Industry Views

SABO SEZ: Five Golden Actions for 2024

By Walter Sabo
Consultant, Sabo Media Implementers
A.K.A. Walter Sterling
Radio Host, “Sterling On Sunday”
Talk Media Network

imResearch shows that readers to trade publications like articles with five bullet points. Here are my five bullet points for 2024. If these were to be deployed, you could be thriving by the end of the year. These actions would increase sales and audience share.

1. Radio should be easy to buy. It’s not. Easy fix: Look at your website. Based on the website how would you buy time on your station? It should be as simple as a realtor’s website. Put up pictures of your salespeople with ALL of their real contact information – not a FORM. Offer their email and cell number. Offer a “tour” of the offerings with information about the talent and the audience. What does the host sell best? How about a very brief audio message from each host to your potential advertiser?
2. Every medium creates its own stars. Example – David Caruso, good on TV, bad in movies. Your hosts, good on radio, lousy at original podcasts.  Sure, edit up the interviews or bits and make them into a podcast. But don’t ask a host to get off the air and make brand new content for a podcast. Engage locals who are good at making original podcasts and offer them a stage.
3. Sell the biggest number. Your morning show probably has more listeners than the “Tonight Show” has viewers in your city. 1010 WINS has more listeners in New York than FOX News has viewers nationwide. Go check. Those are the numbers that put radio in perspective!  Stop selling the smallest number, TIME SPENT LISTENING. Who came up with that!?
4. Don’t make potential advertisers jump through hoops. If you have spent your career in programming, you may not know the tyranny of MEDIA CREDIT. New radio advertiser: Good buy, high rate, longterm business. Sounds great. Not so fast. At most companies, new business still has to go through the gauntlet of a MEDIA CREDIT CHECK. End that.
5. What’s wrong with the hosts? Many hosts use a content formula that MUST generate a diminishing audience size and older and older and older demos.  Repeat. WHY? If you start to trust that what you talk about socially, with your friends, your audience will grow and grow younger. Be more like Bruce Collins, PD at WBAP, Dallas. Bruce just hired James Parker who has been featured for years on “Sterling On Sunday.” James is going to talk about life, fatherhood and funny. He joins “New Jersey 101.5” alumnus, Casey Bartholomew, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon, who talks about life, fatherhood and funny.  It’s working so well that WBAP will now be simulcast on Class C2 FM, KLIF.

Five bullet points. Goals: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Walter Sabo was a founding architect of SiriusXM and began the recruitment of Howard Stern. He has consulted RKO General, PARADE magazine, Hearst Broadcasting, Press Broadcasting, and other premium brands. He launched the first company to engage online video influencers, Hitviews. As an executive, he was EVP of NBC FM RADIO giving Dr. Ruth Westheimer her first media job and fostering the creation of adult contemporary. As VP ABC Radio Networks, Sabo hired Ringo Starr to be a DJ for a 24-hour special.

Industry News

WFDF, Detroit Begins Simulcast on HD Signal

Detroit news/talk outlet WFDF-AM adds an FM HD signal to its broadcast via Audacy’s WOMC-HD2 at 104.3 FM. The Adell Media-owned station recently flipped from urban talk (with a very brief stint as sports talk in between) to conservative news/talk and now positions itself as “910 AM Superstation –im Detroit’s News/Talk Radio Station.” The station features local host Justin Barclay in morning drive with Premiere Networks syndicated shows including “The Glenn Beck Program,” “The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show,” “The Sean Hannity Show,” “The Jesse Kelly Show,” Key Networks’ “The Bill O’Reilly Show” and Red Apple Media’s “The Other Side of Midnight with Frank Morano.” The station is promoting itself with a heavy media schedule on iHeartMedia’s adult contemporary WNIC-FM, Detroit voiced by Sean Hannity. Adell Media CEO Kevin Adell says, “910 AM Superstation is living up to its name. The audience growth we’ve seen since launching our conservative news/talk lineup in September has been exponential, and we’re looking forward to reaching even more listeners on 104.3 HD2.”

Industry News

TALKERS Vice President/Executive Editor Kevin Casey is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast

Last month marked the 33rd anniversary of the launch of TALKERS magazine – the talk media industry trade publication founded by Michael Harrison in July of 1990. The term “talk media” established and popularized byim the journal refers to AM, FM, online and satellite talk radio, cable news/talk TV, and talk podcasting.

Marking this third-of-a-century milestone, TALKERS longtime VP/executive editor, Kevin Casey is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Casey, then a program director for Clear Channel’s WHYN, imSpringfield, MA, joined TALKERS as its managing editor almost a quarter-of-a-century ago in 2000. The big story during that pre-9/11 year was the excruciatingly inconclusive presidential election between Texas Governor George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore that took over a month to settle.

