Category: Opinions

Light in the Darkness

| September 18, 2017

Al Herskovitz
H&H Communications
President

 

BRADENTON, Fla. — All is well right now, but last week, as Hurricane Irma screamed toward my home in Manatee County, Florida, the lights went out, the TV screen went blank, the phones went dead, the image on the computer screen vanished, the iPad lost connection with the Internet.  So, there I was sitting in the dark as the roaring wind and the pounding rain lashed my house — isolated and completely out of touch with the outside world.

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Lessons from Neil Rogers

| August 23, 2017

By Walter Sabo
Sabo Media
CEO

 

NEW YORK — There are notable entertaining, non-network, local talk hosts.  My favorites are: Mike Trivosonno and Bill Wills on WTAM, Cleveland; Jon Pole on CJAD, Montreal; John & Ken on KFI, Los Angeles; Mark Belling on WISN, Milwaukee; Jim Philips on WTKS-FM, Orlando; and Dom Giordonno on WPHT, Philadelphia.  If I should have mentioned you, I apologize.  This is an urgent, current story about a host who knows how to use social media: South Florida’s Neil Rogers.

Right now, one of the most active Facebook pages is the Neil Rogers show.  It has almost 3,000 members and today has featured a dozen posts from listeners.

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Smidt: July 2017 PPM Review

| August 21, 2017

By Clark Smidt
Broadcast Advisor

 

BOSTON — Data sells, people tell.  It’s not so terrifying having new ways to receive “radio,” the scary part is not knowing if all listening is properly quantified.

Over the past couple of weeks, we saw published results from all 268 USA radio markets.  Major problem:  Only subscriber results are released, leaving out essential comparative data.

Understandably, subscription has its privileges but just one top line 12+ M-S 6a-12m number adds essential credibility and helps all concerned gain new business: radio, specific stations, different client sectors, entire markets, plus the statistic providers, themselves.

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June PPM Review: Sample Change Hypothesis

| July 24, 2017

By Clark Smidt
Broadcast Advisor

BOSTON — Once upon a time, anyone could look at an Arbitron book and see all results for all stations, all dayparts, all demos, shares and cume with an exact Metro and TSA sample size.

Today, having simple access to only the very broad share and cume trends from subscribers, invites conjecture and imagination.

The current Spring Diary Markets, now being released, often show just one, two or three subscribers.  A “do not sell” top-line number for ALL signals would add credibility for radio.  Let’s check a few June Portable People Meter snap shots:

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Wading Across the Widening Mainstream

| June 23, 2017

By Michael Harrison
TALKERS
Publisher

 

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Despite the massive free publicity generated by Megyn Kelly’s recent Sunday night interview with Alex Jones on NBC, network heads were disappointed – even stunned – by the show’s lousy ratings.  It was soundly beaten by a rerun of “60 Minutes,” which was, in turn, trounced by a rerun of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

No surprises here.  And don’t pin the blame on Kelly.  She’s the total package – brains, beauty and… balls!   But she isn’t operating on the same playing field that made Barbara Walters a household name in her day.

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Keeping Up with Every Word

| June 20, 2017

By Richard Neer
WFAN, New York
Talk Show Host

 

NEW YORK — They say any publicity is good publicity, but I’m sure my WFAN, New York colleague Mike Francesa can do without the tabloid coverage he’s received recently. The latest issue is his use of the term “Oriental” while discussing a recent court ruling. Mike was unaware that the term is now deemed offensive in some quarters… and has been replaced by Asian.

Political correctness does serve a purpose and the concept was founded with good intentions. However, it has run amok. It is one thing to be aware that certain words are deemed offensive and to use them anyway, in defiance of accepted norms. That was not the case here. There was no intent to offend. We can’t be expected to be one hundred per cent up-to-date on every nuance of the language, however diligent we may be. It is frustrating when you’ve used a word your entire life without a second thought and with no bad intentions, only to be told it is hurtful and no longer appropriate. Sometimes, it feels that you must dance among raindrops to avoid stepping on anyone’s toes.

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AM Radio: Stop the Doomsday Machine!

| June 6, 2017

By Walter Sabo
Sabo Media
CEO

 

NEW YORK — It is hard to overstate how much I love radio and believe in its future.  This article suggests a necessary, urgent corrective action that must be taken to give AM talk radio a viable future.

First, my credentials for making this case:  Starting in 1990, I launched a large number of major market FM talk stations such as “New Jersey 101.5,” KLSX-FM in Los Angeles and “Real Radio 104” in Orlando. Simultaneously I consulted WOR, WIOD, WRKO, WISN and many others. For eight years, from pre-launch, I was the on-site consultant that built out all Sirius Satellite radio channels, music and talk.  Prior to that I was the VP/GM of the ABC Radio Networks. EVP in charge of the NBC FM stations where adult contemporary was created and perfected.  History shows that most successful media companies are product-driven.  The wrong product results in failure.

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The Power of Live and Local Talk Radio

| June 5, 2017

By Harry Hurley
WPG, Atlantic City
Talk Show Host

 

ATLANTIC CITY — We talk a lot about the highly interpersonal relationship that is forged between a talk radio host and his listeners.

It becomes “family-like.” Something happened today that emphatically illustrates this point so very well.

I was attending the fabulous 20th Annual Talkers 2017 Conference in New York last Friday, June 2, 2017.  This is the same day that a package arrived in the mail to me at the Townsquare Media/WPG studios.

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Three Little Words

| May 31, 2017

By Renee Kohanski, MD
TALKERS
Contributor

 

NORWICH, CT — Each year the TALKERS conference promises to be the most relevant ever.  Each year the conference fulfills this promise. The convention is constructed to identify risks both known and to be known.  It can’t help but be the most relevant each year.  What is most meaningful and unique work of all talk media hosts is realized in the Freedom of Speech award. How prescient then is it, for Sean Hannity, a name synonymous with talk media to find himself the direct target of forces seeking to silence free speech?  I comment on this from a professional perspective as a practicing psychiatrist who dabbles with talk radio as a guest and occasional fill-in host.

What thoughts must be going through everyone’s minds these days?  And more importantly, what to do?

“I can’t believe they’re going after Sean!”

“First O’Reilly, now Sean!”

“If they can take down Sean, they can take down anyone.”

“What chance do I have?”

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Hannity’s Battle Is Our Battle

| May 31, 2017

By Bryan Crabtree
WGKA, Atlanta
Talk Show Host

 

ATLANTA — I am deeply troubled by what I see happening to Sean Hannity. His demise is of no benefit to anyone in the talk radio industry. In fact, it’s detrimental (even if he’s on your competitor).

This is a wake-up call to managers, sales departments and hosts at talk radio stations. We are allowing ourselves to become victims of political ‘scalpings.’ This is not a new phenomenon but it’s intensity is growing.

Talk radio hosts now face one of the biggest threats in our history: the unfettered attacks on our advertisers because we are doing our jobs.

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Today Hannity, Tomorrow Maybe You

| May 25, 2017

By Phil Valentine
Westwood One
Talk Show Host

 

NASHVILLE — We hear a lot about free speech, but what does free speech actually look like? In talk radio, there is no clear definition. At the end of the day, we work at the pleasure of the companies that hire us. We’re in a unique situation, we talk show hosts, in that we serve two clients. There’s the audience and then there’s the advertiser. Without either or both we don’t have a job.

Recently Sean Hannity has come under fire for covering the Seth Rich murder and Rich’s possible link to Wikileaks. Some have called it a wild conspiracy theory. Personally, I believe there are enough issues surrounding his mysterious death that should warrant further examination. Julian Assange has offered a $20,000 reward for anyone who can lead authorities to a conviction of the murderer. That alone makes this a legitimate story. There’s certainly much more circumstantial evidence that Rich may have been the Wikileaks leaker than there is evidence that Trump colluded with the Russians, yet The New York Times and the Washington Post and their sycophants in cable news beat that drum daily.

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The Tyranny of the Target Audience

| March 22, 2017

By Bill McMahon
The Authentic Personality
CEO

 

EAGLE, Idaho — I cringe every time I hear a well-meaning PD or GM instruct a personality to focus everything they create and present on “our target audience.” It often goes something like this:

“Our target audience is a woman 25-44. I want everything you create or put on the radio to appeal to her. Figure out what she cares about. Find out what she’s talking about. Imagine what she’s thinking about. Find out what she likes to do. Everything on your show should be about her. Just to remind you, I’ve put a big picture of her on the control room wall so you’ll see her every time you open the mic.”

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Presidential Penny-Pinching? Promotion Potential!

| March 21, 2017

By Holland Cooke
Media Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Forgive the alliteration!  I couldn’t resist.  But seriously…

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Local Radio Is on Alert

| March 14, 2017

By Paul Rotella
NJBA
President/CEO

 

MONROE TWP, N.J. — The Blizzard of March 2017 is only a few hours away.  Soon, snow will begin to cover the Garden State. Predictions range from 6-24 plus inches, with the hidden treachery of an icy, wintery mix perhaps suppressing snow totals, but proving to be deceivingly dangerous. High winds, wet snow, sleet and ice, will surely give rise to downed power lines and cell phone disruptions,   But don’t worry New Jersey: Your local radio broadcaster is on-the-air!

