By Walter Sabo
NEW YORK — Overnights is the default win for talk radio. Every format has a default time period when its format is used for entertainment and functionality. For example, Lite ACs excel in middays because they provide ambient sound for businesses. Oldies are strong on weekends when people have parties and want to escape from weekday troubles.
The Media Audit reports that 8.2 million people regularly listen to the radio between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 5:00 am. Talk radio has the biggest overnight audience — reaching 2.7 million people — followed by news/talk with 1.7 million. CHR is the leading music format (and third overall) with 1.5 million overnight listeners, followed by sports (1.1 million).
Nearly one-third of 12:00 midnight to 5:00 am listeners (31.8%) are between the ages of 18 and 34 and nearly half are between the ages of 18 and 44. The survey of 104,127 respondents finds more than one-third of night owls are single, which gives them more free time for leisure activities and a higher disposable income.
These listeners are students, third-shift workers like doctors and nurses, and people walking babies. They are alone. It’s quiet and they seek the companionship of a voice on the radio.
A live, local talk show will always be the #1 show in the city — often having more actual listeners than the same station has in morning drive. 30- and 40-shares have not been unusual.
Talk Radio’s “Big Game”
Live, local talk radio is largely a victim of the illusion of economies and cost cutting. The statistics released this week by Media Audit are not new. An Arbitron Run at any point in history would show the enormous appeal of local, all-night shows. But the worthless, slimy idiots who are supposed to study numbers for companies and make objective recommendations imagine that since overnight brings in little revenue, all costs could be cut. They fail to factor in the cross-promotion value for audience building and the introductory pricing that is appealing to new advertising. Cutting local, all-night shows is cutting out the “Super Bowl” of talk radio — the audience and revenue feeder to the rest of the station.
Since all-night local, live talk has a default audience of people of all ages who need companionship, it brings in discreet cume to the stations. That cume can be drawn to other dayparts. All-night listeners represent an attentive, engaged cume that moves product off the shelf.
The keys to making money with all-night talk radio are a host who loves to read live copy and a sales person who believes in the daypart. All nights — 1/4 of the broadcast day — will deliver results for any retailer because 100% of the audience is listening without distraction. The voice and the listener, one-on-one; the most powerful communications dynamic in media. Radio under the pillow. Earplugs in the silent dormitory. Glowing dial in the dash as the neon goes by. The best medium.
Read responses to Walter’s piece from readers in our Letters section.
Walter Sabo can be reached at Walter@sabomedia.com or 646-456-1000.
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