In January of 2017, Terry Boers retired after 25 years as a host for The Score in Chicago. As part of his retirement he has written a book detailing his career at the Score entitled “The Score of a Lifetime.” In part two of our discussion we talked about his then “new” show with Dan Bernstein which began in 1999.
Matt: The lineup change happened in 1999 and you were paired with Dan Bernstein for a show from 8am-Noon. What was it like starting a new show in a new time slot with a new partner?
Terry: It was turning your life upside down. It was getting up at 4am and fighting traffic and I didn’t know Dan Bernstein that well. He was our Bears reporter and he did some nice stuff. I looked at it like no matter what I think and even though I don’t know him, it was time to find out if this would work. I wasn’t about to give up radio. So you had to make it work. I was humbled by the move. I wasn’t going to let anything stand in my way. This show was not going to fail. So I put everything into making it work and so did Bernsy. And I think it did work. I renewed everything in my mind. Erased everything and started a new chapter. There’s no other way to do it. I had to recalibrate and start everything over again without sounding bitter and I think we did that. I’ve learned not to be (bitter). I think it’s how you handle it.
Matt: From being close to that whole situation I feel like you went through a period of mourning for about a week maybe two weeks for the old show. Then you just let it go and focused on the new show.
Terry: It wasn’t entire conscious. Sometimes your subconscious can be stronger than your actual consciousness. I think that was definitely in play. You would hear it from people that they missed the old show. I felt well, “If you fucking missed the show so much and were really out there, we wouldn’t be in this situation.” Yeah it takes you a second to get your balance back and forget some of that stuff and go ahead and push forward. I had made up my mind to do it, doesn’t mean that I did it right away. Just do the new show the best I can but let the chips fall where they may and not be bitter or stupid about it.
Matt: At what point did you feel good about “Boers and Bernstein” and feel like the new show would be successful?
Terry: It probably took about six months, at least. I think there’s a rating period for everything. We felt like we were in a decent pattern. The idea of the show, at least in my mind, was to come up with something either one time a week or one time a month to add something fun to the show. So we kept adding to the Friday Fung segment. People are stuck in traffic and we wanted to have fun with it. We covered the serious stuff when it needed to be covered, but on a day-to-day basis we could have fun with it. Bernstein had a reputation for being very serious and smart and all that. We needed to balance that out. Sports isn’t always interesting so I think there’s a time to balance it off and talk about the world—but in a fun way, not a serious way. We set a tone and the show was very successful but like everything else it took a long time.
Matt: In 2006 The Score became the flagship to the White Sox, the first MLB team to join the station. What affect did that have on your show and the station?
Terry: When the White Sox were on we did zeros. Nobody was listening. They cost me thousands of dollars in bonuses. Even five people listening would’ve helped. It seemed like a good idea (to pick them up) as it was right after the Sox World Series year but they would kill us with those afternoon games. If you saw five or six of them on the schedule for the month, you knew you weren’t going to be in the top five. Some of those months, ‘Oh my god! We’re in trouble!” but I learned how to ignore it.
Matt: There’s been a recent major line-up change at the Score bringing Dan McNeil back. Were you surprised by the changes?
Terry: Jimmy DeCastro (Entercom/Chicago Market Manager) loves Danny. If Danny wanted to work it was going to be for DeCastro. He’s liked Danny for 30 years. This was not a great shock. DeCastro’s not a guy who likes long-form talk, beating up one topic for a four or five hour show. It’s not what he likes. Danny’s more bang-bang-bang a here, there and everywhere. Where Bernstein and Jason (Goff) were more on a topic for the whole show—like the Michigan State stuff. It isn’t DeCastro’s cup of tea. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just not his cup of tea. It was not surprising. When you get a new toy you’re going to do something with it. You knew something was gonna happen when DeCastro came into power again. The guy he loves is Danny. It’s nothing deeper than that. Not surprising!
Matt: Every talent I’ve talked to at the Score absolutely LOVES working for Mitch Rosen (Score Ops Director/PD). What is it that he does that may be different from other PDs?
Terry: Mitch genuinely cares. There’s a part of him that takes everything home with him. He doesn’t want to let anything slide. He doesn’t want anything left unsaid. He doesn’t want to make you miserable. He wants everyone to be happy and productive in what they do. Mitch went out of his way to make sure everyone was good. He would constantly ask for input. I still think it’s a people business and nobody’s better at dealing with people than Mitch. This was a guy who drove out to Indiana five or six times when Danny (McNeil) wouldn’t show up for work in 2014. Most Program Directors would say “Fuck him I’m not going out there!” I think most executives worth their salt have a really cold blooded side to them that forget sometimes that it’s a people business. I don’t think Mitch has ever forgotten that. He would always try no matter how bad the situation was to make a valiant effort to make it better. He genuinely cares about people.
Matt: Mitch apparently helped convince you to write this book about your radio career. Explain how the book “The Score of a Lifetime” came about?
Terry: I was a little hesitant at first, but I had promised it to people. Mitch had a lot better memory of some of these things than I did. I mean I knew (former Score host Rick) Telander was an asshole but I didn’t really think about it that much. So I needed his help with it. I told Mitch “It isn’t going to be a flattering portrayal of a lot of people.” Mitch was OK with that. He really helped promote the book and would do anything within reason that the publisher asked. He really helped with the background stuff –what was said, what happened, stuff that I wasn’t paying attention to at the time. Once you promise something to people, they want it. My advice to everyone: From now on, save every note and everything that’s said when it happens. It’s much easier than going back and trying to track things down. I wanted to make sure everything was right. Mitch’s help was essential to make this book happen.
In Part Three of our Q&A with Terry Boers, Terry talks about his illness and cancer diagnosis, the future of radio, and what projects he is working on in 2018.