By RODNEY HO/ firstname.lastname@example.org, originally filed Sunday, November 29, 2015
Former Regular Guy Larry Wachs - now nearly a year removed from FM radio and Rock 100.5 - in recent months has been doing a podcast he calls a "modcast," because it's a "modern" version of a podcast.
He recently launched his own app and held a party at the Palm Restaurant to celebrate. Among the guests included Vinnie Politan of 11 Alive, 680/The Fan's Sandra Golden and Wachs' former boss Gene Romano. Former 99xer Jimmy Baron and future Star 94 man Jeff Dauler apparently popped in after I left. None of his former Regular Guys crew were there. (He no longer stays in touch with them but wishes them well.)
"The modcast is modern broadcasting," said Wachs. "It's Atlanta's No. 1 possibly only smartphone radio show. There's a huge niche out there for content people really want to hear. It's a local show on a smartphone. The people I want to reach are winners and winners have smartphones." (Pew says 64 percent of the adult population in 2015 has a smartphone.)
The veteran radio broadcaster (who I interviewed as a high school student three decades ago) included part of my phone interview with him on his latest modcast - and the fact I had a miserable cold to boot.
But the 24-minute self-produced modcast also included plenty of other content - thank goodness.
He tackles a warning at a WWE event at Philips Arena about possible terrorism and talked to former Regular Guy intern and wrestling fan Vinnie Bucci, who attended the event. "We can't live in fear," he says. "Our strength has always been in numbers."
He hears his neighbor Juan died in a boating accident in Costa Rica after he hit a propeller swimming. "Juan was a great dude and neighbor," he said, outraged by the boat operator who left the engine on while Juan swam.
Computerized sinks and toilets annoy him. "They don't think much of me," he said. "They treat me like a child. The sinks tease me. They make me do that kitty cat chasing me with a flashlight dance with my hands."
He also checks in with his sister Nancy and talks about Muslims, family and vacations.
Wachs has done 28 modcasts so far, about three a month. Most are in the 20 to 25 minute range. And he has garnered sponsors such as Ketel One Vodka, Granite Risk Advisors, architest Chip Murrah and Johns Creek restaurant Trattoria 141.
Wachs says so far, a few hundred folks have uploaded his app. He didn't have a count on how many people have listened to his modcast or hasn't committed to a possible subscription model, which is what the more established Neal Boortz uses. A year ago, Doug Stewart of the 2 Live Stews launched a daily talk show on Spreaker, which he airs live, more like traditional radio but it's free. (He gets about 2,000-plus listens per show.)
For now, Wachs merely wants to build an audience. "I'm going to do what works at any given juncture," he said. "I'm not ruling anything out. Right now what works is an app and selling myself to various advertisers."
While he isn't averse to going back to traditional radio (and the regular paycheck), "this is radio practiced under capitalism, not radio practiced under crony capitalism or with rules and regulations that hamper the flow of creativity."
He said the traditional folks "don't know what to do with it... There's a lot of fear of change. I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing and eventually find some savvy partners."
Wachs said podcasts are the wave of the future. "What podcasters are doing that brings the digital money in their direction, they're telling stories," he said.
"I wanted to try some new things," he continued. "I wanted to do interviews. I wanted to sing. I wanted to do music discovery and present things in an interesting way and connect with listeners without so many masters in the mix."
And he has never hidden his political feelings, which are conservative. Liberals "want to be taken care of," he said. "Young people like the left-wing message... The people who don't grow up still demand that. And they're easily offended. We see it on college campuses. They're all offended and entitled. They've been told they're special. And they haven't grown. It's about maturity. Adults don't behave like leftwingers."
His former Regular Guys partner Eric Von Haessler, who has a weekly show on News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB, also does a weekly podcast.