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In the spotlight....

Free Beer & Hot Wings
with Eric Zane
Grand Rapids

Interviewed by Steve Harmon

The Free Beer & Hot Wings Show has grown quickly over the past few years. This year hosting sessions at BFD '06.


Harmon: What's the worst job you've ever had outside of radio that reminded you what spoiled moneymakers we can be?

Eric Zane: Bally's Vic Tanny trying to  sell memberships.

Hot Wings:  That would have to be when I worked at a heavy-duty exhaust clamp factory and got threatened with bodily injury by a union head for working too hard.

Free Beer: I worked in the bottle return of a grocery store.  In Michigan there is a ten cent deposit on all soda cans and bottles, so the stores have to take them back.  Before things were automated at the stores, I was the guy who had to count them and sort them.  Including all the ones that were filled with every bodily fluid and chunk that people no longer wanted.


Harmon: At ten o'clock, how do you know it was a good show?

Eric Zane: Whether or not we laughed out loud together.

Hot Wings: If we're still on the air.

Free Beer: I know its been a good show if I can't wait to get to the office and see which sales people stop by to ask about it.  I hate to admit it, but I love the days where something so good happens, that I can't wait to see people stop by and talk about it.


Harmon: What's your biggest challenge?

Eric Zane: Finding enough time to get everything done.

Hot Wings: Remembering to re-set my alarm clock after a 3-day weekend.

Free Beer: With the show being heard in multiple markets now, my biggest challenge is balancing the concept of helping out the individual stations wherever we can with the fact that we end up with eight PD's who think they can tell us what to do.  Maybe its just because the show has grown but not to the point of a Bob and Tom or a Lex and Terry or something, but some of the stations that carry our show seem to think that their problem is the problem of all of the stations.


Harmon: Give an example of a day you "owned the market".

Eric Zane: The day my wife got a diary. Just kidding! Really.

Hot Wings: We have never owned the market.  We're not very talented.  In fact, I don't even know what you mean by that.

Free Beer: Before we moved the headquarters of the show to Michigan, we were on two stations in New Jersey.  We had read a story about a food bank truck tipping over and losing 2,000 turkeys.  First, we wanted to replace the turkeys, then we talked to the food bank and learned what they really needed to help the hungry people of New Jersey was to replace the refrigerated truck they lost.  We started soliciting for people to donate to the cause, and we started to immediately get donations from individuals.  These donations led to corporate donations.  Our goal was $65,000 for a new truck.  On the third day, the Governor called the show and announced that he listens to the show everyday while he worked out and that he wanted to announce that the state would kick in the final $25,000 dollars for the new truck!  It was huge.  We got newspaper and TV coverage across the state, which is tough in the shadow of New York and Philly.


Harmon: How do you use the Internet in marketing your show?

Eric Zane: Web site show audio and video and pod casting.

Hot Wings:  We put all kinds of show audio and links up there.  We also use it for pod casting and merchandising.  Our annual PA Pranks tournament is almost entirely web based.

Free Beer: Our goal with our show web site is to have as many things on there as we can that someone might want to show or play for someone else at work.  We're having a server issue now with our current site because we were getting too many hits, so we are temporarily cut back.  But we've found that with the right videos, audio and such we can get some good buzz, where people learn about the show almost by accident.


Harmon: Are you on

Eric Zane: Kind of.  A listener assumed my identity and does it for me. Scary.

Hot Wings: Yes.  But I hate doing anything to it.  I just like to see how many people want me to be their friend.  I'm up to about 15 I think!

Free Beer: Yes, but we're just getting started with it.  I'd like to get better at using it to create buzz and appointment listening.


Harmon: The best BitBoard bit we ever used was....."

Eric Zane: Probably the Holiday Break-In idea that we got from Jeff and Jer.  It feels great to do and makes people forget that we occasionally say 'dick'.

Hot Wings: I don't like to keep score.

Free Beer: Bowling Ball Drop on Cars.  I don't know who did it first but we stole it from Ace and TJ.  We ended up getting on ESPN's top plays when the local ABC affiliate got video of listeners getting trivia questions wrong and then us dropping the 16 pound Brunswick with authority.


Harmon: How many endorsements do you currently have going on right now?

Eric Zane: Too many to count.  Kids need shoes.  I'm a whore.

Hot Wings: Only four or five things, I think.  Insurance, high interest, sleazy mortgage lenders, cell phones and the occasional, dreaded Pajama Gram.  Do you think anyone has ever actually bought a Pajama Gram?

Free Beer: We're doing about four on the home station, then a few on some of the affiliates.  We try and be pretty picky.  But we're still doing those stupid Vermont Teddy Bear spots.  I feel dirty admitting it.


Harmon: Is there a limit per hour for lives?

Hot Wings: One I think.  It hasn't been a problem, since we're not that popular or believable.


Harmon: Pet Peeve?

Eric Zane: When Producer Joe smacks his gum.

Hot Wings: Everything anyone does.

Free Beer: Its hard to pick one.  I'm easily annoyed by so many things.  And yet I still can't think of one.


Harmon: Have you tried our Daily Dose yet on Bitboard?
Hot Wings: I feel these questions have gotten too invasive.  I'm not answering any more.

Free Beer: Its becoming part of my daily routine, but I'm definitely a creature of habit! I think its going to be a great addition to bitboard. Though I'm not  sure I could keep the hours Philip is keeping!


previous spotlight shows: