Buzz Knight 00:00:01
Taking a walk with Buzz Knight. I’m Buzz Knight. I’m the host of the Taking a Walk podcast series. And welcome to another edition of our Boston Gem series. Our series highlights some of the absolute great, coolest folks in this great city. Today is no exception. And I’m such a big fan of this gentleman. Now, first of all, if you’re a regular listener to take on a walk, I appreciate your support. Share it with friends, share it on social subscribe so you don’t miss an episode, and please write a review. So anyway, our special guest, he’s the co host I love saying this, too, Roch, of the nationally syndicated, Boston based number one show in The Hub from 98 Five, the Sports Hub, the TNR Show, the Toucher and Rich Show, Rich
Buzz Knight 00:00:53
I don’t think I’ve ever used your last name.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:00:57
It’s a mouthful. I knew it was my place in the roll call when I was in high school because the teachers would just stop at Rich. And now I have the great Buzz Knight pronouncing it absolutely perfectly. So I’m happy. I couldn’t be happier.
Buzz Knight 00:01:12
It’s so great to be with you in the Seaport area. A beautiful day. We’re taking a walk. Do you want to saunter a little bit?
Rich Shertenlieb 00:01:19
And by the way, I feel like I looked at all of the places you guys have walked on the podcast because I am a fan. And I realized as I was going through it what an unoriginal bastard I am that I chose the Seaport. I think every third one that you have, someone in Boston was just like, yeah, just go to the Seaport. And you are so nice to go, okay, sure, whatever you want to do.
Buzz Knight 00:01:39
If it gives me a chance to get out of the house, I’m pretty happy. For me, this is a big event, but we’ve had some Seaport episodes here. We’ve also had some Public garden and sort of around the Back Bay episodes.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:01:57
So you got some contact highs while.
Buzz Knight 00:01:59
Doing it, which is beautiful, but it’s so great to be with you. So why is this Toucher and Rich show so damn successful?
Rich Shertenlieb 00:02:07
Man, I don’t know. Listen, Fred and I, when we met, it was back at Old Rock Station in Atlanta, and I was basically like the fourth chair on a morning show. My name wasn’t on. I was just like an intern that ended up doing dumb stunts that they put me on full time. And Fred was this night jock, and we were kind of the two youngest ones who were kind of the kids in the back of the class, mocking everybody and laughing about it. And we became good friends and we said, hey, listen, if there’s ever a chance to do a show together, then we should take that chance. Fred I ended up going to Dallas and learning under Kidd Kraddick and working on his show for a couple of years. Meanwhile, Fred started doing mornings out in 99 X Atlanta. And then when Stern went to satellite, we’re like, wow, there’s going to be a lot of stations that need morning shows. Maybe this is our chance. And I told Tony Berradini about it, and I told him we were going to try to put this show together. And Fred and I had individual tapes, and him and I think it was Chris Olivero at the time, flew us out to Phoenix one night, or actually three nights were from midnight to five in the morning. We did five hour shifts three nights in a row. Gave them the tape, they said, we like it. We’re going to call you within the next 48 hours and tell you what city you’re going to work in. And wow, it was almost like the NFL draft. The phone rang and it was like, how would you like to go to Boston? And we’re like, hey, let’s do it. Sounds good to me. Why not? And sure enough, we ended up moving in and we got there right after the David Lee Roth debacle, which, by the way, people have burned the tapes of David Lee Roth. You can’t find it anywhere. And I wanted to show Fred because it was so awful. I remember hearing it one time, it was so ridiculously ill conceived that I was just like, you have to hear this. And I remember when I showed up, I was like, hey, do you have any of those tapes? Oh, no, we don’t find that funny around here. That was a dark time.
Buzz Knight 00:04:13
I know some people who were involved, I’ll leave their names out at this point because they probably would rather like to stay friends with them, but they don’t want to talk about it. That’s something they don’t even want.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:04:25
Isn’t that crazy too? I guess wounds take a while to heal in the radio industry. I remember telling friends, I’m like, oh, he’s got bongo music. And then there’s this guy with a guitar, and you can’t understand what’s going on. And he had his cousin on for his uncle on for an entire half of his first show, and they talked nonsense and it was great. You got to hear it and then poof, like it never existed.
