Industry Views

Sabo Sez: Try It, You’ll Like It

By Walter Sabo
CEO, Sabo Media Partners
A.K.A. Walter M Sterling
Host, Talk Media Network

imThis week, I started a five-night show on Audacy’s WPHT, Philadelphia. Thank you, market president David Yadgaroff. Because of my tenure in the industry, I received a flattering, humbling number of emails from colleagues in radio. THANK YOU. The support and encouragement are appreciated and certainly needed!

There was a pattern to the notes beyond the kind thoughts for my future. Almost every note hoped that the example of my show’s non-political content would compel other broadcasters to stop their political speeches and start a broader, real-life focused conversation. These emails were from CEOs, program directors, news directors, owners, and hosts. My response is, why me? If the note writer believes broader content would be good for their business, why don’t they put it on the air, today?

It would be fun to speculate on the answer to that question. It would also be pointless because the real answer is…  just do it!

Radio executives love to copy success. I am mystified by why they are copying failure. Almost all politically focused talk stations are declining in audience and gaining in demographic age. Daytime TV talk shows cover much broader topics that capture younger demos, are growing in audience and, as a category, generate $5 billion in annual revenue.

Broader topic menus work well. Thanks to enlightened owners, my company has launched many stations and hosts that are not political. Of course it works, life is what your target listener is discussing with their friends right now. Follow my example. Your audience will grow, and you’ll generate more revenue.

(EDITOR’S NOTE:  Walter Sabo will be appearing on a panel discussion titled, “Beyond Politics” at TALKERS 2024: Radio and Beyond on Friday, June 7 at Hofstra University on Long Island. For information, click here.

Walter Sabo has been a C Suite action partner for companies such as SiriusXM, Hearst, Press Broadcasting, Gannett, RKO General and many other leading media outlets. His company HITVIEWS, in 2007, was the first to identify and monetize video influencers. HITVIEWS clients included Pepsi, FOX TV, Timberland, Microsoft, and CBS Television. He can be reached at sabowalter@gmail.com. His nightly show “Walter Sterling at Night” is debuted this week on WPHT, Philadelphia. His syndicated show, “Sterling On Sunday,” from Talk Media Network, airs 10:00 pm-1:00 am ET, now in its 10th year of success.

Industry News

Mike Church Show Begins AM/FM Syndication

Talk media personality Mike Church – longtime host of the morning drive program on SixiusXM’s The Patriot Channel – is bringing his Internet-based talk program to terrestrial radio. Church’s company, The Crusade Radio Network,” says, “We are delighted to announce that after seven years of singularim devotion to Internet radio broadcasting, we are launching ‘The Mike Church Show’ into terrestrial radio syndication! The launch date of ‘The Mike Church Show’ will be March 1 and the show will begin its repatriation of AM/FM radio in Atlanta, Georgia’s #7 U.S. radio market on WXKG “The King”! Church adds, “We’ve always known that terrestrial radio was going to play a part in our industry leading development of Internet radio, we just didn’t know in what way. Over the last two years, that role began to materialize with the dearth of quality talk shows and the opportunities to fill that gap left by the wrecking ball that was consolidation’s march through local radio properties.” The program airs live from 7:00 am to 10:00 am ET.

Industry Views

Pending Business: One Billion and Counting

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communucations Corp
President

imLet’s talk streaming because I don’t get what is happening. Maybe you do.

Talk shows place decent cameras in the radio studio, maybe one in the control room, possibly a third at a “producer’s” desk, a flat screen or two with cool visuals in the background to fulfill the coolness quotient, push the video stream to YouTube or another platform and wait for the throngs of followers to find the talk radio show, view, subscribe and stay with it until the numbers are staggering.

Sometimes the video stream is promoted on air or your station’s website and the expectation is the online audience will skyrocket. After several months, the viewer numbers don’t skyrocket, or maybe the numbers develop modestly, but sales becomes the art of packaging. Because the scale necessary to move the sales needle is still not happening.

