Unprotected Talk Radio

Just how bad does that concept suck?

Cumulus extends Michael Savage’s contract so that he can expand into non-political, lifestyle issues for syndication.

Just what younger demographics will return to radio for – a cranky old man showing how out of touch he is with the mainstream audience.

Can’t wait until Savage channels his homophobia in this “new” format.

You’ll remember Savage as the guy who famously told an audience he hopes they get AIDS and die.

Or his racist comments – if you know anything about the money demo, this kind of crap from radio turns these listeners off.

The radio business never learns.

They are out of touch – that’s the main problem.

Cumulus had another bad idea to do a town hall on WABC, New York to unite the community in the wake of the police controversy there. Let’s me get this right, the great divider is trying to come off as the great healer?

Conservative talk radio thrives on red meat thrown to hungry baby boomers but even they aren’t sticking around for this boring format.

Why don’t we get it?

Because radio is run by people who are out of touch and out of ideas.

My friend Beau Phillips reminded me that The New York Times – yes, the old gray lady no less -- recently created a new audience development department that was “charged with deeply understanding their product’s attributes - and getting them in front of audiences who will care”. Its “purpose is to expose as many people as possible to our finest work.” 

And this out of touch newspaper company increased new readers by 20% in just two months.

Don’t tell me radio can’t do this.

I get that a hand of sanctimonious owners propped up by greedy equity owners could care less about using their heads to improve the product, but what’s everyone else’s excuse?

“Unprotected Talk” can’t be one of those good ideas from a guy who can’t even get a 2 share in New York.

Or a New York station that favors chokeholds by police selling snake oil as healing the community.

Take the list of radio’s biggest problems below and image what those of us who believe we can do better can do to face the problems that are killing radio.

That’s a game plan that can favorably alter the outcome for 2015:

  1. Too Many Commercials – How spots are scheduled can make a difference.       Also, the length of spots in each stop set. There is much that can be done. To proceed as is is not a solution.
  2. Unremarkable Programming For 70 Million Baby Boomers – All the focus is on young money demo Millennials. Baby boomers have been radio’s most loyal listeners but that’s changing now. Ignore baby boomers, target them or better yet discover what the two disparate groups have in common.  
  3. Outdated Morning Shows – They like personalities but increasingly they don’t like much else about morning shows. Focus on three new features to replace traffic, time checks and weather. Yes, they don’t need them. But consider these three potent options to replace tired old staples of morning radio. (And you can sell them!)
  4. Music That Is Too Repetitive – Audiences have hated music repetition on radio for decades but they had few alternatives. Not so anymore. Two new strategies show promise. One adds more new music without watering down the hits. The better approach is to rip up the traditional playlist and present the music differently.
  5. No Compelling Reason To Listen Longer – Radio TSL has been down every year since the early 90’s. Under 30’s don’t even listen to any song all the way through even though music radio is built on the assumption that if you play the right songs, the audience will stay tuned in. Now, there is a way to keep listeners from straying and it isn’t longer music sweeps.
  6. Don’t Like the Way Stations Talk To Them – Sounds dated, insincere.  Too much bragging and hype.  It all sounds like radio is out of touch. Talking down to listeners whether we mean to or not. Surprising words that turn off young audiences when used on the air, in promos, sweepers, imaging and commercials. Learn them and overcome this objection.
  7. Radio Is Not Authentic – Demographers have discovered 5 things that Millennials crave. Do these 5 things every hour of every day and radio becomes more relevant to the 95 million members of this age group. One of the 5 things they crave is more authenticity. Learn the fastest way to master being truly authentic to Millennials but also the four other expectations that radio is currently not meeting. They are screaming this out for you to hear.
  8. Lack of Music Variety and Customization – Spotify, Pandora and YouTube are killing radio when it comes to variety and customization.  There may be no way to compete with that, but audiences are beginning to tell us what these streaming services are lacking presenting a great opportunity for responsive radio stations to do what streaming services cannot do.
  9. Outdated News and Talk – Two staple radio formats are seeing audiences erode or attracting unsellable aging demographics. News stations don’t just sound like their father’s radio station – they sound like their grandfathers radio station. Droning on and on with sleepy features designed for station sales managers not for listeners to crave. Conservative talk is also over because audiences want compromise not red meat.  And Progressive talk radio never really worked. It’s a no-win. But spoken word is something young Millennials like, really like – here is the spoken word station of the future (bring an open mind).
  10. Don’t Know Where the AM Band Is – Think about it. There’s nothing for audiences under 60 on AM. So you may be thinking that younger money demos won’t listen to an AM station, right? True, unless … well, I’ll show you a number of things you could do on two tin cans hooked together with a string that Millennials would eat up. Will you take that challenge?  Because I’m going to do it and you’re going to want to brainstorm on it.  Forget the FCC. AM needs to disrupt FM the way FM disrupted AM.      

PLUS, What Audiences REALLY Want In Digital Content …

There is nothing worse than doing something well that doesn’t need to be done at all. Some stations are doing impressive digital initiatives that audiences simply don’t care about.

Instead, drill down on what listeners really want in digital and get a better return on your investment in time and money:

  1. Storytelling Instead of Podcasting
  2. Short-Form Video Revenue Stream
  3. Non-hyped Social Media Beyond Facebook and Twitter
  4. Content Audiences Can Binge on Just Like They Do Netflix
  5. Apps Not Websites (and That Includes Radio)

Two months until the Philly Conference and I’m getting excited to be with you and lead this seminar to transform the industry for the future.

Reserve a Seat

Contact Jerry about the conference and group rates here.

The 6th annual Media Solutions Seminar is being held this year at The Hub Conference Center March 18th in Philadelphia, walking distance from Amtrak’s 30th Street Station and 20 minutes from Philadelphia International Airport.