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View Diary: Clear Channel Loses $424 Million in 2012, StopRush Rolls On (87 comments)

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  •  OK. Some radio talk (14+ / 0-)

    Radio works by two guidelines:

    Local buys and Aribtron.

    If you have a show that doesn't do fantastic arbitron #s but has a high local buy number, it will stay running.  If you've ever wondered why AM Radio stations may have a "Master Plumber" radio show on a Sunday or Saturday, that's why.  The local buys into those shows act almost like infomercials and the value of the spots matters.

    On the other hand, you have Arbitrons.  Arbitrons are the metered ratings you sell to everyone else, and they help decide how buyers place their money.

    In many areas in the south and midwest, conservative radio flourishes not because they are willing to lose money, but because they are making money, and unfortunately quite a bit of it.  

    We can highlight Clearchannel's loss, but after looking through their statements most of this is one time investment and refinancing losses, not related to their radio performance.

    Many networks who are not clearchannel, especially smaller networks, latch onto programming based on talk.  It's easy to seperate "Sports" and "Political" talk and consider them totally different animals (mentally) but as far as #s go, it doesn't matter.   This is why if country music was on an upswing you'd see some flagging AC station change it's genre, or when Hip Hop has value, FM dial stations skew that way.

    What is happening with political talk though is more geared around the local buy AND the arbitron.  It also shows how week the rest of the market is.

    Two years ago, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity and others ran radio programs where they flouted their numbers and market penetration.   That's not happening at all now.  Their market penetration is flagging and the local buy through is not so good.  

    Most "conservative" themed radio stations have went to a mix that goes like this:

    Local News talk
    Rush
    Local News commentator
    Local News Nighttime drive commentator

    They've chopped everyone out of the game but Rush.  And this is happening in a lot of markets.

    This is where I think we may be missing a really ideal target here by focusing too much on Rush.  I get the value of defeating him, but at the same point the more he spreads his message what is really needed is an effective rebuttal.

    As more and more stations move to localize their afternoon content, you are going to have a much easier time making a case for a liberal-leaning alternative in the afternoon.   If you can't get that, start out with a more "crossfire" oriented local show, a real liberal, a real conservative.   This sounds creepy to some, but it works in the ratings, it's an easier local sell, and you'll find "real" people who are intelligent cannot make Rush's lunatic arguments and will give ground in a back and forth debate.

    THOSE kind of programs actually have some ratings number successes.

    Here's the alternative of what happens the other way.  Let's say tomorrow ClearChannel dumps Rush's contract and he flees to Satellite Radio.   Well, just like David Lee Roth trying to replace Stern, they will plug Hannity or whoever into that mid-day spot and it's going to tank.  

    I mean, badly tank.  We'd love to say liberal talk radio will work in those markets, and we believe that based on the idea that "local buys" will be heavy.   This sounds serious to a lot of people especially in more liberal places.   A business who would advertise on a progressive radio station in Mobile, AL or Joplin, MO markets would be on the same ground as how people in those areas feel about coming out of the closet ;)  The local buy and sell on ad spots would be horrible.

    So, how do you get around that?   Well, a big part of this is to build the discussion.  Like I said, most of these markets, especially third tier independent markets where Rush absolutely sweeps up (I'm talking places like Enid, Oklahoma, Hays, Kansas, Hastings, Nebraska, Springdale, Arkansas, etc.) where you aren't worried about major network reach.

    In those markets, for now, Rush needs to be an argument for a counter point.  

    If you're a program director, your biggest concern is bringing in revenue.   Counterpoint programming or "debate" programming is proving successful in many mid-major markets (Kansas City, Omaha, Little Rock) and could be easily adapted to more markets.

    I would need to look at more recent arbitrons to really get an idea of how this all ends up, but I'm still thinking over truly effective ways to communicate.   Because the biggest issue the left has isn't that Rush reaches so many people, it's that they don't.   If they had similar regional and local reach throughout the US, there would be much less of an issue; because once you give the opposing side you start changing the debate.

    I'm still thinking through this.   I think this is a good idea you're on to economically, I just think there are a lot of factors here.