Right now, New Jersey’s  dedicated broadcasters, always  eager to serve,  are  already manning their posts, anticipating the storm and its aftermath, and ready to once again go into the breach, serving their audiences by historically providing them with the only source for important and perhaps life saving information they will need to prepare and make ready for the blizzard, and more importantly, to help the communities they serve get back to normal once the skies clear.

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Are We Really THAT Angry?

| March 6, 2017

By Holland Cooke
Media Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — If so, why?  If not, why do we seem so?

Status quo: The Noise

Because the Trump story is SUCH great copy, the media soundtrack has become noisier than ever.

  • Yes, The Noise was already blaring before The Donald ran, often fueled by contempt for President Obama. Because the opinion industry has commercial inventory to fill, attention is currency.  “Believe us, not them!”  Even on the rare slow news day, shows begin with a Fox News Alert.  Even between situations, Wolf is in The Situation Room.  Clicks, baby.
  • I’m complicit! From a memo to hosts I coach: “Donald Trump is the best thing that ever happened to talk radio.  There are spontaneous statements at Executive Order photo ops, Alternative Facts, SNL, botched calls with friendly foreign leaders, Ivanka Inc., the Russia flap.  Twitter!  Wiretapping?  Expect a-story-a-day, and assume NO topic burnout at this time.  As ‘the Trump channel,’ we can enjoy tune-in from giddy supporters AND appalled or scoffing resisters.”

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Talk Radio Can Learn from Trump

| March 1, 2017

By Phil Valentine
Westwood One
Talk Show Host

 

NASHVILLE — Love him or hate him, we in talk radio can learn a great deal from Donald Trump. Since he blasted onto the political scene, he’s been a ratings juggernaut. Even the news media have to admit this guy is ratings gold. The assumption in talk radio is that being rah-rah Trump equals big ratings. That would be completely missing the point. The Trump factor is not whether you support him or oppose him. It’s what you learn from him.

I will admit that I was never a big fan of Donald Trump dating back to the ‘80s. Like many, I found him cocky and obnoxious. After he announced his candidacy, I quickly realized he had mastered the art of entertainment. And, let’s face it, as much as we’d like to elevate our format to something more noble, we’re in the entertainment business. That doesn’t mean we can’t produce meaningful, insightful, and provocative shows, but if it’s not entertaining we’re simply talking to ourselves.

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SAG-AFTRA: Too Little, Too Late

| February 23, 2017

By Joyce Kaufman
WFTL, Fort Lauderdale
Midday Host

 

FORT LAUDERDALE — I was truly shocked to read the impassioned statement from the union representing “broadcast and online journalists” (TALKERS 2/22).

I must have missed it when they stood up and defended Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh and others who uncovered evidence that then-President Bill Clinton was sexually abusing a young intern in the Oval Office. I remember there was no support for them by SAG-AFTRA.

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Talk Radio, Recalibrated for The Trump Era?

| January 17, 2017

By Holland Cooke
Media Consultant

 

cookewriterBLOCK ISLAND, RI — Radio’s top format now pivots, as the 2016 vote shoulders conservative talkers with the “mainstream media” mantle they have relentlessly disdained.

Positioning as fringe always seemed dubious, while station reps were touting radio as the #1 reach medium.  So take the win.  It’s a face-saving opportunity to tell listeners (and advertisers) things are good now.  There’s a psychological component to recession, and historically, we’re overdue for one.

In my December newsletter, I offered a format forecast for talk radio.  If you missed the download TALKERS offered then, help yourself at HollandCooke.com.  No login or email required.  On the home page, scroll down to “Voices Radio Will Miss in 2017.”  As we prepare to witness history this week, an update…

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Uber Earful

| December 9, 2016

By Holland Cooke
Media Consultant

 

cookewriterBLOCK ISLAND, RI — Taxis are to take-me-somewhere as radio is to inform-me/entertain-me.

Internet-based innovation is disrupting every legacy industry. 

Ask an insurance agent or travel agent or stock broker or bookstore owner, if you can find one.  Or the record labels or TV networks or cable companies.  Or stores.  This year, Black Friday happened on smartphones.  Most AM/FM broadcast hours are now automated.

In today’s Gig Economy, the cabbies’ cartel was ripe for disruption.  Now, hacks who haven’t yet defected to Uber (or Lyft) give you an earful.  NOT making this up: As a New York cabbie crabbed that “there are 11,000 taxi drivers in the city and 14,000 Uber drivers!” an ad recruiting Uber drivers came on the radio!

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KDKA’s Perry Marshall—Thanks for the ‘Thanksgiving’ Memories

| November 17, 2016

By Bill Brady
Futures & Options Inc.
President/CEO

 

bradybillwriterWEST PALM BEACH — Back in the late 1970s I found myself listening to Pittsburgh’s legendary KDKA in the wee hours of the morning.

As a young radio guy on the East Coast, I sought out talk talent across the AM band.  Guy Mainella, Paul Benzaquin and Larry Glick from WBZ in Boston.  Mike Miller and Paul Sutton on WTIC in Hartford.  All excellent hosts with unique and distinctive styles.

When the sun goes down, AM radio waves can be pretty tricky.  Engineers refer to the phenomenon as “skip” as AM signals bounce off the ionosphere and travel incredible distances.  Most nights where I was in Western Massachusetts, you could get WBZ pretty well 90 miles from its transmitter location in Hull on the Massachusetts coast.

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Radio’s Social and Digital Dilemma

| November 16, 2016

By Bryan Crabtree
WAFS/WGKA
Talk Show Host

 

crabtreebryanwriterATLANTA — Radio was the original social media. We owned the dialogue. Now we own just some of it. Let’s stop complaining about the challenges and dominate the conversation again on both mediums.

There is a plethora of competing distractions to our audience and they are lost in a sea of confusing noise.

Our audience has changed, but have we?

Listeners will follow and respond to who or what they ‘believe’ is real. I was shocked to see so many lifelong broadcast conservatives double-down on their ‘#nevertrump’ hysteria.  I’m convinced that, for many, it wasn’t their personal conviction. It was the vanity of needing to be accurate on their predictions of Trump’s demise. The result was the destruction of years of earned credibility with their followers.

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Talk Radio’s Dream Come True?

| November 9, 2016

By Holland Cooke
Media Consultant

 

cookewriterNEW YORK — After nearly two years of campaign noise, many Americans were eager “for it to end.”  But November 8 was a beginning.  And with the manners our parents preached now scorned as political correctness, the noise will only get louder.  In the social media era, broadcasters’ challenge is to cut through that clutter.

Donald Trump will be President of The United States, and the implications for radio’s top format are profound.

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What Are You Going to Do on Wednesday?

| November 7, 2016

By Waltr Sabo
Sabo Media
CEO

 

sabowriterNEW YORK — “Talk radio” is whatever you want it to be.  Talk is the only viable, free-form format.

Is your current programming delivering the growth and demos you like? Have your numbers been getting older and smaller?

Then what you’re airing isn’t working—or good business.

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Even Then We Knew

| October 12, 2016

By William O’Shaughnessy
President & Editorial Director
Whitney Media

 

oshaughnessywriterNEW ROCHELLE, NY — Billy Bush is an absolutely wonderful young man…a graceful fellow with sterling manners.

He started as an intern with our suburban Westchester stations WVOX right out of Colby College in 1994.

Billy Bush has been a class act in every season of his life.

He brings to everything he does – on and off the air – a generous helping of born–and-bred bonhomie, ebullience, joie de vivre and effervescence. He has always been accompanied by a lot of pep and gracious enthusiasm in everything he does.

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Why Talk Radio Is Not Dying, Part 2.

| October 3, 2016

By Phil Boyce
Salem Media Group
VP/Director, Spoken Word Format

Operations VP, New York Region

 

boycephilwriter16NEW YORK — Two years ago,  after getting disgusted with talk radio haters predicting the death of this format,  I wrote a column published here in TALKERS magazine called, “Why Talk Radio is NOT Dying.”  I received more than 200 “likes” from people who thanked me for standing up for the format that we all have come to know and love.  I recently found the column by accident and thought it’s time to re-visit it two years later.

To paraphrase the great Mark Twain, “The rumors of our death have been greatly exaggerated.”  Usually when you find people predicting the demise or death of this format it comes from two sources:  a) people who don’t truly understand this format and, b) people who do understand it, and loathe it.  When Jerry Del Colliano predicted the death of talk radio would come in 2014, I asked him what he thought about the format in general, and he admitted he hated it.

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‘Heard’ at the NAB/RAB Radio Show

| September 22, 2016

By Jeff McKay
TALKERS
Special Features Correspondent

 

mckayjeffwriterNASHVILLE — I’m taking in sessions and talking with people in halls here in Nashville to at the NAB/RAB Radio Show to hear what’s on their minds.  Here are comments from some of the folks with whom I spoke on day one of the convention.

Christina Albee, chief marketing officer for Cumulus Media, says she was surprised to find so many young people — and especially young women — in the audience for her speed mentoring session.  “The young people are our future.  I met people in my session who were running their college radio stations and gaining hands-on experience.  We were also not just talking about AM/FM radio with these young people.  We talked content and they were really understanding the power of content, whether over the air or digitally or over a mobile device.  In publishing there are a lot of women both in and out of management.  However, in radio there are more men in leadership roles.  Of course at Cumulus, our CEO (Mary Berner) and the Westwood One president (Suzanne Grimes) are women…and then to walk in to this room and see so many college-age women with their high interest level warms my heart, honestly, I’m empowered to want to be a part of the radio business.  It bodes very well for the future of radio.”

