Talk Radio's Challenges The Focus At New Media Seminar
October 11, 2012 at 5:27 PM (PT)
The fall edition of the TALKERS NEW MEDIA SEMINAR, co-sponsored by the LOS ANGELES PRESS CLUB, came to the STEVE ALLEN THEATER in LOS ANGELES TODAY (10/11).
Pattiz Discusses Loss Of Ad Revenue, Need To Adapt
Keynote speaker NORM PATTIZ of COURTSIDE ENTERTAINMENT discussed the need to deal with change in the radio business, from the "dwindling" advertising base for conservative talk radio to competition from new technology. "The audience for conservative talk radio is still there," PATTIZ declared, but noted that the RUSH LIMBAUGH-SANDRA FLUKE controversy was used by MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA and others with a political agenda against talk radio; he recounted how advertisers (many of whom were unaware they were advertising on talk radio at all) were targeted and a "tremendous chunk of advertising revenue... was wiped out." He said that the result was a loss of revenue for all talk radio, adding that media companies' debt load is placing "intense" pressure on the creative end of the business. "Those rules are changing" because servicing debt is more important to the business than the quality of the content, PATTIZ said. He criticized the practice of giving programming away online for free or "peanuts," saying that he is "going to try to do something about it."
Looking At Talk Radio's Big Picture
A panel featured CBS NEWS' HARVEY NAGLER, CUMULUS, MIKE MCVAY, SALEM's PHIL BOYCE, PREMIERE's DON MARTIN, WYD MEDIA MANAGEMENT's RON HARTENBAUM, and SOUND MIND LLC's KRAIG KITCHIN. MCVAY discussed his company's approach to spoken-word radio, saying that it sees morning shows like HEIDI HAMILTON and FRANK KRAMER on Classic Rock KLOS/LOS ANGELES as "a talk show." BOYCE addressed the advertising situation by declaring that the political forces attacking RUSH LIMBAUGH were really trying to attack the format itself, and said that while it hurt talk radio, "they can't kill us." KITCHIN gave his view of GLENN BECK's success creating his online presence, NAGLER said, "we're not in the radio business anymore, we're in the content business," calling on radio to create compelling content, "otherwise we're going to be falling by the wayside." HARTENBAUM focused on STEPHANIE MILLER's expansion into live events with the "Sexy Liberal" comedy tour, and MARTIN ascribed Sports talk's recent boom to it being "safe" as compared to traditional talk and able to deliver male audiences, and to the television networks deciding that they need to be where their audiences are at all times, including radio and online.
Sabo On Defending Controversial Talk, Need For Exclusive Premium Shows
WALTER SABO followed the panel by noting that the previous panel didn't offer many solutions for the problem of advertiser boycotts, and recalled the response of Talk WTKS (REAL RADIO 104.1)/ORLANDO to an AMERICAN FAMILY ASSOCIATION boycott -- sending food to the protestors, calling TV stations to get coverage, and giving AFA management's phone number on the air -- and Talk WKXW (NEW JERSEY 101.5)/TRENTON's stand against union protestors over its campaign to eliminate tolls on the NEW JERSEY TURNPIKE and GARDEN STATE PARKWAY ("don't blink," he advised management). His presentation noted the huge cume audience of talk radio in PPM against cable news channels, and tracked the rise of FM from the FCC's mandate of non-simulcast programming, drawing the conclusion that the explosion in FM ratings came from offering better, exclusive programming (and demonstrating that cable networks' success came when they offered original premium shows. SABO stressed the need for radio shows and talent to expand to producing online video, where audience and revenue growth far exceed radio growth. He also offered tips on making website video work, saying that web video works better up close (rather than the "surveillance video" most live streams use).
