May 18, 2012
There's another talk radio convention/seminar/meeting thing coming up in a few weeks, and I'll be there. I'm always there, at every one of these things. You know how I feel about conventions, but there's a place for them: You can't, for example, get a better opportunity to have some face time with people in the industry, and it's always good to see friends and associates with whom my only live contact tends to be at conventions. So I'm not complaining too much about that.
What does, however, bother me is what struck me when I looked at this show's agenda. Every single name on the agenda is someone who's been on the agenda for countless talk radio conventions in the past. The room will be filled with, largely, the same people as last year, and the year before, and the year before that. There's no new blood.
That's not necessarily the fault of the convention. It's more the fault of the talk radio industry. Talk radio continues to be the same people doing the same things, year after year. At least, if you define talk radio as just what's on terrestrial, traditional radio, it's mostly a closed shop.
If, as we assume, talk radio will grow as it migrates to FM, opening that club to new members is critical. It's not just a matter of bringing new people into the room, it's a matter of opening ourselves to new ideas. Talk radio people tend to be remarkably closed-minded when it comes to programming that doesn't fit the mold of what came before, but sticking to the "tried and true" is a recipe for stagnation and rapidly aging demographics.
We've discussed before the problem of developing talent, but talent is developing without talk radio, just in a different form: podcasts, streaming, video. Yet, even the most successful podcasters or streamers would be interested in doing terrestrial radio, too, if the situation was right. Also, money. Editorial freedom is great, but getting a larger audience and paying the mortgage are also important. A reasonable amount of all of the above is ideal. And in return, talk radio can reach new audiences and find new ways of doing what it does and grow.
Or we can gather, the same people as always (myself included), and pontificate about the future of the medium. Instead of talking to ourselves about it, it's time to bring new generations into the conversation. And it's not just to have them learn about how to do talk radio; The industry stands to learn from them, too.
New and old talent alike needs stuff about which to speak, pontificate, bloviate, or orate on the air, and that's the reason for the existence of Talk Topics, the show prep column at All Access News-Talk-Sports, which has hundreds of topic ideas and news stories and kicker items, all available for free by clicking here; all the topics are also linked on Twitter at @talktopics. Don't forget the radio industry's first-best-most complete coverage at Net News, with the top stories tweeted at @allaccess. And this week, after we talked with Fox Sports Radio Daybreak co-host Andy Furman last week, this week it's "10 Questions With..." his Daybreak partner, former NFL player Artrell Hawkins, he of the deep voice and deep football knowledge. Read 'em both!
Follow me on Twitter and Facebook with my personal accounts at @pmsimon and www.facebook.com/pmsimon, and read the pop culture stuff I write and edit over at the aforementioned Nerdist.com. And watch the videos on the Nerdist Channel at YouTube, and I'll just say that Friday's episode of Justin Willman's magic show there has a trick I can't even begin to figure out, with a ring disappearing and then materializing in a most unusual place. You can see that one here. Good stuff.
The Revlon Run/Walk for Women last Saturday? It went well, "well" meaning that there were no mishaps and we made it to the Coliseum without incident. Also, we raised a nice amount for research into the cause and cure of women's cancers, prevention, education and support service programs, and we celebrated my wife Fran's six years of survival. We appreciate the support of everyone in the business and all of you who donated. And there's still time to donate: just go to do.eifoundation.org/goto/pmsimon2012. Hey, you can always use a deduction, and it's a great cause. Thank you!