Longtime LA radio shock jock Tom Leykis returns Monday, April 2nd at 3 PM Pacific time, uncut and uncensored, with a daily show produced specifically for internet distribution at http://www.blowmeuptom.com.
After 21 years of outraging Southern California drive time radio listeners, Tom Leykis left the air in February of 2009. And, as so often happens in the radio business, listeners were left wondering why he was gone and where he went.
The answers will be found when Leykis returns for a new daily show after an amazing 37 months off the air when The Tom Leykis Show on April 2nd at 3 PM Pacific time.
And this time, he’s taking no chances of being made invisible again by the brick-and-mortar terrestrial radio industry because the show will be heard live and on 24/7 streamed replays at http://www.blowmeuptom.com as well as through media players such as the TuneIn application for Android phones and iPhones, but not on radio.
Leykis, who for 12 years was one of LA’s top-rated afternoon radio personalities on LA’s former KLSX 97.1 FM (and who for eight years was the afternoon counterpart to Howard Stern’s legendary morning show), suddenly left the air when the station’s owner, CBS Radio, decided for economic reasons to change the station’s format to top-40.
So why didn’t Leykis, who had never in his career been out of work for more than a few months, simply go to another radio station and pick up where he left off? It was because he had signed a five-year guaranteed contract to provide his daily show and any potential streams or podcasts exclusively to CBS. The result was that, when KLSX changed format, Leykis was paid his full salary to do absolutely nothing from 2009 until March 31st 2012, which is one week from Saturday.
“After taking a few months off, I took a good hard look at the radio business that I’ve loved since I was a kid and realized that it’s now in a world of hurt. Deregulation of the broadcasting business allowed companies that once owned a dozen radio stations to, within about a decade, own hundreds of stations,” Leykis says.
“And they didn’t buy those stations with money stashed in a mattress. The companies borrowed money and, in many cases, are in economic situations that mirror those of the underwater homeowners we read so much about.”
So Leykis, as he has so many times in his career, decided to reinvent himself as an entrepreneur, creating his internet audio content company The New Normal (http://www.newnormalnetwork.com) in 2010.
Leykis says that, rather than feeling like punishment, having three years off with full pay has been “liberating.”
“Imagine having three years to learn as much as you can about new ways of doing things, about what is possible, as well as having time to relax and refresh,” he says.
“What I found,” says Leykis, “was that, unlike radio, we start with a clean balance sheet and that we can produce the same or better content without real estate, without big, expensive and outdated equipment such as transmitters and satellite dishes, and without government regulation. We can be heard anywhere in the world rather than in select radio markets. We can produce technically better-sounding audio content more cheaply and we don’t have limitations as to content or what kinds or advertising we can accept. And we don’t have to answer to the FCC.”
And what about the recent controversies involving Rush Limbaugh or KFI Radio’s John & Ken Show? “Those are good examples of the influence of large conglomerate ownership of the broadcasting industry,” says Leykis. “Whether you agree with what those hosts said or not, what made talk radio great for all those years was the ability to be outrageous and to not have to apologize for it. That’s another great reason for moving my business to the internet.”
Is he excited to be returning to doing a daily call-in show? “Absolutely,” he says, “but this time it’s as much about taking pride of ownership as it is about doing an outrageous show.”