Buzz Knight 00:04:50
Well, go back to working with Kid Kraddick. I only had the good fortune of meeting him one time, and it was just this delightful guy that had this great aura around him. Not unlike you, by the way, in terms of the good aura. But what was it like working with Kidd?
Rich Shertenlieb 00:05:08
So it was funny because there was a radio consultant named Randy Lane who is one of my favorite people in the radio industry.
Buzz Knight 00:05:17
Rich Shertenlieb 00:05:18
Talent coach. He was working with my station, 99 X, when I decided that I wanted to try to move on to something else. I either wanted to start my own show and I wasn’t afraid to jump markets. That was something that I knew if I wanted to do well in the industry, I’d have to do that. So Randy told Kid about me, and what was ironic was that Kid at the time was looking for a young Latin female. He told Randy, Listen, we want to get the young Latin female audience niche
Buzz Knight 00:05:53
There’s something out of it.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:05:58
I’m a big fan of boy bands and Menudo. So what happened was Randy went to Kid, and I guess just from what Randy told me, he goes, Listen, this guy is not a young Latin female, but he is someone who I think you’ll click with creatively. And Kid said okay, fine. So they flew me out to Dallas, and I remember we met for dinner, and it was one of these things where we just started throwing ideas out back and forth and just kind of spitballing , like, some fun segments. And by the end of dinner, we had, like, 15 really ridiculously fun bits that were just invented over an hour and a half plate of tacos. And I remember, oh, boy, this is crazy. He said, Come into the show tomorrow morning. Just be there at 515. All right, thank you. So 515, I’m there, and Kid gets there right before the show starts, 06:00 walks in, goes on the air. He’s brilliant. He’s great. And then at the first break, he goes, okay, at exactly 640, we are going to do a contest introduce new contest called Take My Mom to Mexico, because I want you to write a song I heard you can play guitar, and I want it ready by 640. I had 25 minutes to write a funny song about taking my mom to Mexico. I was like, okay. So I went in there, and I wrote this dumb song, and he goes, And I want you to perform it on the air at 640. Okay? So I go in there, and they do it, and they’re like, all right, thank you, Mr. Mariachi Guy or whatever. And then after that was done, he goes, okay, they just discovered life on Mars or a signal on Mars. I want you to write a skit for all of us to perform with the three parts where I’m going to be talking to aliens and Al and Kelly are going to be aliens. I’m like, okay, because I want it by 720. Oh, my God. So once again, 25 minutes to write the script. And I wrote the script, and I guess it ended up being funny. They liked it, and that’s the way the first morning was. It was like, what do you got? And how fast can you be funny?
Buzz Knight 00:08:01
Rich Shertenlieb 00:08:02
And it was great because it touched that creative part that I love, like that thing that just gets you. And then I remember after that, we just hung out after the show and did the same thing. We just spitballed stuff back and forth and back and forth. I flew back home. I got a call two days later, and they said, he wants you to be on the show. And that was it. And I flew out there, and I knew that this was a great opportunity to learn from one of the best learn syndication. And it was after my two and a half years there, that’s when the whole Stern thing happened and Fred and I remained friends. Kid was just a great dude. He’s that kind of radio nerd that I love and that we geekd out together over, like Phil Hendrie. He was like our favorite. I think we both are like two people, just like we mentioned Phil Hendrie, and both of us went, oh, God, radio. God, listen to I’d find bits of his and I’d give it to him, and we would just, like, geek out over Phil Hendrie. I learned so much from him, and it was just one of these guys, too, that even though he’s been successful for so long, he never lost that fire. There’s a lot of people in radio, and I never want to be that kind. That just they get successful and they get kind of lazy. Kid was not that he was the opposite of that. And anything I could take from Kid in my time with him that might have been my favorite is that every day was like the first day he was doing radio.
