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Thank You Rush Limbaugh

“There is a big difference between talents and legends. Rush Limbaugh’s legendary status was sealed a long time ago, but his impact remains as important as ever to a format that desperately needs him.”

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Why do you need to listen to Rush Limbaugh’s show and familiarize yourself with his background? Let’s start with Reason 1: it is going to make you better at uncovering your purpose or passion; whether it be a career or hobby or something waiting to be unearthed. There’s nothing more helpful in identifying the missing piece from a year that was so challenging and with more potential shutdowns in the works, now is the ideal time to find a way to triumph the 2020 spell with a commitment to organize the required steps that put you on track to reasonably accomplish your goal.

I highly doubt that Rush’s motivation for all he has done to guarantee AM stations nationwide weren’t forced into obsolescence. I’m also not ashamed to acknowledge that the talent in the industry can be appreciated on a scale that has little to do with political issues and rather the widespread lack of acknowledgment or appreciation for a pioneering contribution to salvaging AM radio stations, allowing to pave this universal path of success with his show airing on nearly 650 stations nationwide reaching nearly 26 million listeners at any given time. I have immense respect for the way in which we refuse to speak about the issues that are rarely received as you intended, rather met by considerable judgement.

Despite Limbaugh’s story of success, paying it forward in his field, earning multiple NAB awards and the latest being the presidential medal of freedom, Rush changed the game so that it could never be played the same way again. Yet he’s met by opposition who still overlook his contribution. The amazing way in which he has been intrinsically aware of what the medium was lacking and how to benefit the format, appeal to listeners, and have the space for his Excellence In Broadcasting empire to take off to have over 43 million guests weekly. The Time Spent Listening for the three hour show (TSL) was two hours and 28 minutes as of mid 2020.

The ability to become the breath of air that’s able to be traced back to the restoration, revitalization and transformation of the NTS Format, should be credited and accurately described in the future. The Mount Rushmore monument that would be honoring what Rush Limbaugh’s been able to accomplish would also require the assistance of the people who’ve made such a product in the radio business. Contributions from the brave, committed vision that included tweaking the prime time slot and being able to inform listeners through talk that would be criticized in every way imaginable. Then there’s the show format along with the vulnerability of AM stations News Talk Sports programming which was salvaged from the looming, unavoidable fact that the format went from an extraordinarily quickly depreciating, depleted financial landscape into the limitless potential awaiting the format, AM radio stations nationwide had a second chance—this is a result of Rush Limbaugh’s formula and hands on involvement to ensure the band provided layers of success for News/Talk/Sports and a second chance to prevent a seismic shifting that had remained unaltered since Rush’s 1988 launch. When you’re the show being picked up by 100+ affiliates to add to the 56 stations already airing your program nationwide, you’ve done something worth being proud of.

The format was a perfect fit for the personality of Rush Limbaugh. It involved some serious Clinton administration Freudian slips, but also a style in which he tackled historical information that had been widely adopted by others in the industry today; the parody song or the news with an audience that was listening for unique content.

We also learned that whether you love or hate his political beliefs and on-air style, you have to respect Rush for staying consistent. He stated the EIB Network would not be exiled for broadcasting Gitmo for not agreeing with him on his show. His aim was to show that the conversations that were discussed on his program could continue to grow, take their own shape and eliminate the barrier that once existed.

I’d like to make it clear that I am not sharing my political affiliation in this column. But what I am going to share is the immense pride I have in my first job offer as the EP of The Morning Show with Rush Radio and what the National Brand Manager Ken Charles taught me that resonated so significantly throughout my radio journey. I was taught to never alienate or try to limit our listeners and P1’s. A person may hate your show, but they could also have a meter.

I asked Ken how Rush (el rushbo-damus) knew about the necessary adjustments to perfectly appeal to listeners in the mid 1980’s and what he uncovered that had gone unnoticed by the industry to that point; especially, considering the estimates to be over 43 million weekly listeners.

The Longtime National News/Talk/Sports Brand Manager for iHeartRadio andProgram Director of KNX NEWSRADIO1070, Ken Charles has been one of the most interesting players in the Rush format reset. Ken and Rush have both been huge catalysts of significant growth, development and will forever share a bond that defined the success seen by each of the players. A great number of Ken’s professional years have been spent studying, formatting, and launching a brand ‘ Rush Radio’ that in name alone, appeals to those who have no problem with being the enigma that the audience is so drawn to. Rush has been continually framed as someone who should be ashamed or blamed for failing to share the incredible success he’s attained throughout his professional journey.

