Category: Michael Harrison

Can Terrestrial Radio Thrive in the Digital Era?

| September 19, 2012

By Michael Harrison
TALKERS Magazine
Publisher

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Survival is not enough.

Survival is already happening and it isn’t as much fun as it’s cracked up to be as a spectator sport on the Discovery Channel.  In the reality show called terrestrial radio, sooner than later, survival will run out of gas.  For terrestrial radio, “survival” is simply a slower form of imminent death.

It should be the goal of terrestrial radio to thrive in the digital era.

Thrive?  Is that even possible?

Read More

2012: Talk Media Industry Forecast

| January 6, 2012

By Michael Harrison
TALKERS MAGAZINE
Publisher

The bubble of optimism that envelops the industry during the first week of a new year received a stinging pinprick with the news of veteran Phoenix radio personality Bill Heywood and his wife Susan carrying out a death pact in a Scottsdale, Arizona motel room.  Heywood was deeply depressed.  His beloved wife suffered declining health.  They faced serious financial difficulties.  And he struggled with life as one of the radio homeless in the sad aftermath of an illustrious career as an elite local talent.

Hopefully, the Heywood’s grisly solution will not mark the beginning of an industry trend.  However, it does serve as a sobering reminder that the number one concern in this business will continue to be the dismal economy.  As the U2 song aptly puts it, “Nothing changes on New Year’s Day” – a poetic exaggeration of an esoteric truth.

Here are the eight leading trends and factors facing talk media as we head into 2012.  As is usually the case, we have a mixture of the good, the bad and the in-between.  The challenges are indeed daunting – but the opportunities are great:

Read More

The Ticking of the Clock

| September 10, 2011

By Michael Harrison

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. –– Here are 10 things broadcasters need to know about the enormous changes taking place in talk radio at this very moment, working our way from #10 to #1 in order of importance:

10) Industry conferences need to be downsized and regionalized.  Although there are still some good ones –– including TALKERS’ long-running New Media Seminar –– the day of the three-day, high-cost, national radio convention is clearly coming to an end –– at least for the foreseeable future.  The average broadcaster cannot afford the high cost of registration and travel to these events, nor the commitment of time that they demand.  Sadly, nor can most players in the sponsor pool.  Regional conferences that take place within a single day (eliminating the need for hotel lodging) and are affordable to the industry’s workforce –– exposed nationally by digital audio and video –– will and should be the wave of the future.  The forthcoming “Los Angeles Regional Talkers Forum” being presented by TALKERS in association with the Los Angeles Press Club set for October 20 is an example of this new kind of industry gathering.  We are putting our money where our mouth is.  This event is free.

  Read More

21 Years of Service

| July 22, 2011

By Michael Harrison
Publisher

NEW YORK –– This issue marks the 21st anniversary of TALKERS. What debuted on July 20, 1990 as a 12 page tabloid –– self-described as “The Information Radio Newspaper” –– has evolved into a multi-platform, full-service trade organization consisting of a monthly print magazine, an expanding website, a daily headlines news service, an extensive industry database and a dynamic planner of special events such as the New Media Seminar, Talk Radio Day at the United Nations, It’s Time to Talk About Domestic Violence Day, the Heritage Forums, Info-Sessions at the NAB Radio Show and numerous radio rows.

TALKERS has paralleled, reflected and stimulated the growth of talk radio during its modern era and subsequently brought these services to the expanding communications arena we presciently dubbed “talk media” years ago.

I believe this is just the beginning. As Sean Hannity proclaimed during his memorable speeches at the New Media Seminar, “The best is yet to come.”

Yes, this is a period of daunting change and challenges…technologically, socially, and economically –– but the opportunities being spawned by this unsettling transition are virtually endless.

Beginning with this issue, all content slated for publication in the print editions of TALKERS magazine will be simultaneously posted at Talkers.com in addition to the ongoing rollout of exciting new features. This information will be presented to our readers at no extra charge. TALKERS serves the interests of the talk media industry on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour, even minute-to-minute level. We believe in practicing what we preach. The expansion of Talkers.com into a fully functional “media station” is underway. Dedicated practitioners live this business 24/7 and so does TALKERS.

Read More

Preaching Against the Choir

| May 20, 2011

By Michael Harrison
Publisher

NEW YORK –– Ten hands-on broadcasters express keen observations and expert opinions (plus a take by yours truly) in this issue’s feature article by ace trade journalist Mike Kinosian examining the state of progressive talk radio.   There’s also a provocative commentary about the subject in these pages by Lionel, a brilliant iconoclastic wordsmith who is no stranger to the genre but at one point in his career had a square-peg/round-hole relationship with it.  And Juan Williams sounds off on this concept as well (among other things) from the perspective of his public radio experience in the Talkers Interview.   Each presents a somewhat different point of view.  Collectively, they provide an insightful picture of one of the most interesting and enigmatic subgenres in the news/talk radio spectrum.

Enigmatic?  Most definitely!  A week doesn’t go by that I am not asked by either a reporter writing a newspaper article or a student doing a paper these two related but significantly flawed questions:

Read More

Life on the Frontier

| April 1, 2011

Internet talk media has become the terrestrial radio farm system

By Michael Harrison
Publisher

NEW YORK –– On page 23 of this issue of TALKERS magazine we are pleased to launch the third annual installment of a relatively new feature titled, “The Frontier Fifty: A Selection of Outstanding Talk Media Webcasters.”

It is an alphabetical list of 50 talk “acts” consisting of a wide variety of hosts, teams and shows representing a cross section of the important pioneering work taking place in the burgeoning world of internet talk media. The continuing publication of such an “editorial staff’s choice” in this magazine marks another evolutionary milestone as, together, we experience the fascinating transition between the AM/FM/VHF/UHF (“terrestrial”) domination of pop culture during the second half of the 20th century and the emerging internet media’s (“stickless”) reign over the first half of the 21st –– already more than a decade underway. We thank our friends at Broadcasters General Store for their continued sponsorship of this ambitious and optimistic feature. Their faith in it is a sign that there is, in fact, a “new industry” of enormous potential proportions emerging before us all.

Read More