No Issue is Off Limits For WABC’s Sid Rosenberg
“Imus was a brilliant radio guy, who tutored guys like me and Bernie, yet when you bring him up now all you hear about is Rutgers.”
For more than a decade, Sid Rosenberg has been a reliable and powerful voice in New York radio. Not one to pigeonhole himself, the sports broadcaster at WFAN and WNEW’s “The Sports Guys”would eventually become co-host of the 77 WABC morning show. There, politics has taken center stage, culminating with former president Donald Trump calling in to Sid and Bernard McGuirk, days after switching from middays in 2018.
“He was glib. He was funny,” Rosenberg told BNM. “He was very good to me and Bernie. He’s known us both for a long time.”
That longstanding relationship played into their questioning as they opted to hurl softballs at the sitting president.
“Were we easy on him? Sure, because he’s a friend,” Rosenberg said.
Such a major get would have seemed unthinkable years earlier, but the natural transition began in Florida a decade earlier. He worked at three all-sports stations in South Florida but started to ease politics into the mix. The pendulum swung away from sports in 2012 when Rosenberg covered the Obama/Romney debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton.
It was at his last gig—WMEN 640 AM in Palm Beach— Rosenberg created a politics/sports hybrid show, “much to the chagrin of my program directors and the GM.”
Rosenberg was at a crossroads professionally, enjoying sports, but equally passionate about the future of the country. A more wide-ranging show was born using the Don Imus and Howard Stern blueprint.
Of course, talking politics took an expected turn during the Trump years. It all came to a boiling point for broadcasting companies after the January 6, 2021 deadly insurrection at the Capitol. A mandate was ordered, included at Rosenberg’s Red Apple Media that owns WABC. Hosts were told to no longer spread lies or misinformation on air.
“They didn’t have to do that with me,” Rosenberg said. “I was critical of Donald Trump from the very beginning. A guy like Bernie did need the edict.”
Overall, media have come under scrutiny for its coverage of Trump. When it came to the Capitol rioting and its aftermath, outlets didn’t lose sleep over the violence according to Rosenberg.
Left-leaning cable networks “loved it,” said Rosenberg. “They spent the better part of three and a half years finding new ways to criticize, if not malign, Donald Trump.”
As for the top conservative voices, such as Sean Hannity, “They didn’t care. They were so angry with the way President Trump was treated and covered,” Rosenberg said.
While the opinionated Rosenberg admits it was a bad day for Trump, he said, allowing it to define his presidency is akin to what happened to Don Imus.
“He was a brilliant radio guy, who tutored guys like me and Bernie, yet when you bring up Imus now all you talk about is Rutgers,” Rosenberg said.
The Brooklynite, who could be unapologetic on the mic, grew up listening to Stern as a teenager. Rosenberg kept following Stern’s show as he got older and had a family.
He would work with the I-Man years later, on and off, for close to 20 years at WFAN and WABC.
“Both of those guys have influenced me a tremendous amount,” Rosenberg said. “The one thing Imus did teach me was authenticity. He just wanted to make sure each day he was provocative, entertaining, compelling and gave you who he was. That’s what Bernie and I try to do every day. It used to be Howard, but less and less these days, because he’s become very Hollywood.”
As for Imus, who died in the final days of 2020 at age 79, he was also known as a curmudgeon later in life.
“He was in a bad mood every f***ing day,” Rosenberg recalled. “You couldn’t discern if that was an act or not, but it wasn’t.”
Aside from that drama, little changed to the “Bernie and Sid” show, save for the move to mornings. Behind the scenes, though, was another matter, as Rosenberg had a front-row seat to ownership upheaval.
Cumulus sold WABC in 2020, when John Catsimatidis, the billionaire tycoon, bought the legendary radio station for $12.5 million. The new owner, who runs the Gristedes supermarket chain, made his first foray into media with the vaunted 50,000 watts at 770 on the AM dial. Catsimatidis, though, had been doing a radio show on rival 970 AM WNYM.
The changes from ownership are “night and day,” Rosenberg explained. “They care, let’s start with that.”