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‘Heard’ at the RAIN Summit…

| September 21, 2016

By Jeff McKay
TALKERS
Special Features Correspondent

 

mckayjeffwriterNASHVILLE — While media consultant Holland Cooke is covering the sessions at this year’s RAIN Summit and the NAB/RAB Radio Show, I’ve been talking to people in the hallways and am jotting down what I hear for TALKERS readers.

TrafficCarma is one of the sponsors at this year’s RAIN Summit and TrafficCast CEO Al McGowan tells TALKERS, “TrafficCarma is a mobile app for commuters.  They don’t need turn-by-turn navigation, which is how traffic is typically shown on a device.  For most of drives — like to work, to home, the airport and so on — people know where they’re going, and three or four ways to get there.  TrafficCarma is designed to quickly advise the best way at the time.  And so it’s a lot like what radio and TV have been doing for 30 years – talking about commuting conditions.  Our objective with TrafficCarma is to enable broadcasters to extend that well-earned position of advising commuters to the mobile device, and to extend advertiser relationships there as well.”

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Turn Up the Volume When You Can’t Hear the Sound of Change

| June 28, 2016

By Danielle Lin, C.N.
The Danielle Lin Show
Host

 

lindaniellewriterSALT LAKE CITY — The state of the radio industry is in grand flux, but for those who have kept their options open, seeing the light through the end of the tunnel looks clear.  Perhaps waiting too long to jump on the technology explosion, or grabbing the entrepreneurial ring wasn’t for everyone, but for those who sought higher ground, or took the leap of faith with new ventures such as Norm Pattiz at PodcastOne – or station cluster expansion with companies like Bicoastal Media, and CEO/president – Vince Benedetto of Bold Gold Media Group – things are looking brighter than ever.  The good news for those who remain light on their feet, is that more opportunity is revealing itself everyday if you head forward with your eyes wide open.

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The Podcast Consumer 2016

| May 27, 2016

By Holland Cooke
Media Consultant

Holland Cookewebster, tomBLOCK ISLAND, RI — On yesterday’s webinar, Edison Research VP Tom Webster surmised, “It’s safe at this point to call podcasting ‘mainstream media.’”

It’s always puzzled me how talk radio demonizes that term, while sales reps have been telling prospects that their stations ARE mainstream.  What advertiser wants to utilize FRINGE media?

edison-logo-300x137Admittedly, when I started attending podcasting conventions a dozen years ago, the medium did seem, shall we say, unconventional.  Not any more, according to data culled from the ongoing Edison/Triton “Infinite Dial” research series, and Edison’s “Share of Ear”™ studies, which Webster presented.

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Narcissism and Talk Radio

| March 25, 2016

By Renee Kohanski, MD
TALKERS
Contributor

 

kohanskiwriterNORWICH, CT — What a narcissist!  How many times have we heard this of late?  With the fury of the elections upon us and certainly with the richness of material to draw upon, the subject of narcissistic personality is as much a part of daily conversation in the talk radio business as is corporate debt.  That being said, the autistic spectrum disorders we are all blessed and cursed with are varying degrees of narcissism.

Or are we?

Let me take you into the world of pathological narcissism, “healthy narcissism” and contrast it to high self-esteem.  You may consider where you are in this range and where is the figure upon whom you are commenting?  In a society that has become consumed with the need for exhibitionistic/voyeuristic self-expression and self-validation it may be hard to remember a spectrum exists.  For you, maybe a spectrum doesn’t exist.  Life is simply black and white and what I am saying makes no sense at all.

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Another Breaking News Weekend…

| February 23, 2016

By Howard B. Price
ABC Television Network
Director, Business Continuity

 

pricehowardbwriterNEW YORK — It’s been a few years now since I worked on the editorial side of the business, but my adrenaline still starts pumping anytime news breaks.

Weekend before last, it was the unexpected passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Network radio and TV were all over it – smart local stations used those resources, and were all over it, too.

But local radio stations WITHOUT a network news affiliation likely found themselves behind the eight ball – unable to meaningfully respond beyond whatever they were able to pass along from social media and news websites.  Better than nothing, but not good enough.

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Radio’s Hot New (Old) Format: ‘The Puddle’

| January 8, 2016

By Howard B. Price
ABC Television Network
Director, Business Continuity

 

pricehowardbwriterNEW YORK — What do we learn from the nearly 20,000 people worldwide who’ve been watching a puddle on Periscope?

Well, if we’re historically conscious and observationally astute – we should be saying, “they have rediscovered the magic of radio.”

Say what? These are people watching a PUDDLE. In the UK. Visually. On social media. What does that have to do with radio?

Think about it. If you really believe all radio is local – and GREAT local radio is all about making compelling content out of the everyday events and observations in the communities it serves — then “the puddle” can be seen as a metaphor for what radio’s core mission has always been, and which it used to execute better than any other medium.

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A Laptop and a Mic Don’t Make You a Broadcaster

| November 3, 2015

By Fred Lundgren
KCAA, Loma Linda
Founder and CEO

 

lundgredfredwriterLOMA LINDA, CA — Since the advent of Internet streaming and podcasting, an increasing number of fact-free individuals are populating cyberspace with so called “Internet radio stations.”

Earth to podcasters… HELLO… You are not on the radio so stop referring to your internet stream as a “radio station.”  Calling yourselves “radio broadcasters” is a misnomer of the nth degree.

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FAQ: PD?

| October 22, 2015

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant

 

cookewriterBLOCK ISLAND, RI — A client (station group owner) asks: “What does it take to be a great PD for 2015 to 2020?”

1972: I was a DJ and Budd Clain was my PD at WSPR, Springfield, MA, a stand-alone AM.  His wife told me that, one Saturday afternoon, he dozed-off on the living room sofa.  She tip-toed-in and turned off the radio…and he woke up.

Fast-forward to present day: Post-consolidation scale dictates that general managers become market managers.  And GSM to DOS was logical, especially with NTR and digital.  But the biggest casualty of the way consolidation re-packed middle management was when program directors disappeared.  Stations are now “managed” rather than “programmed,” because:

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Price: Now, It’s Personal

| August 27, 2015

By Howard B. Price
ABC Television Network
Director, Business Continuity

 

pricehowardbwriterNEW YORK — The assassination – yes, it was an assassination — of WDBJ-TV, Roanoke, Virginia reporter Alison Parker and her videographer, Adam Ward, on live morning television, should be a wake-up call, not only for the media business, but also for every business.

The shootings themselves were horrific enough. That they took place on live television – on a program being line-produced by the fiancée of one of the victims – compounded the tragedy.  That it was also captured and posted online by the gunman himself is simply unspeakable.

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The Importance of Talk Radio

| July 30, 2015

By Chris Stigall
WPHT, Philadelphia
Talk Show Host

 

stigallchris writerPHILADELPHIA — A listener called the show today to define talk radio as he saw it.  He called it a place where average Americans of all means, politics and professions can discuss and explore important issues.  It’s not a matter of being famous, or being a member of an editorial board or Congress.   It’s not a nightly news anchor reading the teleprompter, delivering their version of the news.  Talk radio is of the people, by the people, and for the people, he said.

Simply, it’s the purest form of honest dialogue available in all of media.

Earlier this week at a live event, a listener explained the importance of talk radio in her life.  Not only does it help her through her days as her parents’ full-time caretaker, but she honestly believes there would be no publicly available opposing view to most media coverage today.

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A Tribute to Dave Barber

| July 10, 2015

Herb Weiss
Economic & Cultural Affairs Officer
City of Pawtucket

 

weissRIwriterPAWTUCKET, RI — David Barber, an award-winning broadcast veteran with extensive experience in talk radio programming, radio and TV sales management, television programming and commercial production and with ad agency and public relations expertise, died on July 4, 2015.  He was 60.

On a trip to Flint Michigan to attend a friend’s wedding, Mr. Barber died, Saturday, July 4, from a stroke and heart attack he had on Thursday, June 25, says his brother Larry Barber.  The family is planning to hold a memorial service in Rhode Island and will announce the specifics shortly, he says.

He grew up in Flint, Michigan, graduated from Mount Morris High School  and received his bachelor’s degree in business from Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

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Price: Radio’s Role on a ‘Typical Friday Night’

| July 8, 2015

By Howard B. Price
ABC Television Network
Director, Business Continuity

 

pricehowardbwriterNEW YORK — It was just a typical summer Friday…until news broke, and didn’t stop breaking until well into the evening.

If you were online, or near a TV, or fortunate enough to be within earshot of one of the country’s 31 all-news radio stations on June 26, (and perhaps many news/talk stations, too), you were very much aware of what was going on.

You heard history being made at the Supreme Court as same-sex marriage became the law of the land.

You heard the president lead thousands in “Amazing Grace,” as he eulogized the nine souls murdered by a racist assassin, in oratory so stirring even some of the president’s critics acknowledged it as some of the best of his or any other presidency.

