the northeast Phoenix area. Through hard work and lots of luck, this band is now performing for huge numbers of fans. Locally, most of their shows have been played in Tempe or Scottsdale.

Paradise Valley Mall area could offer something for all types of musicians and their devotees. Why not convert the areas formerly occupied by the Harkins theaters into a venue that managers of "national acts" would be happy to include on their clients' tour stops?

Why not create "practice rooms" that could be rented out at a reasonable fee. Parents (and neighbors?) might pay to get jam sessions out of the garage!

Surely something like this would pump some life, and money, back into this tired space -- and the coffers of the surrounding businesses as well.

-- Judith S. Warth, Scottsdale

When was day the music died in northeast Phoenix?

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Friday, February 8, 2008
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

In 2007, an Arizona Republic article stated that northeast Phoenix is larger than metro Atlanta. Yet in an area this large, there is pretty near zip to do for music entertainment.

There are less than a handful of bars. Most are in strip malls that feature live music. There's no renowned clubs like in Scottsdale.

The clubs I can think of with live music include Joe's Grotto, Dubliner, a bar at the southwestern corner of 32nd Street and Cactus Road -- I don't know the name of it -- and Loft Again on Cave Creek Road. Ten years ago, Cave Creek Road was littered with live music.

We have the third largest school district in the state, a branch of the nation's second largest community college district. There are probably bands and performers busting at the seams for places to perform close to home.

Then I remembered Desert Ridge. I was there the first day this mall had entertainment. The headlining act was Vitamin C. I know, who? She was the Hannah Montana of her day.

You need to thank Desert Ridge for having talent. It truly is a community center. One reader even wanted to find entertainment that started at 7 p.m. in northeast Phoenix. Desert Ridge has it. Occasionally Kierland does.

A problem I have is that Desert Ridge does not adjust its hours for the winter months. When it first opened, it had bands and acts starting at 2 p.m. Wish they'd revert to that during winter.

For a half-century, I've been a music enthusiast. I visited my first radio broadcast before 10 and by 12, I was pushing broom in a major Southwest recording studio.

At 15, I was setting up equipment for bands at a local club, one where what became Alice Cooper visited every other week. When they weren't there, I was pushing tubes in amplifiers for groups like the Dearly Beloved and Bo Street Runners, among others.

At 18, I was a radio announcer (I was dreadful, but station management loved my musical taste).

At 22, I had a personal first by having a music article run nationally over the Associated Press wire. Little did I know this was a prelude to being known as the guy who had the first national review of David Bowie's stage debut in Elephant Man and an expert on picture disks.

So like every other music writer not talented enough to be in the spotlight, I've wanted to be a music producer first, booking agent second. Rolling Stone writer Jon Landau produces Bruce Springsteen, lucky guy.

When Desert Ridge first opened, it had the top bands in Phoenix. An event I really love is the annual battle of the bands. Problem is, I never see those acts performing at Desert Ridge after the competition. There are some great bands out there. Desert Ridge should be tapping into that resource.

Same with Paradise Valley Mall. With nearly 30 percent of its floor space vacant, this is a cavern waiting to be launched. Where did the Beatles launch from? A cavernous club. It's indoors so it doesn't need to worry about the elements, an advantage over Desert Ridge.

PV Mall should have national acts coming through town. Would love to have Ali and AJ (yes, they are my current favorite, but I thoroughly enjoyed Sean Kingston's and Vanessa Hudgen's 2007 CDs) there before they open for Hannah Montana.

That would save me the $2,000 Hannah Montana tickets are going for. Saw this duo twice last year. Another great act was Baby Bash who opened for Rhianna when she played the state fair. I'm not a big fan of his music, but this guy is a great performer.

Certainly there are entrepreneurs who will see the vision of my dreams and will actually bring entertainment to northeast Phoenix, allowing all the local talent to get the recognition they deserve as Jordin Sparks did last year.

Then I can revert to my comfort zone of being a music journalist and report on it.

Another day in Arizona is another day in paradise

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Saturday, January 26, 2008
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

One of my favorite ads runs on television only during the winter holidays. The ad opens with a small island inlet with palm trees. Suddenly a lone palm tree has Christmas lights erupt. The idea is that you can transpose yourself to paradise while sipping its beer.

One of my favorite songs is by David Lee Roth, Just like Paradise. Love to turn it up and realize I don't need a desert isle. I am in paradise.

My concepts for being in paradise are palm trees and great weather. Got them both. How many people know Phoenix is the only place in the world where major-league baseball is played 10 months of the year? That is paradise.

The reason northeast Phoenix is so much like paradise is we have two of the finest resorts in the world, Kierland and Desert Ridge. These names are also synonymous with two of the nation's best shopping malls. When they are in your neighborhood, why do you need to go looking for exotic locations?

Matter of fact, northeast Phoenix was known as Paradise Village or Valley before Paradise Valley became a town. That's why Paradise Valley Mall is where it is!

During this time of year, there have been football bowl games galore. Arizona is home to two NASCAR events. We have a premier auto show and a running event sponsored by P.F. Chang's with lots of great musical acts. Then there is a golf tournament. This year we even have the biggest football event in the nation, plus a Hannah Montana concert about a week before. There's enough to do in January to put severe strain on any wallet or budget. My wish is that we get the Super Bowl in 2012 for Arizona's Centennial. Glad we didn't get it in 2011.

In February, we have spring training. Each spring training game puts money into the state's economy.

