Talk Radio Notables Gather For Talk Show Boot Camp 2014
February 7, 2014 at 2:48 PM (PT)
The 2014 TALK SHOW BOOT CAMP opened FRIDAY at the OMNI HOTEL in frigid downtown DALLAS, gathering some of the biggest names in the Talk radio industry (those who could get there despite the weather, to be precise). The annual event was created by TALENTMASTERS' DON ANTHONY and is held in conjunction with GABE HOBBS MEDIA.
Research Project Looks At What Listeners Like, Dislike About Talk Radio
The weather kept opening speaker CAROLYN GILBERT of NUVOODOO at home in CINCINNATI, but with the help of SKYPE and the event's co-presenter GABE HOBBS, she and LEIGH JACOBS presented their latest research on Talk radio listeners and ratings participants. JACOBS explained which PPM participants are more likely to join the panel (middle-income households, between $50,000 and $90,000 a year) and what the "likelies" are like (cooperative, play contests, use social media). Ideology, he said, matters; those identifying as "very liberal" were more likely to participate in diary surveys, but "very conservative" people were less likely to participate for any survey.
TThe biggest spur to participate by a wide margin was money; ratings prospects are also more likely to notice advertising. Ideology does play a role in picking a station, with conservatives providing much of Talk radio's TSL and liberals favoring NPR, but a majority are to some degree not totally happy with the stations and wanting them to change. And talk listeners are 47% more likely than average to stay through commercials. Talk radio listeners favor FACEBOOK by a huge margin over YOUTUBE; TWITTER, LINKEDIN, INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST and SNAPCHAT are very far behind.
When asked if Talk radio does a good job of talking about issues that matter to them, and whether they agree with what they hear, the answer was more positive among conservatives. And the less conservative the respondent, the more likely that they thought that Talk radio talks too much about politics and is "mainly for angry people."
Topics that will build bigger shares, according to the survey, vary somewhat between those who like radio as it is, who prefer topics about the President, and those who aren't happy with the status quo, who were more interested in Obamacare, the minimum wage, and smoking with kids in the car. The same contrast showed between conservatives (all about the President) and moderates (minimum wage, smoking in cars, Obamacare, how impossible it is for poor people to eat healthy). On morning shows, heavy talk listeners turn to radio for traffic but other media take primacy for news and weather; over a third are not happy with their morning shows. Significantly, heavy Talk listeners rank "people who you enjoy" and "having a laugh" as almost as important as interesting information or discussion ot "things that really matter to you" and far more important than big-name guests and talk about trends and life-improvement. And older men comprise the biggest contributors for Talk radio's TSL.
How SoLoMo Changed The Media World
SAGA's STEVE GOLDSTEIN, who did make it to DALLAS, spoke about social, local, and mobile media -- "SoLoMo" -- and the disruption that the new media has wrought on traditional media and traditional businesses in general. "Things change and companies that don't adapt, perish," GOLDSTEIN noted, pointing at change that killed several retail businesses and how BEYONCÉ circumvented traditional marketing by releasing her latest album in digital form and without advance promotion. GOLDSTEIN chronicled the sharp downward descent of newspapers, the rise of disruptors like YELP, PANDORA, REACH LOCAL and others.who are targeting local advertising, and the growth of mobile, and noted that digital media use will exceed the time spent on TV this year (with radio "hanging in" better than print). He added that ESPN's mobile app use has exceeded that of its website and lauded the network for maintaining the mission of not being just a TV network but instead providing sports information wherever and however users want it.
But he also showed how radio, with just 2.5% of digital revenue, is getting "clobbered." Nevertheless, he asserted that radio is "doin' okay" and strong, including several of the new competitors like PANDORA and SLACKER who, he said, are radio (because users define them as such); still, radio's growth in streaming is being clobbered by pure-play streamers, and he urged that commercial broadcasters look at NPR's success in moving to a digital platform and reaching younger demographics.
Dealing With the Revenue Challenge
Talk radio's revenue travails in recent years took center stage for a panel moderated by the RAB's ERICA FARBER. ESPN's SCOTT MASTELLER, CUMULUS MEDIA NETWORKS' DENNIS GREEN, THEBLAZE RADIO NETWORK's BETSY MORGAN, CUMULUS/DALLAS' DAN BENNETT, and SOUNDMIND's KRAIG KITCHIN discussed the challenges of the business, including, notably, the need to control escalating talent costs (BENNETT noted that stations are trying to make the talent "business partners" who "share in the pain, share in the gain;" "it is a business, and we gotta hit the numbers," he added), cooperation between sales and programming, and what talent can do to help generate revenue.