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Goodbye, Mr. Letterman. And Thanks!

| May 20, 2015

By Chris Stigall
WPHT, Philadelphia
Talk Show Host

 

stigallchris writerPHILADELPHIA — Please understand this is personal.  It’s not a matter of whether you agree with me or even care about the man.  I’m writing this for me.  Selfishly.  Right now, all I can think about is how much he mattered to me in the most formative years of my life.  Saying goodbye to David Letterman is breaking my heart and I’m having a tough time thinking about much else.

I can’t claim to have been watching him since his morning show in the early 80s.  I was too young.  I found Dave during high school in the 90s.  Specifically, when Carson was leaving “The Tonight Show.”

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Legacy Media: Still the 800-Pound Gorilla

| April 6, 2015

By Bill Brady
Futures & Options, Inc.
President/CEO

bradybillwriterJupiter, Fla. — Regular readers of the media trades or general interest publications have been subjected to a non-stop barrage of digital media brainwashing for the last 15 years.

This is the product of the PR machine employed by digital start-ups to build and reinforce their investment value through rounds of funding leading to an eventual IPO.  Media consultants who hope to survive as digital experts also contribute mightily to the noise.  So do media companies themselves who are complicit in allowing the misguided narrative to go on and on and on.

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Opinion: Getting Back to the Basics

| March 31, 2015

Talk Radio in 2015

By Bill Brady
Futures & Options, Inc.
President/CEO

bradybillwriterJUPITER, Fla. — Over the last year, the Nielsen Audio PPM ratings have shone a light on the struggles of the talk format.  It’s not a pretty picture.

Since 2008, same station ratings in a select group of top 50 markets have declined by 39%.  While some stations still earn respectable ratings, many have lost significant audience share and fallen dramatically in rank.  A drop of that magnitude is likely to have a significant impact on the revenue side and endanger a station’s pricing structure and advertiser demand levels.

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A Salute to Family, Sex and Radio

| January 27, 2015

By Carolyn Fox
Whimsical Fox, LTD
President

fox carolynNEW YORK — Hey, I might not be towering genius but I do know a few things about life. There is nothing better in the world than great kids, sex and radio.

I’ve known many of you since my days as music director at WBRU, Providence. Ok, so we all have a little less hair where we want it and too many pounds of blubber where we don’t. You’re basically the same and so are the basic tenets of good radio.

Let me remind you of why I had over 50% of the available radio audience at any given time listening to me for over 20 years. I’m going keep this short because I know we all have the attention spans of gnats, which is why we ended up in this biz to begin with!

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The Lessons of Lowell Bud Paxson

| January 14, 2015

By Walter Sabo
Sabo Media
CEO

 

sabowalterwriterNEW YORK — Founder of the Home Shopping Club, Bud Paxson, died this week.  His lessons and legacy are not to be ignored.  Here’s what I learned from him while serving as a content and management consultant to him and his company, Pax Net.

“Bad live television is better than any recorded television.”  The thrill of live TV is unbeatable. That’s why NBC goes through the horror of producing annual musicals live when elaborate productions are better suited to pre-recorded. “Live” is why, whether you love it or not, you respect “Saturday Night Live.”

Do It Yourself, or Bureaucracy Is Bad

In the beginning, the Home Shopping Club was mass, mass appeal.  The products were cheap, often grey-market electronic items, cheesy porcelain and fake pearls.  I watched it for thousands of hours.  I asked Bud who bought the merchandise for the Club? “I bought everything.”

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Thoughts for the New Year

| January 5, 2015

By Walter Sabo
Sabo Media
CEO

 

sabowriterNEW YORK — The biggest trends and their impact that Sabo Media has been following in this challenging year of disruption:

1) The vital initiative of NextRadio activating the FM chip in your smartphone.  Jeff Smulyan’s endless effort is paying off.  There are two important lessons.  Radio can infiltrate new technological platforms effectively.  Secondly, a solo operator determined to make positive change, can!

2) Major advertisers, such as Coke, moving their money from prime time network TV shows such as “American Idol” to online video.  Sabo Media was the first company, in 2007, to identify online video stars and monetize their work. Our HITVIEWS division persuaded Pepsi, Timberland, US Government, TiVo, Sony, Panasonic and many others to put their products inside user-generated video content.  Not worthless pre-rolls or pop-ups but placement inside web-star shows.  For radio this means that radio divisions within TV companies are becoming more important to total corporate financial health.

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The Spreading Digital Junkyard

| December 23, 2014

By Michael Harrison
TALKERS/RadioInfo
Publisher

mh2014SPRINGFIELD, MA — Is it just me?  Have you noticed lately that some of your favorite websites have become increasingly user-unfriendly?

Odds are your usual haunts in the newspaper, magazine, general entertainment and information arenas have become cluttered with terribly annoying pop up ads, videos that start playing loudly without invitation (sometimes more than one at a time) – and maddeningly confusing hodge-podges of editorial and commercial content laid out in such a manner as to make it almost impossible to follow an article without being sidetracked into a unwanted advertisement.  (Hmm, which one of these three arrows should I click?)

How about the emergence of that creepy entity known as the “sponsored” or “promoted” story  that innocently sits among the non-paid editorial content on so many of our distinguished bastions of journalism.

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“Serial” Wisdom

| December 23, 2014

By Bill McMahon
The Authentic Personality
CEO

mcmahonbillEAGLE, Idaho — I first learned about “Serial” the podcast from my Twitter feed. It was a day I was thinking a lot about the future of radio and audio entertainment. I was feeling pretty pessimistic. The current crop of news and talk programming on radio wasn’t giving me much hope. The headline style news delivered by most radio stations has become a commodity available on demand on multiple platforms. The superficial reports of common crime, ordinary human misfortune, politics and political process that dominate the radio news menu aren’t distinctive, interesting or relevant to the lives of most listeners. Talk programming is limited to conversations about sports and politics from a conservative political perspective. Digital audio initiatives from radio broadcasters are primarily repurposed radio programs offered as podcasts. The lack of imagination, innovation, and variety in audio content created by radio broadcasters left me feeling depressed about the future of the business to which I’ve dedicated most of my professional life.

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Political News/Talk Radio Needs Fewer Lapdogs and More Watchdogs

| November 21, 2014

By Michael Harrison
TALKERS
Publisher

harrisonmichael new headshot14SPRINGFIELD, MA – When the Fairness Doctrine was repealed back in the eighties and talk radio hopped into the seedy bed of political opinion – thus evolving into the present incarnation of what is commonly referred to as “news/talk” radio – it took on legions of enemies from all sides of the political spectrum.

Today, it finds itself in the cross-fire of the mudslinging, poisonous warfare commonly waged by those whose obsessive quest for power over their fellow citizens compel them to seek victory even at the cost of truth.

Every time modern day news/talk radio has a hiccup in the ratings or burps a gaffe offensive to the hypocrites of political correctness, the legions of critics (from all sides), quick to shoot any messenger with whom they disagree, start mouthing off predictions of the format’s imminent fall ignoring all contributing and relevant facts and factors of the radio world and larger social/economic backdrop.

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Why Talk Radio is NOT Dying

| October 17, 2014

By Phil Boyce
Salem Communications
VP/Director, Spoken Word Format
Operations VP, New York Region

 

boycephilNEW YORK — They seem to come out of the woodwork these days. Most of them never understood talk radio, and why it got so big. Some of them have their own personal dislikes about the format, and now that there are rumors of our death, they relish in it. I have seen more reasons for this than I can shake a stick at, and NONE of it makes sense to me.

Recently, a respected research company decided to put their finger on it. Using very little in what I would consider real research, this company had this conclusion: There is a news saturation going on with so many sources of news. They say that’s “wearing thin on consumers who are seeking alternative sources of information that is fresh, entertaining and positive.”

In the last four weeks we have seen Ebola take center stage and scare the pants off of most of us. I have not seen any listener worry that the information must be fresh, entertaining and positive. They actually want the gory details. They want to know why this thing has grown so fast and if they or their kids be caught up in it. They want to know what to think about it, and what to do about it. Even the format detractors will have to admit: This is right in our wheelhouse. This is what people care about, and this is what we do.

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TV drama takes shot at talk radio

| October 13, 2014

By Al Herskovitz
H&H Communications
President

herskovitzBRANDENTON — The cry keeps emanating from the media world and beyond.  “Radio is dying or is already dead!” Particularly AM talk radio. Then a question comes to mind. If the format is dead then why does a prime time, long-running, TV hour crime drama devote the theme of one of its shows to the murder of an AM radio conservative, talk show host?

Did any of you watch this past Thursday night’s (10/9) episode of “Bones?” If you haven’t ever seen the program, the theme of the entire series is simply about a female scientist who appraises the remains of murder victims and partners with her FBI agent husband to solve the crimes.

In this particular episode the victim was an AM radio conservative talk show host who was named “Hutch.”  Hmm…

They also portrayed him as overweight and, for a little extra spice and color, a sadomasochist in the thrall of a dominatrix.

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The Big Questions for Radio Broadcasters

| September 23, 2014

Perhaps we should focus what we are good at and that the public still wants and needs

By Bill McMahon
The Authentic Personality
CEO

mcmahonbillEAGLE, Idaho — What business are you in? Does your business have a future? These seem like fundamental questions radio broadcasters should be asking themselves right now.

