KWAM Knew Bodycam Release of Tyre Nichols Beating Would Be ‘Sensitive and Chaotic’
“We’d been planning on this coverage for a few days. It was a sensitive and chaotic time.”
Media outlets like KWAM were forced to plan and assess coverage on Friday as Memphis authorities released bodycam video of the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old man who died three days after a traffic stop by police.
It seemed unthinkable our country would be dealing with another mind-bending, traumatic, and volatile situation nearly three years after the 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The ensuing results of the release could not be predicted, but if Minneapolis was any indication, Memphis media could be sitting on a powder keg.
How a city prepares for such potential civil unrest is still a work in progress. The media in the same city also faces a sense of grave anticipation and must decide on which tactic when the video is released.
Kevin Davis, GM of KWAM Memphis, said his staff was busy continuously monitoring social media and keeping listeners updated on the air as much as they could before the release.
“We’d been planning on this coverage for a few days,” Davis said. “It was a sensitive and chaotic time. I think a lot of this has been driven nationwide in an attempt to stir up the situation. Some people were hoping for some type of violence. It’s just the nature of the situation. We were here to cover it regardless of what happened.”
When something like this is happening in your city, a news station might consider treading lightly, certainly reacting carefully. You’ll never quite know until you’ve faced it yourself.
“While we don’t condone any type of violence, we dealt with our coverage head-on,” Davis said. “A lot of the violence comes from progressive protestors. We’re generally conservative and pro-police, but we don’t condone violence.”
Davis, like many of us, cannot fathom what may have prompted what is being called an inhumane beating.
“If there’s another side of the story, we don’t know what it is,” Davis said. “The whole thing has been suspicious. Why such a brutal beating? I can say Memphis has been short about 400 officers for a while. Like many Democratically controlled cities, we’re seeing unchecked shootings, car-jackings, robberies.”
Davis said recruiting new officers has been difficult.
“I know the pay is low. We can’t recruit new officers from outside of the county. We have candidates in Arkansas and Mississippi close by that can’t work here as they don’t live in the city. It’s ridiculous.”
Davis said as a citizen, he’s shocked something like this has happened in Memphis.
“We don’t have a recurring issue with police violence,” he said. “Our biggest concern is the catch and release policies of felony criminals. Shelby County D.A. Steve Mulroy ran on a campaign to up the juvenile age to 25 years of age.”
Davis said his news department was on call and ready. As far as why the Memphis Police Department waited and planned for a 6:00 PM Friday release of the video, Davis has his own opinions.
“I think the reasoning was that the city employees would be home. Schools would be closed. All in an effort to reduce collateral damage. It’s kind of like building up for a Super Bowl. We should all be enraged by it. There’s always going to be boneheads intent on starting violence. Memphis is a very violent city, but strangely, when it comes to protests, it hasn’t been violent.”
A Black man was killed and Davis said the feeling around Memphis is people are heartbroken. They feel empathy and compassion.
“We have our own problems,” Davis said. “We have a lot of kidnapping attempts, car-jackings, gunfire into houses.”
Davis said things can be so bad in Memphis, you’re at a disadvantage not having a gun in your glove compartment.
Ben Deeter is a news anchor at KWAM in Memphis.
“It was all hands on deck,” Deeter said. “We heard from Mayor Jim Strickland, the President of the United States. The entire country had been watching it unfold. Our job was to relate information to the public. There have been a lot of pleas for peaceful protests.”
Any way you look at it, this is a disheartening story. Yet it has become part of what we are as a society. What could have triggered such a reaction by officers? At this point, it’s a mystery. As the video shows, officers used force that went beyond the pale.
“It could have been me,” Deeter said. “We had reporters deployed across the city. I was stationed downtown and we expected protests to take place. I talked with people on Beale Street, business owners, and tourists. There was a blues festival in town and there were a lot of people from out of state here.”
Jim Cryns writes features for Barrett News Media. He has spent time in radio as a reporter for WTMJ, and has served as an author and former writer for the Milwaukee Brewers. To touch base or pick up a copy of his new book: Talk To Me – Profiles on News Talkers and Media Leaders From Top 50 Markets, log on to Amazon or shoot Jim an email at email@example.com.
Trump vs DeSantis Talk in 2023? You’re Wasting Your Listener’s Time
“I could scan local TV stations, newspaper websites and blogs and find more compelling stories with a more immediate and local impact in less than five minutes.”
I’m already tired.
No, not because I’m a morning show host who’s about to wrap up the week. I’m tired because it’s only March of 2023 and half of what I see on Twitter is Trump vs. DeSantis trolls going after each other.
Make. It. Stop.
OK, I can’t do that.
Although I guess I could stop following certain people on the platform, but that’s an option for another day.
But as it pertains to talk radio, before thinking this is a great Topic A or B for a show, let’s actually dissect whether or not this makes any sense to discuss at length.
