Monday Memo: Who Will Replace Rush? | TALKERS magazine : TALKERS magazine – “The bible of talk media.”

Monday Memo: Who Will Replace Rush?

| January 4, 2021

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND, RI — It’s talk radio FAQ #1. GMs – excuse me, “market managers,” overseeing more-stations-than-they-have-time-to-hear – are anxious, now forced to pay attention to 15 hours a week they’ve had on autopilot for decades.

Short answer: Nobody can

Thousands of our talk radio brothers and sisters will always owe him for leading the format that extended AM radio’s useful life. On my TV show I reminded Michael Harrison of a prediction he made at the TALKERS New York conference 20 years ago, that talk will eventually save FM, where music formats are now largely robotic and under assault from streaming and satellite competitors that users love. Many pay to subscribe.

Asked about buzz that former President Trump – an impactful TV act — might take over when Rush steps down, Michael offered what anyone who does daily talk radio knows: “Television doesn’t require as much prep, as much day-to-day grind-it-out…I don’t know if Trump is ready for prime-time radio.”  Scroll down my Facebook wall to see the entire interview.

Wistfully recalling radio pre-consolidation, it’s easy to figure “local-local-local” is the silver bullet. Two issues:

  • GOOD local, yes. Though many Limbaugh wanna-be’s ape his act, there’s only one Rush. Windy monologues I hear locals attempt are much less-engaging than would be a parade of well-screened callers weighing-in on topic du jour (even if it’s not intrinsically local, because they all have local accents). Every media experience people now favor is interactive. Cut to the chase and sound curious and welcoming. Make the audience the star and they’ll keep you working.
  • The farm team is toast. Seems quaint now, but when talent supply exceeded demand, getting a PD to listen to your 5” reel aircheck often involved sweet-talking a gatekeeper. Back to the future: Automation/syndication/consolidation discouraged an entire generation from aspiring to a career on AM/FM radio. Several stations I work with are a real kick to visit, because they’ve found 20-somethings and bought ‘em logo’d apparel.

Who will replace Clark Howard?

My all-time favorite talker, and the format’s favorite cheapskate, has retired from weekday radio. Every…single…hour, Clark told me something of value that I didn’t know, stuff my longtime associate Mike McVay calls “survival information.”

On most talk stations, this fare is confined to weekends; which in some cases are the station’s most-profitable hours. Ask-the-expert shows are sales-friendly and can become appointment listening. When these shows are local, formatting and coaching can make a big difference.

Trump’s exit seems only to galvanize P1s to Limbaugh/Hannity/FOX News-type stations. If that’s you, tweak-it-up and play-it-out until the last card.  But there’s a hole in the format. The solutions that Clark Howard and solid weekend hosts offer could also click on weekdays. In KGO’s heyday, acts like Dr. Dean Edell were Monday-Friday shows. If you’ve worked in radio long enough, you know what I meant back in January (BEFORE the pandemic, at that) recommending “Full-Service AM on FM:”

Think “audio,” not “transmitters:”

We’re covering the podcasting explosion. ICYMI:

See how NBC uses TV transmitters to drive adoption of Peacock? Radio’s hundred-year head start in audio publishing makes our aging transmitters as-opportune as we follow listeners already adopting on-demand audio in the quantum way they are.

Holland Cooke is the author of the E-book “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books (click the banner on this page). He is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet.  And HC hosts “The Big Picture” TV show Friday nights at 7ET on RT America.  Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Advice