Michael Harrison states, “I’ve been blessed with a tremendous group of media professionals who operated and built TALKERS into the established communications vehicle that it has proven to be in many ways paralleling the growth of talk radio and its offshoots for more than three decades. One of the key individuals who has been responsible for its growth and longevity is my dear colleague, Kevin Casey.”

In a casual conversation between longtime friends and co-workers, Harrison and Casey take stock of the publication’s journey which parallels the historic role of talk radio’s modern era. Hear the complete podcast here.

Industry News

TALKERS Celebrates 33rd Year of Publishing

Today begins the 34th year of publishing for TALKERS magazine as a trade journal serving the talk media industry. The first issue rolled off the presses in the form of a tabloid newspaper on Monday July 23, 1990 focusing primarily on talk radio.  Since then it has grown and evolved with the industry to go through severalim format phases including a full color magazine and eventually a daily online operation geared to providing news, advice and opinions to professionals involved in programming, managing, marketing and operating an array of related platforms in what has come to be known as talk media.  This includes most popular forms of spoken-word AM and FM radio, plus online programming, podcasting, cable television and satellite broadcasting. During this period, TALKERS has produced and presented 26 national conventions in New York and another three in Los Angeles. Add to that more than 35 regional, national and international forums about the field and countless radio rows including several at the White House in conjunction with both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. TALKERS remains and will continue to be a non-partisan proponent of the First Amendment with a great love and passion for talk media’s roots in the century old medium of radio.

Industry Views

Premature Ejection

By Michael Harrison
TALKERS
Publisher

imThere are media and there are media. There are platforms and there are platforms. Not all cultural artifacts are equal in terms of their utilitarian versus cultural value. Damn the tone-deaf corporate bean counters who are ripping the heart out of the spirit that gives humanity its life force! Marketplace obsolescence should not solely be determined by profit and loss. With all due respect to the idea of public service, what about the concept of loyalty? Shame on the automobile industry! Not only is it turning its back on the needs of millions of people, it is in the process of betraying one of its historic partners in not only commerce – but romance and glory. In other words, the automobile industry owes the radio industry a huge debt. The relationship between cars and radios goes a century deep and has been nothing less than a two-way street. Yes, auto industry, don’t be so hasty to save a few bucks by rushing AM (and then FM) radio out the door. You might just find in the long run that “radio” outlasts the private “car” as a fixture of human activity.

A radio is not a cassette, CD, or 8-track player. A radio is a magic box that embodies a century of culture during which it spun the idea that taking a car ride is a lot more soulful than spending time getting from point A to B via the subway, bus, or plane. The car has been the perfect radio-listening chamber and radio has returned the favor in spades with its music and DJs glorifying everything from little deuce coups to Cadillacs to the T-Bird that daddy took away – not to mention bolstering the ubiquitous culture of automobiles with traffic reports, news, weather, and endless references to this particular form of transportation as being a key component of what it is to be a member of society. Radio has provided the car biz with a century long, non-stop free or generously bonused commercial!

From a purely economic position of self-interest and greed, it is understandable why car manufacturers might consider AM radios expendable and are eager to toss them out like the aforementioned obsolete devices of music conveyance.  So, what if millions of people still listen to it and DEPEND on it for free speech, religious expression, ethnic connection, demographic habit and public safety. Couldn’t the car manufacturers wait another decade before turning its back on such an important – and still vital – relationship?

Hey auto industry, be careful what you’re doing. You’re severely mistaken if you think your poop doesn’t stink and your place in our rapidly changing society is guaranteed. You might find rolling along in this brave new world without radio turns out to be a very dangerous road.

Michael Harrison is the publisher of TALKERS and can be reached via email at michael@talkers.com. Meet Michael Harrison at TALKERS 2023 on Friday, June 2 at Hofstra University.

Industry News

Audacy Feeling Out Users’ Interest in Paid, Commercial-Free Tier

According to a report by Matthew Keys at The Desk, Audacy has begun surveying users of its digital platform to see what they might be willing to pay for commercial-free streaming of its content. Keys writes, “The plan would see Audacy replace commercial breaks on its traditional AM and FM radio stations with ‘exclusive content like additional news, interviews or songs, all while remaining in sync with the live broadcast.’… The survey asked Audacy listeners to choose how much they’d be willing to pay for commercial-free radio, with the prices starting at $1 per month and going as high as $11 a month, according to a copy of the survey reviewed by The Desk. A follow-up question presented a similar list of options, but asked users to weigh in on the maximum price they’d be willing to pay before they thought a premium radio subscription was too expensive.” Read the story here.

