Skip to comments.How Radio Will Kill the Radio Star (hosts, listeners age, AM dying)
Posted on 08/16/2012 9:24:10 AM PDT by raccoonradio
With a third of talk radio's audience now over 65, on-air talent is aging apace -- leaving the future of a stagnant, debt-saddled industry in question.
There's no room on the radio for a new Howard Stern today," says Tom Leykis. The firebrand talk show host is among the few former FM personalities who could command a Stern-like contract, thanks to stellar ratings in 25 markets over 12 years. But after CBS Radio pulled the plug on his show in 2009 (paying out his $20 million-plus contract), the popular host didn't jump to a terrestrial station or to satellite, opting instead to create his own Internet radio network symbolically dubbed "The New Normal." With four fully-licensed music stations streaming some 50,000 songs along with his own daily call-in show, 400,000 tuned in during launch week in April and 1.7 million in its first month -- "more than the cumulative audiences of 14 Los Angeles radio stations," Leykis boasts. With a $1 million investment of his own money, he expects to be profitable by the end of the year.
Leykis, 56, says he left his first love not because he couldn't get paid, but because he believes traditional radio is dying. Thanks to iPods, podcasts and hundreds of satellite stations, radio audiences are getting older (more than a third of talk-radio listeners are 65 and older) and the personalities are aging out of relevance. "KABC's new show is hosted by Geraldo Rivera, who's 68, John and Ken came on KFI in 1992, Bill Handel in 1988, Rush Limbaugh in 1989," notes Leykis of the L.A. market's top English-language stars. The spring chicken, he says with a laugh, is 48-year-old Tim Conway Jr. At 37, KIIS star Ryan Seacrest is actually younger, but it is telling that L.A.'s youth-targeted alt-rock outlet KROQ has had the same morning hosts, Kevin and Bean, for more than 20 years. Pop station KAMP's Carson Daly, 39, first appeared on KROQ in the mid-1990s.
More frightening for lovers of traditional, ad-supported radio: There don't appear to be too many future Seacrests primed to take over (the American Idol host got his start as an intern at Atlanta's WSTR), partly due to diminishing pay but also because people aren't listening. As many as 40 percent of Americans consume audio on digital devices, according to the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, and that number is expected to double by 2015. "Each successive generation is turning away from radio," says Michael Harrison, publisher of radio trades Talkers and Radio-Info.com. "Thats not necessarily terrible. The upper demos today are wealthy, involved and active and have a lot of years ahead of them. The same is true of older DJs and talk show hosts -- theyre not over the hill; with age comes better talent and wisdom. But looking down the road 15 years, its problematic.
More pressing is the reality for congloms such as Sirius XM and Clear Channel, which are saddled with debt that came post-consolidation and prerecession. In Clear Channel's case, its 2008 sale to Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners has left the radio group, which owns 850 stations and has the largest reach in the country, $20 billion in the red, with massive payments due in 2014 and 2016. "A lot of radio can't afford to be radio," says Harrison. "They're winging it. High-paid personalities, news departments When the ownership has to concentrate on cutting costs, alleviating debt and not taking on expenses, it's difficult to put attention into creating a product."
Leykis agrees: "Radio stations are like many of the homeowners in Corona -- they bought a $799,000 dollar house thats now worth $496,000, he says, referencing the foreclosure-ridden L.A. suburb. "Why spend $100 million to buy a frequency when most people, even those over 40, are getting content on their iPhones? Its hard to make those payments, just like it is for the homeowner. You have to find another way to get your curated content out."
For the most part, the belt-tightening has only served to stem the bleeding, not increase profits -- although radio revenues grew by 1 percent to $17.4 billion in 2011, according to the Radio Advertising Bureau, that's a fraction of the medium's 6 percent growth in 2010.
It's a grim outlook that radio industry observers long have dreaded, where centralized programming rules (Seacrest is currently heard on 177 stations worldwide), program directors oversee a half-dozen stations and local jocks are rarely present. Leykis predicts many AM stations will simply cease to exist in the coming years. Instead, the frequency will be used for "WiFi, cell phone service, opening and closing garage doors, police, fire or aviation channels " And he doesn't bemoan that future. "It would be a better use for the frequency." That leaves one wondering: Will anybody object?