First off, conservatives are usually the ones more likely to rightly point out that Twitter, and the rest of social media, is not real life. But for too many on Twitter, and elsewhere, they aren’t taking their own advice on this issue. It’s wildly hypocritical.
Granted, some of them are employed by either side, but most are not, and it’s exhausting to open up a social media app and see this back and forth with still one year to go until most primaries take place.
However, more importantly, as it pertains to local talk radio, there’s very little value in bringing any of this to your talk show in March of 2023. Walk around your community, do you really think the water cooler conversations are about Donald Trump vs. Ron DeSantis? I would guess that’s highly unlikely unless you work at the RNC or you’re a landscaper at Mar-A-Lago.
I could scan local TV stations, newspaper websites and blogs and find more compelling stories with a more immediate and local impact in less than five minutes. It might be more work from a topic development standpoint, but it’s doing the service that your audience expects of you as a local host. Plus, who wants to spend the next 12 months debating this nonsense?
Count me out.
That day will come as the 2024 election draws near, the storylines build and it becomes of more interest to the audience. But this week we just hit the first day of spring… in 2023!
On top of that, this topic is very likely to divide much of your audience earlier than you need to. What’s the benefit of that? Once again, that day may come, although who really knows what the next several months could bring?
If there’s anything we should know living through and covering the last few years of news, it’s to expect the unexpected. What we think will happen 12 months from now is almost guaranteed to not actually be the case.
So let’s go down the three-point check-list here:
- It’s not local or incredibly topical for most people right now
- It’s an audience divider
- The landscape isn’t guaranteed to look the same in 12 months
In this case, we can check off all three of those items with confidence.
So while national politics will likely always be blended into a multi-hour show, when appropriate, there’s absolutely no point in doing deep dives or taking multiple segments of callers on this topic at this point and time. It’s going to be a tune-out for most.
Plus, spare yourself the pain this early. And trust me, it will be painful when the time comes. At some point, you’ll be longing for the simpler days of March 2023.
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.
Make Your AM Radio Content Necessary And Don’t Hope For A Government Bailout
If there is something so crucial to the mix, why have and why do AM signals regularly cross their content over to an FM signal?
Let us venture back to the business of radio. The fate of AM radio in cars is once again creating a buzz, a buzz electric car makers say is one of the reasons they’re not putting the AM band in their new EVs.
Apparently, the electric components in the EVs create static interference, making the AM signal unintelligible and useless.
On its face, that makes some sense to me. Plus, I know nothing of frequencies or signals and not much more about intricate technology.
So, I don’t see what the big deal really is if some cars don’t have AM radios. Some boats don’t, most tractors either, haven’t seen one on a horse lately.
I do not want nor do I advocate the elimination, disappearance, reduction of services or personnel connected to AM radio. I currently work in AM and FM radio, why would I support the demise of the AM signal? But can we be real, can we be accurate here?
Look around, it’s already begun. Volkswagen, Audi, Tesla, and Porsche have already pulled or will be pulling AM radio from their electric vehicles. Ford’s F150 Lightning and next year’s Mustang will also be minus the AM band.
From a business standpoint, I would assume the market for cars — as for many things — is largely directed towards the emerging as well as the current consumer. What do they want and what do they make use of? I think it’s fair to assume that a lot of people are or will be looking for EVs.
How many will be looking for or want AM radios in those cars?
The broadcast industry would be better served if they looked for the answer to that question.
Besides, what does AM have to offer at this point that FM does not? What is it that AM can do under these conditions that FM cannot?
The broadcast pharaohs and their political fronts say we must maintain the presence of AM radio in cars, even electric cars, because when it comes down to it, AM radio will be the source of moment by moment information when disaster strikes.
This week, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) announced his multi-pronged plan aimed at keeping AM in all vehicles. Along with urging automakers to go along, Gottheimer has called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to add AM radio to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.”
According to his website, that move would “require all automakers, EV included, to have AM radio as a stock feature in their vehicles.”
Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) launched similar measures last year.
Let’s go back to the question: what can AM do that the FM cannot? And if there is something so crucial to the mix, why have and why do AM signals regularly cross their content over to an FM signal? More news, talk, sports, whatever pops up on the FM all the time. It’s already a haven for spoken word broadcast (I just love working in the term spoken word wherever I can).
In case of emergency and disaster, would an FM station not do what an AM brand would? If the tornado or missiles are heading our way would the FM just keep playing Lizzo and Dua Lipa? Will the Giants game go on uninterrupted while we drive along in ignorance?
If emergency information is on the AM only and not on the FM there’s only one reason that can be; the people in charge are not putting it there.
Listen to 1010 WINS in New York City at 1010 AM and then 92.3 FM, notice a difference? Where are you finding WTOP or KNX these days? Why? Maybe it all sounds better.