Industry News

WPEN-FM, Philadelphia’s John Kincade Holding “Open House”

“The John Kincade Show” at Beasley Media Group sports talk WPEN-FM, Philadelphia’s “97.5 The Fanatic” is hosting Open House Week in which listeners are invited to join them in person at the Beasley Media Group performance studio in Philadelphia. Show hosts John Kincade, Bob Cooney and Pat Egan have beenText - Graphics soliciting listeners via the station’s website to reserve spots to be in-studio today through Friday (2/24). Kincade says, “More than any show in Philly sports radio, we have always been interested in getting out and interacting with our listeners. This is a great way for us to welcome our listeners behind the scenes at our brand-new performance studio to get even better connected with the show.” Special guests scheduled to join the show include Philadelphia Union coach Jim Curtin, Sixers radio announcer Tom McGinnis, Sixers TV announcer Kate Scott, former Phillies players Tommy Greene and Mickey Morandini, Flyers radio broadcasters Tim Saunders and Steve Coates, Zach Berman from The Athletic, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Front Page News Industry News

Monday, September 19, 2022

Monday Memo: Can News Save Talk? Twenty years ago, at the TALKERS magazine conference in New York, Michael Harrison declared that “talk saved AM radio and it will save FM.” In this week’s column, consultant Holland Cooke asks, “Now, can news save FM from talk?” Read it here.

 

Pending Business: Keep it Simple. Radio sales pro Steve Lapa writes in today’s column that great leaders are successful because they keep the mission simple. But while the mission may be simple – audio advertising’s mission is to sell goods and services – executing the mission is not always so easy. He offers four tips for keeping the mission simple and staying focused. Read it here.

 

FAIR’s Hold Their Feet to the Fire Radio Row 2022 Takes Place This Week. This Wednesday and Thursday (9/21-22) nationally syndicated and local talk radio hosts will broadcast live from Washington, D.C. at the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s 15th annual “Hold Their Feet to the Fire” radio row. FAIR says the two-day event focuses on the “failed immigration policies of the BidenHarris administration and the SchumerPelosi-led Congress, holding them both accountable.” FAIR executive director Bob Dane comments, “The Biden-Harris administration has not only taken a torch to every aspect of U.S. immigration policy and law, with disastrous results, they are blatantly lying to the American public. Just this week, Vice President Harris claimed on national television that our borders are secure. Sadly, the ideologically driven mainstream news outlets refuse to report the extent of the damage the Biden-Harris administration has wrought on the American public. The American public knows it is being lied to, and the purpose of ‘Hold Their Feet to the Fire’ is to make sure that the American people have the information they need to hold the administration and Congress accountable for their reckless and politically driven policies by blanketing the nation’s radio airwaves.”

WCBS-AM, New York News Director Tim Scheld Named Chair of RTDNA. At the final day of the RTDNA22 convention in Indianapolis on Friday (9/16), Tim Scheld, (left) news director at Audacy’s all-news WCBS-AM, New York, was installed as chair of the Radio Television Digital News Association. He’ll serve in the role for a year. Scheld succeeds outgoing chair Allison McGinley, (right) news director at WKMG-TV, Orlando, for the final year of her three-year leadership cycle. Sheryl Worsley, vice president of podcasting, KSL Podcasts, is named chair-elect and begins a three-year leadership cycle. Scheld states, “I am here to tell you that RTDNA has your back. We pledge to be a strong and tireless advocate for fact-based, responsible journalism. And we will fight like none other to protect your rights to report those truths.” Of McGinley, Scheld says, “Over the last year, you have led with strength and vision, always ready with support and passion, pushing RTDNA forward. You carefully and thoughtfully navigated every challenge that came your way with grace and helped others in leadership do the same. We thank you for guiding our board and our association. We thank you for your time and talent. And we look forward to your work with the foundation.”

iHeartMedia Announces Second NextUp Podcast Initiative. The second annual NextUp Initiative from iHeartMedia opens the application process today and runs through September 30. The NextUp Initiative is designed to “empower creators of all backgrounds by giving them the tools to succeed in the podcast industry, from developing and marketing a podcast to using industry-leading software.” The NextUp program will span six months beginning January and will include a monthly stipend. Creators will exit the program with at least three finished episodes and a polished pitch for their podcast. NextUp is led by industry veterans and iHeartPodcast executive producers Anna Hossnieh and Joelle Smith, and iHeartPodcast production manager Yesenia Medellin. “The program will mentor the selected NextUp fellows, elevating the voices of new, historically underrepresented storytellers, and provide an incredible opportunity for the next generation of podcast creators to be heard.” The company says that applicants selected will have the opportunity to work with and learn from some of iHeart’s top creators and executives with the goal of creating content focused on their own unique perspectives and stories. The inaugural NextUp initiative produced a full slate of shows from all eight of its NextUp fellows, covering a range of important topics from the working class to Native American identity. Find out more and apply here.