TOP 5 RADIO PERSONALITIES
Terrestrial radio's most popular talk show hosts are also among the oldest. Rush Limbaugh, 61: The Rush Limbaugh Show (Premiere Networks) -- 15 million listeners per week Sean Hannity, 50: The Sean Hannity Show (Premiere Networks) -- 14 million listeners per week Michael Savage, 70: The Savage Nation (Talk Radio Network) -- 9 million listeners per week Laura Ingraham, 48: The Laura Ingraham Show (Talk Radio Network) -- 6 million listeners per week Ed Schultz, 58: The Ed Schultz Show (Dial Global) -- 3 million listeners per week
Howie Carr list ping.
btw Howie is now 60...
This may explain why talk radio is getting less local or even doing things like what just happened to “Talk 1200” in Boston: They put Rush and Coast 2 Coast back on WRKO, and AM 1200 is now ALL COMEDY.
Sports is also a popular choice for talk radio because there’s a broader and younger demo. Ask most people the following question and see what answer you get:
“Which would you rather hear on talk radio?
a) Romney’s running mate
b) The NFL”
>>In Clear Channel’s case, its 2008 sale to Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners has left the radio group, which owns 850 stations and has the largest reach in the country, $20 billion in the red,
Blame Romney! No wait he left Bain...
Since the television networks (other than Fox) are all in the tank for socialism, I have no doubt new and younger voices will arise to replace the older pioneering conservative talk radio icons.
As long as people value the First Amendment and our wonderful country, we will support conservative voices on radio.
So now conservative talk radio is such a flash in the pan that it’s going to die of old age?
Wasn’t Tom Leykis originally billed as “the Left’s Answer to Limbaugh”?
It’s telling when they interview a radio personality that no one cares for...
Rest in Pieces Liberal Radio :p
Simply amazing how they weaseled that little nugget in there, isn’t it?
When I was in school back in 2000 I had plenty of time to listen to AM radio between classes or when commuting to work. I was even able to hear the late even shows while I worked.
I’m not interested in lugging around an AM radio for that stuff in 2012, and I just dont have the time to devote to 3 hours of Rush everyday.
On top of that, I’m on a permanent ban on listening to any audio clips of that fool in the WH until it is his concession speech.
I get the same talk from podcasts, and I read some of the highlights of Rush and Levin on FR
I do miss some of the old AM stations we listened to as teens. KOMA, WLS, WWL, WOAI.
They had the music I remember!
He may be right... and he may be trying to justify his investment..
I always thought he was a punk... he was the guy who stated, “wow that was cool” as a man blew off the top of his head on local televsion, when he was finally stopped on the freeway after a high speed chase”.. I heard him say it.
didn’t they they say this about satellite radio and Direct TV and DISH TV?
meanwhile, local shops can’t keep digital television converters in stock, they sell out same day..I know because I tried to buy one for two consequetive weeks here in Los Angeles. Times are tough and the first thing people turn off is their television channels....they move back to “over the air” television.
Leykis once mistook his wife for a Duraflame log, as Boston’s Howie Carr says. (Dom. violence incident in
Boston. Leykis later went to the West Coast. “Blow me up, Tom!”)
In Boston someone has to pay to put liberal radio on—WWZN 1510 got Jeff Santos to buy time to put his own local show on as well as the likes of Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz, and Thom Hartmann. Recently the syndie shows disappeared and Santos said “we’re having technical problems”. The problem is that his money started drying up. The latest is that the station will probably run the new NBC Sports Network instead.
In Boston Clear Channel took Rush and Coast 2 Coast away from WRKO 680 where it did well and started “Rush Radio 1200” (later “Talk 1200”) with those two shows plus
Beck, Hannity, Levin, and 2 local hosts—Jeff Katz and
Jay Severin. Last week the word came out: the local hosts were laid off. Rush and Coast were going back to WRKO.