For years we were known as a redneck state. Having grown up in New Mexico, I was exposed to a great art culture. Arizona is headed that way. Cheryl Cooper, wife of rock star Alice, is building a national reputation with her dance studio. Photographer Michel Sarda is leading an art renaissance in Arizona.

We have music stars galore. There's Stevie Nicks, Bruce Springsteen guitarist Nils Lofgren, Sam Moore of Sam and Dave, Don Dokken, so many it would take a column to include all in this. We have actress Gena Lee Nowlin, announcer Paul Harvey and authors such as Harvey Mackay. We even had Dick Van Dyke for a while; and comedian David Spade. I've often wondered why no one has put together a map of the stars for the Phoenix area.

We also have some great politicians. John McCain has a shot at being president. He won't admit it, but Phil Gordon is a true politician. Northeast Phoenix is represented by the consummate politician, state Sen. Jim Waring. I'm hoping to see these two squaring off in the next governor's race.

There is only one problem with living in paradise. Where do you go on vacation? Over to see my daughter and son-in-law in the other paradise, San Diego!

Arizona not marketing itself to Fortune 500 firms

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Saturday, January 19, 2008
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

I love marketing. When The Arizona Republic recently ran a headline: "Marketing pro makes the business case for hospice," mentioning Gordon Fitzgerald, I immediately got on the phone to contact him. Don't know if it was years of reporting, or being a reporter for Billboard magazine, I just naturally think I can talk to anyone on the phone, including Jimmy Carter.

Maybe that's why a few years ago I called my hero, Philip Kotler, the man who wrote the book, literally, on marketing. Kotler defines marketing as "The societal marketing concept holds that the organization's task is to determine the needs, wants and interests of target markets and to deliver the desired satisfactions more effectively and efficiently than competitors, in a way that preserves or enhances the consumer's and the society's well-being."

Fitzgerald explained that he grew up in Grand Rapids, Mich.. Talking to him made me realize that states like Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota, which have many times the corporate headquarters as Arizona, have better marketers. Arizona only has three Fortune 500 headquarters. Thankfully one of those is in northeast Phoenix, Allied Waste.

When I went into marketing 30 years ago, I had a disadvantage. I had a journalism degree and newspaper experience. I had to learn a whole new world. I ran to some of the leading experts, including Alan Center in San Diego, the man who literally wrote the book on public relations. I got an MBA in marketing. Fortunately my marketing professor, Jim Meiggs, who moved from Denver with many corporate headquarters, to Detroit, with even more headquarters, ended up retiring to Sedona several years ago. Meiggs became my biggest marketing mentor and resource.

I threw myself into this passion of learning all I could about marketing. Too bad I haven't found that the case with many marketers in Arizona. I have met marketers at the vice president level, making high six figure incomes, who don't even know the 4-Ps of marketing, Price, Product, Promotion and Position (place). I have often had to explain what position is.

Even Fitzgerald sees the lack of marketing finesse in Arizona. The Republic noted in its opening sentence, "Hospice care could be marketed better, Gordon Fitzgerald says."

Recently I read a book by financial author and radio show host Dave Ramsey. Arizona is home to another financial expert, Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Both Kiyosaki and Ramsey agree on the advice: Get as much financial education as possible.

Getting as much education applies to those plying the marketing craft in Arizona. Marketers should make sure their companies review marketing plans annually. Corporations -- and government -- should make sure their marketing people are as passionate about marketing as Gordon Fitzgerald is. They should be reading blogs, books, attending conferences and seminars. So many marketers in Arizona are ignoring the words of author Tony Hillerman, who impressed upon me, "Stay current."

What I have seen in Arizona is a lack of marketing research. Marketing cannot be done from a gut level or from "experience." Without quantitative data, a company is losing money.

I have seen too many companies hiring or promoting marketers whose background is as a secretary or similar experience. They aren't even reaching to the level of retired teachers or professors for marketing hires. There's at least one well-known corporate headquarters in Phoenix that utilizes this practice. It is doing well in its field, but imagine how much superior it'd be if they hired real marketing professionals.

Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the nation, but the state can only boast of three Fortune 500 companies. It appears someone is not doing their marketing by bringing more headquarters here or creating greater wealth for the ones we have to get them on the Fortune list. Arizona's representation on this list has actually fallen in the past decade.

Liberal dialogue on Air America is stimulating

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Friday, January 18, 2008

This letter was originally sent to Richard Kelleher , columnist of The Phoenix Republic, regarding his commentary, "It's time to dial up intelligence, local voices on radio," Jan. 9.

I agree with the opinions expressed about the stations that are not presenting intelligent dialogue (mostly non-local "blabbermouths") and even poor-quality local ones. Kelleher also mentions some entertaining local ones.

However, I wonder why he did not mention KPHX-AM (1480) (Air America). It is the only station that directly challenges the right-wing innuendos and falsehoods and does it in a more intelligent way with facts and conversations with all who call in, whether they are on the liberal or conservative side (no screening).

Especially good is Tom Hartman in the morning. I know much of the programming is out of state, but they do cover local issues, also.

I encourage people to listen, and get a more balanced report about important current events.

-- Bob Gambee, Phoenix

It's time to dial up intelligence, local voices on radio

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

If you want to worry about intelligence in Arizona, you better start now. The end of the year (2007) Arbitron radio ratings are in and KFYI (550 AM), a right-wing propaganda machine, has the highest numbers in Phoenix.

Arbitron measures the pulse of radio listeners throughout the country, breaking it down in many segments so radio stations may offer confusing numbers to potential advertisers. According to Arbitron, Phoenix is the 15th-largest metropolitan area in the nation with more than 3 million radio listeners.

