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 email@example.com. or mobile 646-678-1110. Hear Walter Sterling at www.waltersterlingshow.com.