Rosenberg, who turned 54 on April 19, contends Cumulus was more focused on “making a couple of bucks,” and he said Mary Berner [President and CEO] was trying to make it worth something it’s not.
Berner would sell off a station “without any hesitation.”
By contrast, Sid speaks to Catsimatidis every day, a relationship that eluded him with Cumulus. Not long after the ink dried on the Red Apple Media takeover of WABC, they put forth a new contract, this time with their morning show. Rosenberg received a multi-year extension.
Aside from securing Rosenberg for the long term, Catsimatidis has used his love of New York City radio to explore a vintage weekend look.
“Cumulus didn’t give a shit. They sold it out—doctor this, lawyer that,” Rosenberg said.
Bruce Morrow (Cousin Brucie) is back on WABC for a Saturday night oldies show. The station, thereafter, added Tony Orlando for his own spin on the classic hits from decades ago. It’s believed to be his first radio show.
Catsimatidis and company didn’t stop there.
They brought Joe Piscopo on board from 970 AM for a Sunday night Frank Sinatra program. Despite Piscopo’s morning show hosting duties for the Hackensack, NJ, station, Rosenberg has no concern for his job security.
“I don’t give a f**k if you’re Howard Stern, Don Imus, Craig Carton or Mike Francesa,” Rosenberg admitted. “I never look over my shoulder. I don’t think anybody is nearly as good. Joe is a solid talent. He’s good on the air. There’s no question about it. But he ain’t better than me.”
Under Red Apple’s auspices, Dave Labrozzi is the program director. He moved across the hall when WABC was still located above Madison Square Garden in 2019 after Cumulus’ WPLJ was sold. He replaced Craig Schwalb, now director of content integration and operations at WTOP in Washington.
“Dave and I have bashed heads more than I ever did with Craig,” Rosenberg said. “Schwalb was a little easier to convince than Dave. I would say Dave is a little more old school in the way he operates the station, what he expects from his talent.”
WABC is keeping a close eye on iHeart’s WOR 710 AM, home to Sean Hannity (who originally was part of the TalkRadio 77 WABC team). As of March 2021, WABC trailed WOR, 2.3-1.9, in the Nielsen ratings. While WABC stayed virtually unchanged in the previous six months, a disturbing trend emerged at WOR, which slipped from 3.6 in November to 2.4 at the close of winter holiday book.
But Rosenberg claims his show has “beaten the shit out of WOR lately” with Len Berman and Michael Riedel.
While Rosenberg may not be going anywhere, the station did make an odd programming choice this year by cutting the morning show by 30 minutes. “The Early Show with Juliet Huddy and Frank Morano” was extended from 5 to 6:30 a.m. Sid, though, is part of the lead-in, providing sports and commentary.
“Three and a half hours is a long show anyway,” Rosenberg said.
Plus, cutting into “Bernie and Sid” for the greater good of WABC is fine with him.
Staying connected to his “first love,” sports, Rosenberg was given a weekend show –Sid Sunday Sports – although it’s been off the air in recent months.
“The summer is here, and I don’t want to spend two hours on a Sunday afternoon while my wife and kids are going to the beach, sitting in a studio on Third Avenue talking baseball,” Rosenberg said.
He expects to resume this show in the fall for football season, “I believe.”
Rosenberg may not be talking baseball, but he did help WABC hire Ed Randall, his former WFAN colleague for his longtime branded ‘Talking Baseball’ Sunday afternoons.
From Randall to Morrow, weekends give listeners and station brass a chance to catch their breath from the heavier topics and news. However, politics is not eliminated from the weekend programming with Jeannie Pirro, Dick Morris, the owner himself, Catsimatidis and Rudy Giuliani, who also hosts a weekday program.
Giuliani made news on April 28 when feds searched and seized evidence from his Manhattan office as part of their investigation. Which begs the question, is it time for WABC to pull the plug on the former mayor?
