OutKick personality Charly Arnolt is in her element right now. Following her departure from ESPN, Arnolt has settled in with one of the country’s most popular digital media brands. She realizes that to continue to grow in the industry, she needs to strengthen the relationships she has already established.
As a young reporter in Indianapolis, she honed her on-air presentation and writing skills while covering local sports and news. Those opportunities led to bigger ones.
Earlier this year, she left ESPN, as she was bored with talking strictly about sports and knew she wanted to explore beyond the limits of that platform. That’s when she discovered OutKick, a brand encouraging its talent to speak their minds and creating a place where pop culture, sports, news, and politics intersect.
Charly Arnolt balances her new role with her ongoing commitment as a host and reporter for the UFC, demonstrating her unwavering dedication to delivering top-notch sports content.
Before joining OutKick, she spent nearly five years at ESPN, leaving her mark as a multi-platform host and reporter. Her contributions extended across ESPN’s flagship programs, including First Take and SportsCenter. She also graced the screens of ESPN+’s weekday morning show, SportsNation.
The way the media portrays the 2024 Presidential Election will be unprecedented. Donald Trump, the former President, has been indicted four times, two times on the federal level and twice in state courts. Conservative media must navigate how to address the misconception that news broadcasted on their platforms is fake. Charly Arnolt and her colleagues at OutKick will play a significant role in capturing the attention of young and impressionable voters who might notice their First Amendment rights eroding.
Charly Arnolt is worried about her country, the same country that gave her the right to earn her way to the top of the media industry. She takes her right to freedom of speech seriously and wishes that the other GOP Presidential candidates would drop out of the race and support Donald Trump.
Arnolt wants to clarify that her intentions are sometimes misunderstood. In the past, some people have mistakenly believed that her current actions contradict her previous statements. However, she disagrees with those who label her as hateful. Charly Arnolt acknowledges that specific subsets of people pose a dangerous threat and must be stopped and spoken out against.
Specifically, she is against people who try to indoctrinate and brainwash children. Charly Arnolt reiterates that just because she speaks out against certain things doesn’t mean she has hatred in her heart.
During an interview with Barrett News Media, Charly Arnolt discusses the success of OutKick and shares insights on individuals who have influenced her storytelling style and career. She also reveals who she would love to sit down and have dinner with and how she developed a well-rounded passion for sports, pop culture, news, and politics.
Ryan Hedrick: What factors have contributed to the success of OutKick?
Charly Arnolt: OutKick talks about news from a straight perspective. If there’s a detail that certain versions of the media are leaving out that would align with their own agenda, OutKick doesn’t see it that way. If something is glaring, and there’s a detail that helps to tell the story, you’ll be able to find those details on OutKick.
I appreciate approaching things from an honest and authentic standpoint, and I think a lot of people appreciate that, too. That’s why OutKick is so successful.
RH: You recently interviewed Dave Portnoy, the owner of Barstool Sports. What misconceptions does the media have about him?
CA: We all have different opinions; that’s how the world works, and you should be able to voice your own opinions. If you don’t like what someone says, you don’t have to follow or listen to them. I don’t understand why people are always trying to silence each other; just move on. We don’t all have to be on the same page here.
I think what Dave does fabulously is he hears all the people screaming, he hears all the criticism, and not only does he ignore it, but that fuels him.
RH: When did you realize you could talk and wanted to talk about sports and news?
CA: I have always been like that. I’m the girl who always had so many different interests. I can talk sports with the guys and then can turn around and tell you what happened with Keeping Up With the Kardashians in the season finale. I am a versatile person regarding the things I am interested in and the things I can talk about.
I love having the ability to talk about different things because I got bored being at ESPN and talking about sports all the time. Sports are fun, but there are so many other things that are important in this world that I think are more important than sports in a lot of cases.
Sports are great; they are a fabulous escape from our everyday lives because there’s a lot of stuff going on in the world that is very burdensome, but it is a lot of that burdensome stuff that needs to be talked about; otherwise, we are going to find ourselves in an even deeper hole than we are right now as a country.
I like getting into those more intellectual discussions and having a platform where I can pivot so quickly from sports, news, politics, and pop culture and interject my opinion into all those different areas.
RH: What can you tell me about the culture at ESPN?