As a former writer for Billboard magazine, a music trade publication, the numbers tell me the pulse of the community. We have radio listeners who would rather listen to non-local blabber-mouths like Rush Limbaugh than entertaining locals like Beth and Bill on KEZ or Kid and Ruben who moved to the old KZON (101.5 FM) this year. To top it off, KFYI is on the poor-quality AM side of the dial.

On the other side of the coin is quasi-news outlet KTAR, once the flagship radio station for The Arizona Republic. On the first day of 2007, the station that had enjoyed the No. 1 slot in Arizona for years moved from the AM side to the FM dial. It ranked 10th in the most recent book (Arbitron), a downward trend that will continue until station management wakes up.

KTAR used to be a publicist's delight. You could get knowledgeable doctors on the air talking about your non-profit organization and listeners actually called in with intelligent questions or tear-jerk stories of how they lost relatives to your cause's disease.

It seems the days of intelligence on Phoenix radio are gone. Whenever I listen to KFYI, all I hear is anger spewing forth.

Unfortunately, KTAR has fallen into similar trends. They have some guy who just moved to Phoenix where the intelligence of Pat McMahon held forth for years. Its afternoon time, where the wonderful Preston Westmoreland used to hold court, has been replaced with satellite carpetbaggers who maybe passed through Sky Harbor on their way elsewhere.

Arizona's Jingoists are in trouble, too. Two stations that simulcast, and have transitioned many times over the past two decades, 105.3 FM and 105.9 FM, are now owned by one of the most powerful entertainment companies in the world, Univision. They broadcast a Los Angeles-based disk jockey, Piolin, in the mornings. The stations rate No. 3, tied with KESZ (99.9 FM). What a contrast these stations offer.

Piolin broadcasts in Spanish, targeting the young Hispanic market, while KEZ targets the 50ish, predominately Anglo listener. KEZ features Marty Manning who is at or approaching four decades on Phoenix radio!

Manning represents my idea of what Phoenix radio should be. If he would spin yarns of what used to be on what corners, like the old Harkins at Camelback Road and 24th Street, I could listen forever.

Yet Manning doesn't do that. He practices the art of what author Tony Hillerman says, "Stay current." He will probably be enjoying Destiny Hope Cyrus when she brings her Hannah Montana show back to Phoenix this month. Manning is an excellent marketer and does stay current.

Being local is important if we are to maintain a Phoenix culture. Longtime announcers like Manning and the rest of the KEZ morning team, or Dave Pratt, KMLE (107.9), who was soundly trounced in the country market by rivals and longtime Phoenicians Tim and Willy, KNIX (102.5), are what I believe radio should be. I would rather hear Kid and Ruben saying you can see them at Buzz on Friday night than listening to some jerk spewing hate about "red and blue" states

Listening to a particular radio station depends upon what level of intelligence you want for your community. Bet no one reading this piece has ever called a general manager at a radio station to express his or her opinions. Most GMs are in the office from 9-4 weekdays. Go ahead, call and bring intelligence back to Phoenix radio.

Free neighborhood Wi-Fi bringing us together again

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

Months ago, I suggested whatever country or community offers free Wi-Fi will end up as the world leader in new technologies and businesses. I am surprised businesses worldwide are not rushing to locate in Tempe, the first city in the nation to offer citywide free Wi-Fi.

But from the looks of new buildings around Town Lake, and the call centers springing up throughout that city, it appears Tempe is not suffering for job growth. As a loyal Phoenix resident, I'm still waiting for our own City Council to get in gear and duplicate Tempe's smart attitude of the future. With several new council members coming in January, it could happen.

For a year, I've been taking advantage of a neighbor who had unsecured Internet. Problem was I had to go to my parking lot or swimming pool for reception. Try doing that when it is 110-plus degrees out.

Another neighbor saw me and suggested our homeowners' association band together and provide free Wi-Fi to residents.

Turns out there is a program called "Practical End-host collaborative Residential Multihoming" that allows security and sharing for neighborhoods like apartments and townhouses.

Don't tell telecom companies about this idea. Having worked nearly 20 years in marketing for the largest telecom firms in the world, I learned each of them wants to be your single provider and take $100 monthly from your wallet. Think of the impact on telecom, which took a major hit at the turn of the century, if people share Wi-Fi.

Internet phone services could replace phone service. Have you checked television broadcast Web sites recently? Most of your favorite shows are on the Internet, free. That includes video news on sites like I recently taught my son that you can text message all day for free using the Web site of the person you want to text's cellphone provider. Then there is Web cam. I am communicating face-to-face with clients and friends.

Free Wi-Fi would eliminate the need for cable, phone service and texting, saving each homeowner about $1,200 a year. Think of thousands of Phoenicians donating that amount to local charities.

It is ironic. The 20th century's industrial revolution isolated neighbors in contrast to the Agrarian Age, in which everyone had to know their neighbors to do business and survive. Now, in the Technology Age, we are reverting to the Agrarian Age of community involvement.

Health-care woes hit lower middle class hardest

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Friday, December 28, 2007
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

It's winter and the political season. That means promises of health care abound. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 42 million, or roughly 15 percent, of U.S. citizens without health insurance.

In Arizona, the percentage approaches 20 percent. That means roughly 1 million Arizonans have no health insurance.

During my MBA studies, the very first thing my marketing professor said was: "To understand marketing, you must know sociology. We will be studying a lot of Max Weber."

