New shows. A popular show’s new revamp. Same old success.
Fox News Channel began their new era of several new news hours as well as a change in its hosting panel on “The Five” on Jan. 24. Yet, one thing remained constant: their dominance on cable.
Already their current No. 1 show, “The Five” premiered the addition of new full-time co-host Jeanine Pirro. Her former Saturday night program “Justice with Jeanine Pirro” concluded its 11-year run back on Jan. 22 (which, despite opposite a 49ers-Packers game on parent network Fox, drew 1.4 million total viewers and 148,000 adults 18-49). Also on “The Five” are a rotation of Harold Ford Jr., Geraldo Rivera, and Jessica Tarlov — the three succeed the spot previously held by the show’s original panelist Juan Williams who had exited back in May 2021. They all join current co-hosts Greg Gutfeld, Dana Perino and Jesse Watters.
The Jan. 24th edition of “The Five” (as also noted in the list near article’s end) drew 3.86 million total viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research; its episode the next day (Jan. 25) grew to 3.87 million total viewers. Both not only led the week’s telecasts among cable news channels but on cable overall. Fox News Channel secured 76 of the top 100 most-watched cable telecasts for the week, including the entire top 20 — four of the five weekday editions of “The Five” placed in the top ten; its Friday Jan. 28 edition (3.08 million) ranked 15th.
Also on Jan. 24 was the debut of the 7 p.m. hour “Jesse Watters Primetime”. Its 3.8 million total viewers ranked third on cable overall; its Monday thru Thursday editions (Jan. 24-28) all landed in the top 13. The show’s five-weeknight average of 3.26 million viewers was FNC’s best for that hour since the week of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election (Nov. 2-6, 2020). Watters’ former Saturday night program “Watters World” concluded its five-year run on Jan. 22 with 1.585 million viewers and 173,000 in the key 25-54 demographic.
Then, on Jan. 29, FNC’s brand new Saturday night lineup averaged 1.49 million total viewers in prime time — a figure that would normally top the night on cable but not on this particular evening, as noted in the next paragraph. Leading off the night at 8 p.m. was the premiere of “One Nation with Brian Kilmeade” (1.54 million total viewers) hosted by the “Fox & Friends” personality. “Unfiltered with Dan Bongino” (1.465 million total viewers) moved up its regular slot to one hour earlier to 9 p.m. and, with 247,000 adults 25-54, improved upon its “Kilmeade” (189,000 adults 25-54) lead-in in the key demo. The launch of “Lawrence Jones Cross Country” at 10 p.m. slightly built upon its “Bongino” lead-in in total viewers (1.47 million) and its 239,000 among adults 25-54 retained nearly all of “Bongino’s” demo crowd.
The networks of Lifetime and A&E scored a hit on the evenings of Jan. 28 and Jan. 29 with their two-night, four-part documentary “Janet Jackson”. The following are the figures for each of its original airings:
Part 1 — Friday, Jan. 28, 2022 @ 8-9 p.m.
Lifetime: 1.903 million total viewers; 715,000 adults 25-54
A&E: 0.925 million total viewers; 365,000 adults 25-54
Combined: 2.828 million total viewers; 1.08 million adults 25-54
Part 2 — Friday, Jan. 28, 2022 @ 9-10 p.m.
Lifetime: 2.114 million total viewers; 821,000 adults 25-54
A&E: 1.057 million total viewers; 443,000 adults 25-54
Combined: 3.171 million total viewers; 1.264 million adults 25-54
Part 3 — Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022 @ 8-9 p.m.
Lifetime: 1.796 million total viewers; 675,000 adults 25-54
A&E: 1.222 million total viewers; 456,000 adults 25-54
Combined: 3.018 million total viewers; 1.131 million adults 25-54
Part 4 — Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022 @ 9-10 p.m.
Lifetime: 1.882 million total viewers; 706,000 adults 25-54
A&E: 1.345 million total viewers; 534,000 adults 25-54
Combined: 3.227 million total viewers; 1.24 million adults 25-54
Overall, the profile on the pop/R&B singer was the week’s top cable program among adults 25-54.
It had the highest viewership of any non-fiction program on Lifetime since the documentary on another R&B singer but with much more controversy, “Surviving R. Kelly,” which aired in January 2019.
