By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp
Please accept my apologies for NOT believing radio, AM radio, news/talk radio is dead. Just ask most of the panelists at last Friday’s TALKERS 2023 convention.
For sure, the news/talk AM radio sector is navigating the choppy waters of change, like it or not. The microsecond breaking newsflash so currently common in our digital world has forever changed the basic pillars of the AM radio news/talk world: programming, audience engagement, sales, and tech. Change and adapt we must. To paraphrase Charles Darwin, “Survival belongs to those who adapt to change, forget about being fit.”
Surprising as it may seem, the five local owner-operators who joined me for our “Generating Sales in the Digital World” panel all agreed on one thing: commitment to their local community. And where there’s a local sound, there is a local sale. Just look at how local owner-operators are growing their AM news/talk operations to win more sales every day. Todd Starnes’ KWAM, Memphis is expanding its local news department, while trendy players like Vice Media and Buzzfeed shut down news efforts. From the Hudson Valley and Albany in New York state to Santa Cruz, California, local owner operators are on calls personally driving local sales. The tech friendly media kit at KTBB, Tyler, Texas tells the story of “The Spoken-Word Advantage.”
These entrepreneurs are fearless when it comes to competing with large group-owned properties that may be better positioned to win national dollars delivering scale local owner-operators can’t match. But wait, they are all proving there is more than one way to win business. While some large-scale group operators struggle with the perils of stock market delisting, 80% of my local owner-operator panelists feel confident 2023 will be bigger and better than 2022. How about you? Is there an air of pride and confidence on your sales team that 2023 will close ahead of last year?
When it comes to the digital race, the truth is many local owner-operators are still learning the best way to compete. Local ad budgets are quickly shifting to incorporate more and more digital, mobile, and streaming initiatives. To a large extent, sellers follow the path of least resistance to the ad money as local managers try to project where the ad money is going. The message last week at the TALKERS 2023 convention was the local news/talk radio business is alive and well and still growing, with an understanding to adapt to change is to survive.
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.