I got off on a wrong foot in this class. I had worked a full weekend, and it was Monday evening. Without realizing it, out of my mouth shot the words, "It's Veber." The vice president of marketing for one of the nation's top five companies at the time, who was teaching this class, wanted to know how he was being challenged by a student. As a journalism student, I had taken many sociology courses to understand the mankind I was reporting.

I explained Weber had been German and pronounced his name "Veber." Those comments endeared me to this man, now living in Sedona, and he became a lifelong mentor.

So, to understand the ramifications of these 42 million uninsured, you must look at it from a sociological perspective. It is the lower middle class that suffers the most from the lack of health care, more than the poor or middle and upper classes.

Recently, a man I know -- over 40, with a menial janitorial job even though he holds an MBA -- was limping. I asked when he had developed the limp. He explained that he had broken his leg and could not afford to go to a doctor. He had put a splint on it and let it heal itself.

It appears as employers jettison older male workers, these workers are falling into new territory from their parents' generation. Health care seems to be affordable for the comfortable upper middle class and there is the state-funded AHCCCS program for the poor. So the lower middle-class males are finding they cannot afford to pay for health care. They just go without it.

I learned about this phenomenon in college.

* I lived in a home where rooms where rented. For about a week, the guy across the hall was hack coughing 24 hours a day.

After about five days, police were there taking his body away. He had no health care.

In situations like this, the family usually finds out about six weeks later. I've never learned where authorities bury the bodies of lower middle-class people who don't leave enough behind to pay for a funeral or burial plot.

* A former roommate was in a horrific accident. Police told him they were calling an ambulance. He explained he could not afford any health care. He died at the scene.

* There was a man in his late 50s who died of a strangulated hernia. Again, newly lower middle class due to his employment situation of finding nothing but telemarketing jobs -- five in one year.

Like my janitor friend, he also held an MBA.

When politicians promise health care, realize they are talking Band-Aids on severed limbs. Instead of finding the societal cures to why people can't afford health care through an employer-sponsored program, or meaningful employment, politicians mean developing programs to provide jobs for those who helped get them in office. Those in the lower middle class call it more taxation.

Alice Cooper book stirs memories of '60s in Arizona

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

Local boy Alice Cooper has a new book, Golf Monster, which I mistakenly overlooked because I thought it was about golf, rather than an autobiography.

The book gloriously covers how Vince Furnier met Dennis Dunaway at Cortez High School in Phoenix. Unfortunately, Cooper fails to mention Emmit Smith (not the football player), the teacher who encouraged them to enter a talent contest that led to the creation of the Spiders, as the band was known throughout Arizona in the mid-1960s.

The book chronicles Cooper's life. The author begins to paint a picture of what life was like in Arizona in this era, like running out for cigarettes for his father, but never completes the canvas, probably due to so much he had to cover in his life.

I was never at Cooper's home when he was growing up, having grown up in other Arizona cities, but I can relate to what life was like for him in Phoenix's mid-'60s.

Life was frugal compared to today. Most of us lived in a brick or frame home, single story, maybe 10 to 12 feet high. More than likely, you had a swamp cooler and television antenna on the roof, a carport instead of a garage. Your family probably had one car, not two, in the carport, even if you lived in the area that would become the town of Paradise Valley.

Chances are your family home had a small dining area between the kitchen and the 17-inch black-and-white TV in the 10-foot by 10-foot living room. Homes were small to conserve energy from a cooling perspective. Does that mean Arizona was "green" in the mid-'60s?

Every few months it was the son's responsibility to go up on the roof and change the pads on the swamp cooler. While you were at it, you had to change the antenna wire because the Arizona sun made them brittle and the monsoons would make the wires touch each other, grounding out the antenna. If you were a teenage boy during this period, these were your responsibilities since dads of this time were all about cheap labor.

Most of us had read Huck Finn, so we went around in packs to accomplish the task of changing things on the roof. That's why so many kids were in bands. After you completed four or five roofs in the hot Arizona sun, it was time to hit the guitars or drums to release the pent-up angst. There wasn't that much to do in Arizona at this time, especially in smaller towns like Sierra Vista, Safford or neighboring Silver City, N.M. So you went swimming or formed a band.

I still remember Dennis Dunaway's Airline bass guitar. The paint was worn off when he played it in the mid-'60s. He says he still has it. I thought the wood would have decomposed after all these years.

To give you an idea of how stark life was back then, the Montgomery Wards store that sold Airline products was probably white, bare fluorescent bulbs overhead and white metal racks displaying guitars, and the Levis every guy of this period wore as if it was a military uniform.

Most guys wore button-down shirts, but a few braved the wrath of principals by wearing white T-shirts. I remember having my hair the same length for many years, but as soon as the Beatles came out, I was called to the vice principal's office (another waste of taxpayers' money) and was suspended until I cut my hair. Nobody noticed until the Beatles came along. So it was easy to convert our Righteous Brothers/James Brown coifs to Beatle bowl cuts.

At the time hairstyles changed, this band of ruffians from Phoenix opened for the Byrds at the roller rink down the street from me. That was the first time I saw Dennis' Airline bass.

I got to know a couple of the players in the band over the next few years. Musicians throughout Arizona at the time pretty much knew each other. The late Glen Buxton taught me how to play barre chords on guitar. Never really got to know the lead singer who later became Alice Cooper, but I remember seeing him at the mall one day with a girl on each arm. That's probably the biggest reason guys of that era formed a band.

