Connect with us
BNM Summit

BNM Writers

Radio Should Follow TV and Create Exclusive, Paid Streaming Services

So while radio isn’t necessarily needing to replace a revenue stream like TV, there’s never harm in adding a new one.

Published

on

The race is on across all of the media towards paid streaming services. Whether it’s Peacock (NBC) or FOX Nation, and everything in between, all news networks are moving towards a world of creating unique and exclusive content on their streaming services to try and get customers at as rapid a pace as possible.

This is happening, in large part, as a result of cord-cutting. People aren’t mindlessly spending money on cable packages anymore because they’ve realized they’re watching a fraction of what they’re paying for. Plus, they’re coming to the conclusion that they’d rather cut their cable price and invest in subscriptions like Netflix, Hulu, YouTubeTV, and others.

To stay ahead of the curve, TV networks are trying to drive subscribers to their digital platforms (likely at a big upfront loss), understanding the fragmentation of media is only continuing, and relying on the old-school model of cable packages is a losing proposition over the long term.

So while understanding that’s the play for TV, I would ask radio what it is doing to combat the evolution of media?

In fact, why isn’t radio, at the national and local level, doing its best to create its exclusive, paid streaming services? Especially given the strength of some of its brands, the potential is enormous.

Sure, there are national and local examples of podcast networks being built out by radio groups to create new revenue streams via the traditional advertising model. This is a smart step to take, and having the power and still, massive reach of radio to cross-promote the podcasts makes complete sense.

However, even that isn’t happening with the frequency it should be happening.

And what about thinking even bigger?

I know radio has stood on its branding of being “free” for decades. And yes, the fact it is “free” allows it to reach more people than any other traditional media platform.

But what about thinking bigger? And thinking “paid”? Why can’t and why shouldn’t radio truly invest in the kind of programming that you’re seeing on the TV news side of our business?

One could argue that this is more imperative for TV, as the cable bundle was always a crucial part of revenues, and those are at risk in the future. OK, well, radio, and all traditional media in general, has the same problem in that revenue streams are harder to maintain as advertisers continue to have more options in a digital world. It’s supply and demand.

So while radio isn’t necessarily needing to replace a revenue stream like TV, there’s never harm in adding a new one.

Here’s the problem, though: to do it right, it would take serious investment, time, and attention.

Do you think the industry is interested in that at this point in time? I don’t.

That’s certainly their prerogative. But it’s a missed opportunity. We have more than enough evidence that people are willing to pay for quality content, whether it’s written, audio, or visual.

In fact, consumers are getting more programmed to have to pay for content they really like and want.

So for radio to take a back seat at this moment is a mistake. Whether it’s exclusive, subscriber-based, long-form audio content, or even building out digital TV content that is unique to a market or is national in nature, there is demand for the content.

But who has the audacity to take the first step?

Subscribe To The BNM Rundown

The Top 8 News Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox every afternoon!

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

BNM Writers

What Are The Radio Pet Peeves From News/Talk’s Top Leaders?

“I think too many show hosts come in and just expect the callers to carry the show.”

Garrett Searight

Published

on

(Photo L-R: Ken Charles, Luis Segura, Joel Oxley)
(Photo L-R: Ken Charles, Luis Segura, Joel Oxley)

We all have pet peeves. Whether it’s being angered by being interrupted or forgetting to put the toilet seat down, everyone has something that triggers their anger. And the same can be said for news/talk radio programmers and leaders.

One programmer may give advice that makes another’s skin crawl. And that’s the beauty of the art that is news/talk radio. We asked two program directors and a general manager what their radio pet peeves are, and found some interesting answers.

“Personally, I just think too many talk show hosts rely on calls to be good. That would be like a standup comedian relying on hecklers to make their act good,” 95.5 WSB Director of Branding and Content Ken Charles said. “A talk show host on their worst day — mad, got in a fight with their wife, maybe hungover from a long weekend, the kids annoyed them — better be better than a caller on their best day.

“I think too many show hosts come in and just expect the callers to carry the show. There’s a reason it’s called The Mark Arum Show, or The Von Haessler Doctrine, or The Erick Erickson Show. The connection is with the talent, and the over-reliance on callers drives me crazy.”

