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Monday Memo: But, What If…?

| July 12, 2021

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND, RI — My most recent column seems to have hit a nerve. I do appreciate hearing from station owners and radio’s remaining programmers and local hosts who were irked that I’ve called-out political talk radio as a daily downer.

Remember focus groups?

The research radio used to fund is now sorely needed to explain how we sound.

  • There’s too much argument and too little assessment for political talk radio to remain habit-forming. Every day now, listeners’ lives are different than they were yesterday. And better, polls demonstrate. Yet sorehead hosts are still muttering about Hillary Clinton and Hunter Biden. It’s a grim “Groundhog Day.”
  • Note how the side that chants threadbare catch-phrases and wears MAGA hats calls the OTHER side “sheeple.”
  • Both sides play pointless ping pong. And the drinking game is “Oh! But what about…?”
  • Example: To righties who want no part of a January 6 investigation, libs’ holler “Oh! But what about…Benghazi???”

What IF, instead, we asked “But what IF…?”

As a long-suffering manager, and as an employee myself, I’ve always appreciated the concept of don’t-describe-a-problem-without-suggesting-a-solution.

Example: During the Obama administration, Sean Hannity offered a cool suggestion for licking the deficit: Every line in the federal budget cuts one penny from every dollar. Then, next year, another penny. Make it work. His “what IF” was an elegantly-simple concept listeners could grasp while driving, common sense.

Now, during the Biden administration, he’s still talking about the Obama administration and he keeps saying “sippy cup” (?).

Daniel Patrick Moynihan is spinning in his grave…

…as both sides volley his aphorism that “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

And the hits just keep on comin.’ After Arizona’s “audit” fizzles – and as the Delta variant spreads — Gallup polling tells us that 57% of Republicans say the pandemic is over, compared to just 4% of Democrats.

And we can’t even agree on the weather! Set a smartphone reminder for January: When the next blizzard paralyzes Texas, talk radio loudmouths will be scoffing about “Global Warming”; a mantra they kept mum as the Pacific Northwest hit suffocating record highs.

We’re in Show BUSINESS.

Specific goal: Repeat occasions-of-listening, same-time-tomorrow (what the ratings people call “horizontal recycling”). If today sounds like yesterday, would they feel they’re missing something by not coming back tomorrow?

And what can soreheads DO with vitriol we spew? Words like “crisis” and “carnage” animate them. After January 6, should we be complicit?

But even the doom-N-gloom format can still be a business, and I recommend next week’s column to your sales department. Remind them that there’s an AM in your cluster.

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 him on Twitter @HollandCooke

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Category: Advice