Black Friday for entertainment at NE Phoenix malls

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Friday, November 30, 2007
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

During the Christmas season, it's hard to buy into the propaganda that Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the nation.

The day after Thanksgiving, there were no special events at any of northeast Phoenix's three malls.

Paradise Valley even lost the annual Beth and Bill Thanksgiving radio show to Chandler.

The famous Disney Jingle Jam is scheduled for Tempe on Dec. 9, not northeast Phoenix. Why not?

Let's hope CityNorth, which is getting terrific tax breaks from the city, will learn a marketing lesson. This project will move Phoenix's demographics north, to northeast Phoenix. So its Christmas event needs to be spectacular.

Los Angeles has an outdoor shopping mall called The Grove. It opened about the same time as both Kierland Commons and Desert Ridge Marketplace. The Grove is similar to San Diego's Horton Plaza, another shopping mall with national renown.

"Christmas at The Grove could give Rockefeller Center's celebration a run for its money," according to the Web site So could CityNorth, if it markets itself properly.

Here's a suggestion for CityNorth developer: On Nov. 18, The Grove had performers Smokey Robinson, Patti LaBelle, Goo Goo Dolls and Mannheim Steamroller. This was not as good as 2006, when they had my favorite group, Aly and AJ. You can find their The Grove performance on

If CityNorth wants to be overly successful, it should plan a huge holiday event. If it opened today, I would recommend Hannah Montana or Jonas Brothers.

Next year, I would recommend Jordin Sparks. Maybe bring the world's most gorgeous woman, Jessica Simpson, to sing her Christmas album songs, or Hilary Duff, who created the Christmas album genre for the Zack & Cody generation.

I would even recommend a comedian -- we have many locals like Robert Shimmel, Gary Shandling or David Spade. Then there are the minor talents needed to fill out the show. How about Willa Ford doing Santa Baby (gimme, gimme, gimme)? Local bands like the Gin Blossoms or a reformed Pistoleros, too.

Of course, marketing CityNorth is key. Not only garner the cable news and local news action, but today you need Internet, like YouTube, FaceBook and MySpace, as well as each performer's Web site. Syndicated morning radio shows as well. Imagine inviting Ryan Seacrest's Los Angeles radio show here for a holiday spectacular. That would draw in California tourism.

It doesn't matter what specials are drawing consumers to stores on Black Friday. To build a national reputation (like The Grove received on CitySearch), CityNorth needs to establish a presence during the winter holidays when we have wonderful weather.

Without a spectacular Yule season, it will be missing great marketing opportunities.

CityNorth could bring radio stations from cold climates to the state, like Disneyland does. It's great publicity. Add the national morning news shows broadcasting from CityNorth during its holiday spectacular. Don't forget the airline magazines for more tourist draw.

Too bad so many tax dollars go into poor marketing by government and non-profit tourism groups that miss the mark on marketing efforts like these. CityNorth could prove again it is private industry that achieves results.

Arizona's true leaders come from the private sector

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Friday, November 23, 2007
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

More than a year ago, I sat down with one of the more influential men in Phoenix, Tom Ambrose, a senior executive in the Phoenix Suns organization.

During our discussion, the lack of leaders in Phoenix came up. I swear Lee Iacocca must have been listening, because he has a new book, Where Have All the Leaders Gone. One thing Arizona can boast about is that during its 95 years of statehood, it has had many fine leaders. Years ago, the biggest leader in town had to be John Teets. Greyhound and Armour-Dial moved to Phoenix in 1971. Teets was appointed CEO in 1982.

While at the American Heart Association, we were required to watch Teets' video on management. Teets was a great manager.

Just as Teets' influence began to wane, another leader sprang up: Jerry Colangelo. He had established a reputation as a leader with the Phoenix Suns, but it wasn't until his efforts to create the Arizona Diamondbacks that his leadership position rose in the community.

With Colangelo now retired from two sports teams, Arizona is looking for a new leader. My pick: Doug Parker. This community owes a great debt to Parker for keeping US Airways in Phoenix when the corporate headquarters very nearly slipped away to Atlanta.

Parker is so low-key, it is hard to believe he has one of the most brilliant management minds in the world.

There's the adage: "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."

True leaders of Arizona at the turn of this century have come from the private sector.

You need to look beyond politics for true leaders. They've all come from Arizona's businesses.

That's why I bemoan the fact there are so few Fortune 500 headquarters in Arizona. We have a leadership disadvantage compared with cities like Denver, Los Angeles and others with more corporate headquarters. We need those headquarters to bring forth our leadership.

Let's hope leaders like Parker, Colangelo and Teets pitch in to bring more corporations, with more leaders, to Arizona. Government can't create or draw leaders. New leaders are drawn to the area by current leaders.

Just say no to bailouts for the fiscally irresponsible

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Saturday, November 17, 2007
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

One morning recently, I heard a television news announcer pontificating on home foreclosures and if the government should resolve this issue. The answer to that question is a simple "hell no!"

Since World War II and the advent of the G.I. Bill, homeownership in the United States has skyrocketed. Never in history have there been as many landowners as today.

For some reason, people today think it is a right, not a hard-worked-for privilege, to own a home. Not just a home, but a home they really can't afford. These same people feel when the economy gets tight, as it will when oil price doubles over the next several years, it is the government's job to come to their rescue.

You don't need an M.B.A. to know the economy goes in cycles. Home prices go up, home prices go down. In 1999, a client and I predicted home prices would fall in 2003, according to past cycles. We were four years too early. This current cycle (won't mention recession) has just begun.

