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It’s Time to Start Thinking Beyond the Radio

We need to stop viewing ourselves as employees of “just” the radio industry

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Radio

There’s one thing we can all agree on: the media landscape is rapidly changing. For me, even as a millennial, I grew up on radio. On the sports side, it was WFAN and Mike and the Mad Dog every day. On the news side, it was Rush Limbaugh. And this was only 15 years ago, when the idea of a podcast was still in its infancy.

Sure, teens today probably aren’t thinking of “radio” as their way to become an entertainer or content creator, but that’s just as much the fault of those of us in the radio business. Shoot, I just did it myself without even realizing it.

We need to stop viewing ourselves as employees of “just” the radio industry. We are content creators, just like YouTubers, podcasters, TV actors and producers, Instagram influencers and others. Sure, for most of us, our words being heard on the radio is the biggest platform we have on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean we can’t, and shouldn’t, be exploring all other avenues of ways to reach our audience via social media like Facebook and Twitter, and then in video form such as Instagram Live and YouTube, plus podcasts of our radio content. 

I was inspired to go down this road after reading Rob Taylor’s piece on Barrett Sports Media regarding college students no longer thinking about the idea of sports radio, but rather sports media. 

It was an excellent piece that rang true based on the younger folks I hear from that want to get into the media business in general. The avenues that they think of are quite different from mine, even 10-15 years ago.

But for those of us who spend the bulk of our media time on the radio, thinking of ourselves as dinosaurs is doing our industry a disservice. Yes, radio, like much of traditional media, has had its issues as of late. But, recent data still shows we work in a medium that reaches 92% of the population each week, which is roughly 272 million. Nielsen demonstrates that radio is still the most popular form of media in America. Radio reaches 90% of adults aged 18-34, 94% aged 35-49 and 91% aged 50 and older.

Then, when you blend in that our content doesn’t just come out of a car stereo or an old piece of equipment that your grandpa carries around, but also every gadget that most people under the age of 35 use, it sells another side of radio, that is really just audio content creation. 

Example: if there’s anything good that came out of COVID-19, it was the push by radio stations and their brands to drive our audiences to our streams and use our streams in their homes via Alexa, Google Home, smartphones or other smart speakers. I can’t tell you how many people told me around Kansas City in the last year or so that they haven’t caught as much of the show because “they aren’t in their cars as frequently” due to working from home. Getting them to realize that in my case, KCMO Talk Radio is not just for those in their cars or who own a physical radio, but rather a 24/7/365 entertainment vehicle that can be pulled up in seconds on a device that is likely in the same room as you takes time. It’s an admittedly painfully slow, repetitious endeavour. 

However, our push at KCMO to grow our streaming audience over the last 12 months has worked, as we’ve seen consistent growth of 20-30% from spring of 2020 to winter of 2020-21. While the chase for Nielsen meters, especially those in the coveted 25-54 demo, has only gotten tougher the last 12 months, getting to see our stream growth every day in real time has been a pleasant surprise in what has been an upside down year. 

It’s also a reminder that while the bulk of our “game” is played through the speakers on a radio in a car or home, the audience is finding us in ways that seemed very difficult to explain less than five years ago. 

And yes, there is an unlimited supply of competition on your Alexa device, Google Home, podcasts, etc., that doesn’t come on the radio where your city has a finite number of stations, but trust your brand and your content, especially if it’s live and local talk, to stand out and be unique for your city and community. 

And dammit, let’s stop calling ourselves just “radio stations” and bemoaning the fact that the next generation is over us and into digital-only platforms. If we aren’t going to be confident in ourselves and what we have to offer, why should the next generation give us the time of day or want to be a part of our journey? We’re hurting ourselves and in too many instances, we only have ourselves to blame. 

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BNM Top 20

Barrett News Media’s Top 20 Major Market News/Talk Radio Morning Shows of 2023

“A total of 46 major market morning shows appeared on ballots turned in by our executive panel in the Major Market Morning News/Talk Shows category.”

Jason Barrett

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Welcome to the second annual Barrett News Media Top 20 series recognizing News/Talk radio’s best for 2023. This series is voted on by news/talk radio program directors and executives all across the country. To stay informed on each day’s results please bookmark our website, follow BNM on Twitter at @BNMStaff, visit us on Facebook at Barrett News Media or sign up for our daily newsletter, ‘The Rundown‘ by clicking here. We appreciate the support.

The six categories featured this year are news/talk radio’s Major and Mid market morning, midday, and afternoon shows, the top program directors and radio stations, and the format’s best national talk shows. Major Markets represent shows, stations, and PDs operating in markets #1-#20. Mid Markets are for markets #21 and below. Not included in our lists are NPR brands and shows. Maybe in the future we’ll change that or add an extra category but for now, mainstream talk radio outlets are our main focus.

