Jim Walsh's Big Hairy Weblog Thingy

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Future Of Talk Radio (or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Hosts Who Bomb)...

So Glenn Beck, the highly-touted talk radio wunderkind is producing underwhelming results at Headline News (and even more - or should I say less - so at CNN).

Doesn't matter. He's syndicated, and syndication is cheap. And he's totally predictable, as well as virtually indistinguishable from just about every other yakker on the dial.

In the world of broadcast management, those are good things.

It boils down to this: the suits who run radio companies - and the suits on Wall Street who bankroll them - have a very narrow, provincial, stereotyped notion of what talk radio is supposed to sound like.

And it's our own damn fault - those of us who work in the industry. We've dropped the ball in educating the business world and selling them on what a creative, engaging, live and local air personality can do for the bottom line.

The suits are a short-sighted, cowardly lot - but no more so than they ever were (Contrary to the blowhards on the message boards, the industry was not exactly a Utopian wonderland ere Telecom '96). The difference is in the past we had guys with vision, and passion, who fought for their ideas. Sometimes they even won.

The house of cards that is the spoken-word communication industry is starting to teeter. The good news is that it only takes a handful of true visionaries, in the right place, at the right time, to turn it all around. If the right people will listen.

It may already be too late. I hope not...

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