This is an old argument with an evergreen answer, these were studied, calculated business moves.
The idea? To find and attract as many listeners as possible.
Where do you put your best people, your best content? Where they are accessible, yes? Where an audience is likely to look for and find them, right? It’s hard to make them go looking for it.
For a radio, AM/FM or otherwise to be of any use, to do any good at all, it has to be on.
Look, there is no shame in wanting to keep AM radio from going away. It’s perfectly understandable. I have a 1941 Zenith upright in my living room. I love the way it looks plus it gets AM, FM and occasionally the drive thru at Arby’s.
But I also have an Alexa, a Bose, and I don’t know how many channels to watch and stream on my TV. I mean, unless you’re driving the overnight long-haul route to Butte, how many of us have CB radios in our cars? Or 8-track, cassette or CD players?
Try and buy a new car with a standard transmission. Most things in life have a generational shelf life. For now, the AM listeners are still in their cars, they’re certainly not at home.
But that will continue to change, at minimum it will evolve.
So how much effort and expense are we going to put forth to try and convince people they want something they obviously do not or prove to them they need something they don’t think they do?
Convince me. Convince them.
Bill Zito has devoted most of his work efforts to broadcast news since 1999. He made the career switch after serving a dozen years as a police officer on both coasts. Splitting the time between Radio and TV, he’s worked for ABC News and Fox News, News 12 New York , The Weather Channel and KIRO and KOMO in Seattle. He writes, edits and anchors for Audacy’s WTIC-AM in Hartford and lives in New England. You can find him on Twitter @BillZitoNEWS.
Cable News Channels Saw Massive Spikes During Alex Murdaugh Verdict
Even the prime time lineup of nascent news outlet NewsNation got a sizable bounce, especially for “Cuomo”, which achieved its most-watched edition in total viewers, to-date.
The Alex Murdaugh double-murder trial came to a conclusion on the evening of Thursday Mar. 2, Murdaugh, a member of a prominent South Carolina family and former attorney, was found guilty of shooting and killing both his wife Maggie and their youngest son Paul at their residence, and cable news outlets benefited greatly.
The court case that riveted the nation throughout the month of February was, of course, covered by many news outlets including broadcast and cable news as well as the various syndicated newsmagazines like Inside Edition and TMZ.
Leading the pack in cable news coverage was Fox News Channel. Normally topping the 7-8 p.m. hour with Jesse Watters Primetime on this night that hour delivered 3.51 million total viewers including 443,000 within the key 25-64 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research. A far distant runner-up in total audience was MSNBC with 1.37 million; in adults 25-54, CNN (243,000) was closest to FNC among cable networks.
All three outlets drew at well above-average levels within the 7 p.m. hour and the few hours afterwards due to the verdict, as the following percentage increases show in comparison to their prior week (Feb. 20-24, 2023) returns:
Fox News Channel
- Jesse Watters Primetime (7-8 p.m.): 3.511 million viewers (+32%); 443,000 adults 25-54 (+65%)
- Tucker Carlson Tonight (8-9 p.m.): 3.346 million viewers (+9%); 449,000 adults 25-54 (+15%)
- Hannity (9-10 p.m.): 2.852 million viewers (+18%); 404,000 adults 25-54 (+37%)
- The Reidout (7-8 p.m.): 1.373 million viewers (+24%); 156,000 adults 25-54 (+42%)
- All In with Chris Hayes (8-9 p.m.): 1.515 million viewers (+39%); 153,000 adults 25-54 (+53%) (for Feb. 20-24, MSNBC aired nightly hourlong specials in the 8-9 p.m.slot marking the one-year anniversary of Russian’s invasion of Ukraine)
- Alex Wagner Tonight (9-10 p.m.): 1.317 million viewers (+6%); 145,000 adults 25-54 (+26%)
- Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell (10-11 p.m.): 1.544 viewers (+15%) viewers; 118,000 adults 25-54 (-9%)
- Erin Burnett Outfront (7-8 p.m.): 1.130 million viewers (+89%); 243,000 adults 25-54 (+91%)
- Anderson Cooper 360 (8-9 p.m.): 1.183 million viewers (+79%); 191,000 adults 25-54 (+48%)
Even the prime time lineup of nascent news outlet NewsNation got a sizable bounce, especially for “Cuomo”, which achieved its most-watched edition in total viewers, to-date.
- On Balance with Leland Vittert (7-8 p.m.): 123,000 viewers (+146%); 44,000 adults 25-54 (+389%)
- Cuomo (8-9 p.m.): 231,000 viewers (+116%); 49,000 adults 25-54 (+227%)
- Dan Abrams Live (9-10 p.m.): 160,000 viewers (+44%); 29,000 adults 25-54 (+32%)
- Banfield (10-11 p.m.): 180,000 viewers (+82%); 40,000 adults 25-54 (+135%)
CBS was the lone broadcast network whose breaking news coverage of the Murdaugh verdict was published by Nielsen. It delivered 3.824 million viewers from 7:04-7:14 p.m. Eastern; that night’s edition of the CBS Evening News which preceded the special report on many CBS affiliates in the Eastern and Central time zones had drawn 5.11 million.