A rule of economy for buying a home is that you take your annual income, multiply it times three, and that is the house you can afford. New townhomes just went up in my neighborhood, selling for $210,000 for 1,000 square feet. Let's not discuss the overpricing of the housing market in Phoenix. Market prices will always rise -- or fall -- to the level consumers are willing to pay.

It is the consumers who want the government to bail them out for their bad decisions that I'd like to discuss. So if you're buying a $210,000 home, your family income should be $70,000. Problem is these homes are selling to people with a $40,000 -- or less -- annual income.

These are the same people who keep those expensive restaurants afloat, paying $12 or more for a hamburger or sandwich that can be had down the street for $3. Whatever happened to eating at home?

These same consumers have a cellphone for each member of their home, Internet connection, premium cable television and more. What happened to rabbit ears for television? These consumers don't know how to cut their spending, and they want me to pay for it with a government handout!

These are the same consumers driving gas-guzzling SUVs, ruining the environment, and the ones really responsible for oil barrel prices doubling in the past several years. They're the ones who will pay $4 or $5 per gallon rather than taking the bus or staying home. After all, they have to get to those $12 hamburger joints some way. Their credit cards are probably maxed out, too.

I have a closet full of $80 pants, $240 sports jackets, leather coats and more. None of those pants cost over $20, none of the jackets over $50. You don't just pick up what's on the rack when shopping. I praise those 75-percent-off racks, and every now and then stores add 30 percent off on top of that. That's how you shop! Old economy books said you'd save if you bought a car that was a year old rather than a new one. Quite a savings.

Ben Franklin said it best, and I paraphrase: To become wealthy, you increase your income and decrease your spending. He never mentioned the government bailing out those who are fiscally irresponsible.

Public relations giants helped Phoenix to greatness

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Saturday, October 20, 2007
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

There was a one-hit wonder band from the 1970s called Devo. The band's premise, which may be accurate, was that humanity was de-evolving.

When radio first started, people looked to it to enlighten mankind. Today we have Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh and other hosts of idiots populating our airwaves. In the 1950s, at the beginning of the Golden Age of television, people looked at television as a means of educating the masses. Today, we have shows where fat people weigh in and people sing on a show I call "American Idiot."

The Internet did not rise to popularity until 1995. At that time, people said it would open doors to art, literature and become the library of the world. Today, porn sites get more traffic than any other sites on the Internet. So much for evolution.

Recently, I learned one of the Valley's media greats, Vince Maietta, a former photographer for The Business Journal, and someone I worked out with in the mid-'90s at Beauvais' gym on Eighth Street south of Camelback, had died in July.

Several years ago I lost another friend, Perry Baker, another media veteran who grew up in Tucson and worked for Congressman Mo Udall.

I commiserated with the two as we went searching for decent public relations jobs in Phoenix. Most of the public relations jobs went to females who six months ago had been secretaries instead of these two media titans. There is de-evolution in Phoenix's public relations craft!

Years ago, there were outstanding practitioners like Jim Ramsey of Hughes Helicopters, "Swede" Johnson of the University of Arizona, who moved to my alma mater, University of New Mexico, then to Coors where he served as head of PR.

Most of the PR jobs in Phoenix are in government -- state, county and cities. This is nothing new. Government has supported public relations since PR's emergence in the early 20th century. Government plays it safe when it hires. Government agencies in Arizona tend to hire the former legal secretary than wizened pros like Maietta or Baker.

There are exceptions, like Mike Phillips, media relations manager for Scottsdale, who was city editor with the Scottsdale Progress and worked for The Denver Post, as well as Mayor Phil Gordon's press secretary, Scott Phelps. Practitioners who when they say they are going to get something for you follow up on their word and get it done rather than letting it fall through the cracks.

On the same day I learned of Maietta's demise, local businessman Roy Mixon pontificated on how organizations play it safe when hiring. He pointed out it is the "rogues" that move an organization forward, not the employees that play it safe. One of Mixon's axioms is activity is not the same as accomplishments.

While government agencies spend citizens' tax dollars hiring "safe" PR practitioners, ones with a teaching degree rather than journalism, and someone who has held an elected office over someone who has been on the assignment desk at the city's largest television news outlet, rogues like Baker and Maietta go through long periods of unemployment when they could be moving an organization ahead.

I will hold fond memories of these two professionals. I'm glad we still have some pros among us, like Ron Bergamo and Bill Shover, former head of The Republic's communications department. Shover literally built Phoenix, being instrumental in creating the Fiesta Bowl and bringing the first Super Bowl game to Arizona. Communications "rogues" who are still contributing to making Phoenix one of the greatest cities in the world.

Richard Kelleher , M.B.A., is a media relations specialist living in northeast Phoenix. He can be reached at richard

Bad message

Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Saturday, October 13, 2007

Regarding the Richard Kelleher column of Oct.3, "The ugliest thing in the world has to be a guy in shorts." I couldn't agree more, but I would add, what kind of message are we sending to our younger folk by showing such a blatant disregard for our appearance in public?

-- R.J. Neulrych, Phoenix


Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

The ugliest thing in the world has to be a guy in shorts.

On a rare excursion outside northeast Phoenix, to a shopping mall in Scottsdale, almost all the men had shorts on; and this mall bills itself as being fashionable. It seemed to be a uniform. You know the shorts; the khaki ones with pockets everywhere; and most of the guys were wearing T-shirts as well.

As a reporter, I've seen accidents where people where missing body parts, wounds from guns that were horrendous, but nothing prepared me for the sights of all these men wearing shorts.