The issue of Talk radio talent development was examined by a panel with PREMIERE's BRUCE GILBERT and JULIE TALBOTT, SALEM's TOM TRADUP, the recently retired JIM FARLEY of WTOP/WASHINGTON, and THEBLAZE RADIO NETWORK's DOM THEODORE, moderated by NTS MEDIA ONLINE's AL PETERSON. TALBOTT defended older talent as being able to adapt and talk about topics appealing to younger listeners based on research, and cited iHEARTRADIO as a place to develop talent; THEODORE said that his network's founder GLENN BECK instructed his staff to "throw out the rule book," and said that he's looking for a "really good storyteller ... the future of our industry is storytelling."
FARLEY discussed finding news reporters and anchors by discarding categories and rules and overcoming onerous HR rules ("find a job category that doesn't need to go through the HR process, like vacation relief ... then you can promote from within"). TRADUP also stressed the need for hosts to be storytellers and related how he handled controversial comments by show hosts, including defusing an incident with host BILL BENNETT by calling back all of the protestors while allowing the story to blow over. "We have to stand up for our talent and get behind them," TRADUP said. He advised prospective hosts to come up with pitches for themself other than "I'm the (fill in the blank) RUSH LIMBAUGH." And GILBERT said that the issue is not hosts' age but their life experience ("a good host is a bad Country song"), but added that "we have to be open to finding other people." He suggested that "We are too old and we are too white" in Sports radio, telling the people in the room that this issue needs to be addressed and agreeing with FARLEY that overnights and weekends should be used to let new hosts work on their acts.
And from the audience, JACK SWANSON, the former KGO-A/SAN FRANCISCO programmer, said that he had been informed by text that five more news staffers were fired today at his old station, replaced by news generated by CUMULUS' DALLAS news department, and bemoaned how the industry has cut back and has not invested in itself. "(It's) less relevant to everybody," he asserted, adding that "there are some great stations in AMERICA" but noted that "it costs a lot of money to do it" and that the successful stations "are not trying to make it cheaper."
Consultants Present, Glenn Beck Talks
In the afternoon, VALERIE GELLER started with a presentation on the seven essentials of top shows (content creation, unique content, caring about listeners, selling it, "product plus permanence plus promotion," having a digital specialist, storytellers), followed by presentations by KIPPER MCGEE on managing content across multiple platforms and STEVE JONES' "Brand Like a Rock Star" talk.
Because the slate ran late and due to restructions in GLENN BECK's schedule, "GLENN BECK: UNPLUGGED," featuring the PREMIERE/THEBLAZE host, moved up to an earlier slot and the panel on public relations and dealing with the media moderated by veteran public relations and marketing executive AMIR FORESTER moved back to the later slot. BECK insisted that hosts have "more opportunity... then ever before," namely the ability to go it alone online. Moved nearly to tears by an older friend's plight of being unable to take advantage of the new media, BECK lauded his own staff led by DOM THEODORE and CHRIS PETERSON in discussing the success of his own single network stream. BECK advised the audience to "simplify" and ask themselves, "do I really care" about whatever it is that they're talking about or doing. He added that talkers should "embrace change." At the end of his speech, BECK was presented with the event's annual ANDREW ASHWOOD Award by FARLEY, last year's winner. "I wish there were more of you in the business," FARLEY told BECK, who fought back tears while accepting the honor.
And the day's closing panel featued ROBYN WALENSKY from BECK's THEBLAZE RADIO NETWORK, CUMULUS Talk WMAL-A-F/WASHINGTON's LARRY O'CONNOR, CUMULUS Talk WBAP-A/DALLAS and WKIM/MEMPHIS host BEN FERGUSON, veteran talk radio executive AMY BOLTON, and agent HEATHER COHEN discussing with FORESTER how to best handle the media in a crisis.
SATURDAY's sessions will include HOBBS moderating "Talk Academy II," with consultant GREG MOCERI, CUMULUS' RANDALL BLOOMQUIST, CBS RADIO Sports KRLD-F (105.3 THE FAN) and News KRLD-A/DALLAS' GAVIN SPITTLE, CLEAR CHANNEL's KEN CHARLES, and WYD MEDIA's RON HARTENBAUM; "25 Great Ideas in 25 Minutes (or More)," moderated by CUMULUS' MIKE MCVAY and including PREMIERE host ANDY DEAN, CBS RADIO Talk WPHT-A/PHILADELPHIA host CHRIS STIGALL, CUMULUS Talk WBAP-A/DALLAS host CHRIS KROK, GENESIS COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK host DR. DAHLIA WACHS, and ALL ACCESS VP/Editor, News-Talk-Sports PERRY MICHAEL SIMON; and a presentation by consultant WALTER SABO on online video.