CA: ESPN is a great place as far as the content that they put out. Obviously, they are a powerhouse. I don’t think I would describe ESPN as being different from any other media organization. It’s standard the way that it’s run. There are the big fish and the small fish, and I think you have to understand the lane you need to stay in if you want to get to the top and what’s expected of you. But that’s not anything that’s unique to ESPN.
I’m sure if you went to NBC Sports or FOX Sports, it’s all run pretty similarly. I just think that we can all agree that ESPN takes a more liberal approach to how it does its reporting rather than allowing a debate to air on the more conservative side as far as politics go.
CA: Already from day one, Dana White (UFC’s CEO) was on my show as a guest. Obviously, he’s my boss at UFC. It makes me feel very special and really shows me that I am doing something right when I can call up Dana White and say, ‘Hey, would you be the first guest on my show?’ He told me, ‘Anything for me.’ That is probably the biggest compliment I could be paid regarding the relationship-building I have been doing so far in my career.
That’s something I hope to continue is just forging more relationships, whether in the world of sports or in politics. I had Senator Tommy Tuberville the other day. He is a fabulous interview. I’m going to be having Ken Paxton on later this week. (Texas Attorney General who was acquitted last week in an impeachment trial before the state Senate. He was accused of abusing his office to protect a political donor).
There are so many different people who will be guests on the show, which will make it so much more interesting. I am so excited to have the opportunity to talk to them on a platform where they want to come on and talk to me about different topics.
Additionally, we are going to be getting into stories that you just won’t get anywhere else. I am hoping over the course of time that, I can create a show where people know that they’re coming for something different, and that’s the reason they want to come because they know they are going to pick up something or hear about something, that they wouldn’t hear or talked about anywhere else.
RH: Are there any broadcasters whose work inspires or motivates you?
CA: Joe Rogan really inspires me. When you listen to his show, I think you hear things talked about that you just don’t hear about anywhere else. He pushes the envelope, he pushes the limit, and I find that to be very motivating and inspiring, and I would like to bring a semblance of that into my OutKick show as well.
RH: What role does great storytelling play in your job as a host on OutKick?
Charly Arnolt: You have to do your research. There is so much clickbait out there these days, where you see something that seems sensational, but then you delve a little bit into it, and maybe there’s something there, or maybe it’s been sensationalized on the surface, and it’s not worthy of a spot in the show.
I think if you do your research and at the core, even if you want to be interesting and compelling, you have to remember that you are a journalist, and you want to make sure what you’re saying is factual, and even if you can put your own opinion on top of it, you still have to have facts. I think that the most important key is remembering not to say anything that’s incorrect, even though it might be able to attract more people.
RH: Has one person or brand influenced your personality and commentator style at OutKick?
CA: There are a few different people. I think being able to work under a guy like Dana White in the UFC, who is so unapologetically himself and who has used his resources in the platform he’s given to extend past the world and now he’s become a cultural icon as well. I would say being around him and how he uses his platform to help and drive the conversation in a very important way has been critical.
Coming to OutKick gave me the ability to do some stuff for Fox News. Never in my life would I have imagined that I would’ve gone from ESPN, which oppresses political standpoints, views, and opinions, to being on an ultra-political platform like Fox News, where they welcome the things you have to say.
Every little step of my journey has culminated in what has really played to my strengths. I have always been into lots of different kinds of subject matters. I’ve always been into sports, news, business, and politics. I didn’t have the platform to voice my opinion on these very different areas until now. I have finally come into a space where I can take everything that I’ve learned so far in my career and life and bring it into one thought and deliver something special.
RH: Is there anybody you haven’t met yet that you would love to sit down with, learn from, and talk to?
Charly Arnolt: I would love to sit down with Elon Musk because I think that he is so important in every aspect of the world right now. He is one of the people who has the resources and the platform, and the money to help save this country. That’s the direction that he’s trying to take things in. He bought Twitter for a reason, he didn’t just buy X to take over the platform and have some fun, he bought it to preserve free speech. He is one of the most unapologetically authentic people you can encounter.