“I was the guy who had Rush on his station as a first time PD in 1988′ said . I ran him on weekends. We were live and local during the week. I got a call that the competition wanted to air him live M-F 12p-2p but they’d stay with us if we ran him live. We were local and I passed. They took him and 32 years later the station that took him is the dominant player in the market and has been for over 25 years. I’m still here but that station isn’t. So what did I learn? Talent beats everything.

The audience didn’t care that Rush wasn’t in Orlando. They cared that he was entertaining and talked about things that they cared about. He connected with their hearts and just cut through the radio in a way very few talk talents had before him. I never made a mistake like that again.

So, I can speak about what makes him great from day one. I heard it. It’s why I was first to put him on in my market. But, I missed the other part. At the time, he was so unique that live and local didn’t matter to an audience that had been waiting for someone to speak to them. Outside of morning news magazine type shows most talk talent were either liberal or non-political fluff doing book interviews and talking about nothing.

Rush turned it on its ear. He took a right political slant but also did it with an FM morning man’s understanding of entertainment and turned talk radio on its side.

He single handedly saved hundreds of AM stations ratings wise and revenue wise and changed the dynamics of what talk radio could be.

I could go on forever. I made a huge programming mistake but making it and learning that lesson helped guide my career.”

Today we salute you, Rush.

There is a big difference between talents and legends. Rush Limbaugh’s legendary status was sealed a long time ago, but his impact remains as important as ever to a format that desperately needs him.

It’s well documented that Rush is battling cancer. His overcoming the disease should be the top concern but it’s human nature to expect station executives to contemplate a future without one of the most dominant radio voices of all-time appearing on their airwaves. Tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us, and Rush’s time behind the mic will eventually come to an end, but the longer News Talk radio can hold on to him, the better it is for everyone. When he finally steps away, an entire format could find itself lost and unable to recapture what he delivered them for decades. As the old saying goes, sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

When I was employed full-time as a NTS executive producer in radio. I had just turned 21. I learned so much about radio from two industry titans, Ken Charles and Rush Limbaugh. Rush has made a lasting impact on many of us. I hope we never forget how important of a contribution he’s made to this industry!

BNM Writers

Brett Kane Is Here To Kick Back & Make People Laugh

“They are so much like my group of friends that I hang out with, where, really, it’s all about busting each other‘s balls.”

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Butt dials are almost always a super embarrassing situation. Sometimes it means accidentally dialing an ex, other times it may mean texting absolute gibberish to a contact you’ve made. Regardless, it’s super embarrassing. Oh and I may or may not have experience with one or both of those. 

Poem the News: Butt Dialing The Cops While Choking Your Husband – CBS  Chicago

But there’s at least one known instance where a pocket dial actually benefited someone. In fact, it actually helped create one of the best sports radio segments in Denver. 

Brett Kane was hosting a show at 93.7 The Ticket, near his hometown in Nebraska. While listening to a podcast during a workout, he accidentally hit the speed button you can find at the bottom left hand corner on Apple Podcasts to make it to half-speed. He laughed hysterically, sure, but with that, also, sparked a brilliant idea for a new segment. 

“I think I was listening to a Dan Le Batard Show podcast,” said Kane. “Hearing Stugotz slowed down was the most hysterical thing in the world. I had to pause doing any sort of exercise, because I was dying laughing. I went to one of our podcasts at the time and said, what if I just did this to us? The same thing happened. Now it’s become if you hear anything, and our producer Marty is so good at this, if you hear anything that could remotely sound like it’s funny, mark it and try it and see if it will work. It really was an accident. But it’s one of those things where I heard it and a lightbulb went off.”

Drunk Takes has become one of the best segments on Moser, Lombardi and Kane. It works because it’s both funny and unique content, but also because it fits perfectly with the theme of the show, which, simply, is three guys sitting around and busting each other’s balls. 

Kane isn’t exactly new in Denver, he’s been there for over two years since getting the gig with Altitude Sports Radio. But compared to his two co-hosts, Marc Moser and Vic Lombardi, he might as well be wearing a fanny pack and holding a camera around his neck like a tourist. However, finding chemistry with two longtime Denver personalities wasn’t as difficult as the native Nebraskan initially thought it would be. 

