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June 30, 2010
So I’m not much of a blogger yet as you can probably tell from my once a month or so entries on my blog page. The primary reasons are:
a)       I’m busy and writing my thoughts on a web site for the three people that visit my web site doesn’t always seem like the best use of my time.
b)      Theoretically, shouldn’t I be charging someone for these sage musings?
c)      And there is always a good chance I’m just gonna piss off someone that is currently retaining my services or may be considering my services in the future.
But in the last 24 hours I had two questions posed to me via email to which I responded. It occurred to me after reading the responses….hey, that’s a blog!!! 
The first question came from a talk show host who asked me to be a guest on his show to discuss “the state of talk radio.” I find it fascinating that a host would think the audience would find this compelling and interesting but who knows. And this is the fourth time in the past few months I’ve been asked to appear on shows to talk about the very same subject. The host asked me what my talking points would be. Here they are….
1)       There is life beyond angry white guy conservative political talk.
2)      I am one of those that is now somewhat uncomfortable by the “tone” of some talk shows. However, I believe the notion that this so-called tone is somehow ruining the country is ridiculous. If that were true then television, print and the internet would have killed us all long ago.
3)      I’m one who believes that talk radio can once again be enriching, inspiring, informative, and engaging and yes, civil. We did it before and we can do it again. People want hope, answers, perspective and empowerment as well as entertainment.
4)      Talk radio is given waaaaaaaaay too much credit (or blame) for being able to affect or control political outcomes. I can run the math for you if you care to ask.
5)      In many cities sports radio is the new talk radio. Look at the sports stations that have gone beyond the X’s and O’s and have expanded the conversation to things males really talk about all day. Let’s see now…the last time one of my neighbors asked me what I thought about the Supreme Court nominee was…..uh….NEVER!!!
Still want me?
And a recent example of what I was babbling about in this email response…..which do you think got the most hits on the internet regarding the recent arrest of the Russian Spies? The security implications for the United States Government or the photo gallery of the hot female among those arrested? There you go. And please, don’t shoot the messenger.
The second question came from a trade publication. The question was, “What are your thoughts on the LDS Code story and civility in general in talk radio?” My answer…..
I think there is merit to the so-called "code" of journalism in the LDS church.  I mean come on...it's a religion and like all religions they have a set of values and beliefs that they feel are important and should be reflected in owned and operated media outlets.  I listen to the Catholic station in Tampa and you can be certain you won't hear anyone talking about how women have the right to choose when it comes to abortion.  You could go down the list of religions, political groups, etc. and find similar canons. Hell, the New York Times has banned the word “tweet” from their pages!! Ask me which one I think is sillier.  
Clearly, there is a strong, vibrant and active market out there for the Beck/Rush/Hannity style of talk radio. And make no mistake, by almost any definition it is great radio.  This format is also strongly supported in the advertising community in spite of the "no-buy" lists.  But that's not to say this is the ONLY type of talk radio that can work.  I would challenge anyone to make a valid and intellectual argument to the contrary.  I believe there is a market for different styles of talk radio....civil, left, right, pop culture, so-called "hot" talk (even with its sales issues), libertarian, sports, female, and on and on.  In many markets sports radio is the new talk radio as smart sports stations now go beyond X's & O's and breaking down the game film. 
This brings me to a somewhat related issue (I know, I'm giving you more than you asked for but don't stop me...I'm on a roll.)  I'm somewhat amused by the myopic and relentless focus on the FACT that the overwhelming majority of listening to talk stations comes from P-1's.  And most talk stations feature conservative poli-talk.  But what they never talk about is that P-1's attrit.  We know that.  There are a variety of reasons of course.  So.......we have to constantly create new P-1's just to break even and we have to create a lot of new P-1's to show substantial growth.  How do we do this?  By preaching to the choir?  Probably not.  Maybe...just maybe....by expanding the tent ever so slightly and strategically to include some portion of the 95% of the radio audience that is NOT listening to the current brand of talk radio.  NPR is everyone's favorite example of course but I'm not even talking about that.  There are a lot of forms of talk radio that CAN and WILL attract an audience with corporate commitment and perseverance.  All other media does it successfully....print, internet, television, movies, etc. etc.  No reason why radio can't do the same thing.  And as far as civility?  You bet there are people that don't like the tone of things right now, whether in their home town, Washington DC or on the radio.  Who is providing a place for them?  Seems to me that is a very large untapped gusher just waiting to "foul" the beaches of talk radio.