Remembering The Godfather of Radio Research: RIP Todd Wallace


Todd Wallace was a giant of the radio industry, remembered world-wide as one of the most celebrated programmers in the business.

The incredible, indelible mark he left on broadcasting is being remembered by those who knew him – and knew of him – following his recent death at the age of 75.

Born Todd Mueller in the US state of Kansas, he was fascinated by sportscasters as a child, and knew from a very early age that radio was his future.

In a 2017 Radio Today interview, Wallace told Greg Smith of a light bulb moment in his young life:

“I can clearly remember an assignment by the teacher that we needed to do a two-person skit in front of the entire class. So I posed as a radio sportscaster interviewing a chubby mate posing as Babe Ruth where I proceeded to ask him sophomoric questions like ‘So Babe, how did you feel when you hit home run #60?’ The class loved it and applauded, I got an A+ and never looked back. I was totally addicted to the radio stage from then on.”

Broadcasting under the professional name of Todd Wallace – his radio career began at the tender age of fifteen in his hometown of Wichita.

Had Wallace had his way, though, he’d have been on the airwaves much sooner than that.

“I had been trying to get hired ever since I was about 13. While I originally thought I’d want to be a play-by-play sportscaster, I noticed over the years that most of those jobs were going to ex-sports stars, something I knew I was never going to be.”

“So I figured maybe being a teenage DJ would be just as cool.”

Wallace’s foray into the industry is one of the great stories of persistence:

“I started practising and taping intros and outros in my little upstairs closet radio studio and sending out audition tapes on 3-inch reel-to-reels. I bugged all the Wichita GM’s and PD’s every month until most of them would no longer take my calls.”

Over the coming years, Wallace would work at KLIF (Dallas), KIMN (Denver), KILT (Houston), CKLW (Detroit in Windsor, Ontario) and KEZY (Los Angeles) before joining KRUX in Phoenix as the morning host in 1970.

Within 6 months, he was promoted to Program Director at KRUX, and his legendary programming career took off.

In 1972, he was recruited to become the PD to turn around the ratings at KTSA in San Antonio, a feat he achieved within 4 months.

Wallace received national attention when – in 1974 – he was called in to rescue the ratings at KLIF.

In 1976, Wallace teamed up with renowned sales consultant Ken Greenwood in launching his research company, Radio Index.

Under the umbrella of Radio Index, he launched Todd Wallace/Associates.

His consulting practice achieved world-class status in the late 70s, advising over 100 radio stations worldwide.

Wallace became known in markets across the globe as The Godfather of Radio Research.

During his days as a key on-air talent at nine different major market radio stations, Wallace worked with programming legends such as Bill Drake, Gordon McLendon, Paul Drew, Bill Young, Ted Atkins, and Ken Dowe. He told Radio Today it was indeed an incredible learning experience:

The main takeaway? “Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.”

“Radio in those days was really FUN! We were all rockin’ and reelin’ and hangin’ from the ceiling.’”

Working with PDs such Ron E Sparks in Australia and New Zealand also added to his consulting skills.

“Without getting too simplistic about it, you learn that all of your advice has to be totally revised to fit each individual situation. You do different things to achieve a 6.5% share to be #1 in New York City than you do to pull a 35 share in Hamilton, New Zealand.”

One of Wallace’s proudest achievements was always encouraging his clients to not become ‘consultation dependent,’ but also bring their own ideas, angle of attack, and critical thinking to literally every consulting session.

“Moral of the story: there’s always more than just one way to skin a cat.”

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