Even just looking at the things that he’s willing to speak out on X. The conversation that he helps to nurture and drive. The fact that he’s also willing to give people platforms on X who otherwise would not have the platforms to say the things that they believe and that’s also important because it is helping to bring back a healthy debate in conversation in a world for just a couple of years ago, we were seeing a lot of that free speech suppressed because it didn’t align with the political agenda of our country which is really sad and ultimately will take us to a devastating place.
Ryan Hedrick works for WIBC in Indianapolis as a Morning News Anchor/Digital Content Producer. Prior to moving to Indy, he served as Assistant Program Director and Co-Host of the Morning News Express at WFMD. His career also includes stints at News Talk 103.7 FM in Chambersburg, PA, Sirius XM in Washington D.C., WBEN in Buffalo, NY, and WIBW-AM in Topeka KS where he earned the Kansas Association of Broadcasters (KAB) award for Major Market enterprise reporting in 2016. To connect with Ryan, find him on Twitter @SureToCover.
With Nielsen, Is There Life After 54?
If the industry truly believes that Nielsen should offer more demos, it’s time to ask the relevant questions and get the answers.
There’s been some discussion of late about whether it’s time to change the standard demos that Nielsen uses for reporting radio audiences.
Dan Mason began the debate a couple of months back with an argument for three demos: 12-19, 20-40, and 41-64. Steve Allan at Research Director has added his thoughts with the suggestion that Nielsen drop persons 6-11 and 80+. Beyond the lack of buyer interest in these demos, he sees it as a backdoor way to increase the PPM sample. Perhaps because more discussion is a good thing, I’ll offer my two cents.
There is likely no way that Nielsen will ever remove the 6-11 and 80+ PPM panelists even though the data are essentially meaningless for radio. PPM is now used for both audio and video. In the latter, PPM measures out-of-home audiences for local TV in the metro areas of DMAs. Remember that TV measures down to the age of two and while Arbitron never dropped that low (can you imagine a three-year-old with a PPM?), the design was that PPM would measure both radio and television. Because video likes a big number, the 80+ issue is probably off the table as well.
Let’s move on to Dan Mason’s suggestions. Radio has been battling with the “you’re dead at 55” issue for decades. In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, I was the operations manager of WSPA-FM in Spartanburg, South Carolina which ran the beautiful music/easy listening format. I clearly remember Ted Dorf at WGAY in Washington (same format) starting a 35-64 committee, the goal of which was to show the value of the older audience and bring dollars into that demo. That was more than 40 years ago and nothing much has changed.
Even with the lack of dollars for older demos despite the incredible spending power of the boomer generation, why can’t Nielsen offer more “standard” demos? In the “old days”, there were limitations based on processing software and even the size of the printed ratings report (remember the horizontal Arbitron books?). Today, the E-book is barely used and processing power is essentially unlimited.
The limitation may reside in the systems used by Nielsen to process the local markets. The old Arbitron processing systems were somewhat limited and rebuilding the system was usually behind other priorities. I do not know if Nielsen has updated the processing system, but if they have, it shouldn’t be hard to offer more “standard” demos, whether Dan Mason’s suggestions or others. If Nielsen has not updated the systems in the decade since the Arbitron acquisition, then we’re back to my recent column asking the paraphrased Ronald Reagan question of whether you’re better off now than you were ten years ago.
What about the third-party processors: other companies that use the Nielsen data, for example, agency buying systems? Nielsen can require certain data to be made available as part of the future licensing agreements for data access. Still, the companies would also have to make software changes that will take time.
Let’s make the generous assumption that these changes will take place. Who wins? It seems that most radio formats would do well if at least one buying demo went up to age 64. And yes, I know 35-64 has been available for decades, but let’s consider Dan’s 41-64 for the moment. News/talk will be helped along with classic rock (how many classic rock songs were recorded after the mid-80s?).
Those of us who are older don’t act like our parents (full disclosure: I do not fall in any of Dan Mason’s new demos) so I can see Adult Contemporary, Country, Urban AC, and other formats doing well. Public radio has also been aging so it may be easier to sell underwriting and their outside offerings that can carry spots. The various commercial Christian formats should look good, too.
Where does this leave us? If the industry truly believes that Nielsen should offer more demos, it’s time to ask the relevant questions and get the answers. Assuming Nielsen can make the software changes in a reasonable period of time, it’s up to the industry to convince agencies and advertisers of the value of these new demos over the ones they’ve used literally for generations. That will be no easy task, but making the data easily and readily available will help.
