ON THE AIR WITH "JON & DAN" - To state that the KLZX (FM-93.3) morning radio show is simply entertaining would be a sacrilege to the broadcasting business. Jon Carter and Dan Bammes have become the epitome of radio entertainment along the Wasatch Front.
They're the longest continuing Wasatch Front FM radio morning team, with more than a decade together. They are also estimated to have the biggest morning audience for adults, according to the fall 1990 Arbitron radio ratings. (They're ranked No. 2 in the morning, behind KKAT, by Birch, the other radio ratings service.)In the Arbitron ratings, the most widely accepted yardstick for local radio, Jon & Dan have a 14.2 percent share of the Wasatch Front morning radio audience among listeners ages 25-54. KSL is a distant second at 8.7 percent. At any given time, more than 22,000 people are listening to them and throughout the morning, somewhere around 100,000 different Wasatch Front residents tune them in.
Listeners, of course, only hear Jon & Dan's antics on the radio, but in person, it's plain to see that they actually act out their parts, too. Their show is both planned and spontaneous. They have fun and share it with listeners.
The day I visited the "Jon & Dan" show, there was a real contrast in their attire - with Jon wearing shorts, tennis shoes and a bright Hawaiian shirt and Dan (his head shaved as part of a recent radio publicity stunt) dressed in a conservative suit. Although Dan wasn't afraid to be funny, he acted like another "Dan" - Dan Rather. (In fact, Bammes is this generation's "Joe Lee" - a quality newsman with a commanding voice that tells you the news instead of just reporting it.)
It is hard to discern sometimes if Carter is serious or if he is simply heading for another joke, but Bammes is still somehow able to retain his seriousness as a newsman when he needs to. He also finds the news, instead of copying it off the news wires.
There are no chairs in the main KLZX studio. Although Bammes sits when he writes and does the news, Carter never has time to sit - he's always moving.
Carter and Bammes arrive at the studio at 4 a.m. and are out by early to mid-afternoon after 9-10 hours of work. Some of the show's segments are recorded during their first 90 minutes of work. (In fact, on weekends recorded segments of "The Best of Jan & Dan" air.)
A large poster of Marilyn Monroe is dominant in the corner of the studio, which overlooks the southwest portion of downtown Salt Lake City. KLZX is located on the fourth floor of the Westgate Building on 300 West, across the street from KZHT and only a block south of KSL.
Six stacks of tapes, 15 deep, sit on the counter, containing music and commercials. Carter seems to have found the perfect technique for pulling any tape out without toppling the stack. Carter stays in the main studio, while Bammes goes back and forth between the adjacent newsroom and the studio.
There's not much recorded clapping or shouting on the show - most is live. Listener phone calls are recorded but only to screen them, since KLZX lacks a delay button. The phone lines are always jammed in the morning. Want to call KLZX between 5:30-10 a.m.? You might have better luck getting through to President Bush.
Carter said that listeners who do get through on the phone provide the show's funniest segments. He also said 85 percent of the show's jokes are written by himself and Bammes, not by a syndicated comedy service.
"We have a high-energy, faced-paced show," Carter said. "We're a catalyst for people and we have a lot of listener involvement and support."
Some critics may accuse Jon & Dan of getting carried away in making fun of celebrities, but they stress that they only kid people who are at the top of their careers.
"We try to be funny, not mean," Bammes said. "We're not into defaming people." For instance, he said they never said a word about Spencer Kinard or Dave Watson on the air when they were down on their luck. Carter said he's gotten into trouble about things he's said on the air but these instances have involved making a little fun of some of the show's sponsors.
The show may get risque, but Carter and Bammes said there aren't many kids that listen to the show since it is so adult-oriented. Neither are aware of any complaints by outraged parents regarding the show's content.
"Paul Harvster," a parody of commentator Paul Harvey, is probably the show's most popular fictional character. "Mr. Twister" (a takeoff on KSL's Doug Miller) and "The Bible Brothers" are also very popular. Carter does the voices for all these characters.
When Jon & Dan were hired at KLZX, rumors of their individual salaries inflated to six figures. "I've taken those rumors to the bank," Bammes said. "But they won't cash."
According to Stuart Stanek, station manager, Jon & Dan have tripled KLZX's morning audience and have doubled the station's overall daily audience.
Carter and Bammes indicated that they were considering leaving KRSP one year before their actual departure when they turned down their first Z-93 job offer and also employment at Y-98. They maintain that their departure didn't hurt KRSP that much since they still believe management problems are at the core of "Rock 103's" ratings nosedive the past several years.
Jon & Dan morning team has 5-year radio contract
Jon Carter and Dan Bammes came to KLZX in the summer of 1989 from KRSP, where they were known as the "Dawn Patrol." They were soon forced off the air for about eight weeks because of a non-competition clause in their KRSP contracts. They returned to the air permanently at Z-93 on Sept. 21, 1989. They hold five-year contracts at KLZX, probably unprecedented for this radio market.
- Carter, from Sun Valley, Idaho, started at KRSP in 1980. He had previously worked at an Oregon coast radio station and also for nine months in Ogden. He's an avid steelhead fisherman, and he enjoys the outdoors, camping and waterskiing. He is married and lives with his wife in the Cottonwood Heights area. He has a 13-year-old daughter and two sons, ages 10 and six.
- Bammes, a BYU graduate, was born in Seattle and grew up in Hawaii and Utah. He worked in New Mexico radio before starting at KRSP in 1979. In his spare time, Bammes enjoys yardwork, working with computers and collecting antique radios. He has been married for 13 years, lives in Sugar House and has three children, ages 11, nine and five.
Jon and Dan don't do the morning show alone; it's actually a four-man show. Robert Lund is on hand to add the "Name That Tune" feature by actually playing various body parts (teeth, armpits, etc.) as a musical instrument. He is also the main talent behind most of the show's jingles and some of the original comedy songs played on KLZX. He has his own recording studio and has even recruited family members to help sing some of the many jingles.
Clyde Lewis is great as the show's "not Don Pardoe" personality. He is also responsible for the voices of special guests that occasionally visit the show, such as Elvis, James Brown, George Bush and Michael Jackson.
Lewis also generates some of the jokes on KLZX, and he meets weekly with some other Salt Lake residents to think up some comedy bits almost every Saturday.