Talk Media Conference And Boot Camp Underway In Dallas
October 28, 2011 at 1:54 PM (PT)
The 2011 TALK MEDIA CONFERENCE and TALK SHOW BOOT CAMP is underway in DALLAS, with FRIDAY as the first full day of sessions after an opening ARBITRON format fly-in and cocktail party on THURSDAY. While the talk of DALLAS (and in the halls of the conference) was the epic WORLD SERIES Game 6, other undercurrents at the event were the industry-wide job cutting and the changes in talk radio towards FM and younger-skewing shows.
FRIDAY's opening session was a presentation by motivational author TIM SANDERS, offering a variant on positive-thinking advice, followed by a panel featuring "new voices of talk" including CBS RADIO Sports WBZ-F (98.5 THE SPORTS HUB)/BOSTON morning co-host RICH SHERTENLIEB, ENTERCOM Rock KISW/SEATTLE morning man BJ SHEA, PREMIERE NETWORKS host ANDY DEAN, UNITED STATIONS RADIO NETWORKS host KIM IVERSEN, BEASLEY Talk KDWN-A/LAS VEGAS morning host HEIDI HARRIS and syndicated evening host DR. DALIAH WACHS, and CLEAR CHANNEL Talk WGIR-A/MANCHESTER, NH's PAUL WESTCOTT. The hosts covered topics ranging from use of social media to the importance of producers in the present cost-cutting atmosphere.
A social media panel moderated by conference co-organizer AL PETERSON (pinch-hitting for CLEAR CHANNEL/MIAMI's KEN CHARLES) included consultant and former KFI-A, KNX-A, and KABC-A/LOS ANGELES PD DAVID G. HALL, PARAGON MEDIA STRATEGIES' MIKE HENRY, CUMULUS MEDIA NETWORKS' HARRY TOMASIDES, and CLEAR CHANNEL's BERKELEY WILSON, discussing the use of digital tools and social media in radio, including successes in the mobile space.
Lew Dickey: 'We're All In This Together'
CUMULUS Chairman, President and CEO LEW DICKEY appeared at the FRIDAY luncheon, discussing his life and family, his business practices ("I try to be fair"), and changes in the business. He noted that, unlike newspaper circulation or television viewership, radio listening has not precipitously declined In recent years, but said that the industry needs to be "slightly ahead of the curve" and advised, "We have to evolve, we have to modify, we have to change."
DICKEY echoed host DAVE RAMSEY's advice to "live within your means" in explaining the cuts being made in the markets in which his company took over CITADEL stations. "No apologies," DICKEY said about the cuts, which he said were necessary due to lower revenue. Noting that making the cuts was tough, he defended them by saying that the alternative would be insolvency, reminding the audience that CITADEL was bankrupt.
Asked by RAMSEY about whether he is as good at operating stations as he is at acquiring them, he said that his company is "an operating company that happens to be pretty good" at acquisition. He added that he is excited by the prospect of further consolidation, saying that creating an oligopoly will make radio more competitive.
DICKEY said that his biggest fear is that radio will fail to adapt for the future and fall into the same decline as the newspaper industry, and advised those on the "product side" (programming) to learn about the business side to understand how the medium makes money. "We're all in this together," he said.
Afternoon Sessions: Lifestyle Talk, Centrist Talk
In the afternoon, ABC NEWS RADIO's STEVE JONES, COLEMAN INSIGHTS' CHRIS ACKERMAN, the WALL STREET JOURNAL RADIO NETWORK "THE DAILY WRAP" host MICHAEL CASTNER, consultant RANDY LANE, and ENVISION RADIO NETWORKS' DANNO WOLKOFF were featured on a panel moderated by CUMULUS' MIKE MCVAY about incorporating lifestyle and pop culture talk in talk radio. LANE cited CLEAR CHANNEL Talk KFI-A/LOS ANGELES midday host BILL CARROLL's criterion for a topic's worthiness: "If it's interesting, and people are talking about it, then it's news." The panel also discussed how talk and news programming needs to adapt to work in new media. "The clock is ticking for all of us" on being ready to transition programming to the digital space, ACKERMAN said.
Seizing The Middle Ground
Former longtime KGO-A/SAN FRANCISCO OM JACK SWANSON, consultant RICHARD HARKER, DIAL GLOBAL host MICHAEL SMERCONISH, and TRIBUNE Talk WGN-A/CHICAGO GM TOM LANGMYER joined consultant JOHN MCCONNELL for a talk about the development of centrist political talk. The audience honored SWANSON, who was recently fired by incoming CUMULUS management, with a standing ovation before the panel for his work at KGO. MCCONNELL said that "something is afoot in this country," citing poll figures provided by ABC's JONES showing a larger number of people declaring themselves as independents than ever before and STARBUCKS' HOWARD SCHULTZ calling for millionaires to suspend donations to politicians until elected officials address the economic crisis. SWANSON quoted HOWARD BEALE's rant from "Network," LANGMYER noted people's difficulty in defining what his station's political position is, and SMERCONISH discussed his "radical centrism," outlining how his positions don't neatly fall under a single category of political philosophy ("faux ideological" categories, he said, likening them to SATURDAY morning wrestling).
The FRIDAY lineup was scheduled to end with a speech by WESTWOOD ONE host ROBERT WUHL. A full slate of sessions SATURDAY morning will lead to a luncheon with MERLIN MEDIA's RANDY MICHAELS and WALTER SABO.