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Broadcast of January 6th Hearings Could Learn a Thing from Radio Programmers

The made-for-TV event was being put together by former ABC News President James Goldston, a longtime television executive



Credit: AP

As I begin writing this piece, it’s 7:38 p.m. CST on Thursday, June 9th. I’m 38 minutes into watching the overly-hyped January 6th hearings from Capitol Hill. Sure, I’d rather be getting waterboarded, but such is life, and it is part of the job.

Regardless, I went into my viewing with an open mind and was curious to see if we might learn anything new from that day 18 months ago. Like any rational person, I was disgusted by those who broke the law that day and believed they should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. That being said, it’s undeniable this is very much political posturing by Democrats to try and have the issue of January 6th at the top of voters’ minds before the midterms.

And on Thursday evening, the hyper-partisan committee had a small window to capture people’s attention and suck them into the event. For most Americans, the issues like gasoline prices, grocery prices, general inflation, record-setting numbers of drug overdoses, and rising crime are much more likely to be topics they discuss at the kitchen table over January 6th.

So if this committee wanted to get the American people to care en masse, they had to knock it out of the park right away.

But the committee failed.

And considering the made-for-TV event was being put together by former ABC News President James Goldston, a longtime television executive who started working with the committee several weeks ago to help produce the hearing, I’m shocked at how impressively he appears to have failed.

In fact, he could have been taught a thing or two from any talk radio programmer based on our PPM principles. We know that in radio, you have seconds come out of a break to hook in a listener. It’s that great opening line that sucks in your audience and makes them not want to leave.

That’s more true than ever today as media continues to get more fragmented and attention spans keep dwindling. With those standards in place, the January 6th committee’s opening presentation could not have gone worse.

The first 15 minutes were spent with Chairman Bennie Thomas telling us about his personal life story and why we should care about January 6th. But most importantly, no new information.

Then, it was Liz Cheney’s turn to pontificate on the importance of the hearings while also bloviating, saying, for example: “Please remember what is at stake. Remember the men and women who have fought and died so that we can live under the rule of law and not the rule of men.”

There were also multiple occasions where Cheney used the phrase, “You will hear…”, as she was setting up what’s to come for the committee in future hearings. This is not a novel. This is a prime-time, politically-motivated hearing being promoted to specifically help the party in power maintain it. If you have the goods, the opening hour, frankly the opening 10-15 minutes, was the time to share it. That did not happen.

It felt like it was a show being put on for the media sycophants and Trump-hating Americans. Here’s the problem: That is NOT the audience that the Democrat party needs to care about with this hearing. They already have that audience. They needed left-of-center Democrats, Independents, and even some Republicans to be lured in by their opening act. And based on the information or lack thereof that was provided, it was a total dud.

Thomas and Cheney each spoke for nearly one hour combined, with no “bombshell” information that would have been useful to keep the attention of the American people. Maybe that’s because that information doesn’t exist. It probably doesn’t, because if it did, and James Goldston didn’t have the foresight to use it right out of the gates when the audience for the hearings was going to be the largest, then he failed at his job.

We’ll wait to see what gets presented moving forward, and none of it takes away from a disgraceful day and national embarrassment. But if this was supposed to be the moment that the American people shifted away from the Republican Party (which polls are showing is continuing to happen) and over to the Democratic Party, then the moment fell flat on its face.

And to think that a few simple radio PPM principles for James Goldston might have been of service. What a shame, huh?

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News Coverage of Donald Trump Should Never Subside



A photo of Donald Trump
(Photo: Gage Skidmore)

It has been a landmark week for the two front runners in the 2024 presidential race and an embarrassing week for those who cover them. Both President Joe Biden and the defeated, twice impeached and four-times indicted Donald Trump made public appearances. The President’s historic, Mr. Trump’s diabolical. 

It’s the week in which Trump went berserk at rallies in Michigan and Iowa with the following non-sensical, dangerously untrue statements that largely went unchecked on major media.