“I don’t think so,” Rosenberg contended. “Anybody [who] knew, was involved with, let alone, close to Donald Trump, they’re looking to humiliate, embarrass, if not find a way to put him in jail. There’s nothing here. This goes right back again to the Russian hoax, the Ukraine hoax… You take Rudy Giuliani off the air, you’re basically saying he’s guilty, and he’s not.”
Until proof is shown that Giuliani did something illegal, “you don’t take the man off the air. Once you do that you’re saying, ‘he’s toxic.’”
Rosenberg is proud that WABC bosses are “not going to destroy a man’s career over a lie.”
However, Rosenberg does anticipate his former colleague Curtis Sliwa, who left WABC during a mayoral run this year, will be back on the air. Since leaving, Sliwa’s noon-3 p.m. slot has been co-opted by syndicated Charlie Kirk followed by Newsmax early evening star Greg Kelly with a two-hour local show. Kelly is known to New Yorkers for his several years spent on Fox 5’s “Good Day New York.”
Rosenberg, who is making appearances for the Republican candidate, expects Sliwa will win his party’s nomination in the June 22 primary, but “he’ll have difficulty beating Eric Adams [Brooklyn borough president]” in the general election.
Catsimatidis, who briefly talked about his own mayoral run and a possible gubernatorial campaign next year to oppose Governor Andrew Cuomo, maintains a close bond with Sliwa.
“So, I think these guys are kind of keeping it warm,” Rosenberg said.
Where the Guardian Angels founder will find himself for an eventual WABC return remains uncertain, but “that choice, while not solely up to him, will probably be somewhat up to him. If I had to guess,” Rosenberg said.
Harder to fill is the spot previously held by the legendary Rush Limbaugh, who died in February. Dan Bongino, though, could be the “heir-apparent” for conservatives, as Westwood One’s new midday host. However, Premiere Networks hasn’t named a replacement for Limbaugh’s slot, as they air “best of” clips.
“Rush was magnificent. I don’t care if you liked his politics or not,” Rosenberg said. “The guy knew how to do a radio show and that’s the bottom line.”
With the changes on the New York radio landscape, and at WABC itself, Rosenberg remains a constant, spanning more than 20 years on air. He uses that clout to create the best content.
“[Catsimatidis], along with Chad Lopez [Red Apple Media/WABC president] and Dave Labrozzi have given me a tremendous amount of freedom to do the morning show the way I always wanted to.”
Jerry Barmash has been a fixture in New York radio for decades with anchor stints on WABC Radio and Bloomberg News. Jerry was also heard on WINS, WCBS and Wall Street Journal Radio. As a media writer, Jerry’s pieces were featured in Broadcasting & Cable, NY Daily News and Watercooler HQ. Jerry also hosts the interview podcast Here Now the News. He’s on Twitter @JerryBarmash and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After Departure of Chuck Todd, What is the Future of ‘Sunday Shows’?
The best political interview show on TV isn’t on Sunday morning. Perhaps embarrassing to us in the actual field of journalism is that the best questioner and keen fact-checker on the fly is Jon Stewart.
The tenure of Chuck Todd as Twitter’s favorite Sunday morning punching bag has ended. NBC’s political director and host of Meet The Press announced his departure yesterday, after a nearly 10-year run, claiming he is leaving “too soon” rather than “too late”.
Todd, who sat in the front row of the White House Press Room while I filled a similar seat at ABC, will now anchor a streaming show and contribute election analysis. He will be replaced by another former White House press corps colleague Kristen Walker in September.
Under Todd’s leadership, MTP has gone from first place to 3rd, and he has become the butt of many jokes and criticisms from those who do not believe he pushes back enough on lies and misinformation uttered to his face by politicians. The funniest line and perhaps sharpest critique came at last year’s White House Correspondents Dinner when comedian Trevor Noah called him out from the stage. “Chuck Todd, how are you?…I’d ask a follow-up, but you don’t know what that is”.