Following a presentation by CBS RADIO News-Talk KFWB-A/LOS ANGELES weekend "BUSINESS ROCK STARS" host KEN RUTKOWSKI with entrepreneurial advice on using online content, a talk host panel convened with agent ERIC WEISS, SALEM Talk KRLA-A/LOS ANGELES-KTIE-A/SAN BERNARDINO (THE ANSWER) morning host HEIDI HARRIS, BEASLEY Talk KDWN-A/LAS VEGAS' ALAN STOCK, COMPASS MEDIA NETWORKS' LARS LARSON, TALK RADIO NETWORK's JERRY DOYLE, and "GOOD DAY" host DOUG STEPHAN.
Robin Bertolucci: Woman Of The Year
CLEAR CHANNEL Talk KFI-A/LOS ANGELES PD ROBIN BERTOLUCCI received the seminar's JUDY JARVIS "Woman of the Year" Award, adding to her already-extensive collection of honors, and consultant HOLLAND COOKE closed the pre-lunch agenda with tips on effective use of digital media.
The post-lunch schedule kicked off with a panel on selling talk radio, with COURTSIDE ENTERTAINMENT's BOB MOORE, TALK RADIO NETWORK's RUSTY HUMPHRIES, and KSCO-A/SANTA CRZ owner MICHAEL ZWERLING on hand. HUMPHRIES discussed his creative merchandising of private-label products like chili, salsa, beef jerky, and his latest venture, cigars. ZWERLING offered an explanation of how his station uses non-traditional revenue to make money without selling advertising. MOORE noted that the industry has "changed 180% in the last five months, and will change another 180% in the next five months." He said that radio needs to tell its story of how it works for advertisers.
A panel of talk programmers included PEAK BROADCASTING Talk KMJ-A-F/FRESNO PD SKIP ESSICK, BONNEVILLE News-Talk KSL-A-F/SAT LAKE CITY PD KEVIN LARUE, CLEAR CHANNEL Talk KNST-A-F/TUCSON PD and morning host GARRET LEWIS, CBS RADIO News KNX-A and KFWB ASSET TRUST News-Talk KFWB-A/LOS ANGELES PD ANDY LUDLUM, and SALEM Talk KRLA-A (AM 870 THE ANSWER) and Religion KKLA/LOS ANGELES PD CHUCK TYLER. The panel discussed the importance of local news on their respective stations and their own roles in managing and marketing their brands on the air and online.
A panel labeled "The Modern Day Pioneers" featured TOM LEYKIS, SHADOE STEVENS, CRN DIGITAL TALK RADIO's MICHAEL HORN, LATALKRADIO.COM's SAM HASSON, and syndicated "FREE TALK LIVE" co-host IAN FREEMAN. LEYKIS said that his "THE NEW NORMAL" streaming network will make a profit this year and discussed how his station can compete on an equal footing with terrestrial stations on apps like TUNEIN. HORN and HASSON recounted their company's origins and histories, STEVENS, who is hosting a show for SIRIUS XM RADIO, described his show as "mind-expanding interviews... real radio," and FREEMAN discussed the success his show has had as an independently-syndicated offering.
In the final session, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA PUBLIC RADIO News-Talk KPCC/PASADENA-LOS ANGELES host and LOS ANGELES TIMES columnist PATT MORRISON, BEASLEY Talk KDWN-A/LAS VEGAS and GENESIS COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK's Dr, DALIAH WACHS, CUMULUS News-Talk KGO-A/SAN FRANCISCO weekend host KAREL, and PREMIERE NETWORKS "SEAN HANNITY SHOW" VP Operations ERIC STANGER served on a panel on "The Art of the Show," with the guests talking about booking guests, creating entertaining radio, balancing local and national topics, how KPCC is covering the Vice Presidential debate, and Dr. DALIAH's pending appearance on "PAWN STARS" (CHUMLEY, she said, is "adorable").
CLEAR CHANNEL Talk KFI-A/LOS ANGELES morning host BILL HANDEL closed the day with a keynote speech exhiniting his usual irreverance about CLEAR CHANNEL owner BAIN CAPITAL, the elections, and other topics.