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Tesh has also earned a reputation as an innovator. His work on E.T. helped pioneer the infotainment genre; his music, a pleasantly soporofic cocktail of new age, jazz, and classical, is so distinct that music store clerks sometimes have trouble figuring out where to shelve it. Indeed, a few stores have simply created a whole new category--TeshZak--for it and the many imitations that have appeared in the wake of its success.

Like Stern, Tesh enjoys widespread popularity. Millions watch him on E.T. every night, his CDs and Red Rocks videotape are best-sellers, his concerts sell out within hours, and his shopping channel appearances have resulted in record sales. And even though he suffers a reputation as the critic's whipping boy, he has the hardware to prove otherwise: several Emmys for his sporting event soundtrack work.

Finally, Tesh has the uncommon charisma it takes to wear the King of All Media crown. His sway over his fans is not as immediately apparent as Stern's, perhaps, but that's only because Tesh's fans are more polite, and he, more restrained. Should he suddenly develop a breast-signing fetish, you can bet a line would form quickly.

And unlike Stern, Tesh's appeal isn't founded on a hard-to-maintain illusion. People like Tesh because he exists on an elevated plane: he's a media Uberman, smoother and more self-assured than the average person, extra-large, percolating with ambition and talent. At the same time, he's eminently approachable, someone people feel they can relate to and trust. In addition, he doesn't take himself too seriously, or rage and sputter about critical slights and injustices. He just does his work, grateful for the attention his audience pays him. In the face of his consistent affability and low-key self-determination, even his critics eventually become admirers.