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The Media’s Oversized Influence on Financial Markets

Charles Payne concluded Friday’s episode of his Fox Business program, “Making Money with Charles Payne,” by sharing his opinion of today’s financial markets.

Rick Schultz

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In the era of nonstop news and endless financial tickers, we have more investment-related information at our fingertips than ever before.

When a stock sneezes, we know it instantly as our phone alert jolts us into a ready position. As a result, we have access to more company and industry analysis than ever before, and we have it faster than anyone fifty years ago could have anticipated.

And that’s precisely the problem.

Television host Charles Payne concluded Friday’s episode of his Fox Business program, “Making Money with Charles Payne,” by sharing his opinion of today’s financial markets. In his view, abundant, minute-by-minute information doesn’t always lead to higher levels of investing success.

“The stock market is confusing in so many ways, and in large part, it’s that way by design,” Payne began. “Think about this; there are so many ways of measuring value. There’s all these exogenous reasons for stocks being up or being down that often don’t really have anything to do with the stock itself, or even the industry itself.”

Perhaps Payne referred to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, whose leaked emails laid out his company’s plans to lay off 10% of salaried employees. In addition, Musk wants employees to report to work on location rather than continue working from home. Tesla’s stock dropped more than 9% on Friday, presumably as investors got the news-induced jitters. They received the news rapidly and, in turn, reacted just as quickly.

Is it possible that type of news would never have hit investors’ eyes or ears in bygone eras? And assuming shareholders did find out, it’s possible that the trickling-out of information would not have the same quick impact on the stock’s share price compared to everyone being deluged at the same time on their devices.

As a side note, regarding the substance of Musk’s plan, wasn’t the late business titan, Jack Welch, extremely successful in part due to his implementation of the same strategy? Wasn’t it a net positive for his shareholders? And could that portend leaner and more profitable days for Tesla, as the company aims to fight through the difficult economic environment America has battled through during the Biden years?

In other words, do the hysteria, reactionary tweets, and hot takes that have bombarded traditional media and the socials in the few days since Musk’s emails became public to match the reality of the announcement?

“A few decades ago, all of this stuff didn’t matter as much because the average holding period was five or six years,” Payne noted. “Now it’s less than five or six months, and I gotta tell you something. Under the right conditions, like the whipsaws we’re seeing these days, the holding period could be like five or six days. Wouldn’t surprise me if it was actually five or six hours soon.”

Payne brought up a recent report from Morningstar titled U.S. Stocks are Trading at a Rarely Seen Discount.

He quoted from the article saying, “Even with the market’s bounce, the selloff provides a chance to invest in significantly undervalued stocks. Since 2011, on a monthly basis, there have been only a few other instances in which the market has traded at such a large discount to our intrinsic valuation. The current level of undervaluation is the greatest discount to fair value since the emergence of the pandemic in March 2020 and the growth scare that sent stocks lower in December 2018.”

“I think it’s a breath of fresh air. It’s not just because it’s bullish, but because they’re talking about intrinsic value. Not the notion your portfolio should be down because of the next headline, or even down because there’s some kind of temporary thing that’s going to impact the value, but intrinsically what this thing is worth longer-term,” Payne commented.

Payne knows what Warren Buffett knows and what Jack Bogle and Benjamin Graham knew. Strong, well-run companies with real value are a strategy for investing success.

Not that this is the only strategy. But Payne’s point is that staying focused and undeterred when bait-clicky media headlines appear in your feed nonstop is a foundation for long-term investing success. Put the blinders on, block out the noise and stick to your strategy with valuable companies.

“I get the idea of trying to beat the market every day. It makes for good TV,” the sagacious Payne summed up. “But pace yourself. You’ve heard that a lot today. Pace yourself because investing can be a lot more simplistic. Think about the intrinsic value, and that’s what you should be focused on. Don’t let these markets whipsaw you.”

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Are The Exclusive Podcast Deals Like Joe Rogan and Spotify a Thing of the Past?

I think that, ultimately, advertising and listener donations are going to continue to be how podcast monetization works.

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A photo of Joe Rogan

It’s been four years since Spotify spent $100 million or so for exclusive rights to The Joe Rogan Experience. The deal was the apex of Spotify’s expensive gamble on podcasting, which also included the acquisition – and subsequent folding – of Gimlet Media and Parcast, the addition of The Ringer, and the signing of a raft of celebrities and prominent podcasts to exclusive deals, plus investments in podcast ad sales and the Anchor publishing platform.

Back in 2020, exclusivity was a big deal for podcast companies. New subscription services were popping up almost daily, with promises of killer content and big-name celebrity hosts. Some still exist, but others sort of came and went, and that raises a few questions: Was exclusivity worth the expense? Was the subscription model sustainable? Do celebrities attract listeners to podcasts?

Okay, one at a time. Exclusivity? The answer is… probably not. Spotify’s podcast operation is close to profitability, but Spotify shows like The Joe Rogan Experience and Call Her Daddy are now widely available on other podcast platforms. Honestly, the whole exclusivity thing made little sense when the shows are also available on YouTube for free.

