Jim Walsh's Big Hairy Weblog Thingy

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Stumbling Over The Truth

I mentioned the talk radio powwow in DC last week. From that event comes a glimmer of hope, via Radio & Records Online:

Monday, March 6, 2006
Talk Study: 'Talent Trumps Ideology'

In the third edition of his company's "Talk Radio in America" survey series, Benchmark Co. CEO Dr. Rob Balon said listener response demonstrates that who's on the air is more important than the topics being discussed. "The fact that you label yourself doesn't mean a hoot to listeners," Balon said during the R&R Talk Radio Seminar session dubbed, "Exploding the Myths of Talk Radio."
Balon also said that with the ever-growing pool of Talk hosts, branding your station's talent is more important than ever. "People relate to talent," he said. "If I can't remember who's on that station, I am less likely to push that [preset] button. Awareness can trigger selection."
In fact, he said it was R&R TRS keynote speaker and Premiere Radio Networks host Rush Limbaugh's talent — not his politics — that lead him to success. "Rush could have been a liberal," said Balon. "What makes him go is show prep and the talent he brings to that microphone every day. If other hosts had a fraction of his preparedness, they'd be better."
Still, Balon pointed to study results that show a decline in listenership to Limbaugh's brand of conservative Talk and suggested that the number of similar hosts may be hitting a "saturation point." In this latest study, the number of respondents who label themselves as conservatives, compared to the 2003 edition of the "Talk Radio in America" survey, fell 4%, to 39%, while the number of moderates rose 5%, to 34%. "If you look at the decline in conservative listeners, the perception that all Talk Radio listeners are conservative isn't true," said Balon. "You'd better reach the others, too, and make sure they're listening and engaged."

— Joe Howard, R&R Washington Bureau Chief

Unfortunately, I suspect that in this case Sir Winston was right - that having stumbled over the truth, the bulk of talk programmers will merely hurry off and get on with business as usual...


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