Time spent listening to your AM and FM radio stations is declining precipitously each year. This is particularly true among young people. They’ve grown up in a world of visual stimuli and conditioning addicted to “screens.” They love music, but have minimal attraction to or experience with AM and FM radio. Advertising revenue for AM and FM radio is flat to declining.

There are shiny new high-tech competitors everywhere. Mobile phones and the internet are sucking up massive amounts of consumer time and attention. Pandora, Spotify, YouTube, and other services and apps offer continuous music customized to listeners moods and tastes as well as individual songs on demand. This competition is becoming widely available and easily accessible in cars where the majority of AM and FM radio is consumed.

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Headlines

| September 9, 2014

By Richard Neer
WFAN, New York
Talk Show Host

neerwriterNEW YORK — We’re all trying to find our way in this new digital world of ours. Conventional means of promoting our ideas may no longer work. Everything needs to be fresh, immediate, provocative. The attention span of our audiences have shortened and I’m not just talking about millennials. With the constant bombardment of information that we are under, even the most patient of us has a hard time giving every issue the attention it deserves.

Instead, we are expected to have instant reactions — black or white with no shades of gray. There is little time for deep discussions. There is no tolerance for asking questions that have no easy answers. Certain stories are reported from only one angle. Anyone who carefully parses a statement that the press declares politically incorrect is defined as supporting the dark side. Forget nuance, once you are attacked by the consensus bullies, you can only surrender and apologize, lest you lose your livelihood.

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Solutions to AM Radio’s Problems: Here’s How the Industry Can Revive AM and Make it a Viable Force Again

| September 3, 2014

By Bill Brady
Futures & Options, Inc.
President/CEO


bradybill
JUPITER, FL — There is nothing fundamentally wrong with AM radio.

AM stations that offer quality programming that effectively serve listener’s needs are doing just fine.  There is no problem at WLW, WTMJ, KNBR, the CBS all news stations and many other well-programmed AM stations.

There is a problem at the many stations which have “run up the white flag” and surrendered to paid programming, wall-to-wall syndication, religion, or my personal favorite…drumroll please…the irresistible opportunity to become the fifth sports station in their market.

The two biggest issues for AM radio today are the commitment level of corporate owners, and the congealed nature of the syndication marketplace.

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AM Radio is the Future of Radio!

| August 28, 2014

By Susan Nilon
WSRQ, Sarasota
Owner/General Manager

 

nilon susanSARASOTA — Time and time again, the question is asked, “What does the future hold for AM radio?”  Articles are written with predictions of AM’s demise due to the lack of interest of the “Millennials,” or how the internet and satellite radio will make it almost impossible for AM to compete in such a fickle industry.  While these predictions seem to make sense to the untrained ear, it reminds me of a time several decades earlier when experts attributed the demise of movie theaters due to the advent of the video cassette recorder.  Or the slow death of vinyl records, due to the portability and popularity of the compact disc.  Well, here we are 30 years later, and the US and Canada box office revenue in 2013 was $10.9 billion with 68% of the population in attendance and “vinyl sales hit their highest level since at least 1991, with six million units sold” according to industry data.  While it’s fun and sometimes smart to try to predict the future, if these “predictions” impact the decision makers of this industry by encouraging them to enter into a self-fulfilling prophecy of AM radio, then they are not only short-sighted, but are foolish as well.

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The Best Talk Station Ever: What the Radio Industry Can Learn from WMCA, Circa 1980

| August 25, 2014

By Bill Brady
Futures & Options, Inc.
President/CEO

 

bradybillwmca - oldJUPITER, FL — WMCA was the “little engine that could.”  In the 60s, it battled WABC for “top 40” supremacy in New York.  By the 70s, WMCA was “New York’s Conversation Station” and was giving legendary talk and variety station WOR a run for its money.  As a 5,000 watt station at 570, WMCA was always punching above its weight class against 50,000 watt flamethrowers WABC and WOR in the sprawling New York metropolitan area.

In 1980, WMCA had assembled a veritable All Star team of talk talent in the prime of their careers.

The irascible Bob Grant did mornings followed by Sally Jessy Raphael (9:00 am -12:00 noon), Barry Gray (12:00 noon – 2:00 pm) and Bruce Williams (2:00 pm -4:00 pm) middays, Barry Farber in afternoon drive (4:00 pm – 7:00 pm), the CBS Mystery Theatre early evenings, Candy Jones, Mets baseball and Islanders hockey at night and Larry King overnight.  Art Rust, Jr. hosted Sports Talk on weekends.

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Man Myth: “Ours is a Very Big Sports Town”

| August 25, 2014

By Walter Sabo
Sabo Media
CEO

sabowalterwriterNEW YORK — As a globetrotting consultant there is noticeable bravado in every city about the local level of sports fandom.

When the topic of sports coverage and sports interest is discussed, the local media mavens always say the same things:

*  “This is a very big sports town.”

* “Even women here are nuts about sports.”

*  “You’ve got to understand that this is the biggest sports town.”

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When Talent wants to do MORE than radio – say, THANK YOU!

| August 21, 2014

By WalterSabo
Sabo Media
CEO

NEW YORK — When star radio talent wants to expand their horizons and perform on other stages, most radio managers try to kill that ambition. Thinking analog, radio managers want their talent, preparing and performing shows on their stations — period.

The key to success in a digital world is affiliations and partnerships. That tends to be hard for radio vets to accept, it’s counter-intuitive.

A survey of major digital industry publications such as Media Biz, Bloggers, Mashable, and Media Post Publications reveals that a majority of the news covers partnerships, affiliation agreements and asset sharing. Most online companies understand that they cannot grow on their own, they require partners. The deals involve sharing revenue, views or promotions or all three. Those partnerships are how digital businesses can beat proven TV/AM/FM for audience and dollars.

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Questions We Should Be Asking About Political Correctness

| July 31, 2014

By Richard Neer
WFAN, New York
Talk Show Host

 

neerwriterNEW YORK — I rarely have a problem with “political correctness.”  I believe that avoiding words or phrases that even a small minority find offensive, is a good thing.  Why hurt people because we are insensitive or too lazy and set in our ways to change?  It’s easier just to amend our vocabulary and apologize when necessary.  Using racial or sexist epithets to make a point is not acceptable and these words should bear consequences.  WEEI and Sirius have recently dealt with those situations.

What I do fear is that a “gotcha” mentality is running amok, looking to punish anyone who has the temerity to take an unpopular stand.  Recent examples are Mark Cuban and Stephen A. Smith.

In Cuban’s case, he was honest about his own shortcomings, illustrative of the fact that we all have prejudices.  He made it very clear that he thought society would be better off if we could rid ourselves of these destructive impulses but that we are not there yet, despite all the progress made so far.  He used himself as an example, citing how out of concern for his safety, he would avoid characters who dressed like thugs.  He implied that if we are honest with ourselves, we might all admit to the same feelings.

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Five Quick Steps to Managing a Bad Event

| July 23, 2014

By Walter Sabo
Sabo Media
CEO

 

sabowriterNEW YORK — The purpose of talk radio is to entertain through extreme opinions and reaction to those opinions.

Keyword: Opinion.

“Opinion” covers a lot.  Read the fine print in the Nielsen ratings: “This an opinion of estimates.”  A guess.

Even precise professionals are paid for opinions.  “Doctor’s opinion.”  “Legal opinion.”

When a host offers an opinion in anger or humor and the result is a negative, threatening response from advertisers or listeners there are five steps to sanity:

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Bricks and Bouquets

| July 17, 2014

Al Herskovitz
H&H Communications
President

 

herskovitzwriterBRADENTON, Fla. — Topic A in all conversations I have with broadcasters is about radio’s pending doom.  The woe-is-me and the finger pointing invariably aims at our new-tech world where anybody can be a talk show host if they possess one of the many available space-age devices… and anybody can listen to an infinite number of unlicensed shows and networks on a variety of readily available “devices” that are not AM/FM “radios.”  I hesitate to name these devices because by the time I finish this sentence there will be a new one.

This is the easiest way to cast blame without looking into our own house.  I listen to a lot of radio and have a whole bunch of radios around my home and office from big, boxy ones to a couple real tiny ones that’ll fit into my pocket as I do my exercise hike around the neighborhood.

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The Times They Are a-Changing…

| June 26, 2014

William O’Shaughnessy
Whitney Media
President

 

oshaughnessywriterNEW ROCHELLE, NY — As you have no doubt read in the public press, our colleagues at WFAS-FM are pulling up stakes and moving to the big City with a different name and changing to an “urban” format.

WFAS-FM has served Westchester and environs as a locally based suburban station with various music formats for years and we wish them well as they now turn their focus to the highly competitive New York City market.

Longevity

During our own 54 years of serving the County, we’ve always had cordial relations with the 17 (count ’em!) absentee owners of WFAS-FM … and, indeed, with many among the dizzying parade of 43 hard-working general managers who tried mightily to give the station some meaning and purpose and at least a semblance of local involvement despite the many corporate changes and turmoil in their front office.  

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If I Owned a Radio Station Right Now

| June 17, 2014

By Jerry Del Colliano
Inside Music Media
Publisher

delcollianoSCOTTSDALE, AZ — This is a question I get all the time especially because I have devoted my career to generational media.

When 95 million millennials are rejecting radio, music, network television and disrupting everything they can, operating a radio station for profit seems like a bad business.