As you review the results in this category, please remember that they represent the collective opinions of fifty four (54) news/talk radio programmers and executives. We try our best to make sure the top shows, hosts, programmers and brands are listed for voting consideration. Industry decision makers are then asked to vote on market categories based on where their stations/shows operate. We don’t participate ourselves in the voting process, we simply add up and present the results.

I want to thank Barrett Media’s Digital Director Alex Reynolds for doing an awesome job on this year’s graphics, as well as each PD and executive who participated in this process. We had representation from fourteen companies and forty different cities, which was even better than last year. For those who didn’t vote and were invited to do so, I hope you’ll change your mind next year. It’s good for the format if you’re involved, and depending on the final votes, it can benefit your staff, sales team, and company, and excite your audience and advertisers.

Moving on to the voting, here are a few things I’d like you to be aware of.

#1 – Our executive voters are asked to rank their Top 20 selections for each category based on a few key factors; quality of show (ear test), originality, ability to entertain-inform-connect across multiple platforms, ratings success, clearance (national shows) and industry buzz. Remember, our voters live in different cities, have different tastes, work for different groups, and value certain factors higher than others. This is not a perfect system but it’s the best one we’ve come up with to showcase the industry’s best. Having run it for eight years with the sports talk format, we’re going to stick with it until another option arises that makes it better.

#2 – The executive panel consists of program directors and corporate executives from a number of top broadcasting companies including Audacy, iHeart, Cumulus, Hubbard, Cox Media Group, Townsquare Media, Salem Media Group, Radio One, Alpha, Bonneville, FOX News Radio, Westwood One, Federated Media, and Zimmer Communications. We involve a large number of people in this process in order to receive feedback from all parts of the country, and to avoid the results heavily favoring one company. Given the variety of people in this process, it means there’s no guarantee that success last year will be duplicated this year.

#3 – A total of 46 major market morning shows appeared on ballots turned in by our executive panel in the Major Market Morning News/Talk Shows category. These shows start the day for news/talk radio stations across the country, and are asked to create compelling local content, and deliver strong ratings and revenue success for their respective stations. Many of these shows have made a major impact in their local markets, but only can earn top billing.

Which brings us to this year’s winner. The top honor once again belongs to KFI’s Bill Handel. The radio hall of famer repeats as the category winner thanks to nine (9) 1st place votes from our executive panel. BNM congratulates Bill, Robin Bertolucci and the entire KFI staff on securing the top spot again, as well as every other show which gained a spot on this year’s list.

Now, here are the full results of “Barrett News Media’s Top 20 Major Market News/Talk Morning Shows of 2023!”

Additional Notes:

  • Bill Handel finished far ahead of runner up Sid & Friends. Handel held a 122 point lead, an even more impressive feat over last year. He earned a category high nine (9) first place votes.
  • Spots 21-25 belonged to Chicago’s Morning Answer with Dan Proft & Amy Jacobson, Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross & Colleen O’Brien, Wayne Cabot & Paul Murdane, Colorado’s Morning News with Marty Lenz and Jeana Gondek, and Jackie Paige & Jonathan Carlson.
  • The closest contests saw WTOP Morning News beat Len Berman and Michael Riedel by 4 points, and Michael Berry edge Steve Cochran by 1 point.
  • Of the 46 shows to appear on submitted ballots, fourteen (14) received at least one 1st place vote.

Here is the remaining schedule for the Barrett News Media Top 20 of 2023.

  • Tuesday December 12 = BNM Top 20 Major/Mid Market N/T Radio Midday Shows of 2022
  • Wednesday December 13 = BNM Top 20 Major/Mid Market N/T Radio Afternoon Shows of 2022
  • Thursday December 14 = BNM Top 20 National N/T Radio Shows of 2022
  • Friday December 15 = BNM Top 20 Major/Mid Market N/T Radio Program Directors of 2022
  • Monday December 18 = BNM Top 20 Major/Mid Market N/T Radio Stations of 2022

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BNM Top 20

Barrett News Media’s Top 20 Mid Market News/Talk Radio Morning Shows of 2023

“A total of 98 mid market morning shows were eligible for votes from our executive panel in the Mid Market Morning News/Talk Shows category.”

Jason Barrett

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Welcome to the second annual Barrett News Media Top 20 series recognizing News/Talk radio’s best for 2023. This series is voted on by news/talk radio program directors and executives all across the country. To stay informed on each day’s results please bookmark our website, follow BNM on Twitter at @BNMStaff, visit us on Facebook at Barrett News Media or sign up for our daily newsletter, ‘The Rundown‘ by clicking here. We appreciate the support.