If you think a show is worth millions because it generates enough revenue to support the price tag, then it’s a good investment. While I’m not privy to the actual numbers, I imagine Rogan’s show is profitable enough to justify the contract renewal, exclusive or not. Generally, though, I don’t think exclusivity for big-name shows is enough of an incentive for people to pay for a subscription. The traditional relationship – publisher oversees show, places it on every platform, sells ads – is still dominant, and the Joe Rogan deal didn’t change that.

That brings us to the subscription model. Streaming video – Netflix – has taken a big chunk out of the discretionary cash the average consumer has available for entertainment. So have Spotify and Apple Music, and subscribers are there for the music, not podcasts. SiriusXM is still a thing, with a decades-long relationship with most major car manufacturers, and even they are feeling some pinch as Apple Car Play and Android Auto make car buyers wonder why they need satellite radio (or its streaming app) when they can just play Spotify through their car system.

Now, will people have any money left over for podcasts? Moreover, given the history, can enough people be convinced to pay for what they used to get for free? Are most podcasts compelling enough to justify yet another monthly fee? I don’t think so – I think that, ultimately, advertising and listener donations are going to continue to be how podcast monetization works.

As was the case for newspaper websites and so many other attempts at monetizing the web, the grand mistake was to give the content away for free in the first place. Once people get used to free, they’re hard to convert to paid. A few have succeeded, but most have not. “I can live without it” is what the audience is thinking. You gotta give them something they feel they need to have for them to pony up. More of the same won’t do the job.

Are celebrity hosts the answer? Will people sign up for a service because a big-name host is on it? It worked for SiriusXM when Howard Stern moved there, but that was 20 years ago. Really. It’s been 20 years since he signed that contract. Anyway, just as it was in radio, the number of celebrities who are both good enough and committed enough to host a podcast is small, very small, and the number who can draw an audience on name alone is also small. In fact, celebrity itself is smaller than it used to be.

The A-List has shrunk, Hollywood is not generating universally-known personalities, younger audiences are more attuned to TikTok and YouTube “stars” with very short shelf lives… and, having lived through trying to turn several celebrities into radio hosts, I can tell you that it’s just not worth the trouble. The audience doesn’t care that the host is a member of the Royal Family if the show’s boring. You’re better off looking at people with strong, loyal followings on social media; their audiences will come along for the ride at first, and if the show’s any good, they’ll stick around.

With all of that, the podcasting segment is still one of the most interesting parts of the media, and there’s still growth ahead. Part of that growth can be attributed to the characteristics in place when podcasting started: It’s free, anyone can produce a show, and you can listen on any platform you like. Exclusivity runs counter to that spirit. Ubiquity and growth go hand-in-hand.

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Shari Elliker Looks For What’s Next After KIRO Newsradio 97.3 Exit

“I loved working there. I loved working with John (Curley). It was a great experience.”

Garrett Searight

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A photo of Shari Elliker
(Photo: Shari Elliker)

Earlier this month, KIRO Newsradio 97.3 underwent a round of budget cuts that resulted in afternoon co-host Shari Elliker departing the Seattle news/talk outlet.

Elliker, who joined the Bonneville station in December 2021, was paired with co-host John Curley. She admitted she wasn’t surprised by the news.

“You’re always disappointed, because you like the job. That’s a disappointment, but I wasn’t blindsided by it,” she said. “I knew KIRO had had some financial problems and that there were budget cuts coming … I don’t believe it had anything to do with my performance or any problems with John, because we got along great. I think it’s just one of those things.”

Shari Elliker only had high praise for the station and its leadership after her departure.

“KIRO is a great place to work. Bonneville is a great company. They care about their employees. It was fun, but I was disappointed, because I wanted the job,” she said with a chuckle. “I miss doing it. I miss being on the air.”

“I loved working there and I loved working with John. It was a great experience and it was fun every day,” Elliker said. “I laughed. I mean, how many times do you get paid to laugh? It was, really, an ideal job.”

Elliker, who was based on the East Coast despite working for the Seattle news/talk station, said the time difference was a challenge in the role.

“They’re very dedicated to having people live in-studio,” Elliker said of the Bonneville philosophy. “So, because of the distance, that was also a factor,” she said.

“I was on the air from 6-9 PM ET. And then, of course, you had the prep work that you have to do during the day. So it was a long day,” Elliker added. “But I looked forward to it every day, I’ll be honest. I really did. You can’t say that about many radio jobs.”

Despite the manner in which she left her latest job in radio, Shari Elliker — who continues to be active in the voiceover world — said she still loves the medium and is open to what the future might hold for her talk radio career.

“I love radio, so I’ll look for other opportunities and hope they appear … It’s not so much about the hours or the whatever, but if you can spend four hours talking with someone and not get bored, it’s a joy. It’s great.”

“If I could do another show like I just came from, that’d be great,” she continued.

When asked what the ideal situation for her going forward would be, she joked that winning the lottery would be fantastic. Back in reality, she said that her voiceover work and spending more time doing video games would be a great situation.