One thing I can tell you upfront.

I wouldn’t run my station the way the biggest majors run theirs.

Nor would I go brain dead not knowing whether to go or grow.

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Taking Care of Our Own

| May 21, 2014

oshaughnessywriterNEW ROCHELLE, NY — Dick Foreman, our dedicated and dynamic vice chairman, recently dispatched a powerful, timely and rather pointed note (it didn’t pull any punches!) to a fellow broadcaster who had turned a deaf ear to our recent pleadings and importunings on behalf of the Broadcasters Foundation of America.

Foreman’s good letter got me to thinking about how to reach those who haven’t yet gotten the message.

“Don’t let us forget who we are…and where we’ve come from.” 

                                                                 – – – Mario M. Cuomo

Through our work with the Guardian Fund of the Broadcasters Foundation of America, we’ve encountered many generous individuals, some now retired with their glory years behind them, and many still in the arena, who have unhesitatingly responded with remarkable grace and becoming generosity to our entreaties on behalf of those hurting and almost forgotten broadcasters we serve all across the country.

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An Open Letter to Talk Host Michael Smerconish

| May 13, 2014

By Lars Larson
Compass Media Networks/Alpha Broadcasting
Talk Show Host


larsonlars
PORTLAND, OR — Michael, I know you’re trying to squeeze some lemonade out of your career prospects but bashing fellow talk hosts as routinely and regularly lying to listeners isn’t the best way to sell a book or get more audience to a cable news network.

You went on the CBS morning news show last week (documented by the Media Research Center) to hock your wares (a book and a satellite radio show and your new show on CNN) and accused those of us still working in terrestrial radio of LYING to listeners while declaring that you ALWAYS tell the truth.

(CBS host) Gayle King, “I used to listen to these guys, Michael, and say, ‘They can’t possibly believe what they’re saying. It’s just is a way to just rile up the crowd.” (Smerconish) “…yes, that’s exactly the way that I believe that it is.” (Q-King) “Did you always believe what you were saying?” (Smerconish) “I believed what I was saying at all times.”

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First We Entertain: You’re Here Because of Ben Hoberman

| May 6, 2014

By Walter Sabo
Sabo Media
CEO

sabowriterNEW YORK — In the 1970s and early 80s KABC-AM, Los Angeles was the number 1 or 2
biller in America.  From its inception it was run by Ben Hoberman.

Meeting Mr. Hoberman was an event.  You made an appointment, no one just
walked in to his office.  The GM down the hall at KLOS made an
appointment.  Mr. Hoberman’s office was different than yours.  It was
crisp, immaculate and no-nonsense.  Just like Mr. Hoberman.

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The Introverts are Quietly Taking Over the Business World

| April 2, 2014

By Walter Sabo
Sabo Media
CEO

“Quiet people have the loudest minds.”  – Stephen Hawking

sabowalterwriterNEW YORK — Better cash bet? Telephone or telegraph? That was the debate among investment bankers at the turn of the 19th century. A significant portion of the population preferred the written word. They liked the formality, pause and thought of composition. Telephones didn’t let you take back or erase words you regretted.

As the telephone was funded and adopted, extroverts embraced the technology. Extroverts enjoyed talking for hours. They prefer to express themselves spontaneously, passionately. They love group think, brainstorming, team playing, drama in the conference room, public speaking and spontaneity. The phone is made for them.

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Civility

| January 28, 2014

By Richard Neer
WFAN, New York
Talk Show Host

 

neerwriterNEW YORK — Would you bet your career on winning the lottery?

Unfortunately, that’s what many of us are doing. Let me explain the analogy.

Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks won the lottery.  His rant after the NFC championship game hit all the viral markers: it was loud, it was outrageous and it reached a huge audience at exactly the right time.  Sherman went from a fine-but-obscure cornerback to a national figure literally overnight.  Blogs, tweets, Facebook pages and every other form of social media either supported or vilified him.  The fame he achieved might last the traditional fifteen minutes, or with clever marketing, catapult his off-field career to new heights.

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Eight Realities of 2014: Perspective and Predictions

| January 16, 2014

By Walter Sabo
Sabo Media
CEO

sabowalterwriterNEW YORK – Here are some thoughts that I hope you find useful as we begin another pivotal year:

1. HD radio is going to explode. The management of iBiquity has achieved remarkable acceptance for HD by the auto industry with over 16 million installs.  HD is radio’s best real estate grab for the connected dash. The key, as always, is the show. (Sorry, the word “content” remains disgusting. It’s a show.)  HD is not about fidelity or graphics – it’s a new stage for new, audience captivating shows.

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Millennials, Music and Radio

| December 17, 2013

By Jerry Del Colliano
Inside Music Media
Publisher

EXCLUSIVE TO RADIOINFO AND TALKERS

delcollianoSCOTTSDALE — There are over 80 million “Millennials” coming of age the oldest of whom are already 30-years-old – 12 years older than the youngest 18-49 money demo cherished by advertisers.

Millennials have their own technology just as baby boomers had records, radio and TV.

Except technology has very little to do with the impact that “Generation Y” is making on media and just about everything else.

Sure there is Facebook that they went to college with, and Napster that helped disrupt the record business, iPads, apps, smartphones, Instagram and their latest devilish work – to unbundle cable and make Netflix the new standard for the on-demand content they, well – demand.

Radio consolidated about the time the first Millennials were in grade school and the industry just assumed that young listeners would always be there to like radio.

The music industry that consisted of old white men who were lawyers thought Napster needed to be sued out of existence – and they succeeded.

But the damage was already done.

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CEOs Mouth Off and Word-of-Mouth Mojo

| December 13, 2013

Nielsen Client Conference Day 2 coverage by Talkers contributor and media consultant Holland Cooke

 

cookewriterBALTIMORE — The Nielsen Audio Client Conference & Jacobs Media Summit wrapped Thursday, but not before sustained applause for four group heads who decried what’s become radio business-as-usual: too many commercials, and too little programming diversity and innovation.  Their unvarnished comments echoed a surprisingly candid CEO roundtable at the recent NAB/RAB Radio Show.

“The status quo is like a shark.  If you’re not swimming, you’re not breathing.”

NRG Media CEO Mary Quass and fellow panelists run mid-size companies, and all described the opportunities they seize being more nimble than bigger companies’ “paralysis” and “short-term thinking.”  Connoisseur Media CEO Jeff Warshaw reckons that “This is the most opportune time for entrepreneurs in radio that I have seen in a long, long time.”

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Women’s Talk Radio: The 1.4 Billion Dollar Mystery

| December 12, 2013

By Walter Sabo
Sabo Media
Chairman

NEW YORK — Smart operators have said that radio should tap more TV money, they are correct. The challenge is that radio offers less and less of what buyers seek from TV.

Today, radio turns down $1.4 billion in revenue that goes to TV because it has no place to go on radio.  The 1.4 billion is specific dollars that are invested in daytime television aimed at women. Talk shows for women on TV.

The TV shows winning these dollars are Judge Judy, Kelly and Michael, Ellen, The View, The Chat, The Chew, Extra, TMZ Live, The Talk, Maury Povitch, Jerry Springer and a few game shows and day time dramas like The Price is Right and General Hospital.

judgejudyThe highest paid performer on Daytime TV is Judge Judy earning over $40 million a year. (For one month of taping!)  She has 7.5 million viewers. What does she talk about?  Relationships.

“No sir, you are not a good husband or roommate and you owe her the money,” Judy bellows from the bench to the delight of all.

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Why I Went to Dallas

| November 25, 2013

By Tom Becka
KOIL, Omaha
Talk Show Host

 

beckatomwriterOMAHA — I know that every consultant and general manager in the country would look at my broadcast from the grassy knoll on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK as an unnecessary expense and programming that only interests listeners over the age of 60.

I disagree on both accounts and let me explain why…

We are in the process of trying to rebuild KOIL radio as a viable radio station.  After years of being nothing but syndicated programming we are now working to have a local presence.  The time spent listening during my show has been great but the cume is not what it should be.

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Veterans Day Thoughts

| November 11, 2013

By Duane Doobie
RadioInfo
Music Editor/Director

 

duanedoobie graphicSPRINGFIELD, MA — Although it is difficult to quantify these things, it seems that the importance of Veterans Day, as it is reflected and acknowledged in our popular culture, has grown over these past years – although those of us at RadioInfo and our sister publication TALKERS are indeed working today and I see our fellow online radio trade publications are out there in full editorial bloom as well.

I also observe that most radio stations’ offices are staffed and running today in business-as-usual mode.   So Veterans Day does not fall into the same category of holidays as the other federally-demarcated 24-hour periods that warrant universally acknowledged “day off” status such as the “Big Six” – New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day (unless you work at the post office, a bank, or government agency).

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The Return of the Neat Idea

| September 25, 2013

By Walter Sabo
Sabo media
CEO

NEW YORK — This is my experience. In my work, I have seen businesses grow and prosper when they embrace new, daring ideas based on marketplace demand. The winners are nimble organizations that jump on the neat idea and focus on the product, not organization politics. When fear of new ideas sets in and a business allows staff positions to grow too big and powerful, those businesses implode.