Let’s meet again next week.
One of the radio industry’s most respected researchers, Dr. Ed Cohen writes a weekly column for Barrett News Media. His career experiences include serving as VP of Ratings and Research at Cumulus Media, occupying the role of VP of Measurement Innovation at Nielsen Audio, and its predecessor Arbitron. While with Arbitron, Cohen spent five years as the company’s President of Research Policy and Communication, and eight years as VP of Domestic Radio Research. He has also held the title of Vice President of Research for iHeartMedia/Clear Channel, and held research positions for the National Association of Broadcasters and Birch/Scarborough Research. Dr. Ed always enjoys hearing your thoughts so please feel free to reach him at [email protected].
The Latest Example of How to Not Produce a Debate
If there is a blueprint on how not to put on a debate, it was Wednesday evening.
As if it couldn’t get any worse, it did. For the first time since it’s been my job to watch a Presidential debate for a living, I turned one off. After 82 minutes (9:22 p.m. CST, not that I was watching the clock or anything), I had enough. I couldn’t subject myself to the torture that became the second GOP Presidential debate on Wednesday night from the Reagan Library.
If there is a blueprint on how not to put on a debate, it was Wednesday evening, and there are multiple reasons why, beyond the usual bemoaning of “the candidates won’t stop talking over each other.”
The debate was overproduced. In the opening there were videos of Reagan (nice and well done, don’t get me wrong), each anchor had various lines they were reading between each other, which felt forced and unnatural, and as a result, it took over three minutes from the opening of a debate to a candidate finally speaking.
I understand TV isn’t radio, but in a PPM world, imagine taking three minutes to get to your content, when people are tuned in at that moment to consume the content you’ve been hyping up and promising for weeks. Time is a zero-sum game. Every minute a candidate is not speaking, because a moderator is, or a pre-produced piece is playing, can’t be gotten back.
Give people what they came for. A 15-second welcome, a 60-second introduction of the candidates, if that, and dive into the questions is a 90-second process. Keep these things moving and give the viewers what they came for. And that’s the candidates.
The debate lacked direction and clarity. Anchors spent far too much time asking long-winded questions with ridiculous and unnecessary details. As a viewer, it came across like the anchors were trying to impress us, rather than asking a question, getting out of the way, and letting the candidates — you know, the people running for President — try to impress us. They’re the ones who I want to be impressed by because they’re the ones we’re being asked to vote for.
Also, the topic direction had little flow and was disjointed. On certain topics, only one to three candidates would get to answer questions on the issue. I’ve laid out the case for keeping the flow of a debate and moving it along, but only giving half the stage the chance to answer questions on the most pressing issues in the country is a disservice to the voter who is there to here what everyone had to say.
At one point in the debate, Chris Christie was asked about a looming government shutdown, which was followed by a childcare cost question to Tim Scott and then it was an immigration/dreamers question back to Chris Christie. And that was in a five to seven minute span. Huh?
Rather than finding the six to seven big topics and diving into them with each candidate, while letting the candidates then organically and respectfully spar, it was like watching an ADD-riddled teen try and bounce between topics with no clarity or purpose.
And Yes, the Candidates
Of course, there were plenty of these moments that typically derail debates, notably primary debates, where multiple people are talking over each other and no one is willing to give in to be the first one to shut up. Then, the debate begins to inevitably sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher and suddenly the obnoxious noise even makes your dog look at you and wonder what in the hell you’re watching.
There were too many candidates on stage and then the moderators also ended up losing control, like what happened last go around.
But as I wrote last month, this debate format is a broken system. But for some reason, we keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
Ronald Reagan was rolling over in his grave watching that debacle last night. It’s too bad he’s not still here to try and help fix it.
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.
3 Ideas to Turn CNN Max Into a Streaming News Juggernaut
The last thing CNN needs to do is to have CNN Max hiding in plain sight.
It is so easy to find a gamut of stories and opinion pieces within the past year or two criticizing many different aspects of CNN and the way it operates. Many of those evaluations have been absolutely fair.
Now though, it is time to give CNN credit where it is due.
