The Future of Talk Radio in America.

24Jun14

Sean Hannity from Fox News crept up behind Michael Harrison, the publisher of “Talkers” and grabbed him by the throat while I was interviewing him for the latest Radio Academy podcast. It was all in good fun and set the tone for what was billed as “The 17th installment of the talk media industry’s longest running and most important national convention”.

Hundreds of attendees at The India House Club in Lower Manhattan listened to more than sixty speakers. Major issues addressed included the challenges facing programming, sales, technology and the economics of it all but it was far from doom and gloom. Time and time again, speakers defined reality then gave hope. Two words that came up repeatedly were “community” and “passion.”

Mike Francesa from the Sports/Talk station in New York, WFAN pointed out that sport was becoming more important and is getting bigger. More money is being poured into sport than ever. He pointed out that sports/talk radio is getting bigger as a result and it’s success was because, just like the sports they talk about, it’s  live, unscripted and listeners didn’t know what the outcome will be. He said Disney’s ESPN network makes more money for the company now than Mickey Mouse. Mike also pointed out that the top rated TV shows last year were all “events”, either live sport or awards shows.

The future of music radio in the face of increased competition from music streaming services came up a few times. Jerry Del Colliano, the publisher of ‘Inside Music Media’ said, “Music radio has one foot in the grave and the other foot on a banana peel”.

When Sean Hannity spoke he said something provocative. He said that Nielsen, the company who publish radio ratings in the US weren’t capturing all the listening now that broadcasters use multiple platforms to deliver content (the latest ratings show the lowest ever numbers for some of America’s heritage talk stations). He said as radio stations continue to pay for Nielsen ratings that aren’t accurate, talk radio is actually paying for it’s own demise.

So at the start of the day, Sean Hannity tried to choke Michael Harrison. Later he suggested what was choking talk radio in America.

Craic on!

Listen to the latest Mack Nuggets at http://www.mackmedia.co.uk

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