I started Barrett News Media very much in the image of our successful Barrett Sports Media brand, which just celebrated its fifth year in business. When I first launched the business it was a one-man operation, but I knew it’d be important to bring outside perspectives on a wide variety of topics to our readers. That’s why I’ve asked so many friends and people who I respect in the business to write guest columns.
These guest columns help teach the audience things that I couldn’t on my own. We were fortunate to have Bo Thompson of WBT get us started, and I’m thrilled to follow it up this week with another great piece from my friend McGraw Milhaven.
McGraw is the PD and host at KTRS in St. Louis. In his column, he shares what he believes are the advantages his station has over local competitors. In a time of consolidation and cost-cutting, a local, independent shop should have a harder time of retaining staff and competing with large corporations with stations across the country, yet McGraw’s station continues to fight the good fight without seismic changes.
According to McGraw, it is being local that gives KTRS the advantages it enjoys in terms of sales and content. The station decided to stop playing the numbers game and just worry about being the best talk station it could be for St. Louis. Enjoy the column!
Let me introduce myself, I’m McGraw Milhaven, and I’ve been in radio for 25 years. I’ve worked at some of the biggest radio stations in the country. For the last 13 years or so, I’ve been the morning host for KTRS radio in St Louis.
I have a confession. I have no ratings. In fact, I’m the program director, and the station I program has no ratings.
When I say no ratings I mean nothing, zilch, zero, nothing. We don’t even show up in the “book” or the “diaries”, or the “meters” or whatever the current system is for determining the audience.
Let me explain.
To the best of our memories, about 14 years ago, KTRS, which is family owned, decided the juice of Arbitron/Nielsen was no longer worth the squeeze, so we stopped our subscription. A few years later, we took the “beacon” off of our signal. Now, we don’t even show up as a radio station. Arbitron/Nielsen called over the years and “suggested” it was in our “interest” to place the “beacon” back on our signal and to subscribe. We listened, but in the end, it turned out we were doing just fine on our own.
550 KTRS-AM Radio is owned by local business people, worried that corporate radio was destroying the local voices of St Louis. That was 24 years ago. KTRS hasn’t always been perfect, but it has always been local. How local? Today, in 2020, during a national pandemic, KTRS is local from 5am to midnight, and we are looking to add voices to our lineup.
That’s 19 hours of local. Each show has a co-host, news-room updates, sports reports, varying degrees of board-ops/phone screeners, and producers. Our programming is as diverse as the audience we serve. Our hosts are white, black, married, single, newly married, divorced, farmers, city residents, have children to be born, have new born children, have kids in college, and have kids having grandchildren.
We don’t get caught up in the Liberal/Conservative trap, yet we do talk politics. But there is so much more to life in St Louis. Serious topics, fun topics, family topics, movies, tv shows, history, trivia, sports, local restaurants, bars, local personalities, local professors on national topics, travel agents, newspaper reporters, callers, text-ers, and tv reporters. It’s a never ending cadre of local voices that can be heard on KTRS. All local, all interesting. All supported by local business.
In fact, KTRS radio is looking to add to our lineup, yet, WE HAVE NO RATINGS. How can the big radio companies, with all the ratings, the big fancy toys, and all that “synergy” keep cutting staff and local programming? How can a single, one off local KTRS thrive and the big boys fail? I’m glad you asked, I’ll tell you after a word from some of our live sponsors.
Window World-17 years and counting, John Beal Roofing-16 years and counting, R & R Sanitation-11 years and counting, Boain Dental-10 years and counting, St Louis Closets- 10 years and counting, Outdoor living-10 years and counting, Londoff Chevrolet-9 years and counting. I could go on, like most talk shows hosts who must fill up four hours a day, but you get the point.
There is no greater validation of a radio station than repeat local business, year, after year, after year. They know how much they are spending, they know who is walking in the door, and more importantly, why people are walking in the door.
KTRS has a great line up of well known, trusted, local voices. Great producers/news reporters/sports hosts/traffic and weather reporters that we encouraged and developed, and a seasoned, hardworking, full time sales staff of seven people, all for one radio station.