790 KABC and 560 KSFO Program Director Luis Segura took the opposite stance, stating his belief that taking callers separates news/talk radio from other mediums and creates a more intimate atmosphere on the station.

However, Segura was quick to point out another radio faux pas that grinds his gears.

“Remind me who you’re talking to. I think sometimes — especially when you have people used to doing a podcast as a radio show. When I go to a podcast, I probably already know who you’re talking to. It’s probably right there in the title,” Segura said.

“When I come into the car or I’m at home and I turn the radio, I might be coming in the middle of the conversation. Remind me who you’re talking to. Who are they? I’ll hear something and think ‘This is really good. I wish I knew who this was.’ That’s probably my biggest. Tell me who you’re talking to.”

WTOP in Washington D.C. has been the top-billing radio station in America for nine consecutive years, and has had the top spot in 13 of the past 14 years. So, unsurprisingly, WTOP Senior Vice President and General Manager Joel Oxley’s focus was on commercial breaks when asked about his radio pet peeves.

“Super long stopsets. Just tough,” Oxley said, noting that the station utilizes fewer commercials than most of its competitors in its top revenue finishes. “It’s just really hard to say how that’s a good thing. Except, it does seem to be a way to get Nielsen numbers.”

When asked if he was surprised that more stations hadn’t followed WTOP’s lead in the direction of fewer commercials, Oxley noted that many all-news stations — pointing out specifically 1010 WINS, KCBS, WBBM, and KYW — feature a similar format and are “really good news operations” that “do a really good job.”

He concluded, however, that his pet peeve doesn’t rear its head at the Washington all-news outlet thanks to support from the station’s parent company.

“There’s a lot of good stuff out there, but we’ve been fortunate to be with Hubbard that has allowed us a lot more support.”

Subscribe To The BNM Rundown

The Top 8 News Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox every afternoon!

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

BNM Writers

Are the Alarm Bells From Media Over AI Usage Warranted?

When added to the increased costs from minimum wage increases, the move to replace humans with technological solutions has become a no-brainer for entrepreneurs and business owners.

Rick Schultz

Published

on

A photo of a computer chip with the AI initials on it

Is humankind on the precipice of extinction? That doomsday scenario is more than just a tiny bit possible, according to an artificial intelligence expert who is sparking many media discussions across the television and radio airwaves.

Professor Geoffrey Hinton is the computer scientist considered the “godfather of artificial intelligence.” He left Google last year, in part he says, to wake up the masses about the dangers AI could potentially bring to bear on humankind. 

His interview last week with BBC Newsnight lit the flame that had many American media programs covering the topic over subsequent days.

One of the biggest threats Hinton sees is that he believes most lower-level, mundane jobs will be taken over by robots and artificial intelligent beings, displacing countless employees across the world. His answer to this specific problem is for governments to institute “universal basic incomes.” In other words, pay people a set salary not to work, since their jobs will be eliminated by artificial intelligence.

This trend of using technology to fill low-skill jobs is not new, as one can see by visiting a local fast food restaurant or many other retail stores. Fewer employees, and more screens for self-checkout. And when added to the increased costs from minimum wage increases, the move to replace humans with technological solutions has become a no-brainer for entrepreneurs and business owners.

During his interview with the BBC, Hinton brought up the notion of “extinction-level threats” emerging from artificial intelligence. He also feels the speed of development and competition are getting in the way of prudent safety measures regarding new technological advancements.

“My guess is in between five and twenty years from now there’s a probability of half that we’ll have to confront the problem of AI trying to take over,” Professor Hinton told the BBC. In other words, a 50% chance humanity will have to fight AI for control. The professor also said our artificial intelligence advancements may have already crossed a rubicon, creating “a form of intelligence that is just better than biological intelligence.”

As he played out his scenario, Hinton theorized that the intelligence could eventually duplicate itself and work toward the goal of taking over control from humans.

Hinton is not alone in his concern. More than a year ago, Elon Musk and others penned an open letter urging AI labs to immediately pause training and development for at least six months due to the dire risks these advanced systems pose to humanity. Musk is often off on the timing of his predictions, but he is rarely wrong.

Some opined that Elon simply wanted to slow down his competition, giving his companies a further head start. Today, more than a year later, Musk is openly requesting at least 25% control of Tesla so he would have enough power to personally ensure the company’s AI developments are used ethically.

