Talk Radio Figures Gather In New York For Talkers New Media Seminar
June 7, 2012 at 5:23 PM (PT)
The annual TALKERS New Media Seminar has split into two events (one each in NEW YORK and LOS ANGELES), and the 2012 edition's first one-day session started TODAY (6/7) in NEW YORK with TALKERS' MICHAEL HARRISON saying that he intends to change the seminar's name next year because "there's nothing new about new media."
PREMIERE's SEAN HANNITY opened the proceedings with a speech focused on problems he perceives with the measurement of audience size for radio and Internet listening, as well as a defense of controversy on radio, warning of well-funded, organized groups aiming to "silence political opponents." (Interestingly, ANGELO CARUSONE and JOE STRUPP of MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA, the organization behind protests against RUSH LIMBAUGH and prominent critics of FOX NEWS, were in attendance.)
A general "big picture" panel offered comments on a wide range of subjects, from measurement to the movement of radio programming to streaming online; on the panel were the WASLL STREET JOURNAL RADIO NETWORK's NANCY ABRAMSON, SALEM's PHIL BOYCE, SAGA's STEVE GOLDSTEIN, SOUND MIND LLC's KRAIG KITCHIN, TRIBUNE Talk WGN-A/CHICAGO's TOM LANGMYER, TALK RADIO NETWORK's MARK MASTERS, CUMULUS' MIKE MCVAY, and CBS RADIO's CHRIS OLIVIERO.
Consultant WALTER SABO offered a presentation on "innovation" that gave tips on how to best adapt to new media, including the need to not just ask listeners to "like" or "follow" them online but to return the favor by liking and following them back; he added that talk hosts' trumpeting of their large FACEBOOK followings should be viewed in light of the fact that Internet stars like The Annoying Orange have several times larger followings and suggested that the move of audiences to online video and audio is "a bog screw-you to traditional media. 'Finally, I get to talk about the things I'd like to talk about.'"
With the morning session running long, the schedule bumped some of the planned morning panels and presentations to the afternoon. A panel on programming, moderated by GABE HOBBS, dealt with issues like the impact of controversial content and what talk shows should be talking about. HUBBARD News WTOP/WASHINGTON PD LAURIE CANTILLO called "what happened earlier this year" (the LIMBUAGH controversy) "a blow" but called it an issue of responsibility as well. SALEM Talk WNYM-A (AM 970 THE ANSWER)/NEW YORK PD PETER THIELE warned against the assumption that talk radio will benefit from election year talk, saying that hosts tend to talk about "inside baseball" issues that "nobody cares about" and advising that stations focus on things listeners do care about, like jobs and the economy. CBS RADIO Sports KDKA-A (93.7 THE FAN)/PITTSBURGH PD TERRY FOXX said that as long as radio continues to connect with listeners, it "will be fine"; CUMULUS Talk WMAL-A-F/WASHINGTON's BILL HESS said that "the only challenge we have ... is that we talk about more things" beyond politics, noting that "not even on (CAPITOL) HILL is the talk only about politics." HESS also noted that while the LIMBAUGH controversy gave the station "a bumpy couple of weeks," but that local advertisers stuck with the show and station.
CUMULUS Talk WSBA-A/YORK's JIM HORN said that he senses hypocrisy from advertisers who advertise on a show like LIMBAUGH's because of the audience he generates with controversy, then pull the ads when the controversial programming generates protests. MONTICELLO MEDIA Talk WCHV-A-F/CHARLOTTESVILLE PD/host JOE THOMAS added that an additional problem is that most sales account executives in markets like his are young and inexperienced, leading to difficulty handling clients who threaten to pull advertising over controversy, although he said that his station's sales staff has managed to do a good job turning objections around.
Consultant HOLLAND COOKE gave tips on how to use new media tools and social media. "Advertisers don't buy transmitters or programming. They settle for attention, but crave engagement," COOKE said, noting that radio has the power of incumbency but that the industry should "milk it while you still have it." He advised broadcasters to "database your tribe," pointing to TOM LEYKIS using his follower database to launch his new online show.
The annual "talk rumble" free-for-all featured FOX NEWS RADIO's ALAN COLMES, PREMIERE's ANDY DEAN, syndicated "FREE TALK LIVE" host IAN FREEMAN, CBS RADIO Talk WPHT-A/PHILADELPHIA host DOM GIORDANO, DIAL GLOBAL/WYD MEDIA host THOM HARTMANN, TALK RADIO NETWORK and CLEAR CHANNEL Talk WGST-A/ATLANTA's RUSTY HUMPHRIES, ACCESS.1 Talk WWRL-A/NEW YORK's MARK RILEY, COMPASS MEDIA NETWORKS' TODD SCHNITT, and RADIO ONE Talk WOLB-A/BALTIMORE host LARRY YOUNG, with DIAL GLOBAL's JIM BOHANNON moderating. The panel debated political issues like the WISCONSIN recall election, gay marriage and illegal immigration.
Talk hosts TOM LEYKIS and LIONEL explained their new media initiatives on a panel labeled as a "digital workshop," and a panel on "how to make money with talk radio" included CUMULUS Talk WABC-A/NEW YORK's LAURA SMITH on her weekend show that features paid guests but is styled like a regular show, SALEM's MIKE GALLAGHER on monetizing his show, COURTYARD ENTERTAINMENT's BOB MOORE on finding new slots for syndicated features, and WYD MEDIA's RON HARTENBAUM offering the example of how STEPHANIE MILLER's show inadvertently became a merchandiser of "Sexy Liberal" hats and shirts.
Veteran talk host BARRY FARBER was given TALKERS' Lifetime Achievement Award, while WTOP/WASHINGTON's JIM FARLEY was honored with the Freedom of Speech Award and CBS RADIO Sports WFAN-A/NEW YORK and DIAL GLOBAL's BOOMER ESIASON was given the SHARON L. HARRISON Memorial Award for Community Service. At the event's luncheon, TALK RADIO NETWORK's MARK MASTERS gave an impassioned talk decrying the development of "monopolies" shutting out independently-produced programming in favor of their own slates. And CUMULUS' MIKE HUCKABEE related how his career started in radio as a teenager, with his radio income helping get him through school.