This week marked the launch of CNN Max and it has been as seamless as a fresh glazed donut coming straight out of the oven. The stream’s video quality is crisp. Commercials are inserted properly. Most of the exclusive programming feels exactly like something you would see on linear CNN.
But the most fascinating thing Warner Bros. Discovery has been able to pull off is the ability to stream most of the same programming that airs on domestic CNN via Max. It is a stroke of business genius and puts the company and network ahead of its counterparts when it comes to offering a quality streaming alternative. As has been mentioned in the past, the network has been able to bypass MVPDs and stream their primetime anchors without permission from cable operators because CNN Max is mostly a direct simulcast of CNN International which airs U.S. programming live overnight while Europeans are in bed.
Despite the successful launch, there are still some tweaks that could improve the product exponentially. One major benefit would be to have replays of programs that viewers may have missed from earlier in the day. Each show on serves a specific purpose and although similar coverage of news is told throughout the day, each anchor has a unique way of stringing the narrative together. Viewers deserve to get the chance to see how a story develops throughout different parts of the day and see specific segments in its entirety that may not get clipped for social media.
Viewers also need a chance to fully sample CNN Max’s exclusive programming and at the moment, if you don’t watch it live you’ve missed it forever.
Speaking of clips, it’s important for highlights of the day to be available quickly within the Max ecosystem. On CNN Max’s first day, Kasie Hunt scored an exclusive interview with Sen. Joe Manchin that made headlines.
Unfortunately, the only way a viewer could see it if they missed it live was if they scoured the network’s website for it or waited for a clip that the social media team would eventually put out. Part of being a modern-day news organization requires accessibility to be at its best at any given time of the day.
If viewers have a difficult time finding out the major highlights of what’s been on air, it may be harder to convince them to try a new product.
Viewers also deserve the opportunity to subscribe to alerts. News breaks on a consistent basis and unless you’re scrolling through your social media feed all day 24/7, it is almost impossible to follow everything that’s happening. Max needs to provide an option for specific types of alerts dealing with breaking news or major storylines that have developed live on air on CNN Max with the option to tune in now or to see clips or full episodes that deal with a specific headline. Alerts will increase engagement and maintain a relationship with the consumer they may not be able to get at another major entertainment app that streams similar programming as Max.
Promotion within the app is also important. While Max did an awesome job of showcasing the various shows that are live at any point during the day, it used the same graphics of the same hosts with the same descriptions every day. Viewers who read promos on entertainment apps are used to seeing different plot lines and convincing pictures showcased once a week whenever a new episode of their favorite show is ready for viewing. Max needs to treat news stories in the same fashion.
As stories break throughout the day, Max needs to promote their live programming with information blurbs containing new developments and questions that viewers might get answered by tuning in. Show previews could also promote featured guests. Using the same stale graphic of a host, show name, and generic show description will eventually become stale and annoying for viewers. Viewers will unfortunately train their minds to ignore the static messaging.
Warner Bros. Discovery also needs to take advantage of CNN Max’s predecessor. CNN Plus was able to maintain a decent amount of followers on social media – at least 35,000 on Twitter. Turn that page into a promotion spot for CNN Max that aggregates clips, promos, and previews of what viewers can expect on Max or what they may have missed.
As the brand develops a presence on social media, it will also develop name recognition among future cord-cutters who are deciding between Max and other services. The last thing CNN needs to do is to have CNN Max hiding in plain sight. CNN Max can be additive to cable ratings if people have an understanding of where and how to access it.
CNN Max is creating a direct relationship between the consumer and CNN. It’s a relationship that has always had a middleman. Unfortunately for the cable industry, the middleman is slowly dissipating away.
With this newfound bond, the network should take advantage of the digital real estate it has access to and create real interaction with viewers. Optional polls, factoids, written descriptions of stories on screen, or even biographies of the guests on air at any given time could provide viewers with an extra reason to stay tuned in. It keeps viewers occupied and helps elongate the amount of time viewers spend on the stream and the app as a whole.
Jessie Karangu is a weekly columnist for BNM, and graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but comes from Kenyan roots. Jessie has had a passion for news and sports media and the world of television since he was a child. His career has included stints with USA Today, Tegna, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sightline Media. He also previously wrote a weekly column for our sports media brand, Barrett Sports Media. Jessie can be found on Twitter @JMKTVShow.