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MSNBC Leads Latest January 6th Hearing Coverage

Compared to the six previous daytime hearings, MSNBC viewership was up among both total viewers (+2 percent) and adults 25-54 (+4 percent).

Doug Pucci

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As they had promised in late July, the January 6th committee returned in the fall to hold another hearing investigating the insurrection at the Capitol. On Thursday, Oct. 13, the committee — which voted unanimously to subpoena Donald Trump — presented the notion that he had privately known the official 2020 election results were legitimate but publicly refused to acknowledge that reality and attempted anyway to overturn those results. And MSNBC saw the ratings win.

In addition, there was never-before-seen documentary footage shown of congressional leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer taking refuge during the insurrection and scrambled to respond to the unfolding crisis.

The eight previous hearings were a TV ratings success in June and in July, especially for MSNBC and CNN. For this ninth hearing, the aforementioned cable outlets received ratings benefits once again. Based on total viewers, MSNBC ranked first among all TV networks for the eighth straight hearing and tops among cable news networks for the ninth straight hearing. From 1:02 p.m. to 3:34 p.m. Eastern on Oct. 13, MSNBC averaged 3.16 million total viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. That figure nearly topped the combined viewer total from CNN (2.42 million) and Fox News Channel (866,000).

Compared to the six previous daytime hearings, MSNBC viewership was up among both total viewers (+2 percent) and adults 25-54 (+4 percent).

MSNBC averaged 2.15 million viewers during dayside hours (10am-4pm) on Oct. 13 – their largest dayside audience in 18 months – surpassing all previous January 6th hearing days. It was on this busy news day that also featured the jury sentencing of the Parkland High School shooter.

MSNBC’s two-hour prime time recap and analysis for the ninth committee hearing posted 2.42 million total viewers which included 308,000 adults 25-54 — above-average figures for the network in the weeknight 8-10 p.m. time slot, although still not enough to top Fox News Channel’s duo of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and “Hannity” (2-hour average of 2.97 million viewers/403,000 adults 25-54) that night.

While MSNBC led in total audience, CNN led cable news In the key 25-54 demographic with 440,000. MSNBC (381,000) was close behind while Fox News (166,000) was in third.

Like their previous daytime airings of hearings, Fox News Channel’s audience figures experienced a downward hourly trend — atypically so, for its usual weekday fare. At 1 p.m., FNC drew 982,000 viewers; by 2 p.m., 793,000; and, for the hearing’s final half-hour at 3 p.m., 786,000. Once the hearing concluded, FNC rebounded: “The Story” at 3:33-4 p.m. 1.07 million; “Your World with Neil Cavuto” at 4-5 p.m. 1.25 million; and then, “The Five” at 5-6 p.m. 3.26 million.

Fox News did lead in coverage of the other live news event of that day, the aforementioned Parkland shooter jury verdict, delivering 1.75 million total viewers including 237,000 within the 25-54 demo, from 10:50-11:27 a.m. Eastern. CNN and MSNBC each drew 990,000 viewers with CNN (186,000) having the edge over MSNBC (113,000) in 25-54.

NewsNation continued its recent positive ratings momentum (following the arrival of “Cuomo” in prime time) with its Friday Oct. 14 telecast of the Georgia senatorial debate between Democrat incumbent Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger and former pro football running back Herschel Walker. It was nascent news outlet’s most-watched hour of the week with 185,000 viewers. “Cuomo” immediately led out of that debate that night with 173,000 viewers.

Cable news averages for October 10-16, 2022:

Total Day (Oct. 10-16 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.419 million viewers; 195,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 0.843 million viewers; 92,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.560 million viewers; 107,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.161 million viewers; 46,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.125 million viewers; 11,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.119 million viewers; 29,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.107 million viewers; 13,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.089 million viewers; 18,000 adults 25-54

Prime Time (Oct. 10-15 @ 8-11 p.m.; Oct. 16 @ 7-11 p.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 2.186 million viewers; 275,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 1.310 million viewers; 132,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.649 million viewers; 139,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.171 million viewers; 416,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.168 million viewers; 586,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.128 million viewers; 13,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.095 million viewers; 20,000 adults 25-54
  • NewsNation: 0.085 million viewers; 11,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.044 million viewers; 4,000 adults 25-54

Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top programs of other outlets with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:

1. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 10/12/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.539 million viewers

2. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 10/10/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.519 million viewers

3. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 10/11/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.417 million viewers

4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 10/12/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.369 million viewers

5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 10/10/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.272 million viewers

6. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 10/13/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.260 million viewers

7. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 10/11/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.221 million viewers

8. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 10/13/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.197 million viewers

