Industry Views

In Pursuit of Younger Demos

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

imThe persistent liability of most talk stations is that they attract a high percentage of listeners over the age of 65. Consider that many of those older listeners are attracted to radio shows that are talking for companionship and comfort.

There are simple, tested techniques to incorporate in an on-air presentation that will appeal to a younger listener. If put on the air these tips will also enhance a station’s PPM results.

— Bumper music is unnecessary, it makes breaks seem longer. If it is necessary to use bumper music it should have been recorded after the year 2000. 2000 was obviously 23 years ago. A 35-year-old was 12 in 2000.

— Young people are busy with work, kids, life. They are attracted to radio that matches their pace. The shorter the calls, the younger the callers will be. DO NOT thank callers for holding on – that’s a screener’s job. Thank a caller for holding on and you signal that it takes a long time to get on the air. Busy people won’t call to be put on hold!

— The editorial page of any newspaper has the lowest readership. Comics, horoscope, and entertainment have the highest. Quote the editorial page and you’ll wake up grandpa and scare away the new mom. Did you know Taylor Swift has a new boyfriend?

— Everyone is attracted to mirrors of their lives. We engage with people who have similar problems with their kids, in-laws, jobs, money, car. How would you make a friend at a party? Those techniques will work for you on the air. What did your mother tell you about party talk? “Don’t talk about politics or religion, talk about the weather and the shrimp”

— The easiest way to attract younger listeners and repel older listeners is to play music on the weekend. Targeted, researched music that appeals to the exact audience age you covet. WABC features several music shows on the weekend. Sabo Media’s charter clients include “New Jersey 101.5” and “Real Radio Orlando” They air music all weekend, talk all week.

BONUS: Music on the weekend puts a station on concert, movie, music, club, and bar buys!

Just like a music station, a talk station must present a consistent package of entertainment, topics, news stories, music selection, production elements must appeal to your target listener. No wavering.


Above is a picture of two of Sterling On Sunday’s loyal listeners. Steven and Casandra of Burlington, NJ. Steven owns the bakery, Casandra works there and is a junior in college.

Walter Sabo founded Sabo Media to work with innovative media companies such as RKO, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, PARADE magazine, Pegasus, Apollo Advisers and others. He produces and hosts the successful talk show, Sterling On Sunday. Last Sunday the topics included how to know what’s in the custard in Walter Sabo can be emailed at

Industry Views

Attracting Younger Demos

By Walter Sabo
Consultant, Sabo Media
A.K.A. Walter Sterling
Radio Host, Sterling on Sunday

Reaching younger listeners requires a combination of topics, pacing, and production values. As a consultant, when launching talk stations the client had an opportunity to identify the target demo.  Based on their target, the station was built to own that demo.  To attract a specific target, they followed these steps:

— Identify the target listener: sex, age, preferences and which stations are they currently listening to?

— Commit to attract the specific listener 24/7. A music station can’t win if it plays Taylor Swift in the morning and Pavarotti at night. Consistency of all format elements delivers a consistent audience profile.

— Topics. From experience, younger listeners have no time for theoretical discussions of politics or the contents of the op-ed page. Any op-ed page. Topics must be based on urgent, current eye-level aspects of a younger person’s life in order to attract them to a radio show. On “Sterling On Sunday” I mentioned that my 14-year-old daughter was going into the slime business. That was followed by 10 lines lit of 30-year-old fathers who were coaching their 14-year-olds on managing a – slime business!

Respect that whatever topic the target listener cares about is an important, serious topic. 

— Production. The competition for younger listeners are music stations. The production on your station should be as good or better than any music station. That means, no stale promos, they have to be freshened every day, or every hour.

— Pace. Match the pace of the life of your target listener. If you want to reach a 30-year-old (and you can), remember that they have to drop off the kids at school, get milk, take the back way to get to work on time and make that call to the dentist – all between a given moment and your next weather report. Kudos to Bill Wills morning host on WTAM, Cleveland who delivers a fast-fast-paced show – worth a listen.

When taking phone calls, screen them for age. Let the caller say one thing and then bye. The more calls you take the more calls you’ll get. The shorter the calls, the younger the callers will be. And PLEASE do not thank callers for “holding on.”

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 or mobile 646-678-1110. Hear Walter Sterling at www.waltersterlingshow.comMeet Walter Sabo at TALKERS 2023 on Friday, June 2.