Unfortunately, that is a common malady among my former colleagues, and Mr. Todd is perhaps not the worst at fact-checking in real-time. But as salon.com pointed out, he once replied to Peter Navarro, a Donald Trump sycophant and prolific disinformation specialist with “I take your point”, after, without evidence, Navarro accused Democrats of eagerly rooting against the American economy to cripple Trump’s re-election attempt.
Todd can take some solace in the fact that if you read media critics and Twitter he is also disliked by right-wing “fake news” proponents who claim he shows bias against Republicans. Our old adage among journalists was if both sides hate you, you are doing something right. And the longing for Tim Russert is overplayed because we never got to see how Tim would have done up against the avalanche of disinformation that is today’s politics.
So what’s next? The Sunday shows are my favorite part of the week. The panels are civil and well thought out. Meet The Press has some very smart people from the left and right and unlike CNN or Fox, none who refuse to acknowledge the integrity of the 2020 election. ABC was often more entertaining, if not more informative with panels featuring Rahm Emanuel, now Donna Brazille on the left, and Chris Christie on the right. Face the Nation concentrates more on policy and less on pure politics.
But the best political interview show on TV isn’t on Sunday morning. Perhaps embarrassing to us in the actual field of journalism is that the best questioner and keen fact-checker on the fly is Jon Stewart, a comedian who hosts his own show The Problem with Jon Stewart on Apple TV.
Best example: Stewart’s interview with Oklahoma state senator Nathan Dahm, who has proposed less gun control and a ban on drag shows. It started with a simple question: “You want to ban drag show readings to children. Why?” Answer: “The government does have a responsibility to protect children.” Stewart’s clap back: “What’s the leading cause of death among children in this country? Here is a hint, it’s not drag shows.”
It’s not that hard to do. Stewart was not busy thinking about his next question or trying to fit too much into the interview. He prepared, had facts at hand, and listened to the state senator’s reply. Then calmly shut him down.
Here’s hoping my friend Kristen Walker watches a few of Stewart’s interviews. He routinely chops through talking points and knocks politicians off balance because he is quick, smart, and familiar with the concept of a follow-up.
Jim Avila serves as a weekly columnist for Barrett News Media. An Award-winning journalist with four decades of reporting and anchoring experience, Jim has served as Senior National Correspondent, 20/20 Correspondent, and White House Correspondent for ABC News. Prior to his time with ABC, he spent a decade with NBC News, and worked locally in Los Angeles and Chicago for KNBC, and WBBM. He can be found on Twitter @JimAvilaABC.
Media Calling Out Anti-Catholic Bigotry
It’s been hard not to notice these attacks on Catholics, and Christians more broadly, as they have spread across the country.
As most Americans watch in disgust, some corporations and ringleaders continue creating division and animosity through one woke cause, initiative, or month after another. Meanwhile, many are ignoring a large group of Americans who have been increasingly targeted and disparaged. And their plight receives barely a mention in the mainstream media.
This past weekend, Fox and Friends aired a segment focusing on the escalating vitriol and violence aimed at the Catholic Church. Such persecutions of Christians are not historically new; what is new is the apparent acquiescence of certain political and cultural leaders, as the frequency of such events continues to increase.
Rachel Campos-Duffy began the Fox News segment by laying out the facts as they stand in mid-2023.
“Attacks on Catholic churches on the rise, and yet the charges are being reduced,” Campos-Duffy began. “In California, five were arrested in 2020 for felony vandalism, after tearing down the St. Junipero Serra statue, and now they only face misdemeanors. The DOJ is recommending zero jail time for a transgender person who caused over $30,000 in damage, smashing church windows. Even spray painting an employee’s face in Washington State. And a D.C. man won’t see time behind bars after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor for destroying three Saint statues at a Catholic school. So why are these incidents not being treated as hate crimes?”
Added to these points is the increased frequency in which Catholic Church-goers have seen a police presence as they arrive for mass. Tommy Valentine, Director of the CatholicVote Accountability Project, joined the program to offer his insight.
“Explain to me why vandalism, acts of violence directed towards Catholics are being treated differently than, say, other faiths or other religions?” Campos-Duffy asked.