And 1200 is now ALL COMEDY.
Yikes. Hopefully conservative talk is doing well where you are. But liberal talk radio flops—in BOSTON.
Rubbish. What is dying is big city consultant-programmed radio that lacks the understanding of what listeners want to hear and a viable business model. Let it fail, entrepreneurs with vision will pick up the licenses for pennies on the dollar and show them how it’s done.
Age has nothing to do with it. Smarts and experience does.
Ha Ha, I only listen to AM radio inthe car, when I am at home I listen to internet streams of radio stations based off who is the host. Beck, Limbaugh, Levin
I know some of the “higher ups” at Hot 92.3 in L.A. as I used to work for them and still buds. They knew exactly what they were doing when they had the younger lead in’s like Jimmy Rey, become the voice of the station even though Art Laboe is the soul of that station.
Hopefully there will indeed be new voices for conservative talk. The article I posted lists some like Andy Dean who is 31 (and some say he sounds more like 14).
It is true though that many talk hosts are really getting up there. They didn’t even mention that fossil Imus.
AM radio was moribund before Rush Limbaugh, who changed the whole picture and made AM huge. I remember driving when he was near his peak, a nice day with windows down, and every time I came to an intersection there would suddenly be “stereo Limbaugh” from my car and other cars.
Now, with digital AM broadcasting parallel to analog AM, it will be on about a par with FM, so typical ratings will be as they are now, unless stations hire some personality like Limbaugh to draw in the audience.
Doing better than liberal talk which has flopped twice in BOSTON. (The first time Clear Channel ran it on 1200 and 1430 with Franken, Steph. Miller, and the rest of Air America. It ran from Oct of 04 till Dec of 06. Franken did his show from Boston election week of ‘04 expecting a big huge party as “President Kerry” got elected (a sure thing, no?) Er, not to be. The hosts all sounded very down when W got back in. They sounded like people who were woken up in the middle of the night by a phone call. Then again they always did...)
“...”WiFi, cell phone service, opening and closing garage doors, police, fire or aviation channels ” And he doesn’t bemoan that future. “It would be a better use for the frequency.”
Hmmmm, with just a tad less than 1 MHz available in the AM band, won’t be that much use for those frequencies. Of course, considering the source of this article, I didn’t expect much technical expertise.
Boston’s Howie Carr is local and conservative and does well.
Podcasting is replacing the AM for younger people. Also podcasting is slicing things up into smaller and more targeted areas of interest, rather than “general” talk shows.
There are whole podcasting networks devoted to just Technology or even mostly just APPLE tech. ESPNradio is jumping whole hog into podcasting.
What form it will finally take will be interesting, but the “airwaves” of TV and Radio will probably eventually be used for something else.
I was an am talk show host until 2003. Local station in Richmond VA. They cut my pay. Fired me and have since hired 4 different hosts in the same pm drive spot in the last 9 years. Average salary 40K. Hard to survive making that.
My personal take...
AM radio (and to a large extent, broadcast TV) is partially dying because it’s gone from ad-supported to ad-saturated. Combine that with awful content in all but a few cases (like Rush), and it’s just not worth listening to or watching anymore.
I have about an hour for lunch. If I turn on Rush, I get maybe 15 minutes of him. The rest is ads and “news” broadcasts that are usually poor rehashings of what I read on FR two days before. I like Rush, but I can listen to an hour of music of my choice with no ads from a variety of sources (mp3, CD, etc.) vs 15 minutes of him in 2 or 3 minute snippets.
Broadcast TV is even worse. I try to watch the local news - primarily to get the weather forecast. But it’s no longer worth spending 1/2 an hour, most of it filled with ads and fluff in order to get the 30 second forecast. I can go online, get it, and get on with my evening.
It seems radio (and broadcast TV) exist to show ads. That makes some sense, as that’s where the revenue comes from, but consumers don’t tune in for the ad, they tune in for the content, largely in spite of the ads. If you don’t have content, or you have too little content, you don’t get the ad exposure nor it’s revenue. People have choices.