Job Opportunity

WTN-FM, Nashville Seeks Talk Host

“SuperTalk 99.7 WTN” in Nashville has an amazing opportunity for the right person. The station is looking for someone who knows and understands PPM strategies or is willing to learn and execute these tactics to win. WTN is one of America’s best live and local talk stations in one of our nation’s best cities. You need to be relevant and able to talk about local and national issues, weave through interviews and audio seamlessly and handle segments and hours with or without phone calls. This isn’t a job for a beginner, but a seasoned professional who knows how to entertain and inform! Find out more and apply here.

Industry News

Martha Zoller is This Week’s Guest on Harrison Podcast

WDUN, Gainesville, GA mid-morning host Martha Zoller is this week’s guest on the award-winning PodcastOne series, “The Michael Harrison Interview.” Zoller is a longtime conservative force in Georgia and a regularly sought media “go-to” source across the nation for insight into the impact of Peach State politics. During her formidable broadcasting career, this dynamic wife, mother, grandmother, businesswoman and student has pivoted between holding positions on key talk stations and performing stints in politics and the public sector. These include being State Director of Field Offices for Governor Brian Kemp. She’s also worked for former U.S. Senator David Perdue in senior staff positions. Back in 2011, she announced her candidacy for Congress in Georgia’s new 9th Congressional District and temporarily left the airwaves to campaign full time. She made it to the runoff in that race, but did not win, although her impressive showing was a victory unto itself. Among her many roles, she has served on the Georgia State Board of Education since 2020. Zoller has been designated the TALKERS 2023 “Woman of the Year” and will be presented the prestigious award at the publication’s national conference on June 2 at Hofstra University on Long Island. Listen to the podcast here

Industry Views

The Uniqueness of the American Radio Talk Show Host

By Walter Sabo
Consultant, Sabo Media
A.K.A. Walter Sterling
Radio Host, Sterling on Sunday

WABC - Bruce MorrowTalk show talent, program directors, show producers and broadcast business decision-makers represent the core readership of this publication. Sometimes we are so close to something that we fail to see it for what it really is. That is the case of the “talk show host” in American radio. Michael Harrison refers to the often-shameless targeting of audiences as “the daily dance of affirmation.” I view the daily process of radio talk show hosting at its very core, as “the daily dance of freedom.”

Talk show hosts are a rare breed and endangered species who enjoy a unique freedom in American radio. Hosts can actually talk about whatever they want! Of course, they are subject to both the rewards and consequences of this freedom – but the process of doing a live talk show, sparked by opinion and controversy, is so spontaneous and uniquely dynamic that it cannot be controlled on a minute-to-minute level without losing the flavor that makes it so special and long-lived.

During a decade as a top-five market and network talk show host, no one has ever told me what to talk about. And for zillions of years as a programming executive prior to that, I never told a host what to talk about on their next show.

Talk hosts are granted remarkable radio freedom!  Music jocks haven’t had that freedom since the 1960s. Music jocks have to get up the courage to ask permission to merely change the order of songs on their play list. Talk show hosts “own” three or four hours a day on a significant station or stations to say whatever they wish. That’s amazing! At first that freedom was a daunting, humbling challenge for me. However, I have been guided by my experience in programming or having launched some of the world’s most successful talk stations.

Based on that experience from both sides of the mic, here’s what works: Talk can entertain a listener of any age and demographic if the host talks about the listener’s day. I talk about my day framed for a listener, one listener – water in the basement, trouble with the sister-in-law, the parent-teacher conference, more trouble with the sister-in-law, the check engine light in the car never wants to go out, life at Walmart. I talk from a place of trust.

Trust that events that poke the landscape of our lives are a very big deal. Trust that I will never find the “right” topic on any editorial page. Trust that you, dear listener, already know who you are going to vote for in any election and that this English major does not have the magic wand to change your mind. Trust that my on-air opinion must never waiver or we have no show.

Listen to talk shows and stations that reach demos under 50:  WMMS, Cleveland; KFI’s John and KenCasey Bartholomew at WBAP, Dallas; KMBZ, Kansas City; KFBK, Sacramento; the Elvis Duran Show; and streaming with Bubba the Love Sponge or Phil Hendrie. Those successful shows embrace the scope of conversation two best friends would have on the phone today. If two best friends would discuss a topic, why wouldn’t you share it on the air? If two best friends would never discuss it, why would you ever put it on the air?

Walter Sabo, consultant, can be contacted at Sabo Media: Direct phone: 646-678-1110.  Check out 


CES2022: Pandemic Pivots

By Holland Cooke


LAS VEGAS — Gadgets? Gazillions! There are 800+ start-ups here from around the world and I told several inventors I chatted-up at a showcase event, “You should get on Shark Tank!”

But tech THINGS are “trees.” Technology-driven EXPERIENCES are “the forest” Consumer Technology Association VP/research Steve Koenig described in his “2022 Trends to Watch” research presentation.