This is not a hypothetical. This is happening today at some of the best radio stations delivering high-level radio programming in markets of all sizes around the country. Why do we struggle with how to turn the best radio programming in the world into competitive online video content?

The short answer is great talk radio programming is just that: great radio programming. But herein lies the dilemma. Great talk radio talent, in any format, are natural masters of the foundational elements that can make their YouTube, Rumble, and other social media video platforms gain audience and successfully generate revenue.

Let’s identify the most important reason why:

1. Authentic. Show me one successful talk radio host in any talk radio format who does not exude “authentic.” Agree or disagree with the host on politics, sports, finances or fishing, great talk show hosts are authentic, and their audience can sense the passion coming through in every show. Now, let’s identify the nasty four-letter word, stopping many great talk talents and their content from performing competitively on current social media video platforms. That four-letter word?

2. Show. Most great talk radio talents understand what it takes to put on a great “show.” Mechanics, formatics, and unique skills are developed over time designed to maximize Nielsen performance. But often, many of these – forgive me here – old media “show” skills are not relevant to the huge audience now consuming 1 billion hours of YouTube video every day. Yet we persist and video stream the radio “show” with the expectation an online audience will skyrocket, sales will explode, and the future is as easy as hitting the send button. It just does not work that way.

The radio industry has developed many of the greatest “authentic” talents in the world. How will we plan for a future that has billions of hours of consumption?

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: Steve@Lapcomventures.com.

Industry Views

Monday Memo: Are Your Weekend Promos Upside-down?

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

imAvoid THE most-common mistake I hear in promos for talk stations’ weekend ask-the-expert shows: Opening with the Close.

I coach attorneys/real estate agents/personal finance advisors and other pay-for-play weekend hosts, both on-behalf of client stations, and working directly with these professionals in other markets. Done right, these shows ROI like crazy… but too often they’re well-kept secrets. So, it’s important that weekday promos invite weekend tune-in.

Tip: DON’T begin the promo with the host introducing him/herself and naming the show and when it airs. Instead: Like good commercial copy, the Close (asking for tune-in in this case) comes at the end of the promo.

im

Open by stating the listener issues that tuning-in can help inform. Examples:

Attorney: “Have you been injured? Before you accept the insurance company’s offer…”

Real estate agent: “Are you shopping for your first home? Or downsizing?”

Money-talk host: “Is there too much month left at-the-end-of the money?”

Note The Two Magic Words: “you” and “your.”

Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of “Confidential: Negotiation Checklist for Weekend Talk Radio” and “Close Like Crazy: Local Direct Leads, Pitches & Specs That Earned the Benjamins.” Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke and connect on LinkedIn.

Industry News

Michael Harrison Says AI is One of the Most Important Talk Topics of Our Times

TALKERS founder Michael Harrison has kicked off a nationwide guesting tour of talk shows promoting discussion of the upside and downside of AI in conjunction with the release of the new song, “I Got a Line in New York City,” by the long-established classic rock group, Gunhill Road. Harrison performs lead vocals on the track performed with band members Steve GoldrichPaul Reisch and Brian Koonin. The music video of the song (produced by Harrison’s son and TALKERS associate publisher Matthew B. Harrison) has been described as a computer’s “fever dream about the Big Apple.” Although the music is totally organic, all of the visual graphics on the video have been assisted in their creation by generative artificial intelligence. Harrison says, “There’s huge interest in the topic of AI including the existential issues of its potential impact on our species. In the art community, debate is raging over whether AI enhances originality and creativity or if it is ushering in the death of individual artists and the role they play in the humanities.” See that video here.

Harrison launched the tour late last week appearing on the Rich Valdes show on Westwood One and has subsequently appeared on network programs hosted by Doug Stephan, Dr. Daliah Wachs, and WABC’s Frank Morano, as well as Harry Hurley on WPG, Atlantic City,  Todd Feinburg on WTIC-AM, Hartford and Michael Zwerling on KSCO, Santa Cruz.  WOR, New York has posted the video and an  accompanying story here.

