By Holland Cooke
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.”
It’s not just the professional media.
Remember the old gag that “Freedom of The Press belongs to anyone who owns one?” With social media, anyone does.
- Anyone can tell everyone anything, and many seem hell-bent on doing just that. Little People have found their voice; and even before our president’s clinic in “unfiltered,” what we see on Facebook and Twitter is too often angry and ill-mannered. I would like to think that many of these people are nicer than they seem online, and merely venting, naïve that their Noise is consequence-free (it isn’t, as they’ll learn in their next job interview).
- A Newsweek article surmised that “factors believed to be motivating [social media trolling] include craving attention from others, seeking pleasure from causing others pain, boredom and revenge.”
- Irony: Many months, wireless telecommunication is the #1 advertising category; and soreheads use these wondrous fit-in-your-pocket devices to post that things aren’t as good as they used to be. As good as when? Before your unlimited anytime minutes, when phones were wired into the wall and “toll calls” to two-towns-away were metered by the minute?
We squawk because we can.
Millennials tune-out The Noise.
EVERYTHING is now a political Rorschach Test. The same voices who scorned Obama’s use of Executive Orders as unconstitutional praise Trump’s as progress. As lefties called Kellyanne Conway’s feet-on-the-couch gauche, righties quickly Googled pictures of Obama’s feet on the desk. To the biggest generation in history, this is The Noise, our format caricature.
This calendar year, Millennials’ retail spending will surpass Baby Boomers.’ Music stations that strive to be “the station everyone at work can agree on” beg to be background. Talk is inevitably foreground, unavoidably conspicuous. If we sound welcoming to conversation, Millennials might just join in. They’re pragmatic, and allergic to recreational acrimony.
So let’s deliver on our two-pronged News/Talk promise:
- Consistently deliver the news, sounding newer than what they heard last time, without sounding like you’re selling what you’re telling. And if your competition is robotic, and you’re a source of relevant, consequential, what-you-can-do-about-it local news, you’ll appeal to young adults’ sense of community.
- As for the talk half of our franchise: LET THEM.
IF we sound like that crazy uncle young people tolerate on Thanksgiving — who has just discovered Twitter — we’re merely The Noise.
Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke; and meet him at Talkers 2017 in New York City on June 2.