9. January 6th Hearings “Hearing Day Nine” (MSNBC, Thu. 10/13/2022 1:02 PM, 152 min.) 3.163 million viewers

10. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Mon. 10/10/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.915 million viewers

25. Attack on Democracy “Jan 6th Hearings 10/13/22” (CNN, Thu. 10/13/2022 1:02 PM, 151 min.) 2.419 million viewers

194. Real Time With Bill Maher “Episode 616” (HBO, Fri. 10/14/2022 10:00 PM, 53 min.) 0.797 million viewers

337. Last Week Tonight (HBO, Sun. 10/16/2022 11:02 PM, 34 min.) 0.501 million viewers

353. The Daily Show (CMDY, Tue. 10/11/2022 11:00 PM, 30 min.) 0.453 million viewers

360. Kudlow (FBN, Thu. 10/13/2022 4:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.438 million viewers

389. Forensic Files “Paintball” (HLN, Fri. 10/14/2022 12:00 AM, 30 min.) 0.378 million viewers

453. The News with Shepard Smith (CNBC, Mon. 10/10/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.297 million viewers

617. Highway Thru Hell “Downhill Slide” (TWC, Tue. 10/11/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.190 million viewers

633. Debate Night: Warnock/Walker (NWSN, Fri. 10/14/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.185 million viewers

Top 10 cable news programs (and the top  programs of other outlets with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:

1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 10/12/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.515 million adults 25-54

2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 10/11/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.492 million adults 25-54

3. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 10/13/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.481 million adults 25-54

4. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 10/12/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.448 million adults 25-54

5. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 10/13/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.444 million adults 25-54

6. Attack on Democracy “Jan 6th Hearings 10/13/22” (CNN, Thu. 10/13/2022 1:02 PM, 151 min.) 0.440 million adults 25-54

7. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 10/10/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.436 million adults 25-54

8. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 10/10/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.407 million adults 25-54

9. Attack on Democracy “Jan 6th H. Post Analysis 10/13/22” (CNN, Thu. 10/13/2022 3:33 PM, 27 min.) 0.392 million adults 25-54

10. January 6th Hearings “Hearing Day Nine” (MSNBC, Thu. 10/13/2022 1:02 PM, 152 min.) 0.381 million adults 25-54

80. Last Week Tonight (HBO, Sun. 10/16/2022 11:02 PM, 34 min.) 0.209 million adults 25-54

138. Forensic Files “The Music Case” (HLN, Fri. 10/14/2022 5:30 AM, 30 min.) 0.157 million adults 25-54

149. The Daily Show (CMDY, Tue. 10/11/2022 11:00 PM, 30 min.) 0.151 million adults 25-54

240. Real Time With Bill Maher “Episode 616” (HBO, Fri. 10/14/2022 10:00 PM, 53 min.) 0.111 million adults 25-54

298. Shark Tank “Shark Tank 1307” (CNBC, Wed. 10/12/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.094 million adults 25-54

474. America’s Morning Headquarters (TWC, Mon. 10/10/2022 9:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.061 million adults 25-54

583. Cuomo (NWSN, Wed. 10/12/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.046 million adults 25-54

635. Kudlow (FBN, Thu. 10/13/2022 4:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.040 million adults 25-54

Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research

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As History Unfolds, It’s Important for News/Talk Radio to Remain Focused on Playing the Hits

It’s cliche, but we are living through history. And your audience is coming to you for the latest on this unfolding history, with opinions, analysis, and an ability to move the story forward.

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A photo of Donald Trump and Joe Biden

The age-old radio adage is to “Play the hits”.

It applies more directly to music stations, but the phrase can also relate to sports talk and news/talk. So, suppose you’re like me, and you’ve found yourself behind a microphone on a news/talk station the last couple of weeks. In that case, you might be having an internal conversation about whether you’ve focused too much on the national political discourse since the unforgettable Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden debate on June 27th.

My short answer is: No, you’re not too focused. 

But in an effort to not stop this column at 100 words, I’ll explain further.

I’ve long advocated for focusing your local shows on your local radio markets as much as possible. It will separate your show from the national syndication that can be piped into any station nationwide. Your local flair is what will build your credibility in your community. It’s what will separate you. Local will win. 

And given that it’s been an unusually predictable few months in the election news cycle, there hasn’t been much to lean into on the national political side. Joe Biden was the unimpressive, octogenarian incumbent going up against Donald Trump, who rolled quickly through a primary and was set to be at the top of the Republican ticket for a third-straight election cycle. It was a rematch of 2020, a period in American history most Americans would prefer to forget, given the state of the nation at the time. Unfortunately for many, they are being forced to relive it. 