First, let’s talk about the venues where the two candidates spoke. Headlines across the media landscape made it seem both Biden and Trump were supporting the UAW in its strike against automakers. Here is the lede from CBS. “President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will both be in Michigan this week to show support for UAW autoworkers on the picket line”.  

CBS was not alone, taking the easy way out to portray their totally different Michigan visits as equal. Biden’s history-making appearance on the picket line was not comparable to Trump’s speech at a non-union parts factory packed with Trump supporters who when questioned admitted — despite the signs they were carrying — they were not in the UAW and were not there to support unions, but to support Trump. The UAW president criticized Trump’s previous positions on unions and said he felt it “odd” that Trump would support union workers at a non-union shop. 

Much of that context was missing from media reports on the very different Michigan appearances. 

Elsewhere on Trump’s campaign trail last week he inadvertently said Jeb Bush started the Iraq war, he defeated George Bush in the 2015 primaries, and a week before was convinced he defeated twice-elected Barack Obama in 2016. Clips of these missteps and delusional rants were all over the internet, from X to Threads, but not found in major media from networks to The Washington Post and The New York Times.

But Trump’s obvious confusion is not the only issue. He also showed his mean, unfit for civilized conversation side. He openly mocked the serious injury Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul suffered at the hands and hammer of a Trump supporter.

“How is her husband doing by the way?” Trump said with a smirk, his MAGA crowd laughing along. One of Trump’s outbursts has been getting rightful attention. His social media attack on combat veteran and retiring Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which suggested Mark Milley be charged with treason and executed was picked up by a large chunk of the media, as was Milley’s response during his retirement speech. Milley pointedly reminded the nation that he didn’t swear an oath to a “would-be dictator”. 

So, all that leads to the serious question of what the media should do about covering Trump’s disrespectful, crude, and dangerous comments when he is riffing at a rally or online. Some who are tired of hearing it just want him to go away and think the media should ignore his nonsense. A respected friend and colleague of mine opined that the lies, distortions, and insults from Donald Trump are not worth reporting anymore. It’s not news. We have heard it all before. 

I respectfully and profoundly disagree.

The American public must hear what the leading GOP candidate is saying. It can’t be kept in the echo chamber of right-wing propaganda outlets that cater to his hardcore 30 percent of the country. There will be a general election after the Republican primary and moderate members of his party and independents must know what he has been saying.

Light remains the best disinfectant in politics. And it is with all seriousness and not at all lightly or flippantly that I remind those who want to just ignore this treacherous, treasonous politician of the regret millions of Germans suffered when they did not speak up during the rise of Adolph Hitler. 

Donald Trump has threatened his political opponents, the media, and the judicial system. He has engaged in anti-Semitic tropes, misogyny, and anti-immigrant rhetoric. American media cannot ignore him, no matter how tempting. 

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News Media Has Seen the Future, and It’s on YouTube and X

Viewers in 2023 no longer rush to the television at 6 PM to be told a version of the news. Gone are the days of Walter Cronkite delivering the definitive story.

Rick Schultz



A photo of the YouTube and X logos

There is a new normal for news consumption, and it has been a glorious development for consumers.

One need only ride Spaceship Earth, Disney’s iconic Epcot Center “big ball” ride, to get a feel for what news media once was. And what it no longer is.

On the ride, you pass through and witness the evolution of information communication – from the ancient scribes and scholars, through the early days of television and eventually past Silicon Valley innovators of the last fifty years.

In one scene about halfway through the experience, you see the quintessential American family from the middle of the last century. They are gathered together in the living room, glued to the large, bulky television set that had become popular in America with mass production in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. The nightly news was appointment television, and everyone watched the same thing. 

In such a model of news consumption, viewers were offered a very limited number of broadcasts for the masses. There was, seemingly, only one story and only one way to perceive that story. And even though we know better today, those few broadcasts portrayed the image of impartiality. In an era that makes today’s “journalists” drool with envy, the one-size-fits-all media narrative carried the day. Whether being fed truth or propaganda, the viewer was simply a willing bystander, observing from afar.

