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News/Talk Feedback



Iíve been a semi regular reader of the postings here and rarely a contributor
but feel compelled to respond to a variety of postings Iíll lump into the
category of news/talk radio.  Forgive me if I bore the music only fans out
there but thatís the way it goes.

Reading the many opinions and thoughts posted makes me wonder how many major
market radio general managers, program, and/or news directors there are the in
the regular contributors to these postings with the messages of how the
current managers of the mentioned stations should be running their businesses.
All of you please raise your hands, please.   Hmmm, thatís what I thought.

Much of the postings comments focused on the recent weather problems
experienced during the past weekend.  Postings stating that Boston was
"virtually shut down" were simply incorrect.  The truth is that many, but not
all, of the major roads did have excessive flooding and traffic, and were
jammed with cars.  Driving through the storm in the middle of the city on the
expressway was indeed impossible.  But if any of you that actually live in the
city know is that during the weekend there are ways to get through the city
when the expressway and Storrow  Drive is jammed.   Many of the people who
drive the expressway during the weekend jst do not know the shortcuts through
the city.   At 6PM on Saturday those of us that got off the expressway to cut
through South Boston, or Dorchester, found empty streets and clear sailing to
our destinations on the opposite sides of the city, taking less time than
usual.  And the city was "virtually shut down."   In golf course language itís
called local knowledge.   Know the course.   

Does that excuse stations for not doing a better job during that storm?  Not
in my book.   But should a station be condemned for not being a 24/7 wall-to-
wall news station?  I think not.  If all you GMs, PDs, and ND,s out there
could hire another anchor or reporter you mean to tell me youíd put this new
person on overnights because thatís where the greatest need is?   Anyone give
any thought to adding that extra person during the day when most news actually
breaks and most people actually listen?   If you ran coffee shop or any other
business and could afford to hire another person wouldnít you add that person
to your prime time instead of deciding to keep the shop open overnights?
Staffing the overnights is just silly dreams of yesteryear, the way radio was
meant to be.   Is it not in the best interest of the station, the public, and
"Mel" or whomever to put your resources where the pay back is going to be the
greatest?  How much of a public service is it the majority of a stationís
audience to put extra resources on when the audience levels are at their
lowest?  

And of course I assume all of the readers of the postings have actually tried
in recent years to find writers, editors, and quality anchors, talk hosts,
etc. to work full or part time.  Talk to PDs and NDs across the country and
see if they have trouble finding staffing for anything or everything.   Youíd
be surprised at the number of people in a radio market that get laid off or
lose their jobs and still do not contact the major stations in town.  The fact
is that there are just so many fewer people in the radio business than ever
before and that the small stations used for training grounds for the major
markets just donít do the product anymore.    Donít  even ask about the EEO
pressure.  If you havenít been there you donít know it.  How many of you that
do work at small stations have in recent years sent your resumes and tapes to
the major stations in Boston?  Raise your hands once again.

I often find the argument that "this medium or that medium" has gone down hill
and "isnít what it used to be"  very amusing.  Does the majority public not
get what it asks for?  Is there a reason Jerry Springer is now the most
popular TV talk show host replacing Oprah in that role?  Has not the invention
of push buttons and TV clickers created a generation of radio and TV
listeners/viewers that jump from one station to another the moment their
attention span wanders or a commercial comes on?  How many of us are guilty of
that?  Some of you did correctly point out this attention span issue. Isnít
that why the radio news formats are what theyíve evolved into.  One posting
lamented the weather every ten minutes declaring "it doesnít change that
fast."   Clearly this person has no understanding why the format is designed.
Of course weather doesnít change that fast.   News radio is a cume building
format.  Cume is built with regular benchmarks people can depend on such as
traffic and weather together, etc.   Thatís why the weather is thereso often,
not because itís an updated forecast.    

Full service radio would still exist today if people would have stayed with
it.  If you remember in the late 80s WMJX tried beefing up its news
department, as WVBF had done over the years, to compete with full service
stations like WHDH and WBZ.   It didnít last.   The thing is people still tend
to come to AM for news and will still until the AM band is replaced.  FM news
just doesnít work (spare me the WBUR argument.  Who cares about the "rainfall
in Rwanda and how it affects the gorilla population" type of NPR news.  WBUR &
NPR just donít give you breaking news).  Radio is more narrowcasting than
before.  Each station marks off its own territory and makes itís own identity
different from itís old competitors.

When understanding how radio works today youíd realize that jumping into a
crisis talk or news format is not a hardship for news/talk stations.  If
theyíre doing it correctly they make more money during those times then when
in whatever their regular format is.   So, saying that one company or another
is too cheap to jump into crisis coverage shows a lack of understanding on
what is set up at these stations.  They all have contingency  advertisers that
get inserted into these types of things.  So they get more listeners and more
revenue.  There is actually more pressure from the sales department to jump
into the storm type of coverage that actually warrants doing so.

Seeing previous postings on Howie Carr and the state of WRKO.   Some postings
suggested why doesnít RKO get rid of Carr and actually put on someone that
actually makes money for the station.  Have you looked at the ratings for
Howie compared with the rest of the station?  Heís the reason theyíre able to
sell anything.  Most of the people I hear complaining about Howie think he
still does his column on the radio and havenít listened to him recently.  Does
he do as much politics as before? No.  The public isnít as interested in it.
Heís not creating or leading the trend; heís following it.   They werenít
making money paying Clapprood 326K per year.   And the ratings for Katz and
Darlene just arenít there.   Rush has peaked and is not climbing anymore.
The Chicks have peaked.    Maybe we should put the 70 year old guy back on.
Heís probably the only one on the station that can identify with the 25-54
year olds we need.

Enough for now. 

LaterÖ..

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