Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Shiers Shines (A Minor Tribute)

Frank Shiers
KIRO 710 kHz
Host (principal substitute talent)

[and former longtime late-night and weekend personality]


Whenever you're fortunate enough to be invited to guest-host on anyone's newstalk radio show, it's incumbent upon you to always be deferential to his name, of course. And I started subbing for Frank Shiers on only my second-ever KIRO broadcast. Consequently, I said a lot of very nice, sometimes even effusive things on-air about his broadcasting talent over the last three years. Again, as an on-air colleague heard on the same station, I was obligated to do that. (Within the reasonable bounds of professional courtesy, this would apply even had I never stewarded his show while he was away.)

But with The Bryan Styble Program being cancelled by KIRO's new ownership regime six days ago, that obligation has ended. So I'm here to tell you now: Shiers really is the first-rate broadcasting pro and genuine fellow I always said he is whenever his name came up on my show. And unlike myself and most other newstalkers, he's as equally skilled as an FM disc jockey as he is behind a newstalk microphone, where he continues doing fill-in work for daytime KIRO stalwarts Dave Ross, Dori Monson, et al. Plus, Shiers is what in the broadcast industry is known as "a radio guy". And that's a plus (especially to me).

Amid the copious internet chatter generated by
KIRO's pennywise-but-pound-foolish cancellation of Shiers's long-running weeknight program, one poster described his on-air personality as "kind to a fault". That's inaccurate: Shiers is in fact merely kind. (As it happens, I'm the sort of fellow who's properly termed kind to a fault, meaning that my good will often ends up working against my interests. But not Frank.)

As far as I know or could ever tell, Shiers's primary concern as a host is always the KIRO audience, which is precisely where any fine broadcaster's priority should lie, obviously. He understands that a good host does his show for his listeners, not merely for those tiny few who happen to make air with him. It's true that there's nothing cutting-edge about the Shiers approach to newstalk radio. But that just makes his work more widely appealing than a more original, edgy approach might be. And Shiers designed his format with that in mind.

Or that's my hunch, at least; I've never discussed it with him. One thing he did once tell me was that he was trained for his topic-oriented format by Allan Prell, KIRO mid-morning man 2004-2005. (Though Prell's show was cancelled only a few months after I joined KIRO, and I seldom agree with his quite liberal politics, he remains one of the funniest and most-talented hosts I've ever listened to, much less been privileged to work with.)

Though it's obvious why, say, my own unconventional on-air style seems so jarring to so many posters' ears, I remain mystified as to why the quite polished and stylistically-mainstream newstalk radio hosting work of Shiers also generated as many nasty postings as it did at some local internet hangouts. I hope that's not because Shiers's pragmatic conservatism annoys them.

Oh, and Frank is a nice guy off the air as well; he was professionally helpful to me more than a few times, particularly shortly after my arrival at KIRO in March 2005. In three years of substituting for and sometimes working closely with Shiers, the worst I can say about him is that I wish he'd resisted repeating on-air a well-intentioned nickname I had unfortunately picked up after a year at KIRO.

And I haven't even mentioned his clever and visually-appealing work as a local editorial cartoonist. That's because this blog is about listening to radio, and Frank Shiers is a consistently enjoyable listen, whether spinning oldies for aging rockers or tales for newstalk radio listeners.

BRYAN STYBLE/Seattle

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bryan - I'll look forward to your talk radio commentary - I hope you'll be more fair to the region's highest rated host - Dori Monson - than other commentators.

Anonymous said...

Bryan - I thought you were going to be a daily poster - don't leave us hanging - get to the postin' my friend

Anonymous said...

Very Interesting!
Thank You!