Cable news averages for February 27-March 5, 2023:
Total Day (Feb. 27-Mar. 5 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 1.375 million viewers; 177,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 0.693 million viewers; 76,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 0.446 million viewers; 84,000 adults 25-54
- HLN: 0.148 million viewers; 38,000 adults 25-54
- CNBC: 0.114 million viewers; 26,000 adults 25-54
- Fox Business Network: 0.114 million viewers; 12,000 adults 25-54
- The Weather Channel: 0.109 million viewers; 19,000 adults 25-54
- Newsmax: 0.092 million viewers; 9,000 adults 25-54
Prime Time (Feb. 27-Mar. 4 @ 8-11 p.m.; Mar. 5 @ 7-11 p.m.)
- Fox News Channel: 2.087 million viewers; 253,000 adults 25-54
- MSNBC: 1.130 million viewers; 106,000 adults 25-54
- CNN: 0.530 million viewers; 105,000 adults 25-54
- HLN: 0.203 million viewers; 48,000 adults 25-54
- CNBC: 0.159 million viewers; 43,000 adults 25-54
- The Weather Channel: 0.134 million viewers; 21,000 adults 25-54
- NewsNation: 0.115 million viewers; 22,000 adults 25-54
- Newsmax: 0.099 million viewers; 14,000 adults 25-54
- Fox Business Network: 0.061 million viewers; 12,000 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. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Thu. 3/2/2023 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.511 million viewers
2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 3/2/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.346 million viewers
3. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 2/27/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.313 million viewers
4. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 3/2/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.189 million viewers
5. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 3/1/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.133 million viewers
6. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 2/28/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.087 million viewers
7. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 2/27/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.076 million viewers
8. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 2/28/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.009 million viewers
9. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 3/1/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.943 million viewers
10. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 3/3/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.899 million viewers
21. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Mon. 2/27/2023 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.383 million viewers
120. Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN, Thu. 3/2/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.183 million viewers
181. Real Time With Bill Maher “Episode 626” (HBO, Fri. 3/3/2023 10:00 PM, 57 min.) 0.738 million viewers
360. The Daily Show “Mar 1, 23 – Hasan Minhaj” (CMDY, Wed. 3/1/2023 11:00 PM, 30 min.) 0.378 million viewers
375. Varney & Company (FBN, Thu. 3/2/2023 10:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.344 million viewers
379. Highway Thru Hell “(1108) Deep Freeze” (TWC, Sun. 3/5/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.335 million viewers
424. Forensic Files (HLN, late Sat. 3/4/2023 12:30 AM, 30 min.) 0.269 million viewers
425. Fast Money Halftime Report (CNBC, Tue. 2/28/2023 12:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.268 million viewers
460. Cuomo “Alex Murdaugh Verdict” (NWSN, Thu. 3/2/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.231 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. 3/1/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.459 million adults 25-54
2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Thu. 3/2/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.449 million adults 25-54
3. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Thu. 3/2/2023 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.443 million adults 25-54
4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 2/27/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.417 million adults 25-54
5. Hannity (FOXNC, Thu. 3/2/2023 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.404 million adults 25-54
6. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 2/28/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.403 million adults 25-54
7. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 3/2/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.362 million adults 25-54
8. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Mon. 2/27/2023 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.359 million adults 25-54
9. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 2/27/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.351 million adults 25-54
10. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 3/1/2023 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.340 million adults 25-54
29. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Mon. 2/27/2023 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.263 million adults 25-54
32. Erin Burnett Outfront (CNN, Thu. 3/2/2023 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.243 million adults 25-54
105. The Daily Show “Mar 1, 23 – Hasan Minhaj” (CMDY, Wed. 3/1/2023 11:00 PM, 30 min.) 0.154 million adults 25-54
145. Real Time With Bill Maher “Episode 626” (HBO, Fri. 3/3/2023 10:00 PM, 57 min.) 0.124 million adults 25-54
241. Forensic Files (HLN, late Wed. 3/1/2023 2:00 AM, 30 min.) 0.094 million adults 25-54
342. Shark Tank “Shark Tank 713” (CNBC, Thu. 3/2/2023 10:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.072 million adults 25-54
385. Weather Underground (TWC, Fri. 3/3/2023 2:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.064 million adults 25-54
487. Cuomo “Alex Murdaugh Verdict” (NWSN, Thu. 3/2/2023 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.049 million adults 25-54
609. Mornings with Maria Bartiromo (FBN, Mon. 2/27/2023 8:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.034 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/