Many other technology bigwigs, such as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, also signed on to last year’s letter.

On the heels of this recent BBC interview, some American media figures, such as Glenn Beck and Jesse Watters, also have discussed the issue.

Beck published an opinion piece on GlennBeck.com and TheBlaze.com, where he summarized his thoughts on where we stand with artificial intelligence. Of main concern for Beck is one of the proposed solutions – an immediate push for Universal Basic Income.

“I’ve been warning you about this for years,” Beck wrote. “Many conservatives at first didn’t understand why I was discussing universal basic income in connection with artificial intelligence. I don’t agree with UBI as a solution, but I understand the fear that is giving rise to the idea.”

One of Beck’s alternate solutions is that companies such as Google and ChatGPT be forced to pay consumers for their individual data, if indeed individuals choose to sell it.

Additionally, “to stop AI, you would need to kill technology – all of it,” Beck wrote. “You would have to shut down all electronics, all electricity, and then take ever single one of the silicon chips and destroy them.” A tall order, indeed.

Beck pointed out that “Hinton said we’re on a very thin edge right now and that he’s most concerned about when AI can autonomously make the decision to kill people.”

“How then should we react to this?” Beck asked as he closed his piece. “Do we want to take the 50% chance that AI will make humanity extinct? How about a 10% chance? Or even 1%? Does all the convenience that AI can offer warrant that?”

Fox News host, Jesse Watters, also discussed the issue on his program last week. 

“AI is gonna take our jobs. And then it’s gonna try to kill us,” Watters said, provocatively on Wednesday evening’s Jesse Watters Primetime. “That’s not me saying that. Top AI engineers claim the new technology’s careening down a dangerous path faster than anyone imagined.”

Watters then played a clip of Professor Hinton’s interview with BBC.

“They’re clearly very competent. They clearly understand a lot. They have a lot more knowledge than any person,” Hinton said of man-made artificial intelligence. “Almost everybody I know who’s an expert on AI believes that they will exceed human intelligence. It’s just a question of when.”

Echoing what Musk and his co-signers warned of last year, Hinton said the situation could become a lot more dire than simply employees being displaced from their jobs by robots.

“What I’m most concerned about is when these things can autonomously make the decision to kill people. So, robot soldiers. And those are coming,” Hinton warned.

“I’m not sure I subscribe to the doom and gloom and the sky is falling,” cyber-security expert, Morgan Wright, told Watters. “I think what we haven’t really explored yet is, this is so new to us. We haven’t really figured out a way to harness it. But I think we will. We harnessed the atom and nuclear weapons and we were able to achieve some kind of a balance with nuclear weapons. I think we’ll do the same thing with AI, Jesse. The issue is, will we understand how to really apply it so it solves the big problems. It’s not going to take away jobs, in spite of what people think. I think what it’s going to do is open up new things for people to do.”

The AI alarmists are gaining traction, and the media is taking notice. If they are correct, the next decade will be very interesting, indeed.

Subscribe To The BNM Rundown

The Top 8 News Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox every afternoon!

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

BNM Writers

Is the Newsroom Environment an Indicator of Success?

You can not replace passion with technological efficiency and the daily editorial Zoom meetings are no match for the honest exchange of ideas that come from a loud, overcrowded conference room.

Bill Zito

Published

on

A photo of a newsroom

It’s probably what I miss I most about working in news, the clear absence of the chill factor. In simpler terms, I’m referring to the common zoo-like culture that would occasionally or even regularly surface when major events or breaking news hit the newsroom, or story elements were late, even non-existent or it was simply a Tuesday.

Having worked in more than a half dozen different newsrooms over the years and across a handful of platforms, it was an environment I rather enjoyed. While I can scarcely be described as an adrenaline hound and certainly never a news junkie, I have been told that I do at times enjoy conflict and even a bit of pandemonium occasionally.

Don’t believe me? Let’s argue about it.

True, to a point, I certainly appreciate it when things are happening. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the story itself but more the drive, the angst, and yes, even the panic that ensues when trying to cover the things that are happening. That frenzy, I have found is usually stirred up by a management source, either a middle-level supervisor trying to look active or even an upper-echelon boss who would be of better benefit to all by staying in their office with the door closed, pretending to be on the phone.