Many radio salespeople are busy trying to dazzle advertisers with numbers and ratings that few understand, and even less believe are accurate. Our salespeople sell something more valuable and tangible. Our salespeople sell something that is easy to understand, cannot be manipulated, or purchased through a third party rating system. Our salespeople sell something every business understands.
We don’t sell ratings, we sell results.
Viewers Turn To Fox News For 9/11 Memorial Ceremonies
Ceremonies commemorating the 20th anniversary of 9/11 at the memorial sites of the World Trade Center area in New York, the Pentagon in Washington D.C. and Shanksville, Pennsylvania were covered by multiple networks.
On the cable front, Fox News Channel led all in coverage, well above their cable news competition. As the following is noted, FNC was ahead in each hour according to key figures tabulated by Nielsen Media Research:
7:00 a.m.-8:00 a.m.
FNC: 1.258 million total viewers; 179,000 adults 25-54
CNN: 0.369 million total viewers
MSNBC. 0.314 million total viewers; 48,000 adults 25-54
8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m.
FNC: 1.891 million total viewers; 339,000 adults 25-54
CNN: 0.479 million total viewers
MSNBC. 0.524 million total viewers; 58,000 adults 25-54
9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.
FNC: 1.771 million total viewers; 306,000 adults 25-54
CNN: 0.616 million total viewers
MSNBC. 0.640 million total viewers; 59,000 adults 25-54
10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.
FNC: 1.770 million total viewers; 285,000 adults 25-54
CNN: 0.704 million total viewers
MSNBC. 0.733 million total viewers; 77,000 adults 25-54
11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
FNC: 1.411 million total viewers; 198,000 adults 25-54
MSNBC. 0.862 million total viewers; 78,000 adults 25-54
12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.
FNC: 1.242 million total viewers; 230,000 adults 25-54
MSNBC. 0.813 million total viewers; 74,000 adults 25-54
History Channel aired 9/11 programming throughout the day, highlighted by the premiere of two new two-hour specials; “Four Flights” (1.166 million viewers; 370,000 adults 25-54) and “I Was There” (1.054 million viewers; 400,000 adults 25-54) — both were cable’s top non-sports telecasts of Saturday, Sep. 11, based on 25-54.
Within a four-week span, HBO aired Spike Lee’s eight-hour documentary “NYC Epicenters 9/11 —> 2021½“, with the conclusion on Saturday, Sep. 11. Its original airings’ figures were, as follows:
Part 1 — Sun. Aug. 22: 212,000 viewers; 90,000 adults 25-54
Part 2 — Sun. Aug. 29: 163,000 viewers; 73,000 adults 25-54
Part 3 — Sun. Sep. 5: 200,000 viewers; 77,000 adults 25-54
Part 4 — Sat. Sep. 11: 237,000 viewers; 120,000 adults 25-54
Note: The above data does not reflect the cumulative viewership of the episodes’ re-airings on the various HBO network and streaming platforms.
Over on the broadcast networks, NBC’s special telecast of “Saturday TODAY” (with Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb and Lester Holt) easily bested ABC’s “Good Morning America Saturday” in both total viewers — 1.71 million vs. 1.24 million — and in the key 25-54 demo, with NBC nearly doubling ABC: 438,000, to 243,000. (Data for CBS and the Fox broadcast network were unavailable.)
Here are the cable news averages for September 6-12, 2021.
