Monday Memo: V, L, W | TALKERS magazine - talk media trade : TALKERS magazine – “The bible of talk media.”

Monday Memo: V, L, W

| April 13, 2020

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND, RI — This week, RIGHT NOW, radio can make a difference, by flexing “frequency.”  The pandemic numbers are different in different places, and constantly changing as coronavirus hot spots light up.  But what’s happening is easily observable.

Public health officials call that red line peak “the Apex,” the moment when the local healthcare system is overwhelmed.

  • Until then, “the Surge,” the number of infections and deaths builds (left); and after this climax, it will taper-off (right).
  • Inversely and simultaneously, that blue line represents all other activity: person-to-person contact, the economy, EVERYTHING else.
  • Fauci and governors and others who urge Social Distancing speak of “flattening the curve.” Meaning if the left end of the blue line were lower, the Apex would be lower.

Those suffering and dying now were previously infected.  Others yet to show symptoms are being infected now.  As the death toll mounts, people less-diligent about Social Distancing will get religion.  And we can help.

Radio 101: Repetition works.

We are “a frequency medium,” with a business model that presumes people don’t really “hear” a message until the third time they actually hear it.

  • Rome wasn’t built in a day, so – by advertising on an ongoing basis – the clients who get the best results “own” their product category in the consumer’s mind long before purchase need. I can’t tell you WHEN I’ll get a flat tire, but I can tell you WHERE I’ll buy a new one.  A radio advertiser owns “tire” in my brain.
  • And what message could be more important than how-not-to-die?
  • Working in radio, we understand that (say it with me): “By the time WE are sick of a song, it’s just becoming a hit.” So – although WE have been reciting fundamentals like “go to the supermarket alone, bring a list, please don’t touch anything you’re not buying, get in-and-out quickly” ad nauseam, THEY will be taking such advice more seriously as bodies pile-up.  So keep it up.  As Social Distancing and other mitigation tactics seem to be working, Dr. Fauci says “NOW it the time to keep our foot on the gas.”

Jumping-the-gun risks a “W.”

As predictable and data-driven as that blue “V” is, you’d think it was shaped like “L” based on backlash from talking head holdouts who rail that we’ve killed the economy and it will never come back unless we quickly declare game-on again.

Even the president walked-back his normal-by-Easter goal, and no sooner did he suggest May 1 than he hedged that.  Science and history caution against a “W” shaped resurgence of infection which would trigger a double-dip Recession, at best.  Some economists are even talking Depression.

Having compared coronavirus to “the common cold” early on, talk radio’s cred’ is on the line.

Stay safe.


Holland Cooke ( is a media consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of the e-book “Holland Cooke: Greatest Hits” from Talkers Books.  Click the ad banner in the right-hand column on this page for an instant download.  And he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show Friday nights at 7ET on RT.  Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke

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Category: Advice