Then Vs Now.

Posted in Radio world on May 30, 2008 by paranormalradio

For those of you out there to remember the good old days of talk radio you will understand where I am going in this article. Others may be so used to the way things are now that what I am about to say will be lost to them. But none the less I want to know; “What happend to talk radio?”

Radio it self has changed of course. Some will say for the good, others will say for the bad depending on whom you talk too. In the early days when the FCC was formed, it had a simple goal. To regulate the frequencies so those out there that had staked out their little air wave property spot could be assured and protected that not any Joe could trample over their signal and basically  squat on their air time.  It was needed because the airwaves were a wild west. Anyone with a transmitter could invade the airwaves on any channel.  So the FCC was formed.

Although the major differences from then and now; and like anything with else when it comes to government regulation, it went from a good idea in to what it is today. Nothing more then a business.  In the early days the FCC, it was all radio engineers that truly had a passion for radio.  And now it is filled with bureaucrats  that the main goal is the all mighty Green-God with George Washington on the front, and the catering to large multi million dollar radio networks.  You have to ask your self; “Who is regulating who?”

Lets get to the heart of all of this. Talk radio. Once in its glory was everything from news and information to pure listening entertainment. Stories and bits that everyone would gather around the old tube radios and listen to the enchanting sounds that flowed from the poor quality speaker. But it did not matter. The glow of the tubes and the captivation of what was being said was enough to keep the listeners imagination held securely in place.

Today talk radio is watered down.  I was sent a program clock recently that shows all the break points, Network floaters and local spots. As well as segments of time set aside for world news.  Looking at the play clock for this major network I saw that the actual time allowed to talk was 8 min segments. What ever happened to top and bottom of the hour breaks?  I fully understand that in order for a radio station or network to make money they need the advertisers to pay for air time to push their product or service. That is understandable. But the dilution of the product (The talk radio program) really suffers while the marketing directors and station owners chase that dollar.

Lets think about this a moment. If you run 5 one min commercials at the top of an hour, and the bottom of the hour, and the radio program is only an hour long. You have pushed 10 commercials in one hour. That is 10 sponsors.  Now lets do the math.  The lowest cost for radio advertising (In some areas) is around $300.00 depending on the time slot you are advertising in. Sometimes it is much much higher. And depending on how many people you actually have the opportunity  to reach the cost can even go up to $3,000.00 for a one min spot.  So if we go with the lowest cost. 10 sponsors paying in $300.00 to reach the listeners of a one hour program.  The radio station is bringing in $3 grand in one hour.  Now just think if you had 30 sponsors, and you are hosting a 3 hour program like mine. You are looking $9,000.00 every time I get behind the mic on a daily basis.  The station makes the money they need to operate, and Sponsors get their product or service exposed to thousands of people at a time.  But one of the key element here is this. The program dose not suffer because of the advertising.  The listeners attention isn’t broken every time another ad is run for that new drug that is on the market that “you have to talk to your doctor about.”

Now OK, many are going to say that my numbers are way off. That it is an impossible goal to run things the way I have outlined.  Well I can tell you it is NOT hard to do. And it is VERY profitable. I have done it.  It all boils down to how much is that station owner willing to bend, or let go of the old way of thinking.  The one thing that everyone hates is more commercials. But structured in a way that softens the blow of the plug works for listeners, and advertisers alike. Its a win win win for all.

But it is not only the station owners and network managers that need to rethink talk radio.  It is also the hosts of the programs. You can turn on your radio, flip to any talk radio program and you will hear the same thing. The same style. It is as talk radio hosts all channel the same talk show host spirit. That same dot dash speak.  It is such a saturated style that some listeners have been conditioned to it and accept it as a sign of a good program. Others have woken up to it and have grown bored of ; “The same old thing”

Public radio, and some of the big talk radio programs out there are so stiff, so rigid that they are pushing the relaxed radio listener away.  Those listeners are being drawn to pod casting done by the average Joe that has something to say. Why? Because it is not the cookie cutter broadcasting that has run  wild across the airwaves.  As a matter of fact radio networks are trying to draw some of them back in by offering pod casts of what they already do in the hopes that the reason these listeners have left is because ; “They just don’t have time to listen.” That could not be more further from the truth if they launched it on a rocket to the moon.  Now do not get me wrong.

I know that today, life is more busy. And I do know that having the ability to just pull up your favorite program on demand is very conveinant.  But there are a lot of listeners out there that want something “REAL” and down to earth.  And they are willing to abandon old talk radio ways to find it.  Most people that listen to talk radio are in the age range of 35- 70 years of age.   Younger audiences  are watching Youtube or just other forms of social media that are more grounded in that “Real” feel.

One form of radio is Pirate radio.  Some talk show hosts, station owners and network managers started off doing what they do in the dreaded pirate radio.  You would be amazed how many follow and prefer the pirate radio sound opposed to the big boy on the block radio format.  One pirate station in the midwest; WTPS started off at 100 watts and would broadcast in the center of a large  populated  city.   A  marketing group hired by the local radio stations in that city found that out of the twenty five thousand people surveyed, that 35% of them were listening to WTPS. An unlicensed radio station.  In a city with such names as Mark Belling and other big name talk show hosts being broadcast in their home town. This made a few very uncomfortable because of the loss of numbers needed to bring in the advertisers. Needless to say not long after that marketing study was done, the FCC paid the WTPS station a visit with a C.A.D. letter.  (Remember what I said about who is regulating who?)

It is high time for both radio station programmers, owners, and managers to loosen the grip on the old way of thinking. It is time for a very large change in how and what is being done because not only are the people hungry for it. It makes good sense. The marketing possibilities are there. But getting the talk show hosts to relax them self in all of it may just be harder for some then others. I had lunch the other day with two of the biggest names in talk radio here in Atlanta. And this discussion was the main focus of that lunch meeting. And of course what sparked this article. It appears that my way of thinking is not isolated to just me. That was a welcome surprise. There are others that do what I do that also feel that it is time for a change. That the old way of doing things is about to loose ground when it comes to talk radio. They see it.  Listeners see it. It will be a matter of time before the old stale, and set in their ways networks, stations, and hosts see it too. In their pocket book, in their ratings and in the programs they produce.

Jack Harris

Host of Paranormal Radio


Paranormal Radio comes to Talk Steam Live!

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2008 by paranormalradio

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