To book Michael Harrison please call Barbara Kurland at 413-565-5413 or email info@talkers.com

Industry Views

Speaking the Conversation of the Listener

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

In the strum and dirge of daily radio life, it is easy to forget the mad skills required to do what we do. Consider the TV sitcom. 22 minutes of content, 22 times a year. The cast ad libs – nothing! Between eight and 11 writers scribe every word. Hair, makeup… handled by others! A donut run? No, there’s the crafts services table that will make you, the star, whatever you want any time you want it. Hot? A production assistant sprays mint scented water on you.

How’s your day? You or your on-air talent create a three- or four- or perhaps even five-hour show out of thin – or should I say rarefied – air! Writers? You mean that kid who has to go to class at 11? Production? Sure, as soon as the spots for the weekend are cut. Food? Ya got quarters?

You are a miracle of creativity, ambition and sheer talent. Reward? The company wants to cut your live read fees and could you help out in sales? As a point of reference, when Dr. Ruth Westheimer killed in the ratings at WYNY, we gave her a Seville.

GOOD NEWS. You can fix this. Talk radio is the last frontier of free form radio. Fact is you can do whatever you want.

Most talk shows and stations peaked about six years ago. The audience is not growing, it’s not attracted to talk radio’s offerings of endless political theory. So, stop.

What works? Take a look at the ratings of KMBZ-FM Kansas City; KFGO, Fargo; KFBK, Sacramento; WABC, New York’s Frank Morano; WTAM, Cleveland’s Bill Wills; WLW, Cincinnati; KFI, Los Angeles; KDKA, Pittsburgh’s midday. (I will now be flooded with other examples but listen to those stations.) Hosting a network radio show, “Sterling On Sunday,” I have learned what those audio outlets exemplify works!

Talk about your day. Talk about what two best friends would discuss over a quick lunch. The topics that generate ratings are not always the “hot talk radio topics.” The list that works reads like this, try it:

— Trouble with the in-laws.

— Is “Storage Wars” fake?

— Tip at the drive-thru?

— Cell phone for a 10-year-old?

— Married? Is texting cheating?

— How can I do less and earn more?

— Yes, it was a controlled demolition.

— Taylor Swift bi? Harry Styles bi?

— Are you kidding? Women ARE in charge!

— Turn on the AC, shut the damn window.

The power of the mirror. When the radio speaks the conversation of the listener, the ratings go up. Guaranteed.

Walter Sabo was the youngest executive vice president in the history of NBC. The youngest VP in the history of ABC. He was a consultant to RKO General longer than Bill Drake. Walter was the in-house consultant to Sirius for eight years. He has never written a resume. Contact him at walter@sabomedia.com. or mobile 646-678-1110. Hear Walter Sterling at www.waltersterlingshow.com.

