As media outlets everywhere are increasing their new-media presence, KHOW radio, at 630 AM, revisits the old school via a direct mail magazine that's scheduled to start arriving at metro-area addresses on May 14.
The cover boy on the mag's inaugural issue is Tom Martino, who's been down this road before. The June 6 Message column, which concerned a Channel 4 investigation that revealed creepy problems with a business Martino endorsed in his online referral list, noted the then-recent debut of Troubleshooter.com, described as a direct mail quarterly. But later that same month, in a Message followup, Martino confirmed that his national syndication deal with Westwood One had come to an ignominious end, throwing many of his projects, including the magazine, into limbo -- and indeed, no more editions made their way to my address, anyway.
Of course, that could have been just a lucky coincidence.
This time around, though, the radio station itself is behind a new 64-page offering, which is also viewable at this address. The issue is larded with advertising from businesses that regularly purchase commercials on the outlet, plus articles by KHOW personnel. For instance, Dan Caplis advises parents not to sign their children up for sports teams overseen by coaches prone to screaming at them, while Peter Boyles chimes in with an autobiographical essay accompanied by an amusing shot of him looking like a member of Creedence Clearwater Revival circa 1968.
Predictably, the most gag-worthy moments come courtesy of Martino, who contributes "Consumer Advocacy Marketing," a credulity stretching defense of the aforementioned referral list, which allows him to charge businesses for his recommendation. "I created Consumer Advocacy Marketing to protect consumers from unethical advertisers," he declares at the outset, as if his model isn't ethically dubious on its face. Afterward, he goes on at length about the great benefits signing up with him provide -- aside from the boost to his bank account, that is. "We are by no means perfect and ReferralList.com is NOT a guarantee of excellent service or trouble-free business dealings," he concedes. "No one can guarantee those things. However we attempt to minimize problems and offer consumers recourse if problems arise."
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Self-righteous justifications like these are nothing new for Martino. But this time around, at least they're recyclable. -- Michael Roberts