    And if Rush were to leave let's say tomorrow as I propose, and a replacement fails, it wouldn't be liberal talk that would take over.. those stations - at least 2/3 of them, would immediately flip to sports to pay the bills.

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 12:06:23 AM PST

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    •  thanks for the great perspective on the radio biz (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tmservo433, elwior

      i hope you’ll keep up with the stoprush effort.

      i’ve been monitoring RW radio for over 20 years. i was living in western states where that was all there was and i checked it out while working and saw a lot of patterns over the years.

      there are a few things i’d add and i think it’s important to keep in mind the value of talk radio to the right as basically free advertising and more- a way to pound the country with repetitive messaging coordinated on the national and local level. they are going to protect their monopoly and find ways to keep it going any way they can. limbaugh is a key piece with “talent on loan from god” - the ability to beat a lie detector, create ‘facts’, and rationalize opposites within the same paragraph. the key to selling the lies is his royal certitude, which can only be maintained is he is unchallenged in real time. that’s why his handlers will not have him on stations that also do liberal talk. i remember hearing somewhere that is in his contract- that would be an interesting thing to see (the contract). there may be a few exceptions and those limbaugh stations may also do sports but they won't have liberals following him.

      my observation is that the the political content is usually well coordinated. he gets first dibs on national stuff and the others add and reinforce but there is considerable coordination. a lot of these guys don’t do their own homework and i’ll bet, at least until rove lost the white house, there was significant coordination of the main national and local subjects emphasized. timing is also important on events related to getting the screaming callers in to push or stop legislation or attack someone. that happens nationally and locally. it’s clear from listening RW talkers over the years that very few of them do their own research. i wish someone in the radio biz would check that out. i know the heritage foundation plays a big part. i heard the subs for hannity let slip they were broadcasting from there- probably not a secret.

      with call screening software they can ID incoming calls and program who is friendly and who is not. that would give them the ability to automatically send paid callers to the top of the line. i wish someone in the biz would check that out. i think people would be surprised how often and to what extent paid callers are used.

      relative to the mix on a stations and selling ads, take the denver RW limbaugh mothership 850 KOA, which at one point was reaching 38 states at night. nowadays it does bronco, rockies baseball, and colorado buffaloes footbal and basketball but it can dominate state politics with the local morning and evening blowhards and delayed limbaugh at 12. they include a sports talk segment in the afternoon with the traffic news and weather.  the sports connection is big- but that station is a big part of republican politics in CO. during a CO bball game recently i heard “850 KOA, home of the buffs and rush limbaugh!” 3 times. except in the south and a few other places i doubt they could dominate without the sports connection to our universities. in this case they have pro sports too but just one university sports connection can be a big deal for a station in the state and community.

      re the debate programming. the ones i’ve heard are often a version of the old hannity and colmes,   where there’s something distracting about the ‘liberal’ and he/she is not really a liberal. like one in denver where the ‘liberal’ has an incredibly whiny voice. and he's not a liberal, just the less conservative twit. the big debates are usually something like whether reagan was a great president or a really really great president. i think the crossfire format might be a winning alternative for some stations but it won’t help a lot if the karl roves are the ones picking the hosts.

      i think the right will do a lot before they allow their stations to go from RW/limbaugh to progressive. they know their model can’t survive with real competition (the truth- not just alternative opinions). they know they can’t sell their alternative reality in any area where there is a loud alternative so they’re going to try to keep their monopoly.

      i hope people in the radio business will look at the talk radio part of a company like CC  as a very successful and valuable propaganda machine within the company as opposed to just another format. they’re going to try everything to keep it going and minimize competition, and i wouldn’t put it past them to try every accounting trick in the books to extend it and hide losses and problems.

      the key for americans to fixing it is to break down that monopoly until there’s finally some competition. they can’t handle the truth.

       but until then we're not going to have rational national discussions on any major issue without their think tanks being able to distort it with professionally orchestrated and well-timed PR campaigns laundered through 1000 radio stations pretending to reflect 'popular opinion' and 'market forces'.

      This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

      by certainot on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 08:28:23 AM PST

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