Eight hundred broadcasts of weekly car reviews may not be a record but it is enough to warrant an Autowriters Spotlight for Paul Kaminski who began his nationally syndicated weekly five-minute Radio-Road-Test reports in 1993. The idea took shape in conversations with John Churan, who was with Mercedes Benz at the time. Kaminski had been broadcasting major league auto racing (NASCAR, F1, CART) for ABC Radio Sports, NBC Radio Sports after transferring from regular U.S. Army duty to the Army Reserve in 1977. It took him until 1988 to find an outlet to go beyond one-off race weekend coverage to a regular weekly auto racing show, WHWK-FM in Binghamton, New York. His Race-Talk show initially covered regional racing with a mixture of reports on the national events he would cover for the networks. He produced and hosted it while completing his studies at Ithaca College and until he was recalled to duty for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Now Race-Talk is nationally syndicated and covers all forms of major auto racing.
Kaminski’s return to civilian life in 1992 and the conversations with Churan started him thinking about a radio show that would answer what most people ask about cars: “How fast does it go?” “How does it handle”, What neat stuff does it have?” “How much does it cost?” How many miles per gallon does it get?” Answers to those questions and a run-down of standard and optional features remain the format for the show. The first Radio-Road-Test featured a Buick Le Sabre lent him by Marty Schorr, then in charge of the brand’s New York press fleet. His 800th review features the 2009 FordF-150 pickup. This year he added a KAT Accelerometer to derive real world 0-60 and braking force numbers (g’s from 30-0 hard stop) for the programs.
He believes there will always be a need for people who are able to fairly evaluate vehicles. But, how they get the word out is going to change. Compared to when he started 3 years ago, writers today, he says, need new skills: web page creation, multi-media generation (digital point and shoot still and video photography; audio recording and editing) and need to adjust their acquired writing and editing skills to the new environment. He practices what he preaches by maintaining, a blog: http://msrpk.blogspot.com; a web site: http://msrpk.com/RRTdata.htm and a podcast: http://msrpk.com/podcast/podcast.htm. He also utilizes Twitter and LinkedIn social media. The many channels available to the consumer means many different voices to choose from and that, in Kaminski’s opinion, benefits the consumer and the market.