“They are so much like my group of friends that I hang out with, where, really, it’s all about busting each other‘s balls,” said Kane. “That’s honestly what it is. I got in here and it literally took me a week, maybe two, to figure out it was going to be very, very simple. Our sense of humor is the same and they just want to kick back and make people laugh. Everyone’s got their different quirks and you have to find out what makes people tick, but for a starting point, I feel like I was ahead an entire lap when this whole thing started.”

It makes their show super relatable. Three guys sitting around and talking sports while making fun of each other sounds like every guy’s group of friends. If the goal in sports radio is to make it seem like you’re having a conversation in a bar, Moser, Lombardi and Kane accomplish that on a daily basis with their style and humor. 

Moser, Lombardi & Kane morning show simulcasts on Altitude Sports |  9news.com

“It’s funny because we usually get this from people who are new to the show, and if you listen to the show for a while you get it, but poor Moser,” laughed Kane. “He probably gets it the worst out of anybody. We all get our turn on the hot seat, right, that’s what we always say. At the end of it, we get people every once in a while saying something like, do you guys hate him? Why do you keep picking on him?

“It’s almost like we have to explain to people the reason why we do this is because we genuinely like each other. You don’t start crushing somebody you don’t like to their face. That’s not how it works.”

One of the best things about getting hired at Altitude Sports Radio for Kane, was the timeline that it happened on. Dave Tepper, who’s had success in multiple markets, was hired away from 1620 The Zone in Omaha to become the PD at Altitude. It was a huge help for Kane, seeing as his boss was also leaving Nebraska for a new market and near the same exact time as him. 

“It was almost like a buddy who you’re on vacation with,” Kane said. “Like, hey, have you checked the spot out yet? Have you visited here? It was a feeling that we were trying to figure this thing out together, because he was only here a few months before I was. You’re trying to learn a new place, and I love it here, but I’ve lived in Nebraska for basically my entire life and it’s different here.

“You’re just trying to get a feel of what people want, especially coming from a market like I did in Nebraska, where it doesn’t matter if it’s in the middle of football season or in May, it’s Husker football the whole time. You almost recalibrate because there’s so much more here, as far as the sports landscape. Having someone else who had the same perspective as I did, and understood that you almost have to retrain your mind a little bit, was a massive help.”

Altitude has a bit of a different approach to it’s daily content than some of its competitors in town. Whereas some stations in town take the approach of always talking Broncos, Altitude likes the approach of including Rockies, Nuggets and Avalanche talk more than anyone else in the market. 

Does Brett miss talking about college football? Sure, but instead of talking about one team for 12 months, there are enough teams and interest in his new city to spread the wealth around. 

“I think it’s been good,” said Kane. “You almost have to-retrain an audience to a certain extent. Like, no, this is allowed too. You can do this and be successful at it. And I think there’s an appetite for it. The most important part, and I’m not going to force feed anything, there is an appetite for the stuff and it came across pretty clearly. We know the Broncos are king and that’s never going to change, so when you have teams that are as successful as the Nuggets and Avs are, it would almost feel like you’re ignoring that certain segment of people that want that in their daily lives. It’s kind of our way of branching out and being and a bit different.”

With Dave Tepper at PD and the entertaining list of hosts the station has collected, Altitude has made monumental strides. They’ve even expanded their content to TV and Twitch, where listeners can watch each host’s every move from a television, iphone or computer screen. But just because you can watch, it doesn’t mean Kane and his co-hosts are changing the way their radio show is done.

Denver trailblazers Moser, Lombardi, Kane leap from airwaves to eyeballs

“If anything, what it does is give you an extra glimpse, like some of the faces Moser more will make or the body language these guys have, it’s just adds another layer to it. So we can be the most successful Twitch show in the history of Twitch but if the radio staff isn’t there, we’re just placating to that audience. That’s not how it works. We are a radio show and we make sure to say this even we went to television, this is a radio show on TV not a TV show on the radio. We always keep that perspective about it. The only thing that really matters now is don’t pick your nose. That’s kind of it.”

Keep an eye on what Altitude does over the next couple of years. With strong  leadership and talent in place, one would think the station’s best days are ahead. Especially as Moser, Lombardi and Kane continue to put out content that’s relatable to guy’s all over the market. Brett Kane is also further proof that outside talent can come into a new market and not only have success, but quick success. 

