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Monday Memo: Argument? Or Assessment?

| April 5, 2021

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND, RI — While shutdown-weary listeners yearn for The American Comeback:

  • FOX News feeds gotcha questions to budding correspondents it sends to White House briefings, where this president’s press secretary is more diplomatic than her predecessors.
  • Once CNBC’s credible, iconic “Money Honey,” FOX News B-teamer Maria Bartiromo seems to have taken the baton from disgraced Lou Dobbs. Mark Levin’s pitch is approaching an octave only dogs can hear.
  • Prominent among cable news and talk radio catch-phrase accusations are that Democrats want “utopia” and “open borders,” words I have never heard Democrats utter.
  • Asian-Americans are being assaulted in broad daylight, after Donald Trump branded COVID-19 “The Chi-nah Virus” relentlessly, because he knows what our sales reps preach to advertisers: repetition works.
  • Gun sales are so brisk that ammunition – already price-gouged — is being rationed in some places. The U.S. Capitol grounds seem no safer than supermarkets and other modern day killing fields.
  • There aren’t enough mental health professionals to meet demand.

How can we help?

  • Within the next several weeks, every American who wants it can get the vaccine that Presidents Bush, Clinton, Obama, and Carter, and their wives, got on-camera; and President and Mrs. Trump got on the QT.
  • HOW eager are listeners for theirs? Many have been staying-up until midnight to hit refresh-refresh-refresh on appointment websites, like they’re trying to buy Stones concert tickets.
  • Be known as the station that knows where-and-when and you’ll get more of what ratings experts call “occasions of listening.” Be known as vaccine-wary and you’re telling them to find that information elsewhere.
  • Ask for callers’ jab stories and you’ll jam the lines.
  • Also opportune: “Your summer vacation plans?” After being cooped-up, those vaccinated are feeling safer. And those planning to stay-cation at home-sweet-home are keeping contractors busy. The Patio Center at East Texas Brick is “making your outdoor space your favorite place.” RV dealers are hopping too.

Last week’s report: 916,000 new jobs – half of them in rebounding food service and hotel and amusement industries and schools — 110,000 in construction — and unemployment is down to 6%. To explain why we have Trump to thank for that, “guides” will cue-up airchecks of someone who died two months ago.

Don’t get me wrong. Most of my clients are conservative media platforms. Cume-to-Quarter Hour conversion is a job, not a hobby, and I may be the only person in talk radio who thinks his own opinion doesn’t matter. And our advertisers get results.

“BUT…” as Captain Kirk would ask in his impending-doom voice, “…for…how…long?”

  • Recent polling data from Gallup, Ipsos, and elsewhere demonstrate that Americans are much more optimistic than a year ago.
  • With a half-dozen syndicated acts competing for non-iHeart-owned Limbaugh sticks, it is mathematically unlikely that any one voice will attain his reach.
  • Don’t expect Matthew Gaetz to get much FOX News airtime after his inuendo blindsided young Carlson. And as Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Jim Jordan, and Ted Cruz take-up the slack, is the narrative itself imploding?

Time will tell. With digital nudging AM radio to the fringe of users’ media menu, pandering to the “stolen election” cohort – and selling spots to like-minded retailers – may continue to be a business model. And don’t hedge! For reasons I outlined here two weeks ago, ambiguity is risky.

News/talk radio content is either an angry argument or a useful assessment of circumstances that listeners can act on. Something different than they heard yesterday. And local. The good news.

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

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Category: Advice