Bert Weiss is loving radio again nine months after Jeff Dauler’s sudden exit

Bert Weiss at Don Anthony's Morning Show Boot Camp for radio personalities after he was part of a panel called "Masters of the Morning." Here he is talking to Power 96.1 host Riley Couture. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/ rho@ajc.com

Bert Weiss at Don Anthony’s Morning Show Boot Camp for radio personalities after he was part of a panel called “Masters of the Morning.” Here he is talking to Power 96.1 host Riley Couture. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/ rho@ajc.com

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Friday, August 12, 2016

Syndicated Q100 morning host Bert Weiss said he’s back to loving radio nine months after Jeff Dauler‘s shocking departure and move to a rival station.

“For the first time in my career, I have eight people on staff where the chemistry is absolutely 100 percent every morning,” Weiss said during a panel this morning full of illustrious morning show hosts from all over the country at an annual Morning Show Boot Camp for radio personalities in Buckhead this year. “We get up every day working in the same direction. There’s no ego. We are like a family.”

He added: “I laugh more off air than on air” with his current staff, which now includes comic Brian Moote, who replaced Dauler earlier this year.

Weiss prefaced his answer with this: “I’m trying to figure out how to navigate this question without disrespecting 15 years I spent with this former co-host.”

He said he would never have left the way Dauler did and jump to a rival station. (In Dauler’s defense, I am the one who let the cat out of the bag prematurely. A colleague heard a rumor last November that Dauler was going to Star so I contacted both Dauler and Weiss. Weiss asked Dauler directly about the rumor and Dauler was forced to deflect since the deal had not yet closed. At the time, Dauler felt neglected by a distracted Weiss during contract negotiations and wasn’t intending to leave until he felt like he wasn’t getting proper respect. He, in fact, had been working without a contract for more than eight months by the time he left. Dauler was also drawn to Star by the fact his former Q100 boss had just joined the station. More here about that.)

The crisis created by Dauler’s move momentarily devastated Weiss. “I was freaked out when that happened,” he said. But he has come out on the other side, he said, stronger than ever.

Weiss never mentioned Dauler’s name during the panel discussion though a Detroit friend who goes by Mojo (repped by Atlanta radio agent Norm Schrutt) said he was friends with both of them, noting that Dauler was his producer when he worked in Tuscon.

Mojo said on stage that “there’s a time where there an expiration on certain things… Sometimes, it’s just time for people to leave… Jeff probably should have come to you and said, ‘Hey, listen, it’s time for me to go.’ ” Then looking at Weiss, he added, “The way you found out, it sucked. It was brutal.”

Dauler, in a follow-up text today, said Weiss would have been upset regardless of how it had played out given the circumstances.

Weiss’ ratings took a nosedive right after Dauler left but he has shown some progress rebuilding his audience in recent weeks. At the same time, Star 94 has seen ratings improve with the Jeff and Jenn show, although it remains behind Weiss. (That’s not a surprise given Weiss’ now commanding ratings presence here.)

To be fair to Weiss, two other members of the Bert Show left prior to Dauler without rancor: Melissa Carter (now competing against Weiss at B98.5) and Jenn Hobby, now Dauler’s co host.

Weiss addressed other issues as well:

His philosophy for successful morning radio: “What separates the good personality from the great personality is the ability to go on the radio and be 100 percent vulnerable, to be scared s***less of things going on in your personal life… Details don’t mean s***. Emotions mean everything. If you’re not making yourself vulnerable, you’re not giving your best to yourself, your staff and the radio station.”

Indeed, that is very much why Weiss has built such a durable following in Atlanta over 15 years. He has used the radio and his listeners to therapize himself over his family of origin issues, his former marriage, his drinking, his kids, even his height and his nose. (Yes, he is considering a nose job, he said recently on air.) And he even talked about Dauler on the radio after it happened and how hurt he was by the situation.

Anyone is expendable if they don’t produce for the bosses: Weiss said a restaurant buddy two years ago gave him perspective. He pointed at a Ketel One vodka bottle. He said he keeps those at eye level at his bar since that type of vodka is popular. But if people start drinking more Grey Goose, he would have no qualms about dumping Ketel One in the trash. “We are products,” Weiss told the audience. “I know it hurts to hear that. We bust our a**es every single day. We bring our personal lives to the radio station. But the bottom line truth is most companies see us as vodka bottles. If you’re ratings are good, then you get to serve Ketel One. If they’re not, they throw you away and bring in Grey Goose. We are a product.”

Radio syndication: “My show is not as good in syndication [which began around 2010]. Mojo went through the process and decided to syndicate, then go back to local. I’m so jealous! The Bert Show does three shows within the same show… It has taken some of the fun out of it. My wish is that you guys do such great local products that you learn so much here that you can defend against syndication and I don’t have a chance to win… It’s a necessary evil. I’d rather go back to just being about Atlanta.” (After reading this, Weiss wanted to clarify. He said I reported his words correctly but he said the show is “not as good in syndication” only in terms of himself. “I’m not as good since syndication because of the distractions. I sincerely feel the show is the best version of the Bert Show since we started. But as a host, it’s much harder to focus on the product.”)

On radio research: “We have egos. We want to be heard. You have to lose that ego when you’re reading the research. It’s doing nothing but help you… Listeners will tell you what sucks and what doesn’t. Go back in the studio and pay attention to it.”

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