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BNM Writers

ABC, MSNBC Draw Most for Presidential Address to Congress

“ABC, MSNBC benefitted most from airing Joe Biden’s presidential address.”

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President Biden’s first official address to a Joint Session of Congress delivered a combined 26.94 million viewers across sixteen outlets, according to Nielsen Media Research. The amount factored in out-of-home viewing and those watching via connected TVs, which encompasses smart televisions, internet-connected devices, and gaming consoles. All but approximately 500,000 viewers tuned in to Biden on one of the ad-supported networks.

These days, a viewer figure like that is considered impressive, based on current trends of consumers venturing towards streaming services and away from linear platforms. In comparison to past Joint Sessions of Congress, however, Biden lagged far behind from years past. Donald Trump’s address posted 47.74 million viewers on Feb. 28, 2017. Eight years prior, President Obama’s Congress speech drew an even larger audience of 52.37 million. The all-time most-viewed presidential speech to Congress was President Clinton’s (66.9 million) on Feb. 17, 1993 which was then televised on only four networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN).

ABC, the usual leader among solely the broadcast networks in special news events coverage, not only topped NBC (3.66 million), CBS (3.44 million), and the Fox broadcast network (1.685 million) but with 4.185 million viewers, it was the top outlet on TV overall.

As another anomaly, MSNBC was the top cable news outlet covering Biden’s speech in total viewers, having posted 4.12 million viewers. Although CNN — the regular cable news leader in special news coverage — was not far behind with 3.345 million viewers, the network was tops among the key adults 25-54 demographic with 930,000 within that age range. CNN research proclaimed CNN had registered the youngest median age across cable news, six years younger than Fox and seven years younger than MSNBC.

While Fox News trailed behind their cable news competition with 3 million total viewers, they were the most-watched cable news outlet in the hour prior to Biden’s address (“Tucker Carlson Tonight” 3.34 million) as well as for the GOP response by Republican Sen. Tim Scott from South Carolina (3.33 million) following Biden’s address to the Joint Session of Congrats. Yet again, though, CNN led in 25-54 with 663,000 viewers of that demo for Scott’s speech.

In addition, CNN continued leading cable news among adults 25-54 (400,000 viewers) during the post Address coverage (10:45pm-12:00am ET).

Univision (1.15 million) was the lead Spanish-language network covering Biden’s address on the night. Telemundo averaged 1.06 million viewers.

Here are the cable news averages for Apr. 26-May 2, 2021 — the total viewer figures were cable’s three best marks for the week in total day:

Total Day (Apr. 26-May 2 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.210 million viewers; 210,000 adults 25-54 
  • MSNBC: 0.887 million viewers; 122,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.694 million viewers; 180,000 adults 25-54

Prime Time (Apr. 26-May 1 @ 8-11 p.m.; May 2 @ 7-11 p.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 2.261 million viewers; 367,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 1.647 million viewers; 241,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 1.122 million viewers; 294,000 adults 25-54

Top 10 most-watched cable news programs in total viewers:

1. Presidential Address “Biden First Address To Congress 2021” (MSNBC, Wed. 4/28/2021 9:05 PM, 68 min.) 4.116 million viewers

2. MSNBC Special Coverage “Biden First Address Post Analysis 2021” (MSNBC, Wed. 4/28/2021 10:13 PM, 13 min.) 4.072 million viewers

3. Presidential Address To Congress “2021” (CNN, Wed. 4/28/2021 9:06 PM, 65 min.) 3.345 million viewers

4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 4/28/2021 8:00 PM, 55 min.) 3.344 million viewers

5. Presidential Address/GOP Response (FOXNC, Wed. 4/28/2021 10:26 PM, 14 min.) 3.332 million viewers

6. Presidential Address/Analysis (FOXNC, Wed. 4/28/2021 10:11 PM, 15 min.) 3.177 million viewers

7. Presidential Address Coverage (FOXNC, Wed. 4/28/2021 8:55 PM, 11 min.) 3.156 million viewers

8. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 4/29/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.034 million viewers

9. Biden Address To Congress (FOXNC, Wed. 4/28/2021 9:06 PM, 65 min.) 3.003 million viewers

10. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 4/26/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.999 million viewers

Top 10 cable news programs among adults 25-54:

