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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