Buzz Knight 00:09:43
So Rich, what was the breakthrough moment in Boston for the Toucher and Rich show? There was one moment, if you remember, that really was like, this thing broke through. We arrived, we’re here to stay. We’re only going to grow.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:10:02
Well, I’ll tell you what, when we first started, it was at BCN, and we were supposed to take over Mornings after the David Lee Roth thing happened. That was kind of the sales pitch, and we’re like, great, we expect it to. But then CBS is something very smart, and at least smart for us because it was an advantage for us. And they got Opie and Anthony and they brought them in in the mornings, and then it was nice. Then we kind of got a buffer. We went Afternoons, and Opie and Anthony and I kind of had a mutual respect, and they were really nice to us. And their fans kind of became our fans, but we didn’t know if anyone was listening. When Fred and I came here with our two of our friends crashing at Adolpho, like, we didn’t know anybody. It was literally us. We were like this mini gang. And we would go out just together. We would drink together. We would hang out with our families together, and we really didn’t do a ton outside of it. And then about three months after we were there, we did this thing called host is so dated, the Myspace party, which was like the whole concert saying, hey, you ever heard there’s a party and you didn’t know who was going to be there. Well, now with Myspace, you can see who’s going to actually be at the party because they can sign up for it or whatever it was. And I remember we threw this Myspace party, and when we showed up, it was at the Rack. Remember the Rack?
Buzz Knight 00:11:25
Rich Shertenlieb 00:11:25
It was at the Rack, and there was a line down the street to get in. And I remember when we got out of the car that BCN got for us, when we got out, it felt like we felt people yelling our names and stuff. Like we had no clue that people are actually listening to us. And the ratings reflected at that point, we were kind of okay, but we had this crazy diehard group that would have these message boards that they started up, and some of the characters that we would meet, people were quoting them. We had a Halloween party and people were dressing as, like, Adolpho. And there was like, guys who are dressing as we had this character that we met outside a family name that the Chili guy. And people were dressed like I got to be honest, it was one of those things where it was the first time that I realized that something that, like me and Freddie created was truly connecting with people. And if only the ratings at that point reflected that. It was like we knew the passion was there, and that’s when I knew that something special was happening.
Buzz Knight 00:12:28
But you just mentioned honest. Yes, and honest is the core of the TNR show, isn’t it? Really?
Rich Shertenlieb 00:12:34
It is. At least there are certain things that I’m not good enough at faking takes or passion or something like that. I remember Buzz when they first told us that BCN was going to flip to Sports, and it was Mark Hannan and Mike Thomas. And I have to be honest, when they sat us down and it was great, they told us long before almost anybody else, because I’ll say this about those two guys, they were on our side from day one. And they knew that the station, even though it was going to flip and be a sports talk thing, they had this vision that these guys, we want something different, this kind of rock show, that these guys do love sports. Like, they knew I was a huge Celtics fan, and obviously Fred is Fred the jets fan, but still, it was like he was passionate about it. They said, we think this could work. But when they told us it was going to be a sports talk thing, I told them I was like, I hate sports talk. I told him I was like, there’s not a format I hate more than sports talk radio. I said, because all I was really exposed to at the time was like, WEEI. And that was a station where they were just so angry about everything. Red Sox could have won the World Series. Why can I do it again next year? I don’t kick the can. I enjoy it, man. Right? I just remember there being so much anger and I told him that I’m like, I can’t do that kind of radio. I can’t fake being angry about stuff that makes me happy. I think it was Mark Hannon said, well, that’s why we want you. We want you guys to be who you are and to not fake your passion about something that you’re not passionate about and not play down your passion about something that you are. So that’s kind of where the honesty comes from. You can hear it. There are certain times where there’s huge stories and I would just go, I’m sick of talking about this. I don’t want to do this anymore. I know that we’re supposed to be talking about the Patriots. We talked about it for 3 hours. I want to talk about something stupid like Fart Court
Buzz Knight 00:14:41
Okay? So we have an audience beyond the borders of the US.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:14:46
Buzz Knight 00:14:47
For this podcast, there’s two or three Czechoslovakians possibly listening right now.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:14:52
Oh, what’s up?
