What We Learned, 2012 Edition
November 30, 2012
So, talk radio people, are we better off now than we were a year ago?
Yeah, didn't think so. 2012 was a mixed bag for the format, but after L'Affaire Fluke, at least people in the business started to confront the issues they'd avoided for years, the lack of development of new talent and new kinds of talk programming to be ready for the day when the Old Guard steps down or falters. At least, I noticed that at the Talk Show Boot Camp in New Orleans the other week, more people were accepting that we, as an industry, have to develop talent and programming to appeal to a larger potential audience than Men 75-plus. That's encouraging. And the move of more talk and sports stations to FM is also encouraging, although not everyone seems to have learned that taking a station that isn't even doing that well on AM and slapping it on FM with no fundamental changes in programming, talent, imaging, or philosophy will not magically fix anything. Even so, we're ending the year with some solid success stories on FM and AM, which can't hurt.
What's discouraging is that a) I'm not sure that everyone knows what they're looking for -- I'll believe they do when I hear more people who don't sound like just a younger version of Rush and Sean on the air -- and b) It really doesn't matter unless the people who weren't in that room -- the corporate folks, the CEOs and corporate managers -- are on the same page. Right now, I'm not sure they are. I'm hopeful to have those fears proven unfounded in 2013, but I'll believe it when I hear it.
But, as I've said before, if you're a creator -- a host, a producer, a writer -- 2012 has been filled with opportunity and 2013 will be, too. It may not be on a broadcast station, however. There has never been a time in history when it has been easier to create and disseminate whatever you want to do, whether it's a radio show or video or writing or drawing or anything. The challenge is to monetize that, but it can and probably will happen. It would be nice to see it happen in 2013. But if you're unhappy with what you can do on the radio, or if you're on the outside looking in right now, you already have the tools to do it yourself, for free. So do it.
And with that, I'm going to wrap it up for the year. Talk Topics will continue updating for as long as I can stand it (at least another couple of weeks), so you can get your fill of material for your shows the usual way, by clicking here for the full column or going to Twitter at @talktopics, where you'll find every story linked to the appropriate item. I will, of course, still be posting the usual inanities on my personal, not-All Access'-fault Twitter account, too: @pmsimon, and please do follow me there. Of course, I'm on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pmsimon as well, and I'll be posting stuff as usual all through the holidays at Nerdist.com, where I'm the Editor-in-Chief and we have plenty of fun, diverting stuff to satisfy your inner (or outer) nerd. Oh, and you definitely want to check out the Nerdist Channel at YouTube, too, where we just debuted Neil Patrick Harris' show and have lots more on the way.
And that's it. Thanks to Don Anthony and Gabe Hobbs for the hospitality at Talk Show Boot Camp this year. I'll be back with more columns in January, which will include my impressions from International CES in Las Vegas. Happy holidays, whatever you may celebrate (reminder: Hanukkah is early this year, and you should also get your Christmas chocolate Santas early so they don't run out of the good ones -- I recommend See's, if you're in California). Talk to you in '13.