“Janet Jackson” also marked the best nonfiction debut in viewership and ratings on cable since “The Last Dance” (Apr.-May 2020), the ESPN docuseries that chronicled another pop culture icon of the 80’s and 90’s, Michael Jordan, and his Chicago Bulls team.
Cable news averages for January 24-30, 2022:
Total Day (January 24-30 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 1.549 million viewers; 255,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 0.675 million viewers; 76,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 0.453 million viewers; 90,000 adults 25-54
- HLN: 0.210 million viewers; 63,000 adults 25-54
- The Weather Channel: 0.196 million viewers; 35,000 adults 25-54
- CNBC: 0.164 million viewers; 39,000 adults 25-54
- Newsmax: 0.146 million viewers; 23,000 adults 25-54
- Fox Business Network: 0.107 million viewers; 11,000 adults 25-54
Prime Time (January 24-29 @ 8-11 p.m.; January 30 @ 7-11 p.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 2.440 million viewers; 390,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 1.258 million viewers; 146,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 0.542 million viewers; 117,000 adults 25-54
- Newsmax: 0.285 million viewers; 49,000 adults 25-54
- HLN: 0.244 million viewers; 77,000 adults 25-54
- CNBC: 0.213 million viewers; 66,000 adults 25-54
- The Weather Channel: 0.208 million viewers; 45,000 adults 25-54
- Fox Business Network: 0.052 million viewers; 9,000 adults 25-54
Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top MSNBC, HBO, CNN and Weather Channel programs with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:
1. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 1/25/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.870 million viewers
2. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 1/24/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.862 million viewers
3. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Mon. 1/24/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.803 million viewers
4. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 1/26/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.782 million viewers
5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 1/24/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.774 million viewers
6. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 1/25/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.700 million viewers
7. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 1/26/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.700 million viewers
8. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Tue. 1/25/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.600 million viewers
9. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 1/27/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.556 million viewers
10. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 1/27/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.533 million viewers
26. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Thu. 1/27/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.398 million viewers
155. Real Time With Bill Maher “587” (HBO, Fri. 1/28/2022 10:01 PM, 57 min.) 0.893 million viewers
156. Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN, Wed. 1/26/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.861 million viewers
201. Weekend Recharge (TWC, Sat. 1/29/2022 11:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.682 million viewers
Top 10 cable news programs (and the top MSNBC, CNN and HLN programs with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:
1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 1/26/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.649 million adults 25-54
2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 1/24/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.636 million adults 25-54
3. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 1/25/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.624 million adults 25-54
4. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 1/24/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.588 million adults 25-54
5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 1/27/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.577 million adults 25-54
6. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 1/25/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.563 million adults 25-54
7. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 1/26/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.559 million adults 25-54
8. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Tue. 1/25/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.558 million adults 25-54
9. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Mon. 1/24/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.537 million adults 25-54
10. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Thu. 1/27/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.526 million adults 25-54
41. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Mon. 1/24/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.324 million adults 25-54
111. Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN, Thu. 1/27/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.195 million adults 25-54
114. Forensic Files “Chief Suspect” (HLN, Wed. 1/26/2022 11:30 PM, 30 min.) 0.194 million adults 25-54
115. Daily Show “44586” (CMDY, Tue. 1/25/2022 11:00 PM, 31 min.) 0.193 million adults 25-54
156. Real Time With Bill Maher “587” (HBO, Fri. 1/28/2022 10:01 PM, 57 min.) 0.155 million adults 25-54
170. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee “Episode 7203” (TBS, Thu. 1/27/2022 10:00 PM, 30 min.) 0.150 million adults 25-54
Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research
Douglas Pucci is a Bronx native and NYU graduate analyzing news television ratings for Barrett News Media. He did an internship at VH1’s “Pop Up Video” in 1997. After college, Pucci went on to design, build and maintain websites for various non-profit organizations in his hometown of New York City. He has worked alongside media industry observer Marc Berman for over a decade reporting on all things television, first at Cross MediaWorks from 2011-15 then at Programming Insider since 2016. Pucci also contributed to the sports website Awful Announcing. Read more: https://programminginsider.com/author/douglas/
How Should Talk Radio Use Callers in 2023?