The six categories featured this year are news/talk radio’s Major and Mid market morning, midday, and afternoon shows, the top program directors and radio stations, and the format’s best national talk shows. Major Markets represent shows, stations, and PDs operating in markets #1-#20. Mid Markets are for markets #21 and below. Not included in our lists are NPR brands and shows. Maybe in the future we’ll change that or add an extra category but for now, mainstream talk radio outlets are our main focus.

As you review the results in this category, please remember that they represent the collective opinions of fifty four (54) news/talk radio programmers and executives. We try our best to make sure the top shows, hosts, programmers and brands are listed for voting consideration. Industry decision makers are then asked to vote on market categories based on where their stations/shows operate. We don’t participate ourselves in the voting process, we simply add up and present the results.

I want to thank Barrett Media’s Digital Director Alex Reynolds for doing an awesome job on this year’s graphics, as well as each PD and executive who participated in this process. We had representation from fourteen companies and forty different cities, which was even better than last year. For those who didn’t vote and were invited to do so, I hope you’ll change your mind next year. It’s good for the format if you’re involved, and depending on the final votes, it can benefit your staff, sales team, and company, and excite your audience and advertisers.

Moving on to the voting, here are a few things I’d like you to be aware of.

#1 – Our executive voters are asked to rank their Top 20 selections for each category based on a few key factors; quality of show (ear test), originality, ability to entertain-inform-connect across multiple platforms, ratings success, clearance (national shows) and industry buzz. Remember, our voters live in different cities, have different tastes, work for different groups, and value certain factors higher than others. This is not a perfect system but it’s the best one we’ve come up with to showcase the industry’s best. Having run it for eight years with the sports talk format, we’re going to stick with it until another option arises that makes it better.

#2 – The executive panel consists of program directors and corporate executives from a number of top broadcasting companies including Audacy, iHeart, Cumulus, Hubbard, Cox Media Group, Townsquare Media, Salem Media Group, Radio One, Alpha, Bonneville, FOX News Radio, Westwood One, Federated Media, and Zimmer Communications. We involve a large number of people in this process in order to receive feedback from all parts of the country, and to avoid the results heavily favoring one company. Given the variety of people in this process, it means there’s no guarantee that success last year will be duplicated this year.

#3 – A total of 98 mid market morning shows were eligible for votes from our executive panel in the Mid Market Morning News/Talk Shows category. These programs are counted on across the nation to create compelling local content, and produce strong ratings and revenue for their respective brands. Many of these shows enjoy great success in their local cities, but only one can stand atop the rankings.

Which brings us to this year’s winner. The top honor once again goes to Mike McConnell of 700 WLW. The popular Cincinnati morning host pulled off the repeat thanks to a category best six (6) 1st place votes. BNM congratulates Mike, Scott Reinhart, and the entire WLW team on grabbing the top spot again, as well as every other show which gained a spot on this year’s list.

Now, here are the full results of “Barrett News Media’s Top 20 Mid Market News/Talk Morning Shows of 2023!”

Additional Notes:

  • Mike McConnell finished comfortably in front of WTAM’s Wills & Snyder with a 133 point lead, courtesy of a category best six (6) first place votes.
  • Spots 21-25 belonged to A New Morning with Susan & BrianUtah’s Morning NewsBo Thompson & Beth TroutmanC4 & Bryan Nehman and Kevin Miller In The Morning.
  • The closest contests saw Total Information AM nip Ben Ferguson by 3 points, and Pete Mundo edge Dan Mandis by 4 points.
  • Of the 98 shows to appear on submitted ballots, seventeen (17) received at least one 1st place vote.

*** Boxer has since left mornings in Columbus, replaced by Mike Elliott. His show was on 610 WTVN in morning drive when voting took place.

Here is the remaining schedule for the BNM Top 20 of 2023.

  • Tuesday December 12 = BNM Top 20 Major/Mid Market N/T Radio Midday Shows of 2023
  • Wednesday December 13 = BNM Top 20 Major/Mid Market N/T Radio Afternoon Shows of 2023
  • Thursday December 14 = BNM Top 20 National N/T Radio Shows of 2023
  • Friday December 15 = BNM Top 20 Major/Mid Market N/T Radio Program Directors of 2023
  • Monday December 18 = BNM Top 20 Major/Mid Market N/T Radio Stations of 2023

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BNM Writers

Law & Crime Network Eyes Expansion in Growing Genre

“We’ll cover the wide range, whereas a lot of times our competitors will narrow in on one case. We’re everywhere and covering everything from all different angles and sides.”

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Sometimes crime does pay… just not in the way you’d expect. Companies like Law & Crime Network are cashing in on crime.