I have been witness and I suppose party to those unhinged settings over time. You can still be useful while drinking in and relishing the fervor and I have to be completely transparent here because as a former street cop, my impressions generally take on a different tone as my priorities might be slightly askew. What many in the business consider critical and vital are seen as important yet not generally stroke-worthy by yours truly.

“Can we confirm and get this on the air before everyone else?”

“Will the crew get to the precinct before the perp walk?”

“Is the pool photographer sending it out to everyone at the same time? “

This is all important stuff, don’t get me wrong. It’s the business and the nature of newsgathering and beating out the competitors is a valuable achievement. I simply don’t see it in the same light, or maybe I don’t feel it with the same illumination.

“Is anyone going to die or get hurt if we don’t succeed?”

“Are we screwing up someone’s life if the story airs after rivals air it?”

“Is our credibility and reputation adversely impacted by coming in second this time?”

Those were and still are the questions my brain asks.

Feel free to call me a vocational snob.

While those contrasts are worthy of examination all by themselves, my wonderment delves deeper these days. What is the better newsroom environment to be a part of, if that option even still exists?

Does the manic, crazy newsroom workplace translate into the most successful one? Or is the more fruitful provider a more serene setting, one sparsely populated with only the sounds of keyboards clacking, an occasional printer whirring, and a muted phone ringing at an unstaffed desk?

I would venture to say that the latter is by far the more common one these days. Reporters are out in the field, with or without photographers by their side. Crews are launched from outside the stations, and editors, fewer in number stowed away in booths and control rooms occupied by half the numbers they used to be.

The newsroom has taken on a vastly different feel. My last two stops in radio and TV saw newsrooms with far more desks than people to occupy them. I could spend the majority of an eight-hour day as the only occupant of my last radio station and in a TV setting that could scarcely put together enough people to get a good checker game going.

What good is a newsroom if nobody’s there?

And don’t say it’s good because everyone is out doing their jobs because with few exceptions you and I know that is simply not the case.

In New York City, the press has been fighting the encryption of the NYPD’s radio broadcasts, something that would render the monitoring of newsroom scanners pointless.

Why are they objecting to it?

Because somebody is still there to listen to and act upon what’s happening.

I almost went completely insane after years of listening to scanner traffic in the Bronx and Brooklyn but, nevertheless, they were effective tools for the news outlets.

Again, because there were people there to hear it.

Of course, in other areas of the country, countless newsrooms are no longer as fortunate.

Newsrooms are empty, and hours on the assignment desk cut. So, who exactly is gathering news and where are they doing it from?

At this point, we know why this is the case so I will not subject you to another rant about layoffs, cutbacks, and poor fiscal management. But you can suffer other kinds of losses, too, in the current climate.

Spirit, momentum, and enthusiasm.

I took the opportunity to partake in some informal discussions about the concept of environment and achievement. The subject transcends far more than just the newsroom but I asked those in some of my former markets and the general consensus is that a quiet newsroom is a stagnant newsroom. Remove the people, expel the action, and take out the sense of immediacy and my guess is your outlet is number three in a three-horse race.

Number one likely includes those who are way overcaffeinated, running into the occasional wall and on some evenings barking at the moon. These are places that had overhead light fixtures removed from the ceilings because staff were trapezing around the room.

You can not replace passion with technological efficiency and the daily editorial Zoom meetings are no match for the honest exchange of ideas that come from a loud, overcrowded conference room or even shouts from the assignment desk.

There’s still room for respect and civility, in fact, it should be fine-tuned by now to the point where bringing the team together at certain times of the day should be welcomed and strongly pursued.

Ideas and options should be voiced for all to hear, the regular reminders of why people are doing what they do.

Trust me, the first time I yelled out “breaking news” from the desk and was later told just to send a station-wide flash email instead, I knew it was over for me.

(I never actually yelled out the words “breaking news”, it was more like “clean up on aisle seven!”)

In any case, I knew then and there that a long vacation and a change of scenery was in order. Mind you, I didn’t seek out a setting of serenity or a deserted island.

If I wanted quiet, I could have just stayed in the newsroom.

Unfortunate.

Subscribe To The BNM Rundown

The Top 8 News Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox every afternoon!

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Advertisement Will Cain
Advertisement

Upcoming Events

BNM Writers

Copyright © 2024 Barrett Media.