While I wouldn’t hire a caller-driven show in most circumstances, I wouldn’t likely hire one that rarely or never took callers.
I continue catching up with people I saw again or met at the BNM Summit a few weeks ago. I also am still thinking about the sessions and information shared in Nashville. One topic that came up several times over the two days was the role of callers in today’s talk radio.
It was a question I asked Chad Benson, Erick Erickson, and Tony Katz when I moderated the “Talking with Talent” panel on the first day of the Summit, which you can buy a digital ticket to view here.
It was one of only two subjects during the session where I recalled any differences of opinion. The other was about video streaming.
In this column, I review the panelist’s views on callers. Their quotes are edited for brevity and clarity. I’ll add my opinions as a programmer, something I couldn’t do as a moderator when they differed from the panelists. I am interested in other readers’ views.
Erick Erickson is the only one of the three who takes calls regularly, although he points out that his show isn’t caller-driven, saying, “I don’t take a lot of callers, and I will go some days without taking callers at all.”
Chad Benson said he “hasn’t taken a caller in seven or eight years.”
Similarly, Tony Katz says, “In an average week, I take a total of zero calls; zero point zero.” He explains, “Twitter is my caller if I’m going to use something as a way of bouncing into something else.” Katz will use a tweet to report somebody else’s viewpoint. Katz adds that he is not anti-caller and that there are times when he has taken calls.
Benson also uses Twitter and texts in place of calls. Benson does both a national and a local show. The latter includes one caller segment. He maintains, “The reality is that it’s just easier” for listeners to text the show. “People don’t want to pick up and make a phone call. They want to send a text. That’s the way they want to respond.”
Sure, some, maybe many, listeners would rather text than call. I disagree that listeners prefer to text is a valid reason to stop taking calls. I haven’t seen research showing a majority of listeners would rather text than call talk shows.
The more relevant research is from Nielsen Audio Today 2023. The data shows that radio listening remains strongest in the car.
- This year, 65% of total radio listening is away from home, and 68% of away-from-home listening is in the car (29% at work, 3% other).
- 73% of all radio use during morning and afternoon drives happens in the car.
- 74% of all AM radio listening is in the car.
- In its Share of Ear study (Q1-23), Edison Research finds that more than 60% of all time spent with audio in vehicles goes to AM/FM radio.
- According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average commute time in America increased by 10% between 2006 and 2019.
Since the pandemic, average commute times have fallen 4% due to a combination of more remote and hybrid work and changes in travel behavior, such as traveling at different times of the day to avoid rush hour traffic.
As Infinity Broadcasting President and CEO Mel Karmazin famously used to say, “When I see traffic, I see time spent listening.” A talk radio addendum in 2023 might be, “When I see traffic, I see talk radio listeners who can’t (or shouldn’t) text but have lots of time to call in.”
Katz explains why he doesn’t take callers. “I often discuss on-air whether I should take more callers, and the vast majority of people on social media and email is ‘No!’ If we wanted to hear from the callers, we’d have put the caller on the air and given them a show.”
I’m going to have to be a contrarian here, too. People on social media and email don’t necessarily represent the total audience. We’d likely get a totally different and equally unrepresentative result if we based our actions solely on people who call into talk radio shows.
Erickson has a two-part answer for why he takes calls: “As I’m growing nationally, a lot of local program directors love the idea that they can have (a listener) from their market call the show. It sounds more local, and there’s a connection to them.”
I relate to Erickson’s anecdote. We added an 800 number exclusively for Philadelphia listeners when we put Stern on in Philadelphia. Howard made a big deal of it when he took a caller from Philly. I think it was part of his early acceptance.
Erickson continued, “At the same time, I build great relationships, not just with the callers, but with the listeners by how you handle the callers.” True. There is a personal touch, even an intimacy created by speaking with a caller, which responding to a text or Tweet can’t achieve.
As Erickson has discovered, calls managed well in a couple of choice spots in an hour can help cement a host’s relationship with the entire audience. Angelo Cataldi, who retired from Philadelphia sports talk station 94 WIP earlier this year, used callers for this purpose, perhaps better than anybody I’ve heard.
Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t advocate for a caller-driven talk radio show. I largely agree with Katz. If the callers were so great, they’d have their own show, and some have—for example, the late Mike Trivisonno. I met him in 1988 at a bar in Cleveland where he was doing a trivia night. Trivisonno was a regular caller to a Cleveland sports talk show. Our meeting led to his role on the WNCX Morning Show. He eventually became a mainstay on Cleveland sports and talk radio.
Rush Limbaugh had the best explanation for the role of callers on talk shows. El Rushbo used to say, “The purpose of the caller is to make me, your humble host, look good.” Indeed.
Katz offered some opinions about how to treat callers when you take them. He said, “The caller is not adversarial even if they hate you.” Maybe this is a regional difference. In the Midwest, callers are less antagonistic toward hosts with whom they disagree. It is not the case on the East or West Coasts.
He suggests hosts “Should not be adversarial” or say things such as, “You’re just a fool. You’re stupid.” Instead, he says, “Find a way to take what they’re saying and use it against them with a smile on your face or say ‘Hey, thanks for the call, let me tell you why I think you’re wrong’, and go to your audience. I don’t get confrontational with the caller. It makes you sound like a bully-thug-jerk.”
Benson points out, “Isn’t that reality television? People like skirmishes. Nobody wants to watch a bunch of women sit down and eat dinner. They want to watch them fight, scream, and yell at each other.”
Erickson offers a “confession.” – Occasionally, I’ve got to confess; I try to find the call-in and let the one idiot come on who has a profound point. Like a woman who called once and insisted that the word ‘fairness’ was in the Constitution. I word-searched the Constitution live with her on the radio. The word ‘fair’ is not in the Constitution. It ended badly for her, but I thought it made for great radio.”
I agree with Benson and Erickson; drama draws listeners. But it depends on the specific situation. At WCCO, creating any drama between hosts, or hosts and callers, would have been ridiculous. At WIP, tension between Cataldi and Howard Eskin (and many others) brewed for years. By the way, both had no problem telling callers they were stupid. Eskin built a career around calling people “dopes, nitwits, and morons.”
Erickson praised his screener. It’s critical to have a great screener and not just someone who gets the name, location, and a brief description before putting the call on hold. While I don’t think in this environment of talk radio, it’s beneficial to be confrontational all the time, I believe having the periodic person with opposing views on to debate (whether a caller or expert) is healthy, but they can’t be stooges. They must be well-spoken and able to represent their thoughts well. Again, quoting Limbaugh, you have to “defeat them on the battlefield of ideas.”
When I came to WIP in 2007, my opinion was that callers were unnecessary. In my first six months, I had an epiphany. We had ten phone lines at WIP. One of the big revelations for me during the session was when Erickson revealed that Rush Limbaugh had only three lines. I had the screener on my desk. I could see when all the lines were lit and when they weren’t. It didn’t take long for me to realize the correlation between the phones and ratings. I learned to expect good and bad weeks and knew which dayparts were strongest and which needed help. It didn’t vary over my nine years there.
While I wouldn’t hire a caller-driven talk radio show in most circumstances, I wouldn’t likely hire one that rarely or never took callers. Somewhere between two and five an hour – depending on the daypart and what’s happening feels right to me.
What are your thoughts about callers on Talk Radio in 2023?
Below are my top rules about callers. What are yours that aren’t on this list?
Send me your thoughts and rules to [email protected] or via X (formerly known as Twitter @AndyBloomCom.
Andy Bloom Communication’s rules for callers on the air:
- Well-screened: Avoid all the repetitive stuff (hello, how are you, first time, etc. Get to the point. Only people who sound good on the phone.
- Discipline: Stick to one point. One attempt to reel the caller in. Afterward, it’s time to hang up.
- Keep it entertaining and moving: Avoid caller monologues.
- Rush’s rule: “The purpose of the caller is to make the host look good.” Ensure callers address something the host is prepared for and has an answer for.
- Callers can also contribute empathy for the host.
- Only one voice for several hours can drone on.
- Callers beget callers: If you don’t take calls, you won’t get any. If you do, others will call.
