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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

American Radio Network



American Radio Network

About ten years ago, I moved to Los Angeles from another state in the south for an offer of employment. Almost instantly, and rather coincidentally, America went to war with Iraq. Suddenly, after moving my entire life across the country, I found myself without the job I had been promised because the person who had hired me had been called out of his reserve position to serve in the conflict. I don’t know much more about what happened on that side of it, so I can’t elucidate on the specifics. Los Angeles being the town that it is, it took me almost seven months to find something, anything to start bringing in some money.

In the meantime, I saw an ad in a newspaper here for American Radio Network (this was before I realized what a rag this news source was) which was listed in the employment section. Keep that in mind, the fact that it was listed in the employment section is a key point to this whole event. This ad basically advertises that it is looking for radio DJ’s to host its syndicated talk shows. Anyone in the L.A. area is quite familiar with the make-up of this ad and has seen it in numerous locations. I thought, since I had an interest in radio when I was young, that I would look into the opportunity.

I went to a place on Sunset Boulevard that was on the corner and provided scarce parking, no surprise to Angelenos. The place was OLD looking, the couches and rugs and interior all looked to be over 20 years old and perhaps had just about as much use and layers of dirt as twenty plus years will provide. I did what anyone else will tell you who has gone through this, and there are plenty of places all over the net to check out the public experience with this company. You SHOULD check that out if you have any real sense of the bull stink that is handed out to the public.

The main room in the interior was full of people who were all “forced” to watch a film on the history of radio and especially one painful story about a man who was royally screwed by the system even though he is considered the father of the medium. This was very uncomfortable to sit through and I remember wanting to bolt during every minute of it. But, to be brief, I was made to sit through a Saturday three hour meeting presided over by one Tony Lewis, (who is a bit of a used car salesman but that’s not too important right now) that went on and on about what could be done in the radio business and then everyone was told to come back the next day, on Sunday, to finish the presentation. While there on Saturday, we were given the chance to “record” our voice for a possible radio commercial to see if we would qualify for the program. Needless to say, despite my lack of voice over training at the time, I was accepted. 

Sunday I had to sit through more sales pitch and then halfway through we were told that: “No one here receives a pay check.” They then went on to explain how there would be contracts, fees for studio use and possibly, I am not sure of this, we would be given the right to have a press pass - for a fee. Naturally, I was very disappointed that this was indeed NOT an employment opportunity despite what their ad placement implied, but this was in fact a school. 

At the end of the meeting everyone was given a contract to fill out and then told to come up to the front of the room to turn in their contracts and then leave through the back door. I was the only one who turned the other way and went out of the back door as everyone else lined up. Once in the hallway, the blonde lady who works the desk (who must be related in some way to Mr. Lewis) asked me to go back inside. I told her I wasn’t interested and she threatened that I would not be refunded my $40.00 I paid for attending the meetings if I did not return. I told her no and she abruptly disregarded me. It was quite rude, and it would only be the first time she’d do this.

Over the years, I would use my experience there as an example to people in conversation about the kind of lunacy one runs into in the Los Angeles area. For I have seen this business format over and over again: you pay us and we give you work. Over the past ten years, I have gone on in life and this was also way before Hubie Goode and this blog, so I had never had the chance to include this in the kind of reviews I do here. So, I decided I would now investigate the situation once again for this blog, some ten years later.     

I saw the ad on Craigslist and then I contacted them, but only received an email responder that went something like this:

Here is the information you requested.
We are the producers of a  radio magazine since 1968 and carry radio programs such as National Lampoon True Facts among other nationally syndicated radio programs. We started in New York and now have offices in the west coast. We currently need radio Announcers/DJs to host/produce music, talk, interview radio shows for our radio stations. Many openings are now available. Fantastic benefits. No experience is necessary and these shows can be done in your spare time. Work is available part time or full time. You can work as an independent producer and earn up to $200 or more per show or as an employee at $15.00/hour. For audition information call (323)468-0082 in LA or (714)991-1966 in  Irvine Ca.

Women and minorities are strongly encouraged to apply. All applicants will be considered.

We are an equal opportunity employer


Walking in to the building once again was like traveling into a time tunnel. The lobby was still dark and had the exact same couches and outlay that were there ten years ago. (!) In fact, the blonde lady I mentioned above was still there behind the desk, now a died red head. The processes were exactly the same except for the meeting days being split up from a full weekend to Wednesday and Saturday. The interior room was still the same, the movie playing on the TV (which was one of those old style big screen TV’s with the large blue-green-red projectors from like 1985) was also the same. This time, however, the room was NOT full as it had been ten years ago.

There were a few people, about 15 I would say, and several of them got up and left during the meeting presentation. Tony Lewis, still brunette, was also still there. The presentation was still pretty much the same, but I did not have to put up $40.00 for the first half of the meeting. We did, however, all get to go and record our voices for the commercial, a Paradise Wine spot, and amazingly, it was with the same out of date equipment. 

The fact that nothing had been updated really amazed me. Not only were there no pop filters on the mic, but one got the impression that cassette tapes were still the main tool of operation in the company. Cassette tapes??? Others have said in their reviews that they did not believe anything was being recorded in the booths, and from what I saw, I became convinced of this. 

So I performed a little experiment, I skipped the Paradise Wine commercial and used a made up mess of crap I came up with on the spot for the recording. (I knew about the contracts, and I would not be signing up for ANY contracts that require me to make commission money to pay for a fee. That’s just crazy.) And guess what? My audition was accepted. There were no complaints about my not following the script. Heh.