Buzz Knight 00:14:53
Czechs maybe. I’m sure there’s the Russian Federation listening somewhere. You don’t have to say a word if you want.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:15:01
Well, I know the end of Rocky four, so that makes any sense, right? If I can change.
Buzz Knight 00:15:07
But we have Australia, Great Britain, Ireland, all over the place. So if someone’s never heard the Toucher and Rich Show, how do you describe it?
Rich Shertenlieb 00:15:18
This is going to sound so consultant like, but it’s not true. We are we’re friends first who just happened to be talking about the stuff that’s going on in our lives, which in Boston is overrun with sports. We are nowhere near what you think when you think a sports talk show. As a matter of fact, I’ve always said we’re the Toucher and Rich Show that happens to be on a sports talk station. And in our syndication we’re on rock stations and stuff like that. Sports is part of who we are. But man, sometimes you get bored by it. So it’s basically anything that’s on our mind, we’ll talk about. And we’re also like 14 year olds. As I was saying, we have a bit called fart court which for some reason is one of the I can’t believe it, but even like people my dad’s age will come up to me and say that they were laughing at it because we’ll take a clip of somebody who was on TV and you’ll hear a sound and someone will say, was that a fart? And we’ll play the music and pretend we’re judges. It’s the dumbest thing in the world.
Buzz Knight 00:16:16
You actually get paid for that bit.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:16:18
Believe it or not.
Buzz Knight 00:16:20
That’s the beautiful thing.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:16:22
I think that’s what was submitted to the Marconi when we won that year. That’s the beautiful part.
Buzz Knight 00:16:26
But I dare say beyond your description, isn’t it a lot just about the art of mocking?
Rich Shertenlieb 00:16:33
Kind of. Yeah, we know we’re idiots. I do.
Buzz Knight 00:16:39
I’m saying the idiots in the world, whether it be sports or entertainment or whatever, right.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:16:47
Buzz Knight 00:16:49
Rich Shertenlieb 00:16:49
It’s mocking. But Fred is the one thing I’ll say a million things about Fred, but one of my favorite things about him is that when he goes off on rant, there’s no one better there’s literally no one better in radio than when he gets fired up after all these years of working with him. Know absolutely every button to press when he’s doing that, to stoke that flame. There are certain things I’m pretty good at, and there are certain things Fred’s pretty good at. That’s something he excels at. I would put him against anyone in radio when he gets fired up about something. And sometimes it’s mocking, but it’s always mocking. Not always the most part in somewhat of a playful tone, I guess, because we’re not perfect. We’re kind of dumb. We call ourselves and we’re dumb asses, too. And it happens a lot. And I think that because we’re such idiots, it almost gives us permission to call out when other people are as well, if that makes any sense.
Buzz Knight 00:17:46
That makes total sense. But listen, it’s not like athletes are all well behaved and normal.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:17:53
Oh, sure. And there’s certain people that we have had in our sites forever and ever, some of them will have on the show, and they’ll end up being fantastic. And it’s like, all right, well, you’re great. You get the joke. You kind of go along with it, too. Sure. We do that with athletes, celebrities ourselves. Yeah, we definitely mock a decent amount.