- The two-minute rule: Calls should never be more than two minutes, but no rule says they are owed two minutes.
- The two-caller rule: In most cases, except for special segments, two callers back-to-back is enough – usually to end A-Block.
Andy Bloom is president of Andy Bloom Communications. He specializes in media training and political communications. He has programmed legendary stations including WIP, WPHT and WYSP/Philadelphia, KLSX, Los Angeles and WCCO Minneapolis. He was Vice President Programming for Emmis International, Greater Media Inc. and Coleman Research. Andy also served as communications director for Rep. Michael R. Turner, R-Ohio. He can be reached by email at an[email protected] or you can follow him on Twitter @AndyBloomCom.
With Nielsen, Is There Life After 54?
If the industry truly believes that Nielsen should offer more demos, it’s time to ask the relevant questions and get the answers.
There’s been some discussion of late about whether it’s time to change the standard demos that Nielsen uses for reporting radio audiences.
Dan Mason began the debate a couple of months back with an argument for three demos: 12-19, 20-40, and 41-64. Steve Allan at Research Director has added his thoughts with the suggestion that Nielsen drop persons 6-11 and 80+. Beyond the lack of buyer interest in these demos, he sees it as a backdoor way to increase the PPM sample. Perhaps because more discussion is a good thing, I’ll offer my two cents.
There is likely no way that Nielsen will ever remove the 6-11 and 80+ PPM panelists even though the data are essentially meaningless for radio. PPM is now used for both audio and video. In the latter, PPM measures out-of-home audiences for local TV in the metro areas of DMAs. Remember that TV measures down to the age of two and while Arbitron never dropped that low (can you imagine a three-year-old with a PPM?), the design was that PPM would measure both radio and television. Because video likes a big number, the 80+ issue is probably off the table as well.
Let’s move on to Dan Mason’s suggestions. Radio has been battling with the “you’re dead at 55” issue for decades. In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, I was the operations manager of WSPA-FM in Spartanburg, South Carolina which ran the beautiful music/easy listening format. I clearly remember Ted Dorf at WGAY in Washington (same format) starting a 35-64 committee, the goal of which was to show the value of the older audience and bring dollars into that demo. That was more than 40 years ago and nothing much has changed.
Even with the lack of dollars for older demos despite the incredible spending power of the boomer generation, why can’t Nielsen offer more “standard” demos? In the “old days”, there were limitations based on processing software and even the size of the printed ratings report (remember the horizontal Arbitron books?). Today, the E-book is barely used and processing power is essentially unlimited.
The limitation may reside in the systems used by Nielsen to process the local markets. The old Arbitron processing systems were somewhat limited and rebuilding the system was usually behind other priorities. I do not know if Nielsen has updated the processing system, but if they have, it shouldn’t be hard to offer more “standard” demos, whether Dan Mason’s suggestions or others. If Nielsen has not updated the systems in the decade since the Arbitron acquisition, then we’re back to my recent column asking the paraphrased Ronald Reagan question of whether you’re better off now than you were ten years ago.
What about the third-party processors: other companies that use the Nielsen data, for example, agency buying systems? Nielsen can require certain data to be made available as part of the future licensing agreements for data access. Still, the companies would also have to make software changes that will take time.
Let’s make the generous assumption that these changes will take place. Who wins? It seems that most radio formats would do well if at least one buying demo went up to age 64. And yes, I know 35-64 has been available for decades, but let’s consider Dan’s 41-64 for the moment. News/talk will be helped along with classic rock (how many classic rock songs were recorded after the mid-80s?).
Those of us who are older don’t act like our parents (full disclosure: I do not fall in any of Dan Mason’s new demos) so I can see Adult Contemporary, Country, Urban AC, and other formats doing well. Public radio has also been aging so it may be easier to sell underwriting and their outside offerings that can carry spots. The various commercial Christian formats should look good, too.
Where does this leave us? If the industry truly believes that Nielsen should offer more demos, it’s time to ask the relevant questions and get the answers. Assuming Nielsen can make the software changes in a reasonable period of time, it’s up to the industry to convince agencies and advertisers of the value of these new demos over the ones they’ve used literally for generations. That will be no easy task, but making the data easily and readily available will help.