However, what happened two weeks ago in Atlanta between Donald Trump and Joe Biden has given a massive jolt to an election season that had been relatively boring. Tens of millions of Americans were tuned in that evening, and given Biden’s debate performance, it has kicked off two weeks of speculation of Biden dropping out, party infighting, replacement conversations, various media reports, and drama that we haven’t seen around an incumbent President in an election year since 1968.

It’s cliche, but we are living through history. And your audience is coming to you for the latest on this unfolding history, with opinions, analysis, and an ability to move the story forward engagingly and entertainingly while also, when appropriate, bringing on guests who will provide them with insight they can bring to their conversations with friends, at the water cooler, on group texts and on social media.

In a perfect world, you can also localize these national stories by getting reactions from local officials, reading/playing their social media reactions on your show, or if you’re in a swing state, your options beyond that are unlimited.

But now that we are in a national news cycle that has been on fire, don’t force yourself into local talk. Find your top local stories that are compelling and impacting your radio listener’s day-to-day lives, and work to blend it with the historical moment we find ourselves living through on the national political stage. And always be working your hardest to think of and find new angles, while moving the story forward.

In the end, just like your local CHR station has to play Taylor Swift multiple times an hour, you need to give your audience what they want and “Play the hits.” We’re living through history, after all.

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James Golden AKA Bo Snerdley Relishes New Nationally Syndicated Weekend Show

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun.”

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(Photo: James Golden)

Radio host, radio executive, producer, author, and a jack of all media trades. Since he was 14-years-old James Golden (AKA Bo Snerdley) has devoted his entire life to the media industry.

The on-air talent’s weekend show —The James Golden Show — just became syndicated through Red Apple Audio Networks.

“I really appreciate having the platform that WABC has provided. It’s a wonderful thing to have a show that’s now in a bunch of different markets and growing! It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun,” he said.

Long before Golden hit the airwaves as ‘Bo Snerdley’ on The Rush Limbaugh Show, he was a teenager visiting his cousin, DJ Gerry Bledsoe, at work. “It was a mind-blowing experience for me. So many things happened that day. In fact, that day was when one of the older guys there, the guy who’s had a reputation as being a real grumpy, curmudgeon type guy, for some reason, took a liking to me.”

He let Golden into the show where Golden learned how to cut tape. “It took me a lot of years before I actually got a job, and ironically, it was at the same station, doing marketing and research, looking at ratings and learning how to analyze ratings and learning how to do marketing. Later on, I moved into the programming side and started doing music research.”

James Golden was one of the first in the country to do music research which led him to WABC. There he worked with the station’s transition from music to their first talk program.

“I think in life you’re given the sort of the things that you need to fulfill whatever destiny you have. I had always been interested in news, politics, and all of it. This dual love I had for music, it allowed me to transition when the station changed format and to become their senior producer of news. And it was at ABC some years later that I met Rush Limbaugh. And of course, that turned into a 30-year relationship.”

The Author of “Rush On The Radio,” recalled the first time the pair met. “So my first day working on his show, I brought him some news stories. I was in the habit of doing that before I even worked on his show. I developed a friendship. When I saw something interesting, that I thought he would be interested in and I would take it to him. So it was a smooth transition for me being rotated on the show.”

It wasn’t before long James Golden became Bo Snerdley. “So I walked in, dropped off some stories, and on the way out he says, ‘Well, everybody on this call screen has got to be a Snerdley, have you come up with your name?’ So The Daily News was on his desk, and it was on the sports page. Bo Jackson was in the news for some of the headlines, but I just wasn’t able watch it. So I just said ‘Bo’ and walked out. Little did I know that for the rest of my life, I’d be Bo. But it’s great and I love it. I’m comfortable with either one.”

Golden recalled the time spent with his friend saying, “No words can ever describe it. He was the best that there ever was to me, or ever will be in the industry. His talent, as he said, was on loan from God. But it was something unique. The incredibly intelligent, incredibly hardworking. 30 years in, he still brought it. Even when he was sick, [Rush] did as much of the work that he could to make sure that his show was extremely well researched and well delivered.”

While working on Rush’s show, James Golden also had his own weekend show. He worked 7 days a week for years. Today, he is back at his radio home. “Back at WABC, doing six days on air with them, and it’s just been a wonderful ride for me.”

Throughout the years, the former executive producer turned host has seen significant change in the industry.

“For some people, it’s not as much fun as it used to be. And I’ll just speak frankly about that. When the bean counters took over because of corporate interest — instead of it being a lot of different families with smaller radio groups, it moved into more of a big business — for a lot of people a lot of the fun was taken out of it, because those decisions that used to be made locally are now being made by regional managers or by national managers, some of whom had more of a background in sales and didn’t understand the programing,” he shared.