“I’d love to do voiceover work as much as possible, especially the video game stuff, because that’s really fun,” she said with excitement. “It’s cool, and you’re not doing a long, drawn-out type of narration. That can be tedious … so, I’d love to do something like that, if I could.”

Shari Elliker admitted that the format of talk radio that KIRO employs is more closely aligned to her style than many other genres.

“AM Radio, AM talk radio, is kind of synonymous now with talk radio. They’re so embedded in that format that I don’t think that’s ever gonna go away. I don’t think that’s ever gonna flip over,” she said. “So, those FM talk stations, they really began gaining popularity in the late 90s. They were entertainment shows, they weren’t political. Now, it’s pretty much if you’re doing talk radio, you’re going to be doing political talk radio.”

Elliker said that while she’s disappointed she’s no longer working with KIRO Newsradio 97.3, she wished her former co-host John Curley and his new partner Jake Skorheim well.

“I’m in touch with John and I miss doing the show, but he and Jake are going to make a great team.”

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How Radio Can Once Again Become the Focal Point of the Media Landscape

Radio’s intimacy is what creates special moments.

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So much content, so few people. Ok, I will show my age. You may call me a geezer. Four TV stations. That is all I had growing up. Four, and we thought that we were on top of the world. Total ecstasy. Four choices. And I’ll come back to how this matters to radio.

Then cable arrived and we had 36 viewing choices.  The History Channel was wall-to-wall WWII. CNN, the only 24-hour news choice, and MTV.  Let’s talk about Martha Quinn. Relatable and cute.  I had the Lorimar Sports Network. LSN had the SEC, Tim Brando, and Lou Holtz.  Sweet! WOR-TV, the PTL Network, Turner Broadcast Network and so much more. It was a buffet for the eyes that left your brain totally numb.

Cable expanded to over 400 channels and some of these choices included: REELZ, Boomerang, Court TV, America’s Collectables Network, SPIKE TV, and so many more. 

Then something curious happened. The internet became a legitimate economic machine. Netflix started using the internet to stream TV products. It was a true game-changer. Cable TV was selling its demise. Great internet.

But let us go back a moment. There was a moment when people were clamoring to purchase the cable channels that they loved. The cable industry fought like hell. Cable said that no one should be able to choose the channels that they love because it was a package deal. Essentially, they were selling TV like electrified happy meals. Happy Meals, except you were mandated to get fries that you were never going to even see. It was horrific bait and switch. You were forced to pay for Lifetime, History en Espanol, Audience, The Esquire Network, and more! So, cable TV innovated selling the internet. Yes, they sold their demise.

Once Netflix became a giant, YouTube emerged, Disney+, ESPN+, DAZN, Rumble, Paramount+, Peacock, Hulu, Sling, FUBO and so many more.

On-demand became the only way that people were watching TV. People want to binge and not wait for a weekly episode. Network TV has made programs the same way for 60 years. Shoot once a week for 26 weeks and release episodes one by one. Now, the streaming channels drop an entire season in one day. You can cozy up with your honey and watch an entire season over a couple of days. Total convenience. Humans are not all about delayed pleasure anymore. We want it now! Immediate gratification.

The audio space is now filled with podcasts. Many are just impressive, and some are not that good. Lots of content, but here is radio’s advantage: Your community has just a few stations. It is a federally regulated industry. You just cannot just open up a new radio station like a Dollar General, which are seemingly on every block. So, there are limited choices. Yes, people now have infinite choices of content.

But there are really few radio stations. Americans certainly can stream their favorite music or listen to a podcast. Radio has an immediacy that cannot be defeated. Radio has an intimacy that is a rare ability to connect with audiences. Depending on your community, 85% – 93% consume radio weekly. Local TV? Nielsen released a damning report that under 45% of Americans are viewing local TV. If you get a look at your local TV ratings, the big networks frequently get hammered by shows like NBA on TNT, The Curse of Oak Island, and even Hannity.

Your radio station is a big deal. If a listener is stuck in traffic, the radio is the salvation. A storm is wreaking havoc on your state, radio likely has that coverage on your drive home.

Big things are happening in your community. Radio is at the center of it.

The only people reading the newspaper are individuals over 75. It is extinct. Radio is at the center of it all.

Local websites or Facebook groups may have some of the information on your community. But the likelihood of people seeing these things can be fleeting. Radio presents this information.

Radio is a big deal. I am honored to be leading a 100-year-old station that has never lost its connection to the community.

I want to be perfectly clear. Radio has challenges in an ever-expanding pantheon of entertainment choices. We still have people listening. We are an essential medium for Americans. Never forget that.

You are important. Your work connects people with your community, the world, and life. TV often struggles with that. Radio is real life. It is a human in front of a microphone in a dark room.

Early in my radio career, I thought that it was odd that radio performers turned off the lights. I realized something. The turned-off lights often created the focus to identify with the audience. We are often the only person in the room speaking with individuals who are alone in the car or at home.

Radio’s intimacy is what creates special moments. If you have done this for any length of time, you have heard from listeners on a special moment. I have done this for over 30 years. Over half of it on the air, I have received notes from listeners expressing gratitude for things that I said off the cuff in 1994. Radio matters and you matter.

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