Total Day (September 6-12 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 1.378 million viewers; 226,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 0.650 million viewers; 78,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 0.532 million viewers; 1177,000 adults 25-54
- HLN: 0.200 million viewers; 65,000 adults 25-54
- CNBC: 0.131 million viewers; 32,000 adults 25-54
- Newsmax: 0.129 million viewers; 18,000 adults 25-54
- The Weather Channel: 0.127 million viewers; 28,000 adults 25-54
- Fox Business Network: 0.076 million viewers; 9,000 adults 25-54
Prime Time (September 6-11 @ 8-11 p.m.; September 12 @ 7-11 p.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 2.268 million viewers; 359,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 1.101 million viewers; 138,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 0.715 million viewers; 169,000 adults 25-54
- HLN: 0.223 million viewers; 66,000 adults 25-54
- CNBC: 0.188 million viewers; 61,000 adults 25-54
- Newsmax: 0.156 million viewers; 29,000 adults 25-54
- The Weather Channel: 0.152 million viewers; 27,000 adults 25-54
- Fox Business Network: 0.044 million viewers; 7,000 adults 25-54
Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top MSNBC and CNN programs with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:
1. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 9/9/2021 5:28 PM, 32 min.) 3.688 million viewers
2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 9/9/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.139 million viewers
3. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 9/7/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.085 million viewers
4. Hannity (FOXNC, Wed. 9/8/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.073 million viewers
5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 9/7/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.013 million viewers
6. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 9/7/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.003 million viewers
7. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 9/8/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.971 million viewers
8. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 9/8/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.962 million viewers
9. Hannity (FOXNC, Thu. 9/9/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.958 million viewers
10. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 9/10/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.938 million viewers
17. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Tue. 9/7/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.323 million viewers
139. The Lead With Jake Tapper (CNN, Thu. 9/9/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.991 million viewers
Top 10 cable news programs (and the top MSNBC, CNN and HLN programs with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:
1. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 9/9/2021 5:28 PM, 32 min.) 0.535 million adults 25-54
2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 9/7/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.528 million adults 25-54
3. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 9/9/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.523 million adults 25-54
4. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 9/7/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.503 million adults 25-54
5. The Ingraham Angle (FOXNC, Tue. 9/7/2021 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.483 million adults 25-54
6. The Ingraham Angle (FOXNC, Thu. 9/9/2021 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.480 million adults 25-54
7. Hannity (FOXNC, Thu. 9/9/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.474 million adults 25-54
8. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 9/8/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.471 million adults 25-54
9. Hannity (FOXNC, Wed. 9/8/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.468 million adults 25-54
10. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 9/7/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.442 million adults 25-54
27. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Thu. 9/9/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.316 million adults 25-54
63. Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN, Wed. 9/8/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.249 million adults 25-54
167. Forensic Files “Chief Evidence” (HLN, Wed. 9/8/2021 12:30 AM, 30 min.) 0.149 million adults 25-54
Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research
How News Talkers Can Beat Sports Talkers at Their Own Game
Despite the fact that News and Sports Talk are considered different formats to many, oftentimes they intertwine more than the casual observer would believe.
Despite the fact that News Talk and Sports Talk are considered different formats to many, oftentimes, they intertwine more than the casual observer would believe. First off, both formats are under the “talk” umbrella, and there are many News Talk listeners who consume Sports Talk, and there is some, albeit less, of that vice versa.
However, while News Talk can dabble into the sports realm ahead of a big game or a cultural issue, usually, the Sports Talk station/hosts will still be considered the “experts” on the topic.
But what if there’s a situation where that isn’t the case? What if the News Talkers can beat the Sports Talkers at their own game?
That’s possible and doable.
This can happen when the issue of sports and business overlap. For example, in Kansas City, a hot topic this week has been the possibility of the Kansas City Royals looking to move to a downtown ballpark and leaving Kauffman Stadium when the lease runs out in 2031 (or perhaps earlier). While it’s likely ten years away, anyone who has followed these types of situations knows the planning needs to begin years in advance.
That always brings up the next batch of questions: Where will they go? Would they threaten to leave the city? And most importantly, who is paying for it?
While the Sports Talkers will undoubtedly have some insider information into what the team is thinking, News Talkers might have even more valuable insight to share with the audience that the Sports Talkers can’t access.
Why? Because we are more likely to be very familiar and have strong relationships with the politicians, bureaucrats, local commissioners, and business power players, who play just as much of a role, if not a bigger one, in a monumental move and decision like this.
Within 12 hours of the Kansas City Royals owner holding a press conference discussing this potential move, I was confident, after talking with politicians/business people in the know, I could bring my audience inside information in a way no sports talker could.
Beyond just what is convenient for a team’s ownership group, there are plays for land, parking lots, zoning requirements, permits, and yes, dirty politics, that all get involved in these types of moves.
