In Search Of Unique Radio


(By Mike McVay) If you’ve not yet watched the Amazon Prime documentary Hendrie, then you need to as soon as you can. If you’ve never heard of Phil Hendrie, he is an amazing talk talent who mastered the art of talking to himself as a character, moderating arguments between the character voices, and firing up an audience who would phone into his show to challenge the fictitious guests.

The listener callers were real. The characters originated in the brain of the quick-witted Hendrie were all his own. I loved his radio show. I can quote breaks and interviews that he aired, initially locally, and later on his Premiere Networks show. Fortunately for his fans, he has a podcast where his talent remains on display.

Watching the documentary was educational. Hearing from comedians & actors Judd Apatow, Kevin Pollack, Bill Hader, and Simpsons writer Dana Gould, expounding on their admiration for the host and what they loved about his approach, is just one part of the lesson to be learned.

Hendrie was clearly creative, but he was also brave, daring, undaunted, and most of all unique. This prompted me to ponder why aren’t there more creatives on the radio. Which led to a “scavenger hunt” to find the truly unusual and yet successful programs that exist. 

It seems appropriate with Easter Sunday having just passed to start with The Jesus Christ Show on KFI in Los Angeles. The program, hosted by Neil Saavedra, airs Sundays 6-9am. The program is described on the station’s website as, “An interactive radio theatre experience designed to engage and inspire listeners and callers to learn more about themselves and Jesus Christ.” Saavedra plays the role of Christ and stays in character as he fields calls. His is a spectacular performance and unlike anything I’ve ever heard on the radio.

The Greg Beharrell Show is another unique program. The show airs afternoons, nights, or overnights on mainly Rock, Alternative, Classic Rock, and Active Rock stations. The show combines comedy with music. Because Beharrell is an accomplished comedy writer and his “nothing is off limits” style is what makes his program stand out from others. It’s not unusual to see him posing for a picture with a fried egg across his face or to hear him present a satirical reenactment of a fictional story. He created an imaginary post-show radio press mockumentary using well-known media celebrities as the press, and his ”Music Lessons with Famous Musicians” fired up social media. 

Unique is a positive way to describe The Dana Cortez Show. Dana is joined on-air by her husband DJ Automatic who also serves as the Executive Producer. They’re joined by Anthony A. The program creates a lot of energy, provides multigenerational and cultural views, and connects with a community that is underserved by radio. We are hearing more shows led by women today than yesterday. Dana is one of those leading that charge, although there’s plenty of room for more females in the role of the #1 mic.

Unique radio is rare, but this column isn’t big enough to capture all of them. Googling “Unique Radio Shows” brings up very little. Not that I think it’s a topic that can be searched in that fashion. I’d like to hear from you. What’s truly unique? Who is doing something different that stands out from the other 12,000 radio stations’ shows in America? Share them with me and I’ll put a spotlight on them. E-mail me at [email protected].

Meanwhile, ask yourself – WWHD? What Would Hendrie Do?

Mike McVay is President of McVay Media and can be reached at [email protected]. Read Mike’s Radio Ink archives here.


  1. Love this, Mike. I had the pleasure of working with Phil at KLSX not long after we signed on the station. He was finding his way, and so were we. The talent was always there, but we couldn’t sync up with him – and well, you know the rest of the story. Can’t wait to see the doc.

    Also, appreciate the mentions for Greg (I’m an unabashed fan) and Dana who is a special talent. Thanks for highlighting both.

    I’d suggest adding KUPD’s John Holmberg, a true “creative” to your list, as well as Jacky Bam Bam at WMMR, who has built a special community at nigiht. I wish I could expand the list a whole lot more.


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