A Peek Into Talk Radio’s Future

I was thinking about summer the other day.  I love summer.  Growing up in the Northeast and living most of my life there or in the Midwest, summers are very special.  The short summer is special because it ends.  Lasting memories can only be created when something stops, allowing one to remember with fondness.  I think those who grow up in the south miss out on one of life’s true joys, summer in the north.

Most things in life are created, grow, mature, decline and then die.  It’s the natural order of things.  A life cycle.


Radio formats are no different.  “Nostalgia” and “Beautiful Music” stations are gone.  Mainstream AC stations have changed playlists over time, as have rock stations.  Those that transform with society and culture, refocus on new audiences, reflect the beliefs of those audiences and “re-vitalize” survive. Those that don’t leave us with memorable moments, special friendships and a yearning for the good old days, like summers gone by.

Talk radio can survive, but not without fundamental changes.

The conservative talk radio of today began because it found a group of people in the late 80’s and early 90’s who were frustrated with government inaction, a bad economy, the money pit that is public education and relentless crime.  Conservative talk radio became the voice for this “tribe” of people who lacked a soap box to yell from.  The topics haven’t changed much since then, but culture has, something talk radio station owners, programmers and hosts have failed to acknowledge and address.

Those that discovered talk radio 25 years ago are now 60, maybe 65 and older.  These listeners from the Baby Boom generation become less and less relevant in culture and society with each passing day. Sorry Boomers.  Here’s the brutal truth.  You’re not appealing to advertisers.  You’re not the future. You’re the past.

I have been talking about this generational shift to radio station staffs and industry suits for over 10 years or more.  10 years ago talk radio was still doing OK.  It was hard to envision what was coming. Wrongly, the talk radio of today continues to reflect the beliefs of a past generation and not address the needs and concerns of generations that would resuscitate new life into a quickly aging and dying format, one that will go the way of “Beautiful Music” radio within the next 5 to 7 years, maybe sooner. All bets are off after the 2016 Presidential election.

Pew Research did a study focusing on the forgotten Gen X’ers.  Their data, however, provides a peek into the future of culture, society, media and talk radio.  This is the future America.


The future America, yet conservative talk radio today continues the narrative of an old white male.


The future America, yet conservative talk radio today maintains a homophobic viewpoint.


Here’s something every politician knows and few will admit.  The future America, yet conservative talk radio’s narrative is to ignore issues confronting younger generations, issues like college loans that will never be repaid and destroying a generation’s future.  Conservative talk radio today mindlessly points fingers of blame at political foes.


The future America, yet conservative talk radio today continues a narrative of “send them back.”


The future America, yet conservative talk radio today moves deeper into religious fundamentalism.


This is how President Barack Obama was elected twice. The future America and how younger generations communicate.  They don’t need today’s conservative talk radio soap box.


Instead of being critical of these new generations and their beliefs, talk radio station owners, programmers and hosts need to understand generational changes, embrace the differences and reset to be the voice of a new tribe of people.

Otherwise talk radio will soon be a fond memory of a summer gone by.  It sure was fun while it lasted.


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  6 comments for “A Peek Into Talk Radio’s Future

  1. Lou Kasman
    July 2, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Darryl you nailed it business/marketing 101 – The Life Cycle and a perfect example is talk radio or should I say AM radio. What boggles my mind is the big guys, CC and Cumulus haven’t come up with a new product.

  2. July 2, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    So Darryl – Know anyone looking to hire someone at the forefront of the next civil rights fight? (LGBT rights) And well versed in every single issue listed above? Just curious…

    • July 3, 2014 at 1:16 pm

      Hey Leslie. When I hear something (or create something), you’re at the top of my list. I hope you’re doing well. Enjoy the holiday weekend.

  3. Hans von Balkovsky
    July 7, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    So when the economy finally reaches the tipping point and when ethnic revanchism does the same in large areas of the US, La Rasa and the majority of the generation of impoverished never-to-own-homes-or-achieve-the-American Dream are going to luxuriate in the glories of multiculturalism and party-hearty gender-bending?

    Dream on-this ain’t the American dream you’re dreaming. At least when it all comes unwound, so will consolidated
    automatonic radio.


    Meanwhile there might be a program director opening in Guatemala City? Or as the invasion proceeds, a p.r. position with the no-talent “every gender-bender is equal as long as they ‘sing’ and ‘dance’ the virtues of promiscuity at 16” Miley Cyrus?

    You assume the “future” of America is going to be stable and prosperous enough to have a semblance of talk radio
    as you outline.

    Better you reposition rightward the “re-vitalize” from the chart and insert a logo of something Target’ management begs its customers not to tote, (fearing it might become a pattern that the bad guys might become one, I’m guessing.)

    That’s when and how the US, well, parts of it anyway, will become revitalized

  4. ebrew79
    July 7, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    This take was accurate! Bigots are dying out, Rush and company are offering nothing appealing to younger audiences. While progressive talk radio has never been a massive success, conservative talk radio has began it’s slide from the top and it is only going to get worse. http://wp.me/p4oODX-27

  5. Hans von Balkovsky
    July 10, 2014 at 10:44 pm


    Boohoohoo. Doesn’t it Tegucigalpa, errr, tug at your heartstrings?

    Parks believes the future talk show host, being hipper and more tolerant, must welcome the bambino invaders into the decaying United States, so the talker’s station can make big bucks before the invaders replace him with Sancho Sloan, whose own kids will employ Scott ‘Caulksman’ Sloan’s grandkids as their weedskeepers and

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