Salem’s WGTK-FM, Greenville, South Carolina Hosts Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. Pictured above is WGTK-FM, Greenville, South Carolina “94.5 The Answer” morning drive personality Joey Hudson broadcasting during the station’s “Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.” Salem says the event – which drew 600 officers who received Chick Fil A breakfast biscuits as well as bags containing gift certificates and other special items – was a prime example of local talk radio being involved in the community. Hudson adds, “We were honored to have South Carolina Lt. Governor Pamela Evette and Greenville police chief Howie Thompson join our live broadcast. While some on the political left advocate defunding the police, our goal is defending the police and showing them our appreciation 24/7.”

TALKERS News Notes. Media company Barstool Sports, Inc. announced new initiatives at its 2023 upfront presentation that took place on September 14 at Webster Hall in New York City. Presented by CEO Erika Ayers Nardini, the company is announcing seven new shows, five new live events and a new NIL marketplace for college athletes and creators “to further solidify the company’s creativity, influence and impact on Millennial and Gen Z audiences.” Nardini and founder Dave Portnoy said the company plans to further expand its reach among the hard-to-reach 18-34-year-old demographic and “its unmatched influence to move products for brands.” They reported that in the past six years Barstool revenue grew 3650%; this year alone its workforce grew by 42%. They underscored how Barstool leverages its audience on every social platform to deliver high-ROI brand partnerships, which include 27 billion video views across its content. They also shared that 58% of listeners have purchased a product after hearing it advertised on a Barstool podcast, according to a recent audience survey…..Beginning Sunday, September 25, WNYC Studios’ “The United States of Anxiety” expands from a local New York City radio program and podcast into a nationally syndicated live radio show available to public radio stations. As part of this expansion, the show will now go by “Notes from America with Kai Wright,” a new name that reflects its national presence, inviting a broader audience to engage together in its popular call-in format. WNYC says the show will “continue its commitment to facing the unfinished business of our history and its grip on our future – but with a fresh focus on finding solutions. Each week, Wright will convene intimate conversations about race, power, democracy and the most urgent issues of our time — putting them in historical and cultural contexts, while simultaneously providing a space for listeners to share how these issues impact their lives on a personal level.”

The November Midterms/2024 Presidential Race, Trump Legal Issues, Trump Ohio Rally, Inflation/Financial Markets Activity, Hunter Biden Investigation, Russia-Ukraine War, Queen Elizabeth Funeral, and Hurricane Fiona Ravages Puerto Rico Among Top News/Talk Stories Over the Weekend. The November midterm elections and speculation about the nominees for the 2024 presidential race; the legal issues facing former President Donald Trump; the Ohio Trump rally supporting U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance; inflation, the financial markets activity, and the Fed’s expected hiking of interest rates; Republican senators’ request for a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden; Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; the funeral procession for Queen Elizabeth II; and Hurricane Fiona’s battering of Puerto Rico were some of the most-talked-about stories on news/talk radio over the weekend, according to ongoing research from TALKERS magazine.

Advice

Monday Memo: Like Sands Through the Hourglass…

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND — “…so are The Days of Our Lives.” The intro to that soap opera – er, daytime drama – is SO old that it outlived star MacDonald Carey, still heard voicing-over the beginning of each show on NBC-TV every weekday…until today. After 57 years and 58 Emmy Awards on broadcast television, the venerable melodrama will now be seen exclusively on NBC’s streaming platform Peacock.

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Advice

Monday Memo: Is Your Show the Dog? Or the Tail?

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

 

BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Lots of response to last week’s “Weekend Warriors, Renegotiate.” SOME stations were horrified by what I’m telling their brokered ask-the-expert hosts. SMART stations already offer the win-win template I outlined. ICYMI: https://www.talkers.com/2022/03/21/monday-memo-weekend-warriors-renegotiate/

 FMs are scrambling. AMs? Ugh.

As if AM wasn’t already suffering listener demographics, technical interference, caricature programming, and too little local content, now comes the proposal to make Daylight Saving Time permanent. From November through February – when local sunrise would come between 8:00 am and 9:00 am – later pattern and power change times would cripple full-time stations. Daytimers would be utterly screwed if smart ones with translators hadn’t already rebranded as FMs (as have so many full-time AMs).

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