Let’s meet again next week.
One of the radio industry’s most respected researchers, Dr. Ed Cohen writes a weekly column for Barrett News Media. His career experiences include serving as VP of Ratings and Research at Cumulus Media, occupying the role of VP of Measurement Innovation at Nielsen Audio, and its predecessor Arbitron. While with Arbitron, Cohen spent five years as the company’s President of Research Policy and Communication, and eight years as VP of Domestic Radio Research. He has also held the title of Vice President of Research for iHeartMedia/Clear Channel, and held research positions for the National Association of Broadcasters and Birch/Scarborough Research. Dr. Ed always enjoys hearing your thoughts so please feel free to reach him at [email protected].
The Latest Example of How to Not Produce a Debate
If there is a blueprint on how not to put on a debate, it was Wednesday evening.
As if it couldn’t get any worse, it did. For the first time since it’s been my job to watch a Presidential debate for a living, I turned one off. After 82 minutes (9:22 p.m. CST, not that I was watching the clock or anything), I had enough. I couldn’t subject myself to the torture that became the second GOP Presidential debate on Wednesday night from the Reagan Library.
If there is a blueprint on how not to put on a debate, it was Wednesday evening, and there are multiple reasons why, beyond the usual bemoaning of “the candidates won’t stop talking over each other.”
The debate was overproduced. In the opening there were videos of Reagan (nice and well done, don’t get me wrong), each anchor had various lines they were reading between each other, which felt forced and unnatural, and as a result, it took over three minutes from the opening of a debate to a candidate finally speaking.
I understand TV isn’t radio, but in a PPM world, imagine taking three minutes to get to your content, when people are tuned in at that moment to consume the content you’ve been hyping up and promising for weeks. Time is a zero-sum game. Every minute a candidate is not speaking, because a moderator is, or a pre-produced piece is playing, can’t be gotten back.
Give people what they came for. A 15-second welcome, a 60-second introduction of the candidates, if that, and dive into the questions is a 90-second process. Keep these things moving and give the viewers what they came for. And that’s the candidates.
The debate lacked direction and clarity. Anchors spent far too much time asking long-winded questions with ridiculous and unnecessary details. As a viewer, it came across like the anchors were trying to impress us, rather than asking a question, getting out of the way, and letting the candidates — you know, the people running for President — try to impress us. They’re the ones who I want to be impressed by because they’re the ones we’re being asked to vote for.
Also, the topic direction had little flow and was disjointed. On certain topics, only one to three candidates would get to answer questions on the issue. I’ve laid out the case for keeping the flow of a debate and moving it along, but only giving half the stage the chance to answer questions on the most pressing issues in the country is a disservice to the voter who is there to here what everyone had to say.
At one point in the debate, Chris Christie was asked about a looming government shutdown, which was followed by a childcare cost question to Tim Scott and then it was an immigration/dreamers question back to Chris Christie. And that was in a five to seven minute span. Huh?
Rather than finding the six to seven big topics and diving into them with each candidate, while letting the candidates then organically and respectfully spar, it was like watching an ADD-riddled teen try and bounce between topics with no clarity or purpose.
And Yes, the Candidates
Of course, there were plenty of these moments that typically derail debates, notably primary debates, where multiple people are talking over each other and no one is willing to give in to be the first one to shut up. Then, the debate begins to inevitably sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher and suddenly the obnoxious noise even makes your dog look at you and wonder what in the hell you’re watching.
There were too many candidates on stage and then the moderators also ended up losing control, like what happened last go around.
But as I wrote last month, this debate format is a broken system. But for some reason, we keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
Ronald Reagan was rolling over in his grave watching that debacle last night. It’s too bad he’s not still here to try and help fix it.
Pete Mundo is the morning show host and program director for KCMO in Kansas City. Previously, he was a fill-in host nationally on FOX News Radio and CBS Sports Radio, while anchoring for WFAN, WCBS News Radio 880, and Bloomberg Radio. Pete was also the sports and news director for Omni Media Group at K-1O1/Z-92 in Woodward, Oklahoma. He’s also the owner of the Big 12-focused digital media outlet Heartland College Sports. To interact, find him on Twitter @PeteMundo.