What Are You Going to Do on Wednesday? | TALKERS magazine : TALKERS magazine – “The bible of talk media.”

What Are You Going to Do on Wednesday?

| November 7, 2016

By Waltr Sabo
Sabo Media


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.

What works?

When reviewing Nielsens, there is a pattern to the stations that are growing and appealing to a broader audience. Stations like WLW, Cincinnati; WTAM; Cleveland; New Jersey 101.5, Trenton (covers all of Jersey!); WFAN, New York; WXYT, Detroit. WPHT, Philadelphia – double the audience share from one year ago. (Note: WPHT allows me to host a show on the weekend, but that ratings jump is not my fault!)

Those stations, and others that are growing, present a wide range of subjects and hosts with varying points of view. The results indicate that the wider the conversation, the higher the ratings.

Please consider what you talk to your friends about all day.  If you have children, they are probably number one on your talk playlist: The parent-teacher conferences are this week.  How should I dress for that?  The engine light is still on and I’m not paying 150 bucks to make it turn off.  Why am I fat?  Am I getting fired?  The vet now costs more than my doctor.  Please don’t let your brother stay at our house again.  Why did Brad Pitt marry that crazy woman anyway?

Any one of those “topics” can easily be dismissed as trivial.  All together they comprise LIFE!  Put on the air, those subjects mirror the interest needs and tastes of listeners with kids, under 55, with busy lives and discretionary income.

TV got it!

The ability of life subjects to attract a highly desirable audience is why those subjects are the backbone of talk media – television talk media.  Daytime TV talk is a $4 billion, high-margin revenue stream for the networks and indies. Like radio “The View,” “The Chat,” “The Real,” “Ellen,” “Wendy Williams,” and “Live with Kelly” cost relative pennies to produce.  The topics on those shows attract dollars from P&G, Colgate, Bristol Myers, and Pfizer.

TALK TV TOPICS: Personal relationships. Troubled romance. Celebrity gossip. Daily annoyances. Better services and products. Great food ideas.  Managing kids and spouses.  For over 50 years, those were the subjects that built most talk radio to success.  TV noticed and copied radio.

But radio does topics better.  Radio has three precious attributes that beat TV every time: Local. Live. Telephones. LIVE is the most powerful promise a medium can present.  “Saturday Night Live” is sad in repeats.  BEST OF is actually “worst-of” a talk station – if listeners can’t call, what’s the point?

CLEAN UP CLEAN UP: While reviewing the playlist, any talk station would benefit from a hard-line examination of every single element.  Every minute counts. 11:00 pm counts. All minutes impact performance of overall cume. Your store never closes.

Start with infomercials. Lost is the important fact that Saturday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm is the second-most listened time period for HURs – Homes Using Radio.  If a station eliminates all infomercials during Saturday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm and replaces it with live and local, its overall total share will absolutely jump up by a significant percentage. There are many other strategies to earn infomercial income other than handing the station over to the doctormunicipalbondanuitygold show.

Bottom line: If a subject is one that two best friends would discuss over lunch, it’s air worthy. If two best friends would never discuss it, why would you put it on the air?


Walter Sabo is CEO of consulting firm, Sabo Media.  He can be phoned at  347 380 1581 or emailed at walter@sabomedia.com.

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Category: Advice, Opinions