Our new normal in the year 2023 blows this antiquated model to smithereens – both in how we consume the news and also in how we are able to connect with others and join the story. Mikey watches one program in his room, while Tessa watches something else in hers. And they chat with friends as they watch. Mr. and Mrs. Smith take in a completely different worldview during their favorite evening broadcast. The viewpoints are as numerous as the ways of consuming the information. And importantly, we can now connect with and learn from others in ways hardly imagined.

We have become a global community of news collaboration.

Take, for example, some of the breathtaking programming options from just the past week.

In one broadcast, Elon Musk joined host Ben Shapiro on an X Space, discussing anti-Semitism and free speech. Listeners were literally brought into a virtual room, to hear a free-flowing discussion on the topic between two top newsmakers in the arena. The program was also recorded and published on YouTube, and presumably, elsewhere. 

“We’ve actually been tracking the hate speech views — anti-Semitic and otherwise — and they’ve gone down since the acquisition, objectively,” Musk said of his X platform since he opened it up to allow free speech to flourish. “And we’ve had multiple third parties, unrelated to us, to issue their own analysis with a full data dump and they’ve concluded the same thing. That’s also important.” 

Viewers of the X Space were no longer outside the action, watching from a distance. They felt close to the participants, sitting around the digital table for the cutting-edge conversation. And the conversation, as a whole, was much more open and free than it would have been on the politically censored and controlled version of Twitter that existed before Musk took over.

“I actually did the acquisition because I wanted to turn the damn thing into a force for good, and increasingly so. Something that is useful, entertaining, and furthers civilization,” Musk said. “That’s the intention. And I’m glad you brought up the point. The goal’s not merely to break even, which would be sort of stopping hate speech. It’s increasing positive speech and increasing things that you learn.

“Now, sometimes those things that one learns are unpleasant truths or whatever. If something’s true, it’s true. So that’s the goal. That’s the aspiration. Make something that’s useful; entertaining. And big picture is a force we look back at many years from now, we say ‘Hey that was a force for good; for civilization’.”

Also last week, Tesla enthusiasts got to sit in on another X Space featuring a debate between a bunch of pro-Tesla analysts and one of the biggest detractors of the company’s future, analyst Gordon Johnson. Johnson held his own, taking incoming questions from many others in the digital meeting, from the most experienced professionals to the less seasoned contributors. The benefit for viewers? They were allowed inside the room, hearing differing opinions from many accomplished analysts. 

“Really I just wanted to understand why everyone in this room believes every word Elon Musk says when he’s told so many — what I would say are — mistruths,” Johnson said during the live discussion. “And in some instances, outright lies.”

Johnson also said he believes Tesla’s stock should soon be valued at roughly 10% of the $250 per share it is valued at today.

Not only were viewers hearing the news, but they heard polar opposite opinions. And some of them were even able to participate and offer their thoughts. The evolution of news media from 2D to 3D, and beyond.

Late last week, we saw another example of live news delivered to millions of viewers. Elon Musk took to the X platform he owns to broadcast a live video from America’s southern border on Thursday night. He conducted interviews and offered perspective on the current national emergency, where thousands of illegal aliens are streaming over the border into the country every day.

In the real-time live stream, Musk showed the horrid conditions and danger that have been created for all involved at the nation’s porous border. And unlike anything we’ve seen in past centuries, viewers felt that they were literally standing next to Musk, experiencing the dreadful conditions firsthand.

These are just a few of the ways consumers participated in these developing news stories over the past week, on X, YouTube, and other social media outlets. Viewers in 2023 no longer rush to the television at 6 PM to be told a version of the news. Gone are the days of Walter Cronkite, or any news anchor, delivering the definitive story to be taken at face value.

The recent technological explosion has allowed us to view the news from countless angles. Today we can watch it, join it, and participate.  

The new norm of news is serving the consumer very well, and we are all connected in ways perhaps never imagined. It is a small, small world indeed.

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Tom Tradup Tackling Challenge of Helping All Israel News Head-On

It was a match made in heaven. It’s a great opportunity to work with some terrific people. The last two weeks have been nothing short of magnificent.   