Buzz Knight 00:18:20
Regular schmoes from Brookline.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:18:22
Well, that places. I’ve never seen a city like that. Brookline is just so for the people who don’t know, in Australia and Czechoslovakia and Russia, there’s this town that is just a mix of it’s the pit of anger. Okay? I’ve never seen an angrier city in my life than Brookline, Massachusetts. I don’t know why there’s so much anger there, but it’s almost like this young, kind of progressive people are trying to move into a place that’s filled with old money and people who’ve lived there forever, and it’s just conflict and anger, and the weather kind of sucks up here, and that just makes it worse because the houses are crammed. And then there’s, like, these people who think that they’re better than everyone else. All I know is that there was a leaf blower ordinance and these people were trying to outlaw all these leaf blowers. And I was like, you know what? I got to get the 911 calls. I ended up going to the police station and finding a treasure trove of the most ridiculous, like, entitled 911 calls ever. Like, one woman called 911 because there was a boy across the street, the baseball field kicking dirt. He was on a baseball field during the day across the street kicking dirt, and she called 911 on them. And these people who work the dispatch are just saints among us, that they have to deal with these people over and over again. One person called 911 because someone at Trader Joe’s was laughing at them. So that was a 911 call. And that guy ended up calling back twice. And then there’s the funny ones where someone accidentally, for Halloween, shamed his handcuffed himself to the bed. And then the cops let him go. And then the very next night, he had to call back because he did it once again, and he learned his lesson. So you can’t make this up. You can’t make it up, and that it’s become a hit because it’s real. People who have been there can identify people who have had to work in that area have had to identify with all of that. So there you go. And even the syndicated markets, they get it just because, hey, every area has got a town like that. But just here, it’s magical. It’s magically angry.
Buzz Knight 00:20:31
So how do you guys plan the show? Okay, this is just you and I talk.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:20:36
Sure. And the checklist of a question. So what we’ll do is that, okay, let’s say that there’s some big things for you that we’re going to be like watching. Let’s say that there’s a Patriots game or whatever. We’ll know the next day, because I do too. People are going to want to talk about it. I find it interesting. So, sure, let’s book a guest, like a Patriots guest. And then after that, you know what it really is, is that I’ll fill in a bunch of boxes with stuff that I find ridiculous or I’m passionate about and I want to talk about, and then Fred will come up with something off the cuff. But I do a ton of production. Like, when I think of a segment, I think of it on different levels. I think of the story I’m going to tell. I think of whether it’s going to go anywhere, what will make it better, what production will make it sound funnier or more interesting, what will cut through just the noise of two idiots just talking? Is there some sort of element that gives it punch without being overproduced and sounding like a clown factory or something like that? So that’s kind of how we do it. And sometimes after the show, we’ll kick around some ideas. And sometimes we’re so punch drunk that we’ll think of an idea so stupid that we have to do it. And many times, many times the bits have failed horribly. But the one thing I love about Fred is that he doesn’t care if something fails. Because if it fails, it’s funny. If it’s so bad it’s great, then it’s great. If it’s just boring, that’s one thing. But if it’s going to fail spectacular, if it’s going to fail, you better fail spectacularly. We did a bit one time oh, God. We did a bit one time with even if I explained, this is so dumb and awful, Teddy Bruschi was going to be in studio, the big, tough Teddy Bruschi, and he was not for us. He was going to record some commercials and we were just punch drunk, just so stupid. We were trying to think of the next day like, okay, Teddy Bruschi is here. What are we going to do? I don’t know. I said, what if I went in and asked him to recite the lyrics of Rush? And we called the bit Geddy Bruschi. Like, Geddy Lee Rush, And everyone just looks at me like, you idiot. And I was just like, hey, man, if he says no, the story is kind of funny. Asking one of the meanest guys or the toughest guys in the NFL to recite lyrics to Rush songs, I could tell the story. He looked like I was like, idiots. And sure enough, we went into the studio, we’re like, hey, Teddy, Toucher. I’m Rich. Kind of. And I said, hey, we’re going to do this. bit called Geddy Bruschi because you call it Geddy Lee and you’re Teddy Bruschi and we’re going to have you read the lyrics. They were going to put the music in to guess what song it is. And he looked at us like, we had three, four heads. And anyway, yeah, sure, whatever. And I’m like, oh, my God. So we got him to do it.