Front Page News Industry News

Friday, January 28, 2022

NOW POSTED: This Weekend’s Installment of “The Michael Harrison Wrap: An Overview of the National Conversation.” The latest installment of the one-hour weekend special, “The Michael Harrison Wrap,” that looks back each week at the hottest topics discussed in American talk media per the research of TALKERS magazine, is now posted. This new episode titled, “Back in the USSR,” looks back at this past week of 1/24 to 1/28. The program features guests (in order of appearance): Kevin Casey, TALKERS executive editor, John Batchelor, talk show host, CBS RadioHarry Hurley, talk show host, WPG, Atlantic City; Victoria Jones, executive director/commentator, DC Radio CompanyJosh Hammer, opinion editor/podcaster, Newsweek; and Nanette Holt, reporter, The Epoch Times. The show airs weekends on WONK-FM, Washington, DC; WTIC, Hartford; KSCO, Santa Cruz, CA; KDFD, Denver; KFNX, Phoenix; KTLK-FM, St. Louis; WPG, Atlantic City, NJ; SuperTalk 99.7 WTN, Nashville; KMZQ, Las Vegas; WVLY, Wheeling, WV; WTRW-FM, Scranton/Wilkes Barre, PA; WVOX, Westchester, NY; KBDT, Dallas; KQSP, Minneapolis; KBKW, Aberdeen, WA; WGDJ, Albany, NY; WJFN-FM, Richmond, VA; WZFG, Fargo; KTGO, Tioga, ND; KWAM, Memphis; K-NEWS, San Luis Obispo; WGMD, Rehoboth Beach, DE; WCHM, Clarkesville, GA; WPHM, Port Huron, MI; KSYL, Alexandria, LA; KTOE, Mankato, MN; WCED, DuBois, PA; K-NEWS 101.3, Owensboro, KY; WWTK, Sebring, FL; WSAR-AM/FM, Fall River, MA; WIZM-AM/FM, La Crosse, WI; WMVA, Martinsville, VA; KQEN, Roseburg, OR; the Virginia Talk Radio NetworkCRN Digital Talk Radio NetworkPodcast Radio, UK and many more. To listen to this week’s episode, please click here.  To view the latest TALKERS magazine topic research, please click here. “The Michael Harrison Wrap” is now available in syndication via Talk Media Network to stations across America on a market exclusive basis. For affiliation information, please click here or call 616-884-8616.

Bonneville Names Sean Thompson PD for ‘Arizona Sports.’ Sports radio pro Sean Thompson is named program director for Bonneville’s Phoenix sports talk properties, KMVP-FM “98.7 FM Arizona Sports” and KTAR-AM “ESPN 620 Phoenix.” Thompson comes to Bonneville from his most recent position as assistant brand manager for Audacy’s WZGC-FM, Atlanta “92.9 FM The Game.” Thompson comments, “It was going to need to be the ultimate opportunity for me to leave ‘The Game’ and I’ve found it. With the talented talk shows, flagship relationships with all the local teams and full commitment to digital content, the potential for the ‘Arizona Sports’ super brand is limitless.” Bonneville Phoenix SVP and market manager Ryan Hatch adds, “Sean is the perfect person to lead ‘Arizona’s Sports Station’ to new heights. He is strategic, creative, collaborative and we can’t wait to see what he will do to continue to grow the ‘Arizona Sports’ brand on all channels.” Thompson takes over for Rod Lakin, who assumed the brand manager post with Audacy’s sports talk WIP, Philadelphia in October.

KFI-AM Launches Weekly Show with LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. Los Angeles news/talk KFI-AM announces the return of the weekly radio program, “Live and Unscripted with LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.” The iHeartMedia station will air the program on Sundays from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm from its studios in Burbank. The station says, “The new weekly program is back by popular demand and is hosted by Alex Villanueva, who runs the country’s largest sheriff’s department. Every Sunday, listeners can join the show to hear the hottest topics on the mind of LA County residents: homelessness, crime, corruption and politics. Villanueva will also feature guests who will explain the inner workings of the various bureaus in his department.” Station program director Robin Bertolucci says, “Sheriff Alex Villanueva is a straight talker and KFI has always welcomed bold talk.”

Round Three of Holiday PPMs Released. The third of four rounds of ratings data from Nielsen Audio’s Holiday 2021 PPM survey has been released for 12 markets including: Portland, Charlotte, San Antonio, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Orlando, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Columbus. Nielsen’s Holiday 2021 sweep covered December 9 – January 5. Today, TALKERS magazine managing editor Mike Kinosian presents his Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets. Radio listening patterns change during this period due to the seasonal implementation of Christmas music but some spoken-word stations were able to buck that trend. Audacy’s news/talk KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh tacked on seven-tenths for a 4.4 share (weekly, 6+ AQH share) and rose to the #8 rank. iHeartMedia’s news/talk WTAM, Cleveland was up four-tenths for a 4.4 share and climbed to the #7 rank. In Kansas City, Audacy’s KMBZ-FM rose four-tenths for a 5.0 share finish good for the #5 rank in the market. You can see Mike Kinosian’s complete Ratings Takeaways from this group of markets (as well and the first two rounds) here.

