Industry Views

Pending Business: Shorter and Faster is Better

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

Looks like Major League Baseball is about to show the radio business how to score the winning run. Major League Baseball decided it was time to reverse the aging fan base, declining gameday gates, and shorten three-plus-hours of in-game boredom.

Despite the downhome storytellers doing play-by-play on radio and innovations of TV coverage, the game was getting tedious, and it was time for Major League Baseball to change or slowly but surely face the fate of the dinosaur.

Sound familiar? Yes, there are some baseball innovations that entertained people like the infamous mascots of yesteryear, but MLB is about the hallowed Hall of Fame heritage of pinstripes, red socks, and Dodger blue. Change means risk and in baseball swinging for the fences is a 1 in 18 shot.

Getting a little too close for comfort? Fans and sponsors needed a new spark to ignite baseball fever, so MLB responded with a pitch clock to speed up the game and bigger bases to bring back one of the most exciting plays in sports. Guess what? Games are being played faster, gameday attendance is up 8%, TV viewership is up 14% and according to the Insider, social media views are up 67% as under-35 demographics are up 14%. Let us start connecting the dots to our business.

— News/talk radio relies on a 55+ audience. Nothing wrong with the “money demo.” But talk radio needs to look ahead to what happens AFTER the election cycle.

— Most daily talk shows are three hours long. So were most MLB games… until this year. Shorter became better as attendance and viewership shot up. Wake up radio programmers, hosts, managers! Do we have the courage and budget to program and sell shorter, faster moving programs? Radio is so stuck in an outdated model; the low growth is about to make another appearance in bankruptcy court.

— Fans got excited and social media exploded. Last time I checked, Savannah, Georgia was Nielsen radio market #145. No news/talk radio station in the top 100 U.S. radio markets has as many Facebook followers as the Savannah Bananas baseball team.

— Fans and sponsors needed a new spark. What has your radio station offered lately that is new, exciting and lights the fuse for sponsors and listeners?

Recently, a 21-year-old baseball star stole two bases then decided to steal home and the fans went crazy. Through the years we have seen the play. But every time it happens the fans in the stands are on their feet, cheering, high fiving, and re-living every detail of the excitement. Baseball is back, bigger and better than ever. All of us can learn from today’s changes in America’s Pastime.

Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at: