Have you ever noticed when something is charted and it’s on an upward or downward trajectory, there are always lots of peaks and valleys to the trend average?
You see it with the stock markets, in the stats of professional football players and in TV and radio ratings. Whatever is being graphed will have slight ups and downs, but it’s when you pull back and look at the big picture…that’s when the true trend is revealed.
A few days ago, Nielsen released a report on their September PPM ratings. The report shows listening to news/talk stations is up 4% from August 2014 and up 9% from July. Great news I say, considering the depths news/talk stations were found at following the June and July 2014 ratings period.
The radio industry and some of the press that follows it started cheering the news – pom poms in hand.
It’s not like I enjoy peeing in everyone’s corn flakes and ruining the moment, but everyone needs to step back, focus and look at the trend…the big picture. All of us with a stake in news/talk radio owe it to the format by facing reality and speaking the truth to try and eventually salvage what can be saved.
I’ve been very outspoken about the irrelevant content in news/talk radio today. The format has lost touch with the wants, needs and sensibilities of America in 2014. The format is catering to the viewpoints of one small, shrinking, aging and overwhelmingly male group. Is there a place for today’s conservative talk radio, the one that misguidedly dominates the news/talk format? Of course, but as one selection on a grander news/talk format menu. Today, we find the format being defined by the descriptive name “talk radio.” Fairly or not, those two words have come to mean “extreme right-wing radio.”
Since I last wrote about talk radio’s ratings issues, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the rest of the usual conserva-talkers got the heave-ho from another FM, this one a translator in Market 262, better known as Williamsport, PA.
Exiled, but lucky for them, they still can be heard on a 1kw station at 1400.
National and local hosts alike keep parroting each other’s opinions. It’s almost as if Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin have a daily call to make sure their opinions align. I can’t imagine that happening, can you? Nah.
If you only read what some of the radio trade press wrote, you’d be thinking happy days for news/talk are back! But, if you would have clicked on the link supplied with each story, one taking you to the actual Nielsen report, you would have been greeting by this.
Let me remind you 2014 is an election year, a year that is supposed to bring a big ratings lift to the news/talk format. I fail to see one.
Additionally, even politicians are now failing to see the value of conservative talk radio. Below is what has been forecast from Borrell Associates, granted this prediction is for all radio formats.
Radio will see some $485.3 million in political ad dollars in the 2014 campaigns, a drop in share at 5.8% from the 6.5%, or $463.9 million spent on the medium in 2010. The firm predicts radio will rebound in 2016 with $1,088 billion or 8.8% of the political ad dollars.
I know radio formats are cyclical and every format goes through its highs and lows of popularity. Many use country as an example. But, country radio has continually reinvented itself. Gone are Loretta Lynn, George Jones and Hank Williams, Sr. Today county is Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood.
Talk radio today? It’s still Rush Limbaugh.
The Nielsen report also included a chart showing how the news/talk audience has aged in comparison to other formats.
News/talk radio must recognize the changes in America, socially, culturally, demographically and generationally. Beliefs, opinions, viewpoints have and are changing and that change cannot be stopped.
It’s news/talk radio’s job to reflect these changes. This has always has been radio’s job. It’s just some refuse to believe their world is in flux.
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