The Future of Radio – The Severin Wake Up Call!
Like many of you I spent countless afternoons listening with the rest of the boldest and brightest to Jay Severin’s gospel as he held court on WTTK. I admired his chutzpah and that he approached his listeners as intelligent and knowledgeable folk. Sure he was extremist at times and many of his rants that went too far actually may have been TOO far for the corporate local radio establishment – not for me! His departure from WTTK was ugly of course, especially after suspensions for rebellious and controversial rantings the proverbial last straw was his joking about sex with interns. He was a bright spot on local mid afternoon radio for me – he stirred things up in us, got people thinking one way or another, it didn’t matter if you agreed with him or not – he was inspiring. I have listened to him on The Blaze – of course the consummate professional is very good ( as expected), however, its just not the same, the fervor and local actualization his show transcended to me is what I’m missing. I do still listen when I can – he will always be one of my favorite radio talk show hosts.
Internet radio and Podcasts are great. The idea that with some marketing we can all almost get on a somewhat level playing field to engage listeners worldwide – my thinking is to take those vehicles and keep them localized will be the turning point for internet radio – people do like hearing the local comings and going and keeping it relative to where they work, live, eat and breath means something to them. Listeners looking for broad strokes or nationalistic blah blah blah have plenty of options already. Keep a somewhat local flavor to these new and growing mediums will continue to downplay the role of terrestrial radio – its value is already diminishing at slower pace than print – that may change as more devices are linking up to automobiles so drivers can choose what they listen to and as automobile manufacturers begin releasing internet ready stereo packages.
The Blaze Continues to Expand Its Multi-Platform Reach
The Blaze, Glenn Beck’s news, information, entertainment, and e-commerce network announced today The Blaze Radio Network, a brand-new online radio channel. The Blaze Radio Network will be the new exclusive home for renowned nationally syndicated talk-radio personality and Marconi Award nominee Jay Severin. The line-up will also include a simulcast of The Glenn Beck Radio Program, America’s third-highest rated radio show which Premiere syndicates to over 400 affiliates across the country, a re-launched show hosted by Stu Burguiere and Pat Gray and audio simulcasts of The Blaze TV shows. The Blaze Radio Network can be heard starting later this month on iHeartRadio, Clear Channel’s free industry-leading digital radio service, TheBlaze.com and The Blaze iPhone and iPad apps.
Jay Severin, hailed by NewsMax Magazine as one of America’s Top 25 Radio Hosts, has served as host of nationally syndicated and regional radio programs including New York and Boston, for which he has been nominated for the Marconi Award for Top National Radio Major Market Personality. Severin has also been a political analyst with NBC News, CNBC, MSNBC and has appeared on Fox News, CBS, ABC, Nightline, The John McLaughlin Show, PBS, CNN and NPR. He has authored Op-Ed articles for the New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Boston Globe.
The “Jay Severin Show” features a fresh irreverent take on political and culture issues of the moment without barriers and without fear. Dom Theodore, a radio industry veteran and consultant for The Glenn Beck Program as well as several stations across the country through his consulting firm RadioAnimal, LLC, will serve as Program Director of TheBlaze radio.
Joel Cheatwood, President and Chief Content Officer at TheBlaze said: “We are excited to continue making TheBlaze a destination for news, information and entertainment programming across multiple platforms. Jay is an incredible talent and is the perfect host to launch The Blaze Network.”
Severin said: “To really want to listen to someone, I insist they offer me a chance to Learn or Laugh, and ideally both. Every day on TheBlaze Radio Network, we will strive to give you both.”
Glenn’s radio co-hosts, Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere are expanding their renamed show (now called Pat and Stu) from one hour to two, and will be heard for free for the first time, exclusively on TheBlaze Radio Network. The duo previously hosted The 4th Hour.
TheBlaze now combines one of the world’s largest subscription streaming video networks, a website that generates over 9 million unique visitors per month, a radio network, a curated marketplace platform to help local small businesses reach consumers across the country and a monthly magazine.
The Blaze Radio Network’s launch line-up is:
- 9am-Noon: The Glenn Beck Program
- Noon-2: Pat and Stu
- 2-5: Jay Severin
- 5-6: Glenn Beck TV (simulcast of Glenn’s TV show)
- 6-7: Real News from the Blaze (simulcast of TV
Enjoy this post by Dan Kennedy on Media Nation
About the ongoing collapse of corporate radio –
At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Jim Braude and Margery Eagan signed off for the last time from the morning talk show they had hosted on Boston’s WTKK Radio (96.9 FM). A few minutes later, the station reemerged as Power 96.9, a faceless entity blasting out robo-music of some sort. And Boston found itself with just one full-time talk radio station. (The station was quickly redubbed Nova 96.9, apparently because of this.)
The demise of WTKK has been portrayed as another nail in the coffin of right-wing talk radio. The estimable D.R. Tucker calls it part of “a downward spiral for a key element of the conservative entertainment complex.” And, yes, that’s surely part of it.
But what we are really seeing is the demise of commercial radio in general, as corporate owners (Greater Media in WTKK’s case) attempt to squeeze the last few nickels of profit out of a medium that may be in its final stage of collapse.
By the end, WTKK wasn’t even a right-wing talk station. Braude, a liberal, and Eagan, a moderate, hosted a civil show that was more about entertainment than politics. Moderate politics and humor were the rule during midday. The only right-winger was afternoon host Michael Graham, whose idea of a good time was to make fun of people with dwarfism.
It was a far cry from the days when WTKK’s signature host, Jay Severin, would call Al Gore “Al Whore” and refer to Hillary Clinton as “a socialist” and “a pig.” Then again, Severin himself was long gone, having made the mistake of joking about sex with interns at a moment when his ratings were falling.
During the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, Boston was a terrific town for talk radio, the home of pioneers such as David Brudnoy, Jerry Williams and Gene Burns, among others. Yes, they leaned right, but their approach was intelligent and respectful (OK, Williams often wasn’t respectful), and they were immersed in