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Paul Zeise Took Time to Adjust to News/Talk on KDKA

“I think the largest form of feedback I’ve received from listeners is that they don’t agree with me all the time, but they feel I’m honest. I think that’s my style.”

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We all expect some kind of gift during the holidays. Whether it be a pair of socks, maybe a mug with your picture on it. It’s not often someone is presented with a gift of an entire family for their 36th Christmas. But Paul Zeise didn’t have your average childhood.

“I was adopted into a German and Irish family,” said Paul Zeise. “My family is like the United Colors of Benetton ad. When I was 36, I met my biological family for the first time. We all feel we’ve been together our entire life.”

His biological dad is Black and his biological mom is Italian. He was adopted into a German and Irish family.

“With Italian and Black ancestry, I’ve felt like Franco Harris, my first hero,” Zeise said.

“In one day, I discovered I have 14 siblings. This experience has helped form a lot of my worldview,” he explained. “When I talk about things I believe it all comes from a unique perspective. I’m familiar with all faiths, creeds, and sizes.

I’ve bonded with all my siblings in different ways. My biological mom is just two hours away and I recently visited my biological dad in Atlanta.”

His adoptive parents are retired and have moved to Florida, so Zeise doesn’t get to see them quite as much as he’d like. He said Zoom makes things a lot easier.

Paul Zeise is on the air from 10:00 AM-2:00 PM every weekday on KDKA News Radio.

In addition to Zeise’s role on KDKA, he is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, an AAU basketball coach and he hosts the Pitt Panthers pregame show on 93.7 The Fan during college football season.

He said all four parents tune into his show when they can online.

“Here’s what I’ve found,” Zeise said. “You couldn’t have a larger political chasm than the contrast between my biological dad and my adopted dad. But I think people, in general, have more in common than different.”

Born in Pittsburgh, Zeise said he routinely read sports columns as a kid.

“I’d write letters to columnists and rip them ]if I didn’t like what they wrote,” Zeise explained. “I used to read the Tribune-Review in Greensburg. One particular columnist was always real edgy. He had a bias toward Penn State. My dad went to Pitt. I was a Pitt guy.”

Through high school, Zeise performed well.

“I was like a genius-level math guy,” Zeise explained. “In college, my major was math and computer science. After a month of classes, I looked around at the other students. I looked at what we were doing, the subject matter, and figured I wouldn’t make it six months at this.”

Zeise said he still gets excited about math and computer programming. He knew something wasn’t right in his intended career choice. It was too easy.

“In labs, I’d see other students spending hours on something that took me only 20 minutes,” he said. “I’d figure things out quickly. It wasn’t for me.”

Zeise shifted gears to communications and journalism. After graduation, the newspapers started going through some tough times. Nobody was hiring.

Zeise figured if he was going to single-handedly save the world, he’d have to find another way to do it.

He spent some time as a juvenile probation officer and was shot at a few times during that experience. That wasn’t for him either.

“I quickly decided that wasn’t a profession I was going to stay with,” Zeise said. “I got my master’s degree in journalism from Temple. After that, I was hired by Gannett in Vineland, New Jersey.”

Zeise worked for NBA.com in downtown Manhattan in an office right across from St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He wanted to go back to a smaller town and went to the Post-Gazette in 1998.

Moving from sports to talk was eye-opening. More than years of sports experience can prepare you for.

“When I was in sports, news people used to jokingly say sports people worked in the ‘toy department,’” Zeise said. “They’d say we weren’t doing real journalism.’”

Zeise said he never realized how much truth there was in that barb.

“It was a huge transition, completely different,” Zeise explained. “At the end of the day, talk is talk. I want to entertain, inform, and get people to think. It’s the same basic construction between sports and talk. It’s just the subject matter that is completely different.”

He said in the grander scheme of things, a show will write itself.

“On my show, I don’t say something I don’t really believe just to be edgy,” Zeise said. “Just to get people to react. Everything these days has to be polarizing and divisive. At the end of the day, I think we are more similar. I find we as a society have a lot of tribalism, therefore wasted energy.”

Zeise said in talk there are always huge things going on all the time. He said you’ve got to prioritize, and instinctively figure out what is interesting to the audience. What they want to listen to. What they are talking about.”

Zeise said social media is such a small sample size of a grander perspective.

“Twitter is heavy with people that probably aren’t as representative as you think,” he said “People at large don’t care about what you think they do.”

He runs his own board but didn’t have to in sports. That was another large transition. Zeise said he tries to have a discussion with his PD in the morning to outline which direction his show might go on any given day.

“Four years ago, I asked management if I could do some fill-in on AM on occasion,” Zeise explained. “I’d always been interested in politics and more of a variety-type show and wondered if I could do that.”

The mid-day person retired and there was an opening. Zeise and management figured they’d give it a chance and see how it went.

“I think the largest form of feedback I’ve received from listeners is that they don’t agree with me all the time, but they feel I’m honest,” Zeise explained. “I think that’s my style. I approach things in a pragmatic sense, not just through a political lens. I imagine I’m a little different from other radio people.”

Zeise said while he’s not a young guy, his approach to the subject matter is unique.

“I think they saw me as a little different and gave me a shot,” Zeise said. “They could tell I knew what I was talking about. I think at times I make the PD a little nervous and he’s walking around the glass outside the studio, some nervous pacing,” he joked.

“I think the most important thing is that your boss thinks you’re doing well. To continue what you’re doing. AM radio is difficult to do correctly.”

He doesn’t want his show to be too reliant on calls or guests. That’s why Zeise will go for hours without one.

“My philosophy is some guests can be good for a show, but they can take away from the momentum. If you get a bad interview, you can feel it, there’s no traction. You think they may add something to the conversation and sometimes you don’t have the expertise you thought they had. I think it’s made me a better host.”

He’s learned to be more regimented with his clock.

“It took me time to adjust,” Zeise said. “Sometimes now when I listen to sports talk, I sense how a lot of time is wasted meandering. You don’t have that option in talk.”

To keep the younger listener, he said he has to limit segments due to shorter attention spans.

I’m sorry, I got distracted. What did you say?

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BNM Writers

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.”

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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: 

  1. It’s not local or incredibly topical for most people right now
  2. It’s an audience divider
  3. 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.

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BNM Writers

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?

Bill Zito

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Radio

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.

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BNM Writers

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.

Doug Pucci

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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%)

MSNBC

  • 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%)

CNN

  • 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

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