It seems simple to me, but very few in broadcasting seem to get it.
Once a consumer stops listening or watching and finds other things to do in a given slot, it’s unlikely they’re going to come back.
So will everything from 1200 kHz to 1700 kHz be depopulated and forced to move to empty slots in 530-1190 kHz? That will free up a half megahertz, or a little more than two FM radio station slots or one twelfth of an analog TV channel.
I don’t know but maybe AM will still exist for pirate stations, or “local community stations” (kind of like local access on cable) or religious, children’s etc. Who knows. But yes very free space will be created if, say, half of the medium wave (AM) band were to be turned over.
this may be true..
I would go the podcasting route if it were a tad bit easier. I used to get Adam Corolla via podcast and I just find it too much of a hassle. It could be I just don’t have it set up correctly on my iPHONE.
Advances in technology coupled with the record industry's loss of control in forcing music trends due to the internet will soon shut down radio as we know it.
This article is akin to someone sitting in a Model A, concerned over the loss of the last baleen buggy whip manufacturer while beliving that the synthetic buggy whip factories will continue to remain relevant forever.
It’s difficult to have sympathy for so-called experts and professionals who administered hemlock to their colleagues, employers and businesses for so many years:
1) Consultants (see also: candidates for political office)
2) Ultrarigid formatting
3) Computerization to achieve #2
4) Smaller and smaller and smaller playlists
5) Payola in all its forms
6) Commercial load
7) Commercials masquerading as weather & traffic reports
Like the landline telephone, abuse of the system in pursuit of the last nickel has seen the user base abandon the technology.
Through technology, the “broadcast airwaves” could be given a “second life”.
Exactly, ad saturated. Friend of mine said he likes Coast to Coast but they go to an ad break at bottom of the hour and it takes forever to get back to the progam. I know they gotta make money but really.
And for all these slots often they can’t get filled so you get public service announcements instead.
Agreed about how you can get weather, etc. from other sources.
In the old days the local TV news had a long sports segment but now they have a short one and if you want the scores,
look quick, they’re scrolling at bottom of screen. But then again there are a multitude of all sports networks, or online sources of them (ESPN.com), too.
The only talk-radio I listen to is Rush, and he’s getting to be tedious what with continually telling me stuff I already know.
CC gets it and redubs it the Harbor, rock with a tight playlist and no DJs. As I said on radio messageboards it's boring, it's predictable, and it will make them money. They found a computer that can spit out money.
On the AM side they had Talk 1200: 2 local hosts plus Rush, Hannity, etc. Now they lay off the local hosts, move Rush to a more powerful station, etc, and put on all comedy bits. No employees (other than some bits from an employee at one of their FMs), no vacation time, no labor costs, just load the computer.
This WAS conservative talk till this past Monday
(meanwhile WFNX has been replaced by the jockless wfnx.com, jockless for now at least, and the Boston Globe launched RadioBostonDotCom with 4 of the old WFNX jocks)
It seems that one hears a light sprinkling of local retail ads sandwiched in between wall-to-wall public service advertisements from the Department of Labor, Justice, Health and Human Services, the Ad Council, etc.
He isn't afraid to work without a net. When it comes to redefining the model while exploring new technology and delivery systems, the man will jump in with both feet. He's a true pioneer...and always seems to make money doing it.
These days many stations are pushing "I Heart Radio" for computer & phone listening but I find it won't stay connected over wifi on a high speed cable connection. I don't know imagine it could be any better over a cell connection.
They’d have a damn hard time remaking ‘American Graffiti’ in 2012. Would Curt go to the radio station and sneak a look at the computer doing its airshift? Would the computer offer him a melting Popsicle? Would the kids be able to communicate face-to-face, one-on-one without a smartphone in hand? Would the vandalism of a police cruiser bring shocked looks from the cops or a SWAT team armed to the teeth? Would Toad & Candy have a musical backdrop for their backseat antics or would they be interrupted by compressed, overloud JOHN SMITH NISSAN & HONDA’S SATURDAY SUPERSALE commercials?
