Advice to Rush Limbaugh Stations: PANDER

| August 6, 2018

By Holland Cooke
Media Consultant

BLOCK ISLAND, RI – “Pander.” That is your one-word, sure-shot ratings success strategy.

Ten years ago, Limbaugh was a mature act.  Some stations that branded as “Rush Radio” eventually re-branded.  Now, buoyed by Trump, his 30th anniversary.  During El Rushbo’s recent Three-Oh show, the president called to gush congratulations.

Gallup Poll: How many people feel that the media “report the news fully, accurately and fairly?”

  • Just 32%, and that’s down 8% from last year.
  • It’s the lowest since this annual survey began in 1972. Highest was ’76, post-Watergate.
  • Among Republicans: 14% (less than half of last year’s 32%).

Local political talkers: Serve Kool-Aid through a fire hose.

  • Every…single…day, it’s something new. Own it.  Set the expectation that they’ll hear Trump Story du Jour from YOU.  Earn, in ratings lingo, “horizontal maintenance.”  Meaning same-time-tomorrow tune-in, the most mathematically-opportune way for talk radio to build ratings share.
  • No matter how rude/preposterous/fact-challenged Trump is, it’s “just the way he talks.” Emulate Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ unapologetic spin.  Down-is-up, up-is-down.  The Deep State is real, climate change is a hoax.  Anything to the contrary is fake news.
  • Remember what sales preaches to advertisers: repetition. Otherwise-intelligent people I know recite things like “Democrats want open borders” – not because any Dem’ ever said that, but because Trump/Rush/Fox News said it over and over and over.  Many Republicans still think Obama’s birth certificate is fake, for the same reason.

If all-of-the-above has you wondering whether there’s been a mix-up at my pharmacy, fear not.  Check logic at the door.  Unlike those pesky fact-checkers, Trump supporters take him seriously-but-not-literally.  Our job is to exploit THE – repeat, THE – best thing that ever happened to talk radio, the Trump presidency.

At too many affiliates, the hour-by-hour AQH graph looks like Mount Everest.  The day peaks during Rush.  At healthier stations, mornings are the ratings engine of the entire day.  So don’t settle for sounding like part of “The E.I.B. Network.”  At my client stations, we leverage Limbaugh in a way that pumps-up the station’s brand overall.  Hitch hike the franchise in any way that adds occasions of listening outside his show.

Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet, and he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show on RT America.  Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke 

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Category: Opinions