Men, if you can't get dates or meet the girl of your dreams, you may want to look down. Don't kill the messenger. The legs I saw were mostly pasty white and looked like they hadn't seen a gym, hill, track or swimming pool in 20 years, at least. Before going outside in that uniform, you might want to take a tip from a Michael Jackson song and "take a look at the man in the mirror."

Could this be the reason scholastic test scores are falling and other ills of society? On a visit to a school district outside Paradise Valley Unified, I saw teachers, men and women, in similar garb as the men at the mall. I've seen it at most businesses.

During the "Golden Years" of television in the 1950s, Robert Young wore suits to dinner on Father Knows Best, which ran for six years starting in 1954. Same with Hugh Beaumont, the father on Leave It to Beaver. James Bond, the man's man, always wore tuxedoes.

The reason shows in the '50s had men dress in suits was to respect the viewer, and project a positive image of our society.

How much respect does a child of 8 feel when he or she goes to school and the teacher shows up in shorts and a T-shirt, be it a male or female teacher? How well are they going to perform for someone who doesn't show them respect?

Any good salesperson will tell you that a great salesperson always reflects back the attitude and values of a customer. So, if teachers are selling education, they may want to show respect to their students by taking care in their mode of dress.

Also while at the mall, I noticed all the women were dressed to the "nines." They had expensive dresses on, shoes, makeup and jewelry that could only be described as bling. This just to go to the mall. It is true that women dress for other women more than to impress men.

Now for you guys sitting at bars on weekends and wondering why women are ignoring you: Go back to the sales premise that you sell more when you "mirror" your customer.

That fine looking woman you want to meet spent two hours getting dressed, applying makeup and 10 hours shopping for just the right outfit from jewelry to shoes. How impressed is she going to be when every guy in the bar is wearing a striped shirt with the sleeves rolled up, the collar pulled back and his shirt unbuttoned to that massive beer gut? Maybe it is time to listen to Michael Jackson and take a look in the mirror.

Richard Kelleher is a media relations specialist who lives and works in northeast Phoenix. His closet is full of Perry Ellis and Claiborne.


Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Friday, September 21, 2007
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

Almost a decade ago, former Paradise Valley Unified School District administrator Walter "Skip" Brown confided that some day, Reach 11 would be "Phoenix's Central Park."

The affable Brown, who was responsible for building new schools and planning their location for the district, was a visionary that Phoenix will miss since his retirement. His comments were based upon solid research. He was postulating that as Phoenix grows, northeast Phoenix would be a core area for the metropolis, making the area on Tatum Road, just south of Loop 101, the "heart" of the city.

Brown's comments about the growth of northeast Phoenix came before construction of Desert Ridge shopping center and office buildings, long before discussion on CityNorth. His prognostication seems uncannily accurate.

Ron Harmon, Phoenix Parks and Recreation facilities supervisor, explains that Reach 11 is a flood detention basin designed to capture floodwaters so they do not impact the Central Arizona Project canal.

"A reach is part of the Bureau of Reclamation's way of protecting an area," Harmon said. "Think of a reach being a section or division. Reach is just a BOR term."

Harmon explained that Reach 11 stretches from Cave Creek Road, into Scottsdale past Scottsdale Road, roughly along the same corridor as Loop 101. He said Phoenix entered into an agreement with the BOR and Central Arizona Project to manage the land within the city's jurisdiction in 1987. This was accomplished under the watch of former City Manager Marvin Andrews, who may prove to be one of Arizona's greatest pioneers in designing Phoenix's growth.

As a reporter for a community newspaper, I got to watch Reach 11 develop. First there was a stable, then an arena for horses. Now there are soccer fields -- little surprise, knowing that Councilwoman Peggy Neely, who oversees this section of Phoenix, is one of the largest youth soccer proponents throughout the world.

Ironically, having arrived in Arizona in its 47th year of statehood, it was around six years ago, or the state's 90th year of statehood, while the city was developing Reach 11, that I encountered my first rattlesnake attack -- in Reach 11. My son and I were walking along the canal when a coiled snake began to strike. Not advising this technique for anyone, we ran and fortunately were able to outrun the snake.

Harmon says this growth continues this year. The city opens four new baseball fields this fall.

Two of the fields are designated specifically for "youth with disabilities," according to a press release. Harmon said they are rubberized. They are smaller than regulation Little League fields.

The other two fields will be for Little League events, including tournaments. Who knows, maybe some day the Little League world championships may be played in Reach 11 on those 120-degree days rather than Williamsport, Pa.

The fields, built in cooperation with the Arizona Diamondbacks, will be named Brandon Webb Field, Chad Tracy Field, Rich Dozer Field and Partners Field.

Harmon said there would be little fear of rattlesnake attacks at the new ballfields. He said snakes tend to avoid humans. He did admit, however, that Reach 11 is still a wilderness or natural area and it belonged to rattlesnakes before development, so there is a chance of visitors at the complex running into a snake or two.

If you have not visited Reach 11, the best way to get there is on Tatum, about three-quarters of a mile south of Loop 101. The recreation area is on the west side of Tatum. Visit so that you'll be able to say: "I was first here when this was in the northeast part of Phoenix's metro area, not the center of it, as it is now."


Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

A reader's response to a column about northeast Phoenix residents spending their entertainment dollars in north Scottsdale suggested that bars here make it hard for baby boomers to find entertainment that fits their lifestyle.