“Thank you for shining a light on this issue, because we certainly aren’t hearing about it from the Biden administration,” Valentine said. “Look, we live in an era where we see condemnation of bigotry in most forms. Just last month there were a couple of mosques that were vandalized. The Biden Administration spoke out immediately against that, and we agreed, a place of worship should never be vandalized in this country.”
Valentine went on to mention a couple of recent catalysts for attacks against the Catholic Church. And although he didn’t mention the media specifically, many feel it was they who continue to fan the flames whenever possible.
“What we’re seeing is over 300 instances of attacks of violence and vandalism against Catholic churches in the United States over the last three years, in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd. And then another surge of 160 attacks since the leak of the Dobbs decision last May. And so I think what’s really troubling to a lot of Americans in the pews is that they feel like their places of worship are not safe. And when the federal government does get involved, it’s to advocate for reducing or dropping charges against these criminals as you mentioned,” Valentine pointed out.
The director was clear in his estimation of where the blame belongs. In this case, he feels local police and authorities have done all they can to help quell violence and prevent vicious events.
“We’ve only been able to document instances of arrest in about a quarter of these attacks. And it’s not because local law enforcement is not willing to do the work. It’s that they do not have the resources on the local level to combat what is really a nationwide surge,” he told Campos-Duffy. “And so we’ve been calling on the federal government to devote the appropriate resources to these attacks against churches over the last two years. And they just haven’t been willing to do it.”
“It seems counterintuitive, right? That the Biden administration wouldn’t care. Here we have Joe Biden, a Catholic. He campaigned carrying rosary beads. He likes to talk about his faith. Somebody who wrote an article about his Catholicism got some sort of big, fancy prize. So it’s something he touts, and yet he’s not doing anything about it,” Campos-Duffy noted. “I’m sure CatholicVote has looked at this. What do you attribute this rise in anti-Catholic hate around the country and even in other parts of the world? What is driving it?”
“Well, unfortunately, I just think we have a climate where everything is politicized. And it’s also a spiritual battle,” Valentine said. “I’ve documented all these cases. I’ve examined them individually. I’ve talked to a lot of the pastors of churches that have been attacked. And I know of one parish in Maryland where a gentleman came in the church, set everything on the altar on fire that could be set on fire, and also set fire to a confessional door.”
It’s been hard not to notice these attacks on Catholics, and Christians more broadly, as they have spread across the country. In fact, many popular celebrities and athletes have spoken out against the recent decision by a Major League Baseball team to host a radical, bigoted group at one of their baseball games.
“I think what you’re seeing with this story about the Dodgers honoring an anti-Catholic hate group, which just makes a travesty of our faith and commits the most sacrilegious outrages that they can imagine. I think Catholics can’t help but feel under siege,” he concluded. “And it’s something where if you can’t feel safe going to church in the morning on Sunday, that’s a really troubling place to be in America that we haven’t seen since the 1800s.”
Rick Schultz is a former Sports Director for WFUV Radio at Fordham University. He has coached and mentored hundreds of Sports Broadcasting students at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting, Marist College and privately. His media career experiences include working for the Hudson Valley Renegades, Army Sports at West Point, The Norwich Navigators, 1340/1390 ESPN Radio in Poughkeepsie, NY, Time Warner Cable TV, Scorephone NY, Metro Networks, NBC Sports, ABC Sports, Cumulus Media, Pamal Broadcasting and WATR. He has also authored a number of books including “A Renegade Championship Summer” and “Untold Tales From The Bush Leagues”. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @RickSchultzNY.
Nick Kayal Moved From Sports to News, And is Seeing Results at 1210 WPHT
“We hit the ground running from day one, and our audience has grown month-by-month against different demos and platforms.”
During the pandemic, Nick Kayal, a former sports talk show host, fearlessly pivoted his career to news/talk. This bold move resulted in numerous changes, including his current role as the highly regarded host of 1210 WPHT’s Kayal and Company show in Philadelphia.
With his vibrant and impassioned approach to news/talk, he’s spearheading the evolution of radio to cater to the next generation’s needs.
