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.