Trudy J. Phillips said: "Every Saturday night, my guy and I head out for dinner and some fun. We, like many of those 'our age,' have lots of money and are ready to spend it. We eat out around 7 p.m. and look for a place to go afterwards for good music. But guess what? There is no live music until after 9 p.m. By the time the music starts, we are ready to head home." Her suggestion was to start music earlier. She points out tourists from the East Coast would appreciate it as well.

As a baby boomer, I'm assuming my readers are also boomers. Good chance since boomers comprise 40 percent of all Arizonans (10+ percent above the national average), the largest age demographic in the state (Eat your hearts out you 20-somethings. We even have a term for you, the echo boom, since you are children of the baby boom.)

Yet entertainment venue bars in Arizona cater to the echo boom rather than the baby boom. The reader was correct in boomers earlier lifestyles. Younger people don't start dancing until around 11 p.m., the time most boomers are heading to bed, as Phillips noted. We're usually the ones at the gym at 6 a.m., though, as boomers tend to be health conscious.

Phillips noted that boomers have lots of money and are ready to spend it. Of the 76 million U.S. baby boomers, American Demographics magazine figures that 61 percent have an annual income in excess of $100,000. One Web site suggests: "Those over 50 control four-fifths of the money invested in savings-and-loan associations and own two-thirds of all shares on the stock market." MetLife estimates boomers have a spending power of $2 trillion-plus.

Del Webb reports Arizona is the second state boomers have selected to retire in, topped only by Florida. So expect more affluent boomers in the next 15 years. Scripps Howard reports nearly 50 percent of all Arizona political leaders (governor, state Legislature, congressional delegation) are boomers. Of the states bordering Arizona, boomers comprise around 60 percent of the political leaders.

MSNBC projects 30 percent of baby boomers are single. reported a 300 percent increase in baby boomer customers since 2000.

So why are bars pandering to the 20-something crowd rather than getting things started at 7 p.m. for the economically advantaged baby boomers with political clout?

Bob Corritore, proprietor of the Rhythm Room, one of the nation's premier blues emporiums, points out that Arizona's closing hours for bars extended from 1 to 2 a.m. three years ago. He said people tend to arrive at bars around 11 p.m.

As harmonica player for the Rhythm Room All Stars, a revolving band of exceptional local and national blues artists, he said musicians want to see an audience experience the whole musical event, from the opening act, including interaction during the band's break, through the last set.

Nik Richie, a nom de plume used by the creator of the Web site Dirty, says younger people get to bars late because "it is cheaper! You can save a whole round of drinks and get to the bars right when girls are starting to get drunk, especially the cougars (older women looking for younger men) who have been drinking wine since 3 p.m. because their ex-husband has the kids this weekend." He terms those who get to bars around 11 p.m. "vampires" because of their nocturnal ways. Vince Vaughan exemplified this crowd and its lifestyle in the 1996 movie Swingers.

Bar owners drive their business by the hours customers show up. The generation that protested in the '60s and changed society needs to flex its economic muscle and show bar owners that even in our 50s, we can change society. If more baby boomers demand bars "start the action" earlier, guess what? The generation that forced Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon from power will change bar entertainment hours in Arizona!


Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

Years ago, following a stint writing for Billboard magazine as well as writing about the music industry for the Denver Post, I was asked by a local media mogul what was wrong with Phoenix radio.

Ironically, what was wrong with Phoenix radio 20 years ago is just as wrong now. I've had a saying about Phoenix radio: "If it is old music, it must be Phoenix radio." On the whole, Phoenix radio stations are stuck in the '80s, except for a few stations still stuck in the '50s.

Even at my gym, the radio blares songs 40 years old. This is the 21st century. You wouldn't wear the same shirt you had in 1975 -- OK, some people do -- so why make your musical diet what you listened to 25 years ago? Try something new, like Aly & AJ or ZOEgirl.

If a station wants to be No. 1 in the market, my advice used to be: Look at the Billboard Top 40 charts. Over the past two decades, I've felt Phoenix radio experts were missing a bet by not sticking to a Top 40 rotation. There is a Clear Channel radio station in Phoenix, 104.7 FM, that has adopted that formula and is near the top of the 2007 Arbitron surveys.

With the proliferation of Internet and satellite radio, I would change my advice from sticking to a Top 40 rotation. As a teenager, a new manager for "our" band told us we had to play at least five songs from the "current" charts as well as our own material in a set. That meant we had to keep adding new songs as the charts changed.

That would be a terrific formula for a station that wants to be No. 1 in the Phoenix market.

When radio station 101.5 FM changed from talk to hip-hop in June, it used the hook of going with about eight hours of pure Paris Hilton music. I listened as long as it lasted. Refreshing: 21st-century music on Phoenix radio!

To be the No. 1 station today, you would still look at the Billboard charts. There are new charts today, many more than there were 20 years ago.

There's digital downloads, ring tones, independent and dance/electronic, or what I still call disco -- some habits die hard. There's even charts for the top European songs. Add these to your musical wardrobe, and you'd have the most listened-to station in Phoenix.

I would add teen pop faves like Hilary Duff, Bowling for Soup, Something Corporate, Jack's Mannequin, Fall Out Boy and all the groups I was exposed to while my children were growing up in the 21st century. Even the Simpson sisters, Ashlee and Jessica, as well as Hannah Montana.

Yet in 21 years since my oldest child was born, not one radio programmer in Phoenix has followed that formula on building a top station in Phoenix. That may explain why the top radio station is an AM talk station.

Richard C. Kelleher is a media relations specialist who lives and works in northeast Phoenix. He is a former Billboard magazine journalist.