Should FM Music Radio Stations flip to the Talk Radio format?

With so many FM music radio stations finding it hard to pay people due to the advertising downturn and the collapse of the Auto Industry there is a trend unfolding. The trend is FM music stations going to the talk radio format.

Talk is a successful format on the much lesser listened-to AM band for many decades. There are now dozens of successful highly rated nationally syndicated talk shows. More than thirty talk shows have more than 300-hundred radio station affiliates...and trending upward. Today Black talk and Hispanic talk have maintained a nice following both locally and nationally.

The Arbitrons' PPM ratings system have gutted many radio stations' rankings that were consistently ranked in the top five. Some heritage radio station have dropped ten to fifteen spots southward and remain months after PPM began.

Many of these music radio stations are additionally having to reduce their advertising rate cards fifty to several hundred dollars per spot, which adds up daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. ASCAP and BMI music licencing fees may turn into a "luxury" costs now rather than a necessity that radio stations' can no longer afford.

Who knows if this radio advertising downturn is a temporary slump or permanent? Serious audio technological alternatives (i.e. internet, ipods, cell phones) are battling for the 300-million American ears. The ninety percent of Americans that the NAB touts listens to radio weekly are listening less.

Cox Radio just flipped KPWT from Rhythmic to Talk; veteran Radio Talk show hosts now have over fifty FM radio station affiliates; and according to the Arbitron brass, the PPM ratings system are having trouble getting ethnic minority 'panelists' to respond. While minority broadcast think tanks and stations' above-the-liners are protesting the low response level, the FCC is investigating the legitimacy of the PPM ratings system. However each and every passing day, Arbitron still remains advertisers' monopolistic audience research source.

Yet and still, the southward directon in Arbitrons' PPM ratings for several FM music radio stations along with the slow investigative process, have many FM decision-makers losing patience. Stations are quickly riding themselves of shows and some are switching to cheaper formats. Pride pushes successful managers and owners not to become an ineffective shell of their former selves. Arbitrons' PPM is a challenge to succeed as there is not a proven-model yet. Houston's PPM is different and has diary simularities that the other PPM cities do not have...yet.

The Talk radio format is cheaper and moving quickly to the FM band. Talk Radio for decades have been a big ratings success on the AM dial. With more of an audience Talk Radio would do even better on FM.

Economically Talk Radio formats do not require the payments of music licence fees to BMI and ASCAP. And the Syndicated talk shows' ratings are just as highly rated, in all dayparts, as local talk shows.

Syndicated Talk radio formats increase commercial inventory per hour. Talk radio adds a fourth commercial breaks per hour, sometimes even a fifth break plus billboards and segment sponsorships without losing cume. Music formats commonly have just three hourly commercial breaks.

A local radio station will not have to pay a salary nor medical benefits to the syndicated talk show host(s). There are a number of Syndicated Talk show hosts for each and every demo. And despite the AM band listened to by just ten percent of the radio listeners, Talk radio is still successful.

Now what if that same proven AM talk show was on the FM dial? That same talk show ratings numbers would triple on the more listened to FM band, equaling or surpassing the music show, while making more money. Arbitron history tells us that the talk format tops in TSL numbers. Here we have a new PPM ratings that is a TSL-driven methodology.

Talk Radio on FM is something that should be talked about in all FM radio stations' board rooms, especially now that we have a different looking President than normal. A President that is faced with an infrastructural collapse on all fronts, with intense opposition.


Blogger michelle pfirman o'mealy said...

Terrestrail radio needs to learn to serve its community. There's so much competition with salellite, internet, i tunes, etc.

Entertainment and great programming is needed. Not another head yammering about what every one else is yammering about.

Corporate suits need to let programmers do what they do best, provide local content, color, community based, served, local radio.

You should listen on line to WRSI.com

Great commercail radio with a "public radio" feel who really senses and serves it's colorful community!

6/16/2009 10:34:00 AM  

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