By Mona Lipschitz
Happy New Year everyone…..Finally after 21 years of gathering and writing “NewsNotes” for the print version of TALKERS magazine, the powers here finally recognized that I am intimately aware of what’s happening in this industry and know how it works. So, they gave me my own column here at Talkers.com (in lieu of a raise) and said, “Knock yourself out, Mona.” I plan to take them up on it and promise to make the most of this opportunity. Look out Talkers Nation! The Lip is loose! Okay, enough with the posturing crap. Let’s go…..There are huge lessons to be learned from the “Walter Sabo Exits Merlin” saga. An idea guy like Walter should not be “operating” anything. His job title at Merlin was COO — chief OPERATING officer. Wrong role! Walter should be giving ideas, advice, encouragement and inspiration to people who do the operating and the executing. As a consultant, he’s done that quite well for more than two decades. I am glad he’s back where he belongs and where the industry needs him. I’ve never met Randy Michaels but my impression from tons of first-hand sources is he isn’t that much better suited to be an operator than Walter. Look at his track record. Seems to me Randy is kind of an idea guy himself. Maybe the best idea he had was to hire Walter and tap into some of his ideas. But I question if Randy and Walter were the right guys to pull it off with the people in the programming trenches — the PDs, anchors, producers, writers — and actually produce an on-air product worthy of the concept. Before Randy capitulated to the instantaneous naysayers and nervous investors (blowing Walter out of the loop in the process) and turned Merlin’s New York and Chicago properties into half-baked versions of their CBS all-news competition, he and Walter were on the right path regardless of the ridicule and poor numbers faced in the early going. Some of the greatest human success stories begin by facing these obstacles. The ridicule was deserved because they rushed the format onto the air before it was ready. The poor numbers followed because the product wasn’t quite right and it takes time to get good numbers even when the product is good in spoken word. Heck – this ain’t disco in the late eighties! The idea of targeting an all-news station to women 25-54 on FM is brilliant and extremely do-able if done properly. The FM dial is a great place to pick up women! They are already there listening to many of the music stations (as well as public radio) and of course today’s working woman is interested in the “news.” You just can’t cater to the stereotypes of what women want – obvious superficial stuff like shopping, fashion, parenting and gossip. True, these are things of interest to women. But you must go much deeper to actually get them to change their habits and flock to a new address on the radio dial — especially within the space of one or two rating periods. Women want to feel emotionally connected to like-minded souls. They want to feel that they are not alone. They want to feel that they are part of a community and enjoy the comfort and camaraderie of other women who are sharing the same experiences, joys and fears. THAT’S how you get women to listen to talk on the radio. With all due respect to Randy and Walter, they don’t strike me as the kind of guys whose minds work in that direction. Forgive the cliché, but we seem to throw the baby out with the bathwater way too much in this business when great ideas fail to be executed properly…..Speaking of poor execution; someone should jump in – let’s call it intervention — and help CNN “personality” Anderson Cooper avoid destroying his career by trying to wear too many hats in an effort to boost ratings and be a media star. He should stick to one thing and do it well instead of becoming CNN’s in-house clown. I found his situation co-hosting New Year’s Eve from Times Square with goofball Kathy Griffin to be a painfully poor pairing and I had to turn it off and switch over to Ryan Seacrest who seemed like Walter Cronkite compared to Anderson if you can imagine that…..Congratulations to JD Hayworth and Melanie Morgan for being put on the air full time at KSFO, San Francisco. It is a relief to finally see Cumulus putting good people on the air instead of just throwing them off…..Our condolences goe out to the family of one of the smartest and nicest people in talk radio programming, David Bernstein of Bernstein Talent, who lost his dad Charlie Bernstein to cancer over the holidays. David described his dad as his “hero.”…..Hey, if you hear of anything interesting, let me know. Send your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org To go to the main news page, click here.
Category: The Lip