There will still be a market for AM radio among motorists until someone comes up with a car radio that can pick up Internet broadcasts.
Candy = > Debbie (Candy was the actress)
I have noticed it also. Who is the Ad Council anyway?(gov’t agency?).
The spots are like listening to your mother giving you advice all day long. Most of the items they play are just common sense.
I find it very annoying.
I’m a Dennis Prager listener myself.
Yea, that’s what I thought, too.
Want to know something really funny?
Back when commercial radio started, hams had access to what is now the AM band - and frequencies below.
When the US Navy (who was the first federal agency given control of the airwaves) decided that only medium and low frequencies were of use, the Navy took control of about 2MHz and below, and gave everything else to hams.
Sadly, we hams then went on to show the government bureaucrats just how useful the higher frequencies were, and they came back for them.
They had the music I remember!
I feel the same way about KWIZ, broadcasting at 1480 kilocycles out of Santa Ana, Calif., which broadcast songs from the 1950's and early 1960's--with an occasional new release from Engelbert Humperdinck or Dean Martin--in the late 1960's. I was one of the station's few teenage listeners.
conservative radio is pretty neutral here in Miami.
You’ll have Glen Beck and then Rush andthen it gets a bit “squishy” after Rush. I do enjoy Rich Menaya (sp) because he seems to be just fed-up with a lot of BS, but he tends to back track. The Schnitt Show is meh.
Savage is on 850 am and inaudible in some parts of Miami Dade.
Liberal Radio doesn’t exist outside of NPR
Those AM frequencies would be utterly unsuited for any of the uses he proposed. Certainly the thought that they could be used for WiFi is laughable. He is a radio pro and certainly he knows better.
That being said, we have had 5 small AM stations “go dark” in this area over the past couple of years, and a couple of others are teetering. Part of the problem is that for stations with directional signals that have to use multiple towers, the land they sit on has become more valuable than the earnings of the station (much as has happened to drive-in movie theaters)
I think the future of AM will be in smaller, lower-powered, nondirectional community stations (perhaps 1kW max). They will be cheaper to operate and viable for concerned citizens (dare I say Tea Party) to get together and run.
And a lot of those ‘ham’ stations morphed into commercial stations, once the industry matured a bit, and the Commerce Department began to get the idea and issue commercial licenses.
In the meantime, one of the Commerce Department’s not-so-forward looking ideas at the beginning of the 1920’s was to put all stations on exactly 360 meters (833 KHz,although they used wavelength back then). I guess they didn’t foresee that more than one party every thousand miles might become interested in setting up a radio station. Of course, they got past that idea pretty fast.
>>The Advertising Council, commonly known as the Ad Council, is an American non-profit organization that distributes public service announcements on behalf of various sponsors, including non-profit organizations and agencies of the United States government.
The Advertising Council generally does not produce public service advertisements itself, rather, it acts as a coordinator and distributor. The Advertising Council accepts requests from sponsor organizations for advertising campaigns that focus on particular social issues. To qualify, an issue must be non-partisan (though not necessarily unbiased) and have national relevance. The Advertising Council then assigns each campaign to a volunteer advertising agency that produces the actual advertisements. Finally, the Advertising Council distributes the finished advertisements to media outlets.
The Advertising Council was conceived in 1941, and shortly after, in February 1942, it was incorporated as The War Advertising Council for the purpose of mobilizing the advertising industry in support of the war effort. Early campaigns encouraged the purchase of war bonds and conservation of war materials.[
Rosie the Riveter
The crying Indian (pollution)
United Negro College Fund: A mind is a terr. thing to waste
McGruff the Crime Dog
Crash Test Dummies (no not the rock band. “Don’t be a dummy. Buckle your safety belt.”)
Rush is all politics all the time. At least Dennis mixes it up alot. I usually enjoy his Ultimate Issues hour, and the last hour of his show on Fridays which is call in, any topic.