Buzz Knight 00:23:54
No, one of the cores of the show is it’s not a one size fits all model. You’re not doing bits that are across 60 markets done by other morning shows that you’re just putting your stamp on. You guys are doing your thing in your way.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:24:12
Well, I sound weird saying this, but I don’t listen to radio. I do like some of the shows on our station. It’s not that I don’t like them. I love a lot of shows, but I kind of got to stop because I remember when I first got into radio, I was trying to do other people’s bits and I remember not feeling great afterwards because either, A, it wasn’t as good as the other people did it, or B, it wasn’t me. Like, it wasn’t my sense of humor. And I just was desperate for a segment to fill. And I guess maybe when I became more confident in our ability to fill time, that I didn’t have to do that anymore. But I don’t want also other people’s thoughts in my head. I can’t listen to other morning shows. I love and respect a lot of the people on other morning shows. It has nothing to do with my admiration for them, but I just kind of try to do everything I can to make it so it’s always Toucher and Rich and not Toucher and Rich with the voice of Adam Carolla or somebody else in my head, you know what I mean?
Buzz Knight 00:25:18
Yeah. Look, I think you guys know who you are and you make no bones about it.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:25:27
The one thing I’ll say is that, and this wasn’t by choice, but we’ve had to be brutally honest with people about what’s going on in our own lives before and it’s not always been pretty because I have a feeling that Fred and I can’t keep secrets that will or will just kill us. We’ve both had some heavy stuff happen and the listeners have been amazing and they’ve helped us through all of it. Probably one of the you were talking about the moment where you say, wow, this seems like we’ve really met. When you are able to just share your soul like that and instead of people mocking you for it, they’re helpful and they really are there for you. That’s crazy. That’s when you really know that you got a special listener.
Buzz Knight 00:26:15
Well, especially when your wife is doing the marathon run and everybody’s behind her.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:26:23
That was huge. That was massive. And the whole time where I was missing for like a month and a half because she was in really bad shape and stuff like that. It was funny. It was like I would see all of the tweets that would come in and people who are like. Wishing her best and she ended up pulling through and stuff like that. Which was good. And we had her on the air and all that because she was comfortable with that. It’s been good. But you also after that, you shut the hell up about your private life until something else bad happens and then you can maybe talk about it again.
Buzz Knight 00:26:56
But it adds to a level of engagement with the audience.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:27:00
Buzz Knight 00:27:01
I mean, it’s for real. So you’re on in a bunch of other markets now, right? Yeah.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:27:10
I think it’s officially seven, so it’s not like a ton, but we just launched in Portland, Springfield, a bunch in New Hampshire, we got one in Vermont, but we’re hopefully hoping to expand. We just launched this, I think in oh God, when was it?
Buzz Knight 00:27:32
Was it March? I think, yeah, it feels like that’s.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:27:35
About I think it was March. But this is something we’ve always wanted. We’ve always wanted to be syndicated and as I said, coming from the school of Kid Kraddick I learned how to do it the right way and it’s been cool so far.
Buzz Knight 00:27:49
Well, if you get out of this taking a walk interview, maybe a Czechoslovakian affiliate or something, can I get a.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:27:56
No question, buzz, you are going to get your 3%. No question. What is it, Rubles? I’m not sure.
Buzz Knight 00:28:06
I know the valuation is going to be terrific, but continued success. Keep kicking ass. And thanks for taking a walk, Rich.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:28:15
Well, Buzz, let me just tell you this before I let you go. You have been one of our biggest supporters, so you were always there. And that was a scary time for us, like switching from one company to the next. You don’t know if everybody hates you, but Buzz and that was a really scary time for everyone. You were the calming effect on all of us. And so having a guy like you in our corner means everything. So, Buzz, if you need me to do anything for you, if you need me to do another podcast, you need me to kill a guy, I am there for you, Buzz, forever in your debt.
Buzz Knight 00:28:46
You guys are the best. I appreciate it. Rich, you’re the best. Thank you for taking a walk here on this beautiful day in the seaport. We saw some people walking funny, but we didn’t stop and mock them. Maybe next time.
Rich Shertenlieb 00:28:57
No, I would not the walking funny. I walk funny enough so you’re we don’t need to be mocking people for that.
Buzz Knight 00:29:02
Rich Shertenlieb 00:29:03
Buzz Knight 00:29:05
Taking a walk with Buzz Knight is available on Spotify, Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.