Monday Memo: Happy NEWS Year? | TALKERS magazine : TALKERS magazine – “The bible of talk media.”

Monday Memo: Happy NEWS Year?

| December 20, 2021

By Holland Cooke


BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Or is “happy” now unproductive? If Brett Baier hasn’t also fled FOX News by the time you read this, he must be feeling lonely there. He and Chris Wallace reportedly protested to management over Tucker Carlson’s “false flag” take on the deadly January 6 insurrection that many fear was dress rehearsal. Shep’ Smith was already long-gone – to anchor the hip, handsomely-produced 7:00 pm CNBC news hour – after being so-at-odds for-so-long with what FOX News entertainment shows were shoveling.

Signing-off his long NBC stint, Brian Williams warned: “America of 2021 is a nation unrecognizable to those who came before us and fought to protect it, which is what you must do now. They’ve decided to burn it all down with us inside.”

He signals both a long-term warning and short-term opportunity.

Emerging 2022 Strategy: Amplify The Crazy.

  • If I ran FOX, I’d go even-harder-right. They need to play defense, to out-MAGA upstarts Newsmax and OAN, the beneficiaries of ire FOX suffered for reporting 2020 election results. Tell Judge Jeanine: Louder! Laura Ingraham: Snarl even more! Young Carlson: Keep doing that frat boy laugh. When Trump calls, pick it up on the first ring.
  • Same strategy for talk radio stations plugged-into the daily doom-N-gloom line-up. Aircheck Sean Hannity and lift the most pessimistic sound bites for imaging that defines the station as a safe space for the grousing 70-year-old white males who are AM’s last habitual users. The number of I’m-the-next-Rush Limbaugh shows will soon surpass the number of surviving listeners (anti-vaxxers, not just the aged). But you’re still on the MyPillow buy. Push the slippers.
  • There’s no room for nuance. “Fair & Balanced” is toast. As Natalie Merchant sang, “Give ‘em what they want.” Misery loves company. Complaining is much easier than reckoning solutions.

THEN what?

Figure that those AMs are now the tail and their FM translators are the dog. So there’s still an opportunity for sampling new spoken-word programming. But what will it be?

  • I’ll bet you a Palm Martini that Brian Williams is less likely to resurface on someone’s digital platform than he is to become Huntley to Norah O’Donnell’s Brinkley in a re-packed CBS Evening News. But Chris Wallace’s new gig may suggest talk radio’s next opportunity.
  • He follows former NBC/MSNBC rising star Kasie Hunt to CNN’s stream. His new weekday show will feature interviews with newsmakers “across politics, business, sports and culture;” rather than the same day-after-day-after-day dirge that is eroding radio ratings.
  • His FOX farewell: “I want to try something new, to go beyond politics to all the things I’m interested in. I’m ready for a new adventure. And I hope you’ll check it out.”

Hear those last three words?

Talk Radio’s next format: “Check It Out.”

Thought leaders including TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison and take-no-prisoners blogger Jerry Del Colliano have described something I’ve been talking about to anyone willing to listen: The radio station becomes a robo-playlist of what the movie industry calls trailers: previews, each several minutes long, culled from podcasts available on the station’s web site (and, of course, “wherever you get your podcasts”).

  • Think audio salad bar, paced so that each vignette is long-enough to tempt those interested, but short-enough not to tune-out those who aren’t, knowing that it’s one-after-another. Including advertisers’ stories, a more-palatable pay-for-play than the poorly-staged shows that clutter weekends on many news/talk stations.
  • Make the station that guy in the mall food court, handing out samples on toothpicks? YES. Use real-time broadcast to invite those-intrigued to consume on-demand narrowcast.

Meantime, repeat, ad nauseam: “Biden is feeble.”

Holland Cooke is author of the E-book “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download here; and “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available exclusively from Talkers books (click the banner on this page). HC is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet.  And he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show Friday nights at 7ET on RT America.  Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke

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Category: Advice