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Streaming Platforms Cannot Be Forgotten By News/Talk Program Directors

BNM’s Pete Mundo writes that if you’re a News/Talk program director, you run two radio stations and what comes through the streaming platforms.

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If you’re a News/Talk program director, you run two radio stations. Didn’t you know that? Oh. Well, you do. 

I’m not just referring to our over-the-air broadcast but also what comes through our streaming platforms. Alexa, Google Home, apps, computers, etc., are all streaming platforms of our radio stations, which for most of us, are airing different commercial inventory than what is coming through the radio.

I understand none of us are unnecessarily looking to add to our plate, but our streaming platforms are the way we are getting more people to use our product. So neglecting, or forgetting about it, is a bad business decision, especially in the talk space. 

Across all clusters, talk radio is far more likely to have high streaming use when it comes to total listening hours. Listeners are more loyal to our personalities and often can’t get the AM dial in their office buildings during the day, or even if they can, they don’t want to hear our voices through static, so they pull up the stream. 

It’s never been easier to listen to talk radio stations, thanks to our station apps and websites (although welcoming some sites to the 21st century would be a good idea). So, given the challenges many of us face on the AM band, why not push our audience to the stream and make sure the stream sounds just as good as the over-the-air product?

The tricky part in putting together a quality stream sound is trying to balance what ads are programmatic, which ones are sold locally, where is the unfilled inventory and what is filling that gap?

And unlike your over-the-air product, where you can go into a studio, see what’s coming up, and move inventory around, that technology is not available in most cases. So yes, it’s a guessing game.

But as the talk climate continues to change, the best thing we can do to build our brand and trust with the next generation of talk radio listeners is to find them and engage them where they are, which may not always be next to a physical radio. That will be on a stream. How do I know that? Because if they have a smartphone, they have (access to) the stream.

Of course, the over-the-air product remains the massive revenue generator for our stations, as in most cases, the streaming revenue is not close to comparable. But then, if we look years down the road, that will likely start to change. 

To what degree? That’s unknown. But double-digit growth on an annual basis should not be out of the question when it comes to stream listening. It should be a very achievable goal, especially in our format. So our listeners who are P1’s, love the station and want to consume as much of the content as they can, can be on the AirPods in the gym, desk at work, or in their home office and listen to our radio stations. 

Heck, with Alexa and Google Home, they don’t even have to turn a dial! They just speak. So if they’re there, let’s keep them there.

There are simply too many media options today to lose our listeners due to sloppy streaming quality that makes us sound like a college radio station. Instead, listeners, who find us there should be rewarded with a listening experience that is just as high-quality as what they would get on the AM or FM band.

And if we play our cards right, it will be better, serving the industry incredibly well through a new generation of listeners.

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BNM Writers

Options for Tucker Carlson Highlight Changing Media Landscape

The uncertainty and options Carlson has, should be a stark reminder to all of us that we are not simply in the “radio” industry, but rather the content-creation business.

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Photo by Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 2.0.

It’s the media news that shocked the world this week. No, not Don Lemon finally being shown the door at CNN, but rather Tucker Carlson, the highest-rated primetime cable news host in the business, parting ways with cable news giant Fox News. 

Immediately, speculation began as to what would be Carlson’s next move. Would he go to another traditional, linear TV news outlet? How about a digital property? Might he just venture out on his own?

While it’s easy and fun to speculate, when we all take a step back and realize the plethora of opportunities that exist, and the limited barriers to entry in 2023 vs. 1993 or even 2003, it makes you realize how quickly media is changing all around us, and the lessons that are here for radio.

Carlson’s Next Move 

For Carlson, he will have his pick of the litter. For the record, I don’t see him jumping back to do a similar-style show on a Fox competitor. He’s worked at all three major cable news outlets in his career and to go to a lesser competitor and try to build up a primetime lineup feels like a predictable move from a creative, outside-the-box, unpredictable person.

Other predictions have included joining up with a powerhouse digital outlet like The Blaze or The Daily Wire. But those seem like long shots as well. 

Carlson’s history does include co-founding one of the most successful conservative news outlets on the internet in The Daily Caller. He sold his stake in that outlet in 2020. So he does have the experience, along with the means and following, to start another operation he can call his own, and build a media empire of sorts, which could be even bigger than what The Daily Caller has become.

This would not have to be an outlet with a traditional nightly show, but it could be more in line with what Carlson was helping Fox build with Fox Nation. Long-form interviews, along with documentaries similar to the Tucker Carlson Originals that he was creating, could be in play. They’re expensive, and even more expensive to do right, but could be worth exploring.

But while we all watch to see what Carlson does next, to bring this back to radio programming, the uncertainty and options Carlson has, should be a stark reminder to all of us that we are not simply in the “radio” industry, but rather the content-creation business that is a non-stop 24/7 cycle of content that we can produce via, yes, mostly, the radio, but also podcasts and on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

There is competition all around us, every single day. As hosts are navigating their daily shows, listeners could bail at any time to not just listen to another radio station, but consume any other form of content on their phone with a couple of swipes and clicks. And it never ends, while the options grow daily.