Ryan Hedrick



A photo of Tom Tradup
(Photo: Tom Tradup)

Tom Tradup, the Vice President of News and Talk Programming at Salem Radio Network, has recently become a Contributing Editor at All Israel News. He is passionate about journalism and making connections between different cultures. Tradup’s expertise in news and talk programming has prepared him well for this role.

Despite managing the coverage of major political events and nationally syndicated talk shows, Tradup is excited to work with Joel Rosenberg, a New York Times bestselling author known for his extensive knowledge of Middle Eastern affairs.

Through All Israel News, Rosenberg aims to promote understanding and communication between Israel and the evangelical world. His role involves performing consultations, providing guidance, and writing columns to support this mission, and he describes it as a “match made in heaven.” 

Tom Tradup also plays a crucial role in overseeing both talk and news programming on Salem Radio Network, with a focus on developing engaging shows and meticulously supervising the news operation.

This dual responsibility has played a substantial part in Salem Media Group’s impressive achievements and its unique way of delivering news through Townhall. 

Tom Tradup doesn’t shy away from discussing the challenges that conservative media outlets face when it comes to attracting advertisers and forming partnerships, especially in the face of concerns about censorship.

Despite these obstacles, he stands firmly in his belief in radio’s enduring importance and effectiveness as a medium. 

During an interview with Barrett News Media, Tom Tradup shares his dedication to All Israel News and explains how he plans to balance his responsibilities to Salem Radio Network.

He also talks about the growth of SRN and how the network manages to present impartial news while featuring engaging hosts on a single dynamic platform.

Ryan Hedrick: Let’s start by talking about your new role with All Israel News. What are you most excited about for this new opportunity? 

Tom Tradup: Yes, very exciting. I enjoy a challenge, and that’s not to say that as the Vice President of News and Talk Programming for SRN, I don’t already have plenty on my plate because I do, especially at this time of year when we’ve got presidential debates, and we’re heading into the 2024 campaign and we’re already making plans for our coverage (of the 2024 Republican National Convention) in Milwaukee next year.   

Every time you turn around, a breaking story powers both our two news services: SRN News and Town Hall News. I also have nationally syndicated talk shows hosted by people like Hugh Hewitt, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Dr. Sebastian Gorka, Charlie Kirk, and others that keep me on my toes.   

So, an opportunity came up from New York Times bestselling author Joel Rosenberg. He’s written many terrific books, including Enemies and Allies. The book is about the tumultuous change in the Middle East. In this book, he has interviews with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Eypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.   

Joel is plugged into the Middle East like nobody else. He has two websites he created that are just starting their fourth year; one is called It’s Israeli news. It’s news about and primarily for evangelical Christians to try and build bridges between Israel and the evangelical world. His second website is called All Arab News. Basically, the same thing. It’s an all-Arab-focused website dealing with issues in the Muslim world but obviously cross-pollinating with what’s happening in Israel and other parts of the world, and they’re both very interesting sites.

Joel was looking for somebody who could do some consulting and who could do some coaching for his new staff. Just to help them get a little bit better, we hope. And he asked me if I’d be willing to write some columns for him, and I’d love to write. So, I said yes. It was a match made in heaven. It’s a great opportunity to work with him and some terrific people. The last two weeks have been nothing short of magnificent.   

RH: How do the reporters and editors at All Israel News provide readers with unbiased news? 

TT: I know that the mission that Joel charged all his editors and reporters for is to report the news and have it be fair and factual. We have opinion columns, but not as much as some other websites do. As far as what we do, we want it to be not politically motivated one way or the other. Some articles I read there are not exactly pro-Israeli, but they’re not anti-Israeli.

We cover news and events that impact Israel and the Middle East, and the idea is to do that in a way that appeals to the evangelical world. We are trying to reach out to evangelical Christians, many of whom make pilgrimages to Israel. Some of whom live in Israel.

You know, it’s just filtering everything through a biblical worldview. But to embrace the charming differences between and among the religions. I call it bridge building.    