“I was [Dan Abrams’] first or second employee when we started Law Newz seven years ago,” Rachel Stockman told Barrett News Media over Zoom.

Since 2016 the startup with 3 people exploded into a company of nearly 100 and changed their brand name from Law Newz to Law & Crime Network. Now the President of Law & Crime Network, Stockman, like many great journalists, started as an intern in local news.

Her West Virginia internship turned into a passion as national news hit her small market. “The Sago Mine disaster happened and so it was really my first experience being part of a national news story,” she recalled, “so that really sparked my interest to to become a journalist.”

Moving on to be a reporter in Green Bay, Atlanta, and New York it was her experience in Phoenix which ignited her passion.

“I was covering a lot of immigration-related issues. And they at the time, passed a really controversial immigration law,” Stockman said, “I was a young reporter, and I just remembered how intimidating I thought covering courts was at the time.”

The intimidation turned into questions and questions brought an application to Law School. She graduated from Yale but did not become a lawyer.

“I decided to go back into journalism after that. But it was still great to have that legal foundation,” Stockman explained. “Going to law school really gave me the confidence to continue to report on really critical issues in our justice system.” Confidence she uses to inspire her team at Law & Crime, adding, “The foundation of [the network] is really law and crime and accuracy and commitment to really understanding how our justice system works.”

Law & Crime Network brings that understanding to their viewers in four different ways, OTT networks, social media, lawandcrime.com, and Productions. The key to what Stockman calls their “360 approach” is dominating social media. “Our YouTube page has a huge presence, almost 6 million subscribers, and we’re covering everything from court cases to the big to true crime stories to big legal stories.”

Stockman added they have nearly 1 million subscribers on TikTok and an extremely active Snapchat page.

The network’s viewership began reaching a larger audience via their production company. “We are producing content for partners like Netflix, [and] Hulu,” Stockman added. “One of our great partners is A&E. We really leverage our experience in the legal and crime sphere to be able to then create compelling programing for them as well.”

The biggest viewer expansion Stockman says came from the 2022 Johnny Depp Trial. “We honestly were not expecting that one to blow up as it did. Obviously, we knew there would be interest because they were celebrities,” She recalled. “But we were really shocked by kind of the level of universal interest in the case and how not only were people tracking kind of daily developments, they were really in the courtroom every single day wanting to not miss a moment of that case.”

Commitment to their community is key, with almost 6 million YouTube subscribers they typically have hundreds of people, actively chatting every day. “They’re alerting us to other cases that are going around the country. And it’s really unique compared to other companies and other media organizations. Just how loyal are our fans and our community is,” Stockman said.

Even with a committed community, it remains hard to get every court case,

“It is difficult in some states to get in [to court] and some states don’t allow cameras altogether.”

Stockman continued to say “The federal court system also does not allow cameras in court. So there we are, pretty limited, I would say probably 30 states allow cameras in court.”

This creates a challenge for the Network as some states allow cameras on a case-by-case basis or have banned cameras entirely.

Stockman feels Law & Crime’s coverage of court is worth fighting for. “We believe in transparency. We think the public should be able to see our court system and see our justice system in action.” Some critics believe cameras in court don’t provide transparency instead becoming a distraction and dramatizing the process. If given the option Stockman’s answer is simple, “We always want to air on the side of transparency if there’s a choice.”

Barrett News Media pressed Stockman on if there were cases that took advantage of cameras in the court, turning a trial into a circus or more of a TV show. Her response? “Overall, judges and attorneys can certainly when they know they’re being taped, when they know they’re going to be on camera, on a live stream will certainly play to the cameras. There’s no denying in that.”

Stockman added, “That just goes along with any major case that happens. There’s going to be media coverage and there is going to be folks on either side taking advantage of that or trying to get in the spotlight and push their case in any certain direction.”

Law & Crime Network is not alone in the true crime market, other networks like Court TV and the True Crime Network are willful adversaries but Stockman says Law & Crime does something the others don’t, have a diverse case group.

“We’ll cover the wide range, whereas a lot of times our competitors will narrow in on one case. We’re everywhere and covering everything from all different angles and sides.”

Stockman added “We really have had a huge focus on our social as a strategy. Social first.”

The network is planning on continuing its growth in 2024. and while Stockman couldn’t get into specifics she did tell BNM, “We are going to be launching some more YouTube channels. In the crime space, we’re working to increase our distribution for our linear channel and get on more OTT platforms.” 

Stockman added, “We’re going to continue to be the leader in true crime, making sure we’re the ones that are on top of all the major cases and bring our audience the biggest the latest developments.”

Note: Krystina Alarcon Carroll worked at Law & Crime Network in 2021.

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