It’s rare when a radio show becomes #1 at two stations in the same market. When a show does it six times in the same market, it’s historical. In fact, I think it’s only been done once. It’s such an accomplishment that leads to the honor of being inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.

San Diego’s legendary Jeff & Jer Showgram, featuring Jeff Detrow and Jerry Cesak, with trusted producer Tommy Sablan, was added to the Hall of Fame.

Since arriving in San Diego in 1988, the show has reached the top on Y95, B100, Q106, Star 100.7, My 94.1, KYXY. Unprecedented, and unlikely to be duplicated. Anywhere. Ever.

Why They’re In The Hall of Fame

I could go on and on about the team’s accomplishments, from raising over $1 million in one day for San Diego fire victims to building a transitional shelter for victims of domestic abuse called Becky’s House.

They created the first Human Flag, igniting a trend that was copied by dozens of personalities and radio stations across the United States. Tommy’s Breaking and Entering Christmas became the inspiration for other shows to take care of families during the holidays.

But in the years I worked with Jeff & Jer, several things stand out that separate them from all other personalities.

Commitment to Each Other: The show was tight-knit, in good times and bad. The studio was a happy place, a sanctuary that everyone looked forward to each day. They took care of each other, loved each other, and were more committed to the success of the team than any individual accomplishments. They helped each other on and off the air. That’s what I mean when I coach shows to take the audience to Disneyland every day.

Relatable: Jeff & Jer revealed character through personal stories. Almost every break was all about them and their lives. But it didn’t become self-absorbed, egotistical, or arrogant. They understood the audience, market, and themselves.

Casting: The show was particularly well cast. There’s little that Jeff, Jerry, Tommy, Laura, and Randy have in common. But they all share similar core values. This creates a solid team, with incredible chemistry and friction.

Benchmarks: The show excelled at being memorable by benchmarking the show. From their trademark “11 listeners” to “Junior High Radio” and dozens more, they followed through daily on their goal of delivering a Didja Hear moment.

Storytelling: This show mastered the art of telling stories with just enough exaggeration to make it interesting. They move from hook to setup to dress up to payoff to blackout naturally and seamlessly, rarely taking a detour. Want to hear a perfect example of on-air storytelling? Listen to this.

Sense of Humor: The show is genuinely funny. But they always allowed the audience to laugh with them, often at their own expense.

Their Heart: Jeff & Jer made a difference in listeners’ lives. On a Sunday morning when San Diego woke up to devastating fires leaving thousands of listeners homeless, I was in the station to manage our reaction to the tragedy. About an hour later, Jeff walks in. I asked him, “What are you doing here?” He says, “San Diego needs us. This is what we do”. Jeff stayed on the air for 9 hours that day, and was back the following morning at 5 am for the show.

Behind The Scenes

The show’s success is also because of attention to detail, and that starts with the show’s producer, “Little” Tommy Sablan. Tommy is the first producer inducted into the Hall of Fame. That should change, and hopefully, Tommy’s induction will blaze a trail for others.

He’s one of the most important elements of the show’s success.

Tommy gets his professional satisfaction from the success of the show. Many producers say that, but Tommy lives it. There’s no detail too small or project too big for Tommy. He doesn’t understand the word “no”. To him, it means, “Not like this”, meaning he will figure out a way to get it done.

If you consider the qualifications of a top morning show producer, Tommy ticks all the boxes. I called him the Program Director of the show. He has the rare ability to manage relationships with management and talent and is a tremendous ambassador in the community.

Conclusion

When Jeff and Jer retired, radio lost one of the greatest ensemble teams in the history of radio. Congratulations on being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

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