RH: What is at the core of Salem Media Group’s rapid growth and the success of its numerous talk shows? 

Tom Tradup: Most of the people I work with, like Hugh Hewitt and Mike Gallagher, are people you would be happy to have as your next-door neighbor. Dr. Sebastian Gorka was a national security strategist for President Trump when he was in the White House. If you read things in The New York Times or The Washington Post, he’s supposed to be some sort of right-wing activist. I find him to be just an interesting guy with a great worldview and a lot of experience in foreign policy.   

Charlie Kirk is one of our hosts. He has created one of the largest young activist groups in the country, Turning Point USA. When they have a convention, they generally turn out thousands of young people, college-age or high school-age people, who thirst to get involved in the political system.

Brandon Tatum is one of our guys. He was a Scottsdale, Arizona, police officer for several years. He has two million followers on YouTube. That doesn’t happen if you’re banging the same drum every day.

These are people who have interesting things to say. They are engaging and love talking to men and women around the country. People have a lot of choices, and the great thing about America is that there are choices everywhere.

Our job is to generate the largest possible audience we can and to deliver the most people to our advertisers. We’re pretty good at it; we’ve been doing it for a long time.  

RH: How does Townhall’s delivery style differ slightly from other network options like Fox News, CBS News, or ABC News? 

TT: Townhall is different because they report news based on what’s happening in the world, not on some political worldview based in a conference room at The Washington Post or The New York Times.

For example, Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz (R) may be trying to push forward a motion to vacate as they call in Congress to remove Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as House Speaker. Even though they’re both Republicans, they have their differences. Gaetz doesn’t like McCarthy, so he will try to get a vote to remove him. Whether or not that’s going to happen, we have people from both sides talking about this story on Townhall. You don’t hear that on a lot of networks.

For example, when I listen to CBS Radio, invariably, you only hear Chuck Schumer (D-NY). You don’t hear Mitch McConnel (R-KY). Our business model is not geared towards political affiliations. We aim to attract a diverse audience with a thirst for factual information. We believe in presenting the facts and allowing our audience to make their own informed decisions. 

On our talk shows, it’s entirely different. We cover breaking news and then explain to people what they should think about it from the viewpoint of our hosts. If you agree or disagree with the hosts, that’s the beauty of talk radio. You pick up the phone, call in, and have a whole country listening while they’re wrong.

But for the news, we just want it to be fair and balanced. I know Fox News probably copyrighted that phrase, but it’s a good one. And that’s what we want.  

RH: Who is the most important and influential media figure right now?   

Tom Tradup: Charlie Kirk cuts a wide swath through both radio and podcasts. He is hugely successful. I see him on Fox News a lot, I see him on all the major networks. Whenever he goes to a college campus, some nutty activists turn out, trying to muzzle him and block him from making a speech that he was invited to make.

I think Charlie Kirk would probably be the most influential media figure right now because he is having such a big impact not only on the body of politics but, more importantly, on young people who are the next generation of voters. Charlie Kirk is one of the loudest voices of the government’s encroachment on the rights of individuals, and you would think these Antifa or BLM or whatever groups they are on college campuses, you would think they would be happy to have someone like him there because he’s defending their rights to speak as well as his.

But that’s not what happens these days and it’s kind of sad but it’s very scary.  

RH: How challenging is it for conservative media outlets to attract new advertisers and establish partnerships when they face censorship and unjust labeling? 

Tom Tradup: The selling atmosphere in this country for radio generally, whether it’s talk radio or music radio, is very challenging, probably the most challenging that’s ever been because people have decided, wrongly — in my opinion — that radio is this relic of the past and they need to move into podcasts, or they need to move into digital-only or only on websites.  

If you have a media mix that includes everything, you’ll likely sell a lot more pillows, vitamins, and cars. Some agencies are challenging and don’t always want to listen to reason. All we can do is present our case and hope that it works.

We’ve been very successful so far, but I know many people I talk with at other radio networks say the same thing. The answer is to believe in radio.  

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