1. President Address To Congress “2021” (CNN, Wed. 4/28/2021 9:06 PM, 65 min.) 0.930 million adults 25-54

2. Presidential Address Post Analysis “2021” (CNN, Wed. 4/28/2021 10:11 PM, 15 min.) 0.813 million adults 25-54

3. Pre-Presidential Address “2021” (CNN, Wed. 4/28/2021 9:00 PM, 6 min.) 0.786 million adults 25-54

4. MSNBC Special Coverage “Biden First Address Post Analysis 2021” (MSNBC, Wed. 4/28/2021 10:13 PM, 13 min.) 0.717 million adults 25-54

5. Presidential Address “Biden First Address To Congress 2021” (MSNBC, Wed. 4/28/2021 9:05 PM, 68 min.) 0.709 million adults 25-54

6. Presidential Address GOP Response “2021” (CNN, Wed. 4/28/2021 10:26 PM, 14 min.) 0.663 million adults 25-54

7. Presidential Address Coverage (FOXNC, Wed. 4/28/2021 8:55 PM, 11 min.) 0.635 million adults 25-54

8. Biden Address To Congress (FOXNC, Wed. 4/28/2021 9:06 PM, 65 min.) 0.622 million adults 25-54

9. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 4/28/2021 8:00 PM, 55 min.) 0.605 million adults 25-54

10. Presidential Address Post Analysis “2021” (CNN, Wed. 4/28/2021 10:40 PM, 20 min.) 0.582 million adults 25-54

Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research

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BNM Writers

“Big Tent” or “Party Line”: Where Does Talk Radio Go Next?

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(Open browser)

(Search: “Ronald Reagan Big Tent”)

(Laugh at the breadth of past articles and opinion pieces)

The reason that’s funny to me is that the search and the outcome point up that discussions about the Republican Party’s future and a perceived lack of diversity have been going on for almost as long as “Saint Ronnie” has been out of office. The current arguments over Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney’s viewpoints tied to former president Donald Trump and his claims related to the 2020 election are just another twist in the discussion.

My thought process for bringing up “The Big Tent”, though, is more about where news/talk radio sits just beyond the 100 days mark for President Joe Biden’s administration. The format’s biggest voice is all but silenced, leaving behind a huge swath of the format’s stations to deal with what appears to be a lack of planning for this day. The audience Rush Limbaugh commanded is likely going to be splintered multiple ways as stations lean on new-to-them national voices or possible revamping aimed at going local.

Those moves give the appearance of diversity, but the larger listen to the format–and the recent adventures of Fox News, NewsMax and One America News on TV–point up that the “Big Tent” is really becoming smaller by the day. There’s a battle for who can be viewed as the most loyal and strident in presenting the party line, with a de-emphasis on diversity in conservative thought. It’s why hosts like Charlie Sykes, Michael Medved and others have been marginalized while the voices of Sebastian Gorka, Dan Bongino and others have been ascendant.

Over time, the expectation that hosts maintain a specific “party line” has whittled away at the diversity of opinions on the air.

In 2020, the split of self-identified Republicans was under 30 percent of voters. I know that’s not a full measure of the support Republican candidates and conservative politics have in the larger picture, but does it give us a full view of what the audience is for conservative-heavy talk? Chip away those who don’t listen on a steady basis, those who may not have access any more to stations in certain markets as the AM band is taken off newer radio models and those who aren’t into the strict line that draws the most loyalty and what do the numbers look like?

With the passing of Limbaugh, is there a chance for an overhaul of the format to return it to being more diverse, more local or are the most vocal listeners going to continue to push for that strict line?

This is the biggest turning point in the format’s existence since the rise of conservative talk keyed by Limbaugh, one that will have huge ramifications on everyone tied to the format, from individual stations and hosts to the major ownership groups.

It helps to remember that even “Maha Rushie” presented diversity in thought in his first 15 years. A “We move liberals to the front of the line” policy allowed him to poke away at their views and it made for good radio. It was entertaining but also enlightening. Heck, he also wasn’t a supporter of Donald Trump as late as (checks notes) the first quarter of 2016. Those debates fell away as time and the demand that the strict “party line” be all that was presented took even further hold.

Is that hegemony the healthiest for the news/talk format?

It may be the biggest question for everyone involved since “Why would I carry a syndicated host in middays?”

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