Friday, December 07, 2007

Radio Changes

I've been interviewing a number of people in the broadcast business, in connection with a book I'm writing. I've collected an interesting set of opinions on where radio is going--AM radio in particular. Just about everyone I talked with expressed the thought that the AM radio talk show with its "angry white men" has been overdone, and that something new is going to emerge. Problem is, nobody can say what that might be.

Thinking about it, one of the reasons the call-in talk show format got popular is because it is live programming. Radio listeners didn't just start demanding people screaming and saying shocking things--though many of them were certainly looking for a way to get on radio and speak their piece. I believe that the live element is what grabbed listener interest. Consider the success of Gary Burbank on WLW. He's not one of the angry white men--but he is live.

Live programming is, of course, where radio started. It makes one wonder if more live programming--of a different type--is waiting in the wings as the angry white men duplicating one another's shtick fall away. It seems as if everything comes back if you wait long enough ...

For some interesting background on all this, have a look the book Something in the Air, by Marc Fisher. You'll find my review of the book here.


Music Tomes said...

I agree that the live aspect is what people want, but I don't think the people in charge understand that completely. Just two weeks ago the public was informed that Joe Elliot was laid off at WHAS in Louisville after many years on the air. Joe isn't one of the "angry white guys" either, he held sensible discussions and often focused on local or regional issues. He was replaced with a national talk show. I turned through the AM dial the night after he was replaced and found the exact same show on two other stations. I think being live is one aspect, but, just like with Burbank, people want to be able to relate and to some degree, be able to lay claim on the show/host.

Michael A. Banks said...

Thanks for the info on Joe Elliot, Tome. And you make an excellent point. Having a host that listeners can relate to is as important as having a live show.

I would imagine that WHAS found the national talk show cheaper than pay and benefits for Joe Elliot. That's sad. In Something in the Air there are several examples of this.