Translation: If you’re going down, you might as well go down in a memorable way.
Donald Trump sure is memorable and the same could have been said about talk radio some 20 years ago.
Conservative talk radio and the Republican party are connected, once again trying to energize their common “base.” Each are equally disconnected to generational changes, ethnic and demographic changes and generally the world around them. Each comfortably exists in an echo chamber of stale talking points, opinions and ideas, insecure in their beliefs, distrustful of any thoughts that may differ.
The problem is their common “base,” the angry 65+ year old white male, is shrinking and not the future for either’s survival. Their “base” is dropping dead and they refuse to acknowledge it or adjust accordingly.
Some conservative talk radio hosts love Donald Trump talking about how he’s going to make things great again. Again? A slogan that romanticizes the past? This may give the “base” and these hosts some comfort, but nothing is going to stop change. Nothing ever stops change.
Donald Trump is a master at manipulating the media. He understands ratings are what counts and the media loves him for it. Trump is making a typically boring presidential campaign great reality television. Successful political campaigns are entertaining and Trump knows this.
Many conservative talk radio hosts have gone all in on Trump and most haven’t thought about their exit strategy should he lose.
Every four years, the “1%” tells those of us educationally and economically less fortunate our lives suck. It’s a classic misdirection play. Get us mad about this over here, so we don’t see what’s going on over there. No presidential candidate, regardless of the party, would ever risk empowering us “99%’ers.” Doing so would put their own status, wealth and influential power at risk.
Four years ago it was “1%’er” Mitt Romney telling us our lives sucked. This year it’s people like Hillary Clinton, who along with her husband, has a net worth of about $111,000,000. Poor by what Trump claims, but a hell of a lot wealthier than we’ll ever be.
You’re watching a civil war within the Republican party, the establishment at war with its members, and by its association, you’re witnessing the end of conservative talk radio. Call it a peaceful overthrow of establishment Washington politics. Call it whatever you want. The goal is to retain the “1%’s” wealth and power.
You know who’s also part of the “1%,” with a keen interest in maintaining the status quo? Many conservative talk radio hosts who have sold their access and voices to the highest political bidder.
Conservative talk radio hosts are also part of establishment Washington politics, because many have been paid off by “think tanks,” as political contributions are funneled to them to maintain tranquility and order.
Oh. You didn’t know that? It’s kind of like music payola, only for words. Don’t believe me? Believe Republican Washington insider and former Congressman Dick Armey!
For years radio talk hosts have been carrying the water for ill conceived policies and lying politicians of both parties. On the conservative side, there’s Limbaugh, Beck and others telling the angry 65+ year old white man his life sucks. On the liberal side there’s Ed Schultz with basically the same message – many living the life of the “1%.”
For once I’m starting to think Glenn Beck’s phony “crying on cue” may be real, because his “1%” life is at risk.
Let’s look at what the future holds for conservative talk radio.
- Nielsen ratings for news/talk stations will show a nominal increase in listening in 2016. You’ll hear the industry press crow conservative talk radio is growing and year to year that will be true. But, one must look back a few years to see a trend and after November that trend will point down…sharply.
- Donald Trump will cause listeners to sample news/talk stations for the first time as they search for political information. Stations and hosts will take an even more polarizing, hard right leaning view. Instead of trying to embrace these new listeners, who have more moderate social beliefs and convert them to regular listeners, the focus stays on the shrinking and angry 65+ white male audience. Stations and hosts will effectively chase new listeners away because of extreme viewpoints. These new listeners will never return.
- In 2016, as in 2012, radio companies will be left waiting for political campaign ad spend. It again comes late and with less money budgeted for radio overall. Political campaigns put much of their money elsewhere, in other mediums and other radio formats, because conservative talk radio’s audience is too narrow, small and has diminishing influence.
Credit: Borrell Associates
- AM radio is already on life support due to failed F.C.C. policies and lack of programming innovation by consolidator companies. Conservative talk radio exists almost entirely on the AM broadcast band and has no future because of it.
- Thursday, November 10, 2016, two days after the general election, the end begins for conservative talk radio.
Donald Trump is the symbolic torch.
As Neil Young sang, “It’s better to burn out, than to fade away.”