The current economic depression celebrates “operators” — executives with shrewd “operating” skills who are known for their ability to cut costs, cut staffs, sell their story to Wall Street and keep their company within its COMFORT ZONE. They do not have nor are required to have vision. Knowing what’s next is the key to growth in any industry. No vision, no growth.

Today, media businesses are excited when they show quarter-to-quarter, year-to-year growth. But this is false growth. Compare any media business with 2007 revenue figures and business is down. Five years after the depression began, revenue is still down.

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The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is… Ourselves.

| September 13, 2013

Jason Bailey
Sun Broadcast Group, Inc.
CEO

baileyjasonNEW YORK — It was another sad week for network radio as more great people: mothers, fathers, sons and daughters… dreamers of great ideas, writers of great content, communicators of the stories that shape our world, were sent to the unemployment line. Was it greed? Was it failure to evolve? Was it competition? Maybe. But in my humble opinion it was something simpler yet more devastating… Fear. Fear to be bold, fear to take risks and most important, fear to defend.

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Memories of Joe Somerset

| September 3, 2013

By Curt Hahn

 

hahnwriterPUERTA VALLARTA — My friend and mentor Joe Somerset passed away Thursday night due to complications following a fall Sunday night at home.

It was 1958 when Joe and I met.  I was a Brown sophomore, he was the program guy at WPRO radio, which had just been purchased by a new company out of Albany, New York — Capital Cities Television.  Joe had joined the company in its infancy and brought his radio knowledge to this young TV-oriented company.

WPRO took the Providence market by storm with its top 40 format.  I worked weekends, overnights, snow days and holidays.  Rarely did I hear from Joe, unless I’d done something remarkably stupid.  He was certainly the most non-directive program director I ever worked for.  The instructions were simple: follow the format!

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The Smartest Programming Move I Ever Made for My Radio Stations

| July 31, 2013

By Michael L. Zwerling
KSCO/KOMY, Santa Cruz
Owner

zwerlingksco (2)SANTA CRUZ — It was February 2009.  KSCO-AM 1080, Santa Cruz-Salinas-Monterey-San Jose was being called by every radio syndicator in the country trying to bend our ear about taking their program to replace The Radio Factor with Bill O’Reilly who was terminating his daily syndicated radio program on Feb 27.

I had instructed our staff to inform such callers that the replacement would be live and local, which they did.

This information was met with both surprise and disbelief, because that was (and IS) certainly not the trend for local radio stations; in fact just the opposite was and is true.  But at KSCO, we like to be different; and it helps to be located in a part of the world with more unusual, interesting, and FASCINATING characters per square inch than in any other part of the planet.

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How Liberals Have It Wrong About
Rush and Sean

| July 30, 2013

By Alan Colmes
Fox News Radio/Fox News Channel
Host/Commentator

colmesalanNEW YORK — Headlines have been blaring all over the digital universe about Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity being tossed off the air by Cumulus and losing 40 stations in key markets.

However, in the words of the legendary Paul Harvey, readers are not being told the rest of the story. Cumulus and Clear Channel have been buying up stations in major markets. Limbaugh and Hannity are syndicated by Premiere, which is owned by Clear Channel. Rather than pay fees to Cumulus to carry these shows it makes more sense to put them on their own properties, reduce local talent costs, and save those fees. The two top-rated talkers aren’t going anywhere. They’re just changing dial positions and, in many cases, to better signals.

Seeing liberal bloggers declare victory about how a boycott of these shows’ sponsors led to this makes my hair stand on end for four reasons.

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How to Be a Talk Show Host

| July 22, 2013

By Bob Lonsberry
WHAM, Rochester/WSYR Syracuse
Talk Show Host

lonsberrybobMOUNT MORRIS, NY — Let me tell you how to be a talk show host.

Step one: Ignore anybody who tries to tell you how to be a talk show host

This is fundamentally a solo business and the more you try to be like someone else, or the more closely you follow the consultants and the bosses, the less effective you will be.

Certainly, there are general rules of the business, ways to hold listeners and maximize ratings, to move through a clock and broadcast professionally. You must know and execute the formatics, but you must be their master, not their slave. They give you structure, but you give yourself voice.

Somewhere, down deep, you either have it or you don’t, and the key to your success will be being true to yourself. Likewise, the key to the continued success of the form will be the quality and variety of rising hosts.

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‘The Future of Radio in the Car?’ Too Late

| June 26, 2013

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant

 

NEW YORK — Because radio depends SO much on in-car use, you’re probably intrigued by various reports from the Consumer Electronics Association’s Connected Car Conference.  Maybe you’re even feeling info-overload about the techy mobile future.

Here’s the bottom line, from four-and-a-half-hours of thoughtful discussion, research, and prognostication by automotive, electronics, and media thinkers:  Whatever the dashboard is about to morph into matters less to AM/FM radio than what’s already happened.

It happened several years ago, when I bought that cord at the Apple Store.  Plug one end into what we used to call “the cigarette lighter,” plug the other end into iPhone, and whatever’s on the phone comes out the speakers.  Still-to-come hardware and software evolution will merely help drivers sift.

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The Radio WHOOSH is Dead (Or at Least It Should Be)

| June 19, 2013

By Michael W. Dean
Freedom Feens
Co-host

deanmichaelwCASPER, WY — I’m pretty new to doing radio. Well, new to being syndicated. But I’ve been doing episodic spoken media almost daily since 2006, was a college radio DJ in the early 80s, and was into ham radio as a kid in the 70s.

More importantly, I’m not new to listening to radio. As a listener, I’d be willing to bet I could do better than 80% correct at predicting today who’s going to be out of business in five years. Anyone want to take me up on it?

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Arbitron Ratings for All Would be Good for All

| June 17, 2013

By Walter Sabo
Sabo Media
Chairman

 NEW YORK — Please take a moment to click through to this website:
tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com.

TV By the NumbersYou see TV Nielsen ratings. Nielsen as you know is the TV and radio (in Australia) ratings company that is merging with Arbitron and has cool offices in lower Manhattan.  TV BY THE NUMBERS breaks out the TV ratings any way you could imagine: By demo, show, cable, syndication, network. If you want a number you don’t see, simply email the site’s founders and they’ll get it for you.

What is the source of their information? “Various data sources” it says in their ABOUT section.

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Musings on the United Nations

| June 10, 2013

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant

 

NEW YORK — When you step-into the United Nations compound, you, legally, step off American soil.

The security shakedown is akin to boarding an airplane, but those in uniform wouldn’t be mistaken for TSA agents who sometimes seem to loiter.  These foreigners aren’t quite as stony as Customs officers, but the process has the same vibe.

Once inside, it’s welcome-to-the-1950s.  Not in an unkempt way.  Our guide explained that areas we were passing through had recently been renovated, and the “after” was deliberately reminiscent of the “before” look.  Until recently, we were told, smoking wasn’t prohibited.  Travel abroad, and you quickly realize how American “No Smoking” is.  Narrow escalators pre-date and, legally, needn’t comply with, the Americans with Disabilities Act specs we’re now accustomed to.

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My Professional Opinion: Do NOT Run the FEMA/Ad Council PSA!

| June 3, 2013

By Thomas R. Ray, III CPBE, AMD, DRB
Tom Ray Consulting
President   
TALKERS
Technical Editor

Ad CouncilFEMANEW YORK — You may have seen my warning in Friday’s edition regarding a PSA that was released by the Ad Council, under the auspices of FEMA, extolling the virtues of the emergency alerts the public can now receive on their cell phones.  A great idea.  Worthy of getting the word out.  Even if the PSA promotes a service available on cell phones.

Only one problem.  The PSAs (there are several, and they are also available for television) use the EAS two-tone alert tone as part of the message.

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An Open Letter of Advice to Rush Limbaugh

| May 20, 2013

By Dr. John Tantillo
Branding and Marketing Group, Inc.
President

tantillodrNEW YORK – A Letter To Rush Now!

Dear Rush,

We need to talk.

Why?

Because many out there hate your brand (and you) and if nothing is done proactively in the short run, failure is assured in the long run.

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IRS Scandal: Time for Talk Show Hosts
to Come Forward

| May 14, 2013

By Phil Valentine
Cumulus Media
Talk Show Host

IRSvalentineNASHVILLE — The revelation on Friday (5/10) that the IRS was targeting conservative groups came as a shock to much of America, especially those on the right side of the aisle.  Once the story broadened on Monday to include more groups and more abuse it became apparent that there’s something big going on here.  For me, it was all simply a confirmation of something I’ve been experiencing for some time.  In fact, I’ve been chronicling the experience on my radio show.

A couple of years ago I began getting inquiries from the IRS.  They wanted me to explain certain items I’d taken as deductions.  I had the same experience back in the mid-‘90s when I first moved to Philadelphia.  I’m sure this isn’t the technical term for it but for lack of a better label I was “mail-audited” three times in 18 months.  This was during the Clinton administration and I figured when I landed in Philadelphia to do talk radio I also landed on the administration’s radar.  Again, it was petty stuff like making me dig up receipts from prior tax years and fill out all sorts of annoying forms.  Once I satisfied the requests for one year another inquiry for another year would begin almost immediately.

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RIP Al Neuharth: He reinvented the only medium older than radio

| April 22, 2013

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND — Especially after last week, talk radio should heed the words of a media giant we now mourn: “They want to trust whatever voices they’re listening to.”