Well, when I called them for the results of my audition, I was told about the now $98 dollars that had to be paid up front and the contracts that would be necessary. The first meeting had said nothing of this, but I was told on the phone that it had been mentioned. Not so. Needless to say, I did not go any further with this. The now red headed lady, who is now working by herself as apposed to the time ten years ago when she had employees, was just as rude and snippy as she had always been, and I smiled as I wondered how anyone can do this sort of job for ten years, or more. 

Anyhow, let me just say that both of my experiences with American Radio Network and also with the written reviews of other people have led me to several conclusions about what this business really is. This is really “Tony Lewis” radio. It looks to me to be an independent business which is actually a school. All they talk about is giving one 8 weeks or so of training (hopefully with someone qualified) and then the “student” has to either be a teacher, an announcer or an independent contractor (one with a contract that legally requires you to pay the studio even if you make no money from commission radio advertising. And trust me, commission sales is an up and down roller coaster).

It seems to me if you do what a school does, then you are a school. However, if you claim not to be a school, then you have no regulatory requirements. No requirements means teachers don’t have to be qualified, they can be anyone. You are told in the meetings, that the training consists of learning 12 buttons on the radio equipment and it’s real easy. They need teachers and two months for this training. 

The classes for button learning have a fee, as does the future 15 minute radio show you will do with your own music, playing sometime in the early morning hours (so you can make all of your mistakes). You’ll make up part of this money from advertising for your 15 minute show which is also rated in such a way that it eats up any money you might make and you might end up with about $9.00 dollars for all your trouble. This is all contractually obligated.

Once you become an independent contractor, I can only see things getting worse as you are required to make money from people who are independent businesses that might or might not want to advertise on your radio show. You have to be able to sell it, because not everyone will be able to afford the rates, and if you look around town, you’ll notice how many companies are NOT on radio advertising. 

It’s just like the grocery store. Next time you go shopping, notice how many products DON’T have a TV commercial, and yet they are still selling. Is it any wonder radio is overrun with car ads? I have dealt with Mom and Pop stores as far as attempting to solicit their cooperation with a much needed service, and in another blog one day I will be reviewing that business as well.  I have to tell you, business has such a small window for advertising that it can’t even afford to properly service monetary transactions for their customers. 

Good luck getting locked into a contract that requires you to pay a fee out of commission advertising when Tony Lewis radio is really just a one man operation which makes its lion share of revenue off of a schooling system which denies it is a school.

Other people have much more to say about the veracity of making a “rookie go” in radio inside of a major market and whether or not American Radio Network is a scam or not. Look around the net, you’ll see their comments EVERYWHERE. But is it a scam? No, I don’t think that it would have lasted this long if it was one. It’s basically a business model. They play fast and loose with the definitions of school and opportunity as do many here in this town. 

The promise is for employment, but as I have said before with advertising: What could happen and what does happen can be two different things. Unfortunately, for those who get involved with American Radio Network's Tony Lewis Radio, your money is not as ethereal. 

They would never take payment in a form that may or may not be real money, but that is what they expect YOU to accept, namely: Pay for an opportunity that may or may not happen. (I already have enough trouble with my own student loans.) Considering the anachronistic nature of how the business is run, you would be wise to give them a pass in favor of an actual broadcasting school (because American Radio Network really is an unregulated school). 

Sure, what they promise can happen, and has happened to someone, somewhere.... but you will "BUY" the future..... under contract.

8 comments:

  1. 11 12 2016 same email wording about employment opportunity; same difficulties with parking; ARN capital letters on building; same history of radio film; same Tony and female; same run down location interior and exterior; less than ten people attended; never got as far as seeing David Goldstein or learning more about the new name of NBS telecommunications and radio. I walked out.

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  2. Replies
    1. Absolutely pathetic right lmao!!! Check my lame email I copied & pasted below...
      From Barry Goldwater to me 1/17/17 11:51pm "Here is the information you requested re the advertisement;

      ADDITONAL INFORMATION; Our Broadcasting company produces TV shows and Radio shows on a weekly basis and in great numbers. We are currently seeking people with good voices and outgoing personalities who can read commercials, give announcements and host a radio and or TV program. These positions are available full time and part time and the shift times are very flexible. Prior experience is not required. For audition information call this number; (657)444-0481. At this audition meeting, we will do recordings of your voice to be considered for both the TV and Radio division of our company. If you are accepted, you may do these programs either in our Los Angeles Studios or in Irvine, Ca. See you at the meeting.


      New talent Dept."

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Thank you for sharing!! Now I won't have to spend countless hours in traffic tomorrow evening heading over there smh...

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  5. When you go to their website the very first thing they say is "This Is Not A Scam!!!"
    If that isn't a red flag then I'm color blind.

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  6. Most people fail to understand their business model and categorize it as a scam without really making a full discernment. It's a business model, like many in a similar vien, although I find it hard to believe they have continued for so long outside of a regulatory organization. It's somewhat like flipping houses, that sort of thing is done outside of the "system". Ask a Realtor why he doesn't just go and flip houses himself, and they will tell you about the lack of regulation which protects all parties.... well, usually.

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  7. They are now doing on-camera hosts, from what I see on Craigslist. I also applied here years ago and walked out after my recording audition. We were supposed to check back in a couple hours to see if we were "accepted". I just never bothered. It felt like a terrible scam, and seeing your site, I guess it certainly was. Funny, I'm glad I found your page, because I've always wondered in the back of my mind if I should have gone back and given it a go. Glad I didn't!

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