The fragmented media landscape is only going to continue in the years ahead. So what will your competitive advantage be? Local news talk that the listener can’t get from their favorite national host? Can you be as active on your social platform as some of your listeners’ favorite national hosts? How do you keep top of mind for tune-in every day? 

None of this is easy, but it should make all of us better broadcasters and personalities. As conservatives, most of us (should) believe competition is inherently a good thing. It keeps us on our toes, makes us sharper, and allows the marketplace the option to pick the winners and losers.

Yes, there are struggles that broadcast radio has compared to some digital content, however, there is good news not getting enough attention as well, like this: According to Nielsen’s Q3 2022 Total Audience report, radio’s 18 to 49-year-old average audience is now 3% greater than television. Go back less than five years, and in 2018, AM/FM radio’s 18-49 average audience was 63% the size of live and time-shifted TV.

Radio is holding its own with audience attrition in a much better fashion than TV. It’s another sign that radio can still, very much, be a winner, despite what some of the misguided narratives may suggest. And it’s up to all of us to continue to compete every single day, against not only our in-market radio rivals but, yes, even Tucker Carlson’s next move. The competition no longer knows geographical boundaries. Game on.

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BNM Writers

Vince Coakley Isn’t A Conservative ‘Fire-Breather’

“I always tell people not to assume too much about somebody else. I urge them not to get caught up in labels. Instead, ask a lot of questions.”

Jim Cryns

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“‘Anger is the devil’s cocaine.’ I stole that quote. I don’t remember who said it,” Vince Coakley explained.

“Anger is the devil’s cocaine. It feels so good, but it makes you do stupid stuff.”  -Andrew Klavan

The quote is apropos when you consider the ire, angst, and animosity Americans seem to hold for each other right now.

“It’s so true,” Coakley said. “I think people get an adrenaline rush from anger. Our bodies go through a flight or fight response when confronted. I know when a lion is chasing you, for that few minutes your body is revved-up. Once that situation is resolved, you go back to normal.”

Or, you could end up a meal for the lion.

The Vince Coakley Radio Program airs weekdays from 10:00 AM-Noon on WBT-AM 1110 and 99.3 FM in Charlotte.

Coakley is concerned about how social media, talk radio, and cable TV are stirring us up 24/7. We haven’t had a break in a long time as politics have become so consuming.

Coakley was born in Cincinnati and moved to Indianapolis when he was just three years old. Coakley’s father was a civil service employee for the Federal Government. He attended several schools around the country. By his senior year in high school, he found himself in Kentucky. He matured quickly.

“Despite going to a few different schools, I don’t think that negatively affected me in any way. I went to college at Eastern Kentucky University and studied broadcasting,” Coakley said.

In Indianapolis, his elder sister went to college. Coakley took over her vacant room and turned it into a news studio.

“I set up a map of Indiana on the wall and listened to the weather service radio all the time. I used Scotch tape and put some over all the different cities on the map. That way I could wipe off old temperatures and update them.”

He said news theme music was important to him. “Somewhere in the basement I still have those tapes.”

I’d pay top-dollar to hear those.

Coakley was an admitted nerd as a kid. He would add news to the “broadcasts” later. You’d think with his weather reports, Coakley might have gone to school to be a meteorologist. That was a no-go.

“I’m good at math but I hate science,” he said. “For whatever reason. I was all over math.”

On his show, Coakley said he loves it when people message him and say they don’t agree with anything he says on the air, but add that he’s fair.

“I always tell people not to assume too much about somebody else,” Coakley said. “I urge them not to get caught up in labels. Instead, ask a lot of questions. We’re about individuals.”

Coakley makes the distinction between political leaders and individuals.

“Many talk radio types lump everybody together in one bundle, and that’s a mistake. If you take the time to talk with them, many more people may agree with you on issues than you think. The fighting and arguing is counterproductive.”

He’s a man of deep faith. Coakley said much of what he does is driven by his spiritual values. Coakley believes in his foundation of being a follower of Christ and being a servant to those values. He said ultimately that’s what’s needed.

“My relationship with God is all that I am, all that I do,” Coakley said. “That relationship has a direct impact on how I handle the program. I never cut callers off. If they’re offended, I hope they’re offended by the information and facts as I see them. Not by the way I treated them.”

Coakley said in 2008 we elected our first American Idol president in Barack Obama. In 2016, we elected a Celebrity Apprentice.

“I’ve said this on my show. It’s all about the Trump factor now. People who support Trump won’t acknowledge his faults. Others want the entertainment associated with Trump.”

Coakley explained he had a great caller recently who asked what supporters are thinking of Trump since he lost in 2020.

“The question was what has he done for suburban women since he lost,” Coakley explained. “You’ve got to win those independents and right now they are not impressed. They’ve seen his inaction. I can’t tell you which way all of this is going. I’m convinced there is a thoughtful group out there where they can forge a consensus on the most important things.”

With his program, Coakley said his listeners get something very different from standard fire-breathing talk radio. Instead, he’s about trying to uplift, empower, and encourage. Not simply stir people into a frenzy every day.