Allen H. Neuharth was the Gannett chairman who founded USA TODAY, and later helped create a The Newseum, the museum of news, which warrants adding an entire day to your next trip to Washington.

His 1989 autobiography “Confessions of an S.O.B.” is still canny advice.

Al was a bigger-than-life figure, always influential, often controversial.  He died Friday at his home in Cocoa Beach, Florida, 89.

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Dead, or Online?

| April 22, 2013

By Chris Miller
Chris Miller Digital

SHAKER HEIGHTS – Have you ever read something that just freshly fired up your motivation?  That happened to me recently.  It was a piece at SocialMediaToday.com by content marketing specialist Barry Feldman titled, “Social Media Doesn’t Really Connect Us. What Does?”

To sum it up, the proclamations that radio is dead, news publishing is dead, books are dead, mail is dead, and so on are wrong.  The media we’ve known for years are not dead, they’re just online.  Furthermore, media isn’t the issue.  Content is.

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Smerconish: Canary in Talk Radio’s
Coal Mine?

| March 11, 2013

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant

BLOCK ISLAND — To local radio talkers, syndication is The Promised Land.  So when an accomplished, high-profile personality relinquishes his hard-won 80-affiliate roster to migrate to satellite radio, my phone rings.  I’m being asked:

  • Should I pitch his affiliates?  Should I pitch his network?
  • Should I try to get on SiriusXM?
  • IS it over?

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Endorsements Should Be Interesting

| March 4, 2013

By Michael Berry
Host
The Michael Berry Show

berrymichaelwriterHOUSTON — All I ever hear radio industry execs talk about is ratings and revenues, as if the two go hand in hand.  With music stations, that may be true.  But talk radio’s future will be determined by our ability to get results for our advertisers.  That includes, but is not limited to, ratings, and it probably has more to do with ratings in categories currently seen as less, or altogether un-, important; namely, 55 and up, or 35-64.

Ratings are not an end in themselves, but rather a pricing mechanism by which advertisers determine the rates they will pay.  In an industry which measures itself primarily, indeed almost exclusively, on the 25-54 demo, it’s good to remember how many people are active consumers who don’t fit into those niches.  Twenty-five-year-olds don’t buy houses, or improve them.  Their bodies aren’t breaking down, so they don’t need all the medical advancements of companies willing to advertise those services.  They are not investing, banking, exercising, losing weight, restoring vision, or maintaining a house that needs everything from new pipes to electrical to roofing to driveway pavers to a pool.  In short, radio can still be very profitable as our society ages by appealing to direct-buy advertisers.  But only if radio can yield results for the client.  Think about it: listeners tune to music radio to zone out to music, and when someone talks it’s a distraction.  Listeners tune to talk radio to be engaged, and the talk by the host is what they sought.  If the host’s endorsement of a product could be as compelling as his discussion of Obama’s hypocrisy, imagine the boon to advertisers.   Winning the ratings war for most listeners under 54 does not necessarily yield financial returns to the people who pay for advertising.  It is not the size of the audience, but rather the size of the response for the advertiser, that will build loyalty in clients.  So how do we get results for clients, especially live, direct clients? Read More

Five Impact Trends to Help You Reach the Future Safely

| February 21, 2013

By Walter Sabo
Sabo Media
Chairman

NEW YORK – The challenge of working at most radio stations or broadcast companies is the staff is pre-occupied with job security. As a result, trends that should be noted and discussed are dismissed in order to prepare the weekend schedule and worry about corporate.  As the CEO of an executive-on-demand company, Sabo Media, we are presented daily with new products, talent and ideas. Here are five that are interesting and may be helpful in growing your business:

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If I Were the CEO of YouTube

| January 28, 2013

A modest proposal by Walter Sabo

By Walter Sabo
Sabo Media
Chairman

NEW YORK — First, I will never be the CEO of YouTube because I could not pass the battery of Google employment tests. Math was not my strength. Also, based on a visit to their NY offices, their hallway labyrinth would keep me lost all day.

But here’s why I should be CEO:

Why do you look at YouTube? The primary reasons are to see cats, music videos, your kids and “web stars.” I am perfectly comfortable with these crowd pleasers. Why? Because they please the crowd.

About 18 months ago YouTube announced a multi-million dollar initiative to pay for premium video content created by “top producers” and Hollywood stars. At the time I explained to my annoyed relatives and friends that this was an insane waste of money and it wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t work because it violated a key axiom of show business:

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Radio’s Biggest Star: Baseball

| January 25, 2013

By Holland Cooke
News/Talk/Sports Radio Consultant

St. LOUIS — Do the math. For six months when habitual listening dips as listeners vacation and otherwise alter their lives, baseball brings:

• Long-TSL tune-in (“vertical maintenance” in Arbitron-speak), to…

• 162 three+ hour shows (“horizontal maintenance”), by…

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Radio Makes it Real…if, We’re Keepin’ it Real

| January 14, 2013

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant

WASHINGTON, DC — If you’re a broadcaster, you probably found this story remarkable. If you’re a podcaster, you probably found it relatable:

“By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play.”

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Eight Reasons Cain Will Click

| January 3, 2013

By Holland Cooke
Talk Radio consultant

cainhermanBLOCK ISLAND, RI — January 21 is Inauguration Day, for both our president, and his outspoken campaign opponent Herman Cain, whose nationally syndicated radio show debuts that morning.

Here’s why I predicted Cain’s success oh-so-publicly at the recent Arbitron Client Conference:

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As Goes the Nation, So Goes the Station: Scenes from the WOR Front Line

| January 2, 2013

By Robbie Student
Radio Talk Show Host/Record Producer

studentrobbieNEW YORK – Here’s some context: I’m a small businessman.  In addition to being a talk show host, I run a small, modestly successful music and entertainment production company.  Because of the Cliff, the Ceiling, and Obamacare’s paralyzing lack of clarity, I’m not spending one dollar more than I have to on salaried staff, independent contractors, and infrastructure/equipment.

This stingy posture isn’t because I’m a greedy bastard.  It’s because neither I (the producer of goods and services), nor the consumers I sell them to, know where our next batch of greenbacks is coming from, or going to.  And clients, those a rung above me on the ladder, are behaving in kind.  We’re like kidnap victims who’ve had black hoods pulled over our heads, while the van we’re in careens through a sketchy neighborhood of miserably thought out economic policies.

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Will Nielsen’s Acquisition of Arbitron Benefit our Industry?

| December 20, 2012

By Fred Lundgren
KCAA Radio, Loma Linda, California
CEO

lundgrenfredLOMA LINDA, CA — The inaccuracy of Arbitron surveys have been a pet peeve of mine for many years.  So, when The Nielsen Company announced the purchase of Arbitron, I decided to celebrate the event with a little punditry.  Initially, the announcement made me think of this quote by Winston Churchill…

“The only recorded instance in history of a rat swimming towards a sinking ship.”

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Talk Must Expand Beyond Politics to Survive

| November 19, 2012

By Doug Stephan
Stephan MultiMeda

 

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — Reading the statements by Spencer Brown at Dial Global about what has happened to the advertising agencies’ attitudes toward controversial programming gives me cause to want to add my perspective as an independent producer with almost 25 years of syndicated radio experience…pretty much the same amount of time as Rush Limbaugh.

First and foremost, I’m a champion of and cheerleader for the format.  But what is represented here is the same quandary that faces the Republican Party…relevance.

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Five Trends About to Make a Buck

| November 13, 2012

By Walter Sabo
Sabo Media
Chairman

NEW YORK — Daily digital newsletters suggest that there are hundreds of hot new “platforms” and “monetizations” and “disruptors.”

There aren’t. A quick walk from the gourmet water cafes of lower Manhattan or Palo Alto to the food court at Mall of America will clarify the efficacy of many digi-theories.  Remember, fiber optics (Lucent!) were ready to go in 1962, as were Picture Phones, but AT&T waited until they depreciated all the copper wire to roll out fiber.

There are at least five new business ideas that are close to the event horizon for profits.

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Talk Renaissance Requires Open-Minded Ownership

| November 12, 2012

By Tom Becka
KRWK, Fargo/KOIL, Omaha
Talk Show Host

FARGO —  I’ve been reading with great interest the comments about the future of talk radio.  During my career I spent a number of years on the road as a stand up comic.  It was during this time that I developed my love of talk radio.  Each night after a show I would talk to members of the audience.  I would speak with bankers, construction workers, nurses, and people that make sausage casings for a living.  I noticed one thing about these conversations.  What the people were talking about was not what the talk radio hosts were talking about.  They had more personal concerns on their mind than the inner workings of Congress.  We can debate whether that’s good or not some other day.  But that is the way it is.  The truth is what is important to most talk show hosts is not important to most people on the street.

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Today, Talk Radio Will Vote

| November 7, 2012

By Holland Cooke
Radio Consultant

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Yesterday, voters chose.  Now it’s our turn.

Smartest thing I heard early this morning: Local hosts, many of ‘em righties, asking callers “What happened?”  Today and tonight, we’ll hear if national hosts smell the coffee as well.

We’ll spend days — and books are already being written — analyzing the 2012 vote.  And beyond politics, there are radio programming implications, actual Average Quarter Hour consequences.

What’s already apparent is that voters didn’t conform to the prevailing talk radio narrative:

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