Audacy Partners with Podchaser for Podcasting Insight. A new partnership between Audacy and Podchaser will allow Audacy to use Podchaser’s metadata and podcast technology capabilities to gain insight into the performance and influence of podcasts across the entire industry, enhancing Audacy’s value proposition for agencies and clients. Audacy EVP of digital sales Ken Lagana says, “As Audacy continues to build out our industry leading, measurement and attribution suite, we are excited to partner with Podchaser to help our client and agency partners continue to make smart decisions routed in data when placing their podcast buys with Audacy.”

WABC, New York Honors Memory of Fallen NYPD Officer Jason Rivera. New York City news/talk “77 WABC Radio” is honoring fallen New York City Police Officer Jason Rivera today (1/28), the day of his funeral. The station is asking its listeners to recognize Rivera’s service. “On behalf of John Catsimatidis, chairman and chief executive officer of The Red Apple Group and subsidiary Red Apple Media and the entire staff of 77 WABC, we encourage you to join us and support a hometown hero at the NYPD by ‘standing with us’ on Friday, January 28 at 9:00 am EST to honor the life of Jason Rivera. 77 WABC will pause the airwaves and take a moment of silence to show support and ask ALL of New York City and America to STAND, outside your home, inside your home, place of work or school. All of our communities are deeply saddened and affected, and we are asking to show your support.” 77 WABC and One Times Square have collaborated to display the image of Jason Rivera on the side of their building at 8:58 am, 9:15 am, 9:30 am, 9:45 am. The station is also distributing free “Back The Blue” pins to wear to show support for police officers via its website.

TALKERS News Notes. Seattle’s all-news KOMO-AM/FM “KOMO News” is losing its heritage call letters and the “KOMO News” slogan as part of the deal that transferred the station from Sinclair Broadcast Group to Lotus Broadcasting. The Seattle Times reports that since the deal allows Sinclair to keep the KOMO calls off the stations, it will take up the new calls KNWN for “Northwest News.” Station PD and afternoon personality Rick Van Cise tells the paper, “There won’t be any difference in the sound of the radio station. The personalities, the reporters are all staying the same.”…..Austin public radio outlet KUT-FM names Jerry Quijano permanent host of the “All Things Considered” host seat at the NPR member station. Quijano began his career with KUT in 2017 as a weekend local host. After graduating from Texas A&M University-San Antonio and participating in NPR’s Next-Generation Radio project, he started full-time the following year…..“Radiolab” founder Jad Abumrad announces he’s leaving the podcast he founded almost 20 years ago and to honor and celebrate him, WNYC is releasing the very first episode of the show that was broadcast only once on WNYC’s AM station in 2002 and then locked away in the vault. WNYC says it had to literally digitize the show from several CDs to get it on air. Speaking about his departure, Abumrad says, “For the last few years – since 2016 really – I’ve told myself that there’d come a point when the team would be ‘ready’ for me to leave. When they might even need me to. I wasn’t sure when that would be or how I’d know, but I made a pact with myself to stay watchful, to create space rather than filling it, and to listen rather than talk. We’re at that point.”

COVID-19 Vaccines, Masks & Mandates Top News/Talk Story for Week of January 24-28. Controversy surrounding COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates and the rate of infection from the Omicron variant in the U.S. and around the world came together as the most-talked-about story on news/talk radio this week, landing atop the Talkers TenTM. At #2 this week was the global tensions over the Russian military build-up at the Ukraine border, tied with relations between the U.S. and China. Coming in at #3 this week was the announced retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and speculation about President Joe Biden’s potential nominee. The Talkers TenTM is a weekly chart of the top stories and people discussed on news/talk radio during the week and is the result of ongoing research from TALKERS magazine. It is published every Friday at Talkers.com. See this week’s complete chart here.