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Donny Osmond connects with radio listeners through show

Hearing Donny Osmond on the radio is nothing new for a guy who’s sold millions of records since his 1970s teen-idol reign.

These days, however, the Flamingo headliner, 53, has a different radio role: as star of his own syndicated radio show, introducing other singers’ recordings — and sharing showbiz tidbits — with listeners around the world.

Osmond joined the Las Vegas radio lineup in June, when oldies station KKLZ-FM, 96.3 added his show in the midnight-6 a.m. weekday slot.

But he has been recording the syndicated program for almost two years. (“It’ll be two years in January,” he notes.)

And Osmond doesn’t even have to leave his Flamingo dressing room to hit the airwaves.

From the convenience of a recording booth tucked into his dressing room (he has another one just like it at home), Osmond records about an hour’s worth of anecdotes and observations every day.

Positioned behind the microphone, inside the soundproof recording booth, Osmond opens with his standard greeting, “Donny Osmond here,” smoothly slipping into the mellifluous yet conversational style of a seasoned broadcaster to preview an upcoming item devoted to the topic, “Why won’t he say I do?” — direct from Glamour magazine.

“I’ll have that right after this … ” Osmond announces, providing an ideal break-in point for the dozens of stations that feature his show to insert station identifications, advertisements and promotional announcements.

Beyond lifestyle nuggets, Osmond also serves up current showbiz news; for example, the ninth-season “Dancing with the Stars” champion (he won in November 2009) comments on the current competition after every episode, recording his “scathingly honest” insights and sending the electronic files to producer Vinny Marino in New York, who then edits and posts the material for the stations to download the following day.

After all, “we want the show to be timely,” Osmond reasons.

But he also wants the show to be personal — and to that end, Osmond dishes out details of life in Donnywood, that very special place where his public and private lives intersect.

“I have a really cool juxtaposition, being a celebrity and being a real guy,” he says.

Sometimes the juxtaposition is cooler than others, however.

On the plus side, Osmond recalls the time he was mowing his front lawn (see, he really is a regular guy) and a neighbor kid came by to compliment “Uncle Donny” on his vocal performance in the 1998 Disney animated hit “Mulan,” telling him, “You were really great — you could be a star someday.”

At the other end of the coolness scale, a recent shopping trip to Whole Foods Market in Town Square included a customer “stalking me,” Osmond recalls, describing how she followed him from aisle to aisle, coming “closer and closer” — until their fateful meeting at the checkout stand, when she told him, ” ‘I really want to kiss your face — but it wouldn’t mean as much to you as it does to me.’ ”

In addition to his daily hour recording news and notes, Osmond spends several hours each Thursday recording introductions and “outros” for new additions to each station’s playlist, along with information on “local concerts and events, who’s new in the 10-to-2 (o’clock) slot” and other pertinent announcements. Osmond’s son Don coordinates it all — and then “I Donny-ize it,” Osmond says.

Locally, Osmond’s promos range from KKLZ programming highlights to a summer flash mob, “Donny’s Dance Forum,” at the Forum Shops at Caesars, which “packed the place with people,” according to Justin Chase, KKLZ program director.

And while the overnight slot wouldn’t be a showcase in most cities, in Las Vegas the late shift means Osmond “actually gets to listen to his show,” Chase points out.

KKLZ may be an oldies station, but Osmond’s show turns up on adult contemporary stations in other markets; it’s up to each station to program the music surrounding his comments.

“That’s the unique thing,” Osmond says, because “we don’t take control away” from local stations, many of which “would never play Donny Osmond records,” he acknowledges.

Then again, radio’s “Donny Osmond Show” isn’t about Donny Osmond records.

Instead, it’s about forging a connection with listeners — one at a time.

“You’re not talking to thousands, you’re talking to one person,” he says. “That’s why I think radio will never go away — because the listener has ownership.”

As proof, Osmond cites the comments of a long-haired “hippie kid” tram driver he encountered during a recent family trip to a Utah ski resort, who greeted him with ” ‘Donny Osmond! Dude, I think you’re the coolest guy on the planet! I listen to your radio show every day — I turn you up and I turn the music down.’ ”

No wonder Osmond likes telling that story.

Contact reporter Carol Cling at ccling@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272.

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