“I hope that’s distinct,” he said.  “As a rule, I try to avoid hyperbole. But that’s been a long process. Throughout my broadcasting career, it has been important for me to find my own voice. It’s great to admire other broadcasters, maybe emulate some to a degree, you have to find your own voice.”

Coakley said we have to avoid giving in to the mob. That’s where he’s concerned we are dealing with a mob mentality. He wants to provoke thought rather than emotion.

“In recent years, the Republican party has lost its way. I love being a driving force and I don’t care what my listeners’ ideology is. When our Founding Fathers wrote their documents, they pledged to each other their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. That went for everybody, regardless of party affiliation. Some of these folks aren’t thinking anymore.”

Coakley addresses the issues of the day calmly and rationally. He said the energy devoted to climate change may be a waste of time.

“I don’t deny strange things are happening with our climate,” Coakley said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re experiencing a climate shift. The first supposition is that human activity has caused it. The earth has experienced cataclysmic climatic activity in its history.”

Coakley questioned whether the changes have had anything at all to do with man.

“In my view, cyclical things going on have nothing to do with man. In our arrogance, we like to think we can control more than we do.”

He said there’s no doubt the earth is entering a season where it’s warmer than it has been in recent history. Coakley thinks it’s going to shift back again.

“Here’s what amuses me–how can we be so sure about climate when they can’t even be accurate with a seven-day forecast.”

Whether or not you agree with Coakley’s views on climate change, that was funny.

As a species, Coakley said we need humility.

“I said that at the beginning of the Covid crisis. We need humility to help us understand what’s going on. I think too many people like Anthony Fauci were telling us something they assumed to be true and they weren’t.”

Coakley is gratified with the way his life and career have gone.

“I’m still trying to figure out what might come next. That doesn’t diminish the importance of what I do now or how much I’m enjoying it. I want to be involved in laying groundwork for something redemptive for the next generation. I’m not exactly sure how that will manifest, but I will share an overused line… stay tuned.”

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Don Lemon Was On His Way to Becoming Tucker Carlson

one of these men played a big hand in costing his network money and the other was on his way to doing the same thing.

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Yes, their names have already been ferried throughout the media platforms, social and otherwise, and the follow-ups are bound to continue but I am prone to exhibit bouts of paranoia and insecurity, therefore let us beat the proverbial dead horse. I have read more than once that Tucker Carlson and Don Lemon were, “fired for doing their jobs.”

I have already been subjected to the speculation that the issue was either this incident or that incident or this complaint or that one, whatever.

My belief is far more simple-minded; one of these men played a big hand in costing his network money and the other was on his way to doing the same thing.

Go ahead and think if you will that it had more to do with the things they said but in the case of Mr. Carlson, I think Fox counted on him to do exactly what he was doing and saying because he had an audience and an audience means money.

For Mr. Lemon, it was likely more subtle; a little controversy now and then draws interest, interest draws and audience, and yada, yada, yada.

Firings are rarely easy to digest but I do not believe the future of humanity is at stake here. Nor do I expect that either of these men’s economic livelihood to diminish in any substantial way. Wrong as it is, that does tend to lessen one’s concern just a bit.

Plus, unless they suddenly choose to change career paths and become deep-sea anglers or rock-climbing instructors, I am quite sure they’re going to pop up again somewhere. If not Newsmax or MSNBC, no doubt NewsNation can squeeze in another.

After all, the actions and responses of networks and parent companies are so unpredictable, therefore it is hard to imagine what a talk host must do to really be kicked to the curb. Okay, maybe Matt Lauer but otherwise, would anyone have really guessed that NewsNation would offer shelter to Chris Cuomo and then keep Chris Cuomo after his podcast comments about wanting to kill others and himself after CNN let him go?

Again, in this coffee drinker’s view, it all comes down to money, and that is so predictable.

If by going after McCarthy Murrow was going to cost CBS some big money or a fine cigarette advertiser, how long would he have been kept around?

And Carlson, Lemon, Cuomo, et all…they ain’t Murrow.

There is another take on the reality of all this, probably an unpopular one. We are looking at a stream of censorship here. In its purest form, this is a rough example of censorship. The things these men said and were saying led to their removals.

Many people have lost jobs and taken hits to their reputations for what came out of their mouths. I’m not saying right or wrong and I don’t like or agree with a lot of things that come out of a lot of people’s mouths every day. But the comparisons about who goes and who gets to stay will not die out anytime soon.

Censorship and the cancel culture will always be concerning to more than just someone like me. I am a firm believer in no holds barred expression, comedy willing to make fun of everything, and even crazy people in politics allowed to have their say.

(By the way, the political culture is largely expected to represent the community it serves so what’s right is right and anyone offended by or taking issue with my use of the term, crazy is in for a long night.)

As it was a business-related story, I expected it to be high in A Blocks of coverage if not in fact the lead story when news of the removals broke.

Annoyingly enough though, when ABC News World News Tonight topped with the stories, they referred to Fox’s Carlson as a Host and CNN’s Lemon as an Anchor.

Nope. Carlson, Lemon, Kimmel, Fallon, Maddow, and Coulter, etc…some are just funnier than others.

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