That’s our lane in the News Talk business. We deal with these issues on a daily basis, and we know who exactly to contact, depending on the situation.
So whether it’s the Oakland Raiders leaving for Las Vegas, the St. Louis Rams bailing for Los Angeles, or the Seattle SuperSonics heading to Oklahoma City, these are just a handful of examples of where the News Talkers can beat the Sports Talkers at their own game in a story that has mass appeal to both audiences.
And the beauty of all this is you don’t even need to be a “sports expert” to own this story if and when it comes to your town (or rumors start to swirl). You need to simply work the connections you already have, which are highly unlikely to be had by your sports counterparts, do some digging and cross-referencing, and you can own a story like this in your city in no time. You might even be able to draw new cume to your show and station by being the authoritative figure on the topic.
And then, when it all inevitably comes back around to breaking down pitching changes and hit-and-runs, leave that to the jocks. That’s boring stuff anyway.
It’s Not a Vaccine Mandate, It’s a Test Mandate
“Chuck Todd from Meet The Press, the New York Times, CNN, numerous other media outlets and even the White House spokesman have called Biden’s policy a vaccine mandate. It’s not. So, why do they keep reporting it as such?”
I feel I must disclose my feelings on Covid-19 before my column this week so everyone knows my bias.
If you want to take the horse dewormer medicine, Ivermectin, for Covid-19, I DON’T CARE.
If you want to wear a mask in a crowd indoors or out, I DON’T CARE
If you don’t want to get a Covid-19 vaccine, again, I DON’T CARE.
In terms of full disclosure, I have been vaccinated. As far as I know, I haven’t had Covid-19, and only my dog has had some form of Ivermectin.
With that out of the way, can we talk about how President Biden’s mandate is being discussed and reported on? This is not a liberal or conservative issue, and it’s not a CNN vs FOX News issue. Most everyone has an opinion on it, yet most don’t care to find out what was actually proposed. Even the White House is misleading folks with its own policy.
This is not a vaccine mandate, it’s a test mandate.
President Biden’s policy has made two changes. All federal workers must receive a vaccine. You don’t have to work for the federal government, but if you do, you must be vaccinated. Again, not a mandate. No one is forcing you to work for the federal government. That’s your choice.
Delta Airlines implemented a policy charging employees $200 if they choose not to be vaccinated. As a result, thousands have received the Covid-19 vaccine to avoid the penalty. That is their choice.
Schools, public and private universities, hospitals, and companies big and small have made similar rules. If you want to work or attend, you must get a vaccine. Not a vaccine mandate, big difference.
Companies make all sorts of rules, some smart, some dumb. I know a radio station that will not let their on-air hosts talk to the media (dumb). My company policy says, I can’t eat food in the studio (smart). You can agree or disagree with a policy, and if you choose not to follow it, that is your choice. Nobody from the government is going to come to your home, hold you down, and jab a needle in your arm. Yet I’ve heard that said a few hundred times in the last few weeks.
Part two of President Biden’s policy says that if you are a company with over 100 employees, your employees will be required to have a vaccine or get tested weekly to see if they are Covid-19 positive. Again, this is not a vaccine mandate. It’s just a test, once a week. A test mandate, if you will.
Chuck Todd from Meet The Press, the New York Times, CNN, numerous other media outlets and even the White House spokesman have called Biden’s policy a vaccine mandate. It’s not. So, why do they keep reporting it as such?
I talk to neighbors, callers, and friends, and they’re all arguing over something that isn’t happening. Some have gotten really angry and stood defiant. They will not, under any circumstances, be forced to get a vaccine.
“How about a test?”
These are crazy times. We talk past each other, we debate our own set of facts, we get to choose the news we like, and disregard and disqualify the news we don’t. I’m afraid we have crossed some type of rubicon. Everyone is arguing and debating a policy but nobody knows the actual policy.
If you think taking a test to find out if you have a life threatening virus that could harm you, a family member, or a coworker is government overreach, I DON’T CARE. Quite frankly, I’m exhausted by the screaming. But if you are going to argue about it, you should do yourself a favor and know what the policy is before you decide you are for it or against it.