“So there’s always that schism. And so for a lot of people in the industry, I have friends who have left the industry because it just was no longer fun for them.”

Another big difference? You no longer have to work your way up through the markets.

“You had to work your way up through lower markets to get to a higher market. You don’t have to do that now. People that are just good at what they do, if they have very good communication skills, you can learn how to become [one of the] best radio hosts. There’s only one best radio host and [Rush] passed away, but it is still about your ability to tell a good story. To understand and to I think it really is how much you are in love with the medium yourself.”

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The Difference Between News/Talk Radio Programmer and Bureaucrat

The sad part is these people achieved their high positions by successfully programming actual radio stations to real people in specific markets.

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Let’s talk about the worst aspect of every news/talk radio programmer’s job: commercial stops, those designed traffic jams that occur every ten or twenty minutes bringing your excellent content to a dead halt. And so, you wait, knowing full well that you’re losing a significant percentage of your audience to button pushers looking for a station where talkers are still talking and news is still being broadcast.

The way most news and talk radio stations operate today commercial clutter takes up 20-30 minutes of each programming hour. It would be nice to say that’s because your inventory is sold out thanks to great ratings but we know better. It happens because it’s allowed to happen. Some of that load is likely bonus spots and far too much of it consists of recorded promos that use branding phrases begging the listener to wait through the clutter.

Yes, commercials are necessary but there are some things to consider that might make them less annoying and potentially informative and entertaining.

Warning: old fart flashback straight ahead.

When I was a young program director I had the authority to reject any spots that I didn’t feel met our standards. Yes, I’m quite serious. I didn’t exercise the option often but if a spot was of lousy audio quality, badly produced, boring, or even just plain stupid, I could kick it back to the sales exec and/or ad agency and ask them politely to make it better.

You might think that could result in an impolite opposite reaction. It never did, not once. From time to time I talked with an advertiser or his agent and they always said the same thing: You’re the expert. I want my time and money spent well on your station.

Sales execs could get annoyed but usually went along as good teammates without too much grousing. Besides, schmoozing clients with better ideas is part of their art; the best enjoy it.

Often these conversations would lead to brainstorming sessions with the production director. (Remember that creative and crucial position?) Ideas were tossed around, writing began and a highly effective ad was usually the result.

If you’re a program director or air talent today your mind must be reeling. It has probably never occurred to you that you could have the authority to actually determine all of your news/talk station’s programming, not just the words between the breaks, every blessed minute. Why not? You’re responsible for your station’s content 24/7 though you have no control over half of it.

Most program directors in corporate-owned stations today have been hired as functionaries at the end of a long chain of corporate bureaucrats. Your days are filled with layers of programming and sales hierarchies. Presidents have lieutenants, regional and format V.P.s, who send out the memos and convene Zoom meetings to address general issues with generalized answers.

They dive into recent studies and charts for boilerplate policies, seldom suggesting anything bold or of local significance because they can’t, they don’t know your town. The sad part is these people achieved their high positions by successfully programming actual radio stations to real people in specific markets. They’re smart enough to know that what worked in Boston might not fly in Amarillo – except in a vague, general way.

As a local PD today your log is bloated, your programming is filled with syndicated shows, and your hands are tied. 

Unless you have a creative fire in your belly and the guts to assert it.

Dream up great promotions that will excite your audience in your hometown. Enlist the members of your on-air, newsroom, and production staff. Invite them to a pizza place for some brainstorming. Don’t make it mandatory, suggest it will be fun and exciting because it will. Your crew will be happier and bubbling tomorrow. Before long fresh ideas will start trickling in regularly because everyone is enthused, involved, and feeling appreciated. You’ll all make each other’s great ideas even greater. You’re having fun and it’s contagious.

If you can ignite a spark of excitement and faith from your GM and sales department you might find yourself with the programming reigns in both hands.

You weren’t hired to be a clickbait expert, you are a radio expert. You know more about the stuff that comes out of the speakers than anyone else at the station. And you can identify problems and turn them into opportunities. You need to spend your days refining the product, not in endless meetings trying to implement generalized corporate buzzspeak into local program policy.

Attend the Zoom meetings, be a cheerful good soldier but if called upon speak your mind with truth and passion. It’s infectious.

Explain to your boss why you should be allowed to reduce the on-air clutter by as much as half and that you need to spend most of your time every day with your news and talk talent because they’re your stars. It’s why they pay you. The station and the community are all that matters to you.

Tell her/him you’ll read the interoffice memos faithfully and join digital meetings when you can but that the corporate culture will mostly just have to take care of itself.

And, oh, by the way, you need the authority to reject bad radio commercials.

You may not get everything you ask for but I promise you’ll earn some respect.

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