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John Tesh Talks Radio Show, NBA on NBC Theme

John Tesh is an accomplished musician, with gold albums, music Emmy Awards, and sell-out concerts to his credit. 

To a different crowd, Tesh gained household name recognition from his decade run on Entertainment Tonight.

While the versatile performer always has projects on his plate, Tesh’s main focus is his self-titled daily syndicated radio show. Heard on 382 stations, the program is heard locally on Farmingdale, New York’s WKJY/KJOY.

However, Tesh broadcasts his show on most days from Los Angeles.

On this day, Tesh recorded the program in Manhattan, as he would be at a KJOY promotional event in Franklin Square later in the day. That’s where FishbowlNY caught up with him.

“The way we do the show, stations can use their music,” Tesh tells FishbowlNY. “That enables them to really localize it.”

Plus, WKJY adds Long Island flavor with a traffic reporter and meteorologist.

“It’s about as close to me being here as you can get,” Tesh says.

His show features Intelligence for Your Life—Tesh’s informational interspersed segments on health and wellness, which would seem geared to women, but Tesh has a surprise for you.

“What we didn’t realize was that we would get kids,” Tesh says. “We have a lot of kids: 8, 10, 12, 15 years old, who listen to this show because part of the reason is they don’t remember me from Entertainment Tonight. I’m the sort of disembodied radio guy.”

So Tesh adds tips that a younger audience can appreciate (e.g. how to impress the teacher, dating, and homework help)

As for creating the show, the sandy-haired Tesh gives an assist to his wife, actress Connie Sellecca.

“[She’s] is a big newshound and she always has these stacks of magazines beside her bed,” Tesh says. “[The magazines have] sticky notes on them, articles she’s going to get to eventually. I saw that I said, ‘You know what, she’s probably not the only one doing that.”

Taking into account people’s busy schedules, Tesh decided to gather the tidbits from magazines, newspapers, newsletters, books, etc. Thus, the John Tesh Radio Show was born nearly 10 years ago.

“[We] turn it into one minute 45 [second] pieces and surround it with music,” Tesh says. “It’s a clunky name, but Intelligence for Your Life just sort of says what it is.”

Tesh says many people have drawn comparisons between him and Oprah Winfrey.

“I’m not an expert, she’s not an expert,” Tesh admits. “But we find experts to connect people to.”

Even though Tesh, who early in his career was a reporter at WCBS/Channel 2, hasn’t forgotten about his Long Island roots.

“I graduated from Garden City High in 1970,” Tesh says. “I used to listen to Cousin Brucie and Dan Ingram and all those guys on WABC.”

The towering Tesh, who stands 6 1/2 feet tall, never played basketball as a teenager at Garden City High. Lacrosse and soccer were Tesh’s sports of choice.

Tesh, who also had his hand in sportscasting, calling Olympic Games in 1992 and 1996 for NBC. But for viewers, his biggest impact was composing the NBA on NBC theme, used throughout the 1990s. It has been selected on several websites as one the greatest sports themes of all time.

However, it didn’t start so memorable.

“I called it into my answer machine and sang the theme knowing that NBC needed a theme,” Tesh recalls. “I got home and figured it out on the piano and orchestrated it.”

The piece gained popularity because Tesh made it high energy.

“The tempo is at the pace of a fast break, which is about 122 beats a minute.”

But, the theme soared into the stratosphere—much like Michael Jordan—a major part of NBC’s NBA package.

“Every sport, every show has its sort of halcyon days,” Tesh says.

He says NBC ensured fans would associate the NBA with his intense instrumental.

“This thing played hundreds of times a day…like the Entertainment Tonight theme; I think they just drilled it into people’s heads.” Tesh says.

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