1210 WPHT stands out for its dedication to connecting with audiences through a variety of platforms. Greg Stocker, the station’s brand manager and a popular personality on Kayal and Company, has led this effort. The station has become a favorite among listeners of all ages, thanks to its focus on live and local programming from 6:00 AM-7:00 PM. As a result, 1210 WPHT has established itself as a significant player in the Philadelphia radio market.
In a recent interview with Barrett News Media, Kayal shared essential perspectives on the advantages of AM radio and the powerful influence of talk radio on Philadelphia’s story. Kayal highlighted 1210 WPHT’s success in captivating audiences with exciting content and attracting diverse listeners.
Ryan Hedrick: Many listeners know you from your background in sports radio. What prompted your transition from sports to news/talk, and how has your experience been? Have there been any challenges or rewarding aspects in making this switch?
Nick Kayal: I was a political science major in college as a freshman back in 2002, so I’ve always had an interest in politics. Then, I got away from that and changed majors to criminal justice and pre-law. I started getting really into politics right around 2015 as [Donald] Trump announced that he was going to run for president, and a lot of my political views always seem to gradually slide from moderate Democrat, to moderate Republican or conservative Republican.
Many things during the pandemic opened my eyes, from the lack of freedom to the control of the government trying to restrict its citizens, and the imposed mask mandates. Equally important is the whole cancel culture movement. The woke aspect of society and people constantly being offended, trying to shut you down because they disagree. Much of that also drove me because I’m a big believer in the First Amendment and free speech, and I don’t believe in silencing opposing viewpoints.
RH: Did you encounter any difficulties or positive experiences when making this change?
NK: It has been gratifying because many great, talented individuals have surrounded me. The feedback has been mostly positive, and all of that has been rewarding. We hit the ground running from day one, and our audience has grown month-by-month against different demos and platforms.
The only challenge, initially, was once I got the job having to stay quiet about it for a few months and then make it public and expecting some pushback from a bunch of liberals that were going to be mad because I was doing so-called conservative talk. Other than a few people I have a good relationship with unfollowing me on Twitter because they didn’t want to see my political views, there haven’t been any challenges. I was put into a situation to succeed.
RH: WPHT has a long history in Philadelphia. What makes the station unique, and how do you strive to connect with the local audience?
NK: What makes WPHT unique right now is that this is the first time in the station’s history that we’ve been live and local 6:00 AM-7:00 PM. We have four different amazing shows. We don’t have four shows that all sound identical and are formatted the same. The hosts are not trying to be Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity.
In the morning, we do a modern-day news show for news talk. If you’ve ever watched (Fox News’) The Five, that’s what we do. We hit on the big stories; we have personalities; we talk about pop culture; it’s that kind of variety.
Dawn [Stensland] does her show; she’s also my news anchor and a TV legend in Philadelphia. She does more of what’s breaking and developing. Dom [Giordano] is on from noon-3:00 PM and really gets into the crime issues. Rich [Zeoli] does his thing in the afternoon almost like what he did in the morning, minus the supporting cast he once had, and of course, he’s a star in the industry.
As far as connecting with the locals in Philadelphia, it’s no secret. If you are a fraud, the audience will know it. I have a blueprint, and it’s called COPE. It stands for content, opinion, personality, and entertainment. If you check off those four each day, the results should come.
RH: As a morning host, what are the critical elements of a successful morning show? How do you keep the content engaging and relevant for your listeners?
NK: When you are doing mornings, you must be entertaining. How you define entertaining is up to each host. The last thing I want to do is do a 20-minute dissertation on the debt ceiling; my job is to wake my audience up, not to put them back to sleep. I don’t do anything long-winded.
In my opening segment, after we set the show-up and chit-chat, I do a piece at 6:10 called the “Big Take”. It’s five to seven minutes long, and that’s kind of my opening monologue. I used audio and video. After that, we hit on a couple of stories, and I get Dawn [Stensland] and Greg [Stocker] ‘s opinions on it, and whatever organically develops from that is how I keep the show moving.
We have a show sheet, but we are not beholden to it. It comes down to creating a game plan and letting your radio instincts take over.
RH: What role does talk radio play in shaping public opinion and fostering community dialogue?
NK: I’ve always been torn on shaping the narrative. I go into a show with my opinion each day. I try not to watch other people’s shows too much or listen to others because I don’t want those opinions to corrupt my views. Regarding shaping narratives, I’m not sitting there telling you what to think. You can agree or disagree.
Still, one thing I promised I would never do is to be an apologist for the Republican party or conservatives in general or MAGA Republicans. My job is not to improve your feelings but to get ratings, and I take the approach of getting ratings and eff the feelings.
RH: Can you share any memorable experiences or interviews you’ve had as a morning host? Is there a particular moment that stands out to you in your career?
NK: We have not gone heavy on interviews because we have a three-mic show between Dawn, me, and Greg. I can not give one specific interview.
Indeed, in sports, there were prominent people that I spoke with. When I was in the South, I talked to Nick Saban. Things may be different in 2023-24 if we may have somebody like [Ron] DeSantis on the show or [Donald] Trump, Tim Scott, or whoever that will be.
But so far, we have steered clear of interviews. To this date, the one thing that I am most proud of is the money we raised for the Travis Manion Foundation. Every year we do an annual radiothon, and this year we set a record in the mornings when we raised $92,000 in four hours.
RH: How do you see the future of talk radio and morning shows evolving in an era of rapidly changing media consumption habits? What strategies are you implementing to adapt to these changes?
NK: The way we view it, we are no longer a talk radio station. We are an audio and video content distribution platform or network of platforms. People listen to us when they want or when they have the time. They might be listening 45 minutes behind on a delay on the app or just catching up. They might go to the website and download the podcasts. Or they may go to YouTube and watch all four hours live on our channel.
We’ve had people tweeting us pictures of their smart TV’s where they’ve had YouTube up, and they’re watching us in their living room on their 65-inch flat screen, and it looks like we are doing a TV show. We are a variety platform now.
RH: What are some key advantages of AM radio over other mediums, and how can stations effectively communicate these advantages to listeners and advertisers?
NK: As crucial as ratings are, you will only last long with the advertisers and the revenue. It’s a matter of selling people on the value of AM and, indeed, to the automakers. AM radio is still how people get weather alerts, travel advisories, etc. There’s a human safety element. AM radio reaches over 40 million Americans weekly, well over 10 percent of the country. We still get a massive amount of people.
The biggest challenge is attracting the Gen-Z listener. I wonder if you can. That’s another audience we can tap into. There will always be that demand for talk radio because you know you can never replace live and local personalities. News/talk is expensive to operate when you’re live and local, but the value remains.
RH: Lastly, are there any exciting upcoming projects or initiatives you’re working on that you’d like to share with your listeners and readers?
NK: More than anything, our brand, WPHT, is where free speech lives. We encourage dialogue, discourse, and discussions, and, indeed, debate. We have some people in our audience who are not conservatives. We have people that disagree with us. The great thing about WPHT is that we offer well-rounded conversations and various shows.
We have some other things in the works that our Brand Manager, Greg Stocker, has been pushing for, and hopefully, in the weeks and months, we can get some of this rolled out. A lot of people say the station has never sounded better. Greg Stocker has only been in his position as Brand Manager for over a year, and he’s taken the station to new heights.
Within our doors and walls at Audacy in Philadelphia, there are very happy with how things are going at the station.
Ryan Hedrick serves as the Assistant Program Director and Co-Host of the Morning News Express at WFMD. Prior to WFMD, he hosted an afternoon program at News Talk 103.7 FM in Chambersburg, PA. He has worked at Sirius XM in Washington D.C., WBEN in Buffalo, NY, and for stations in Baltimore, MD. He has also worked at WIBW-AM in Topeka KS, earning the Kansas Association of Broadcasters (KAB) award for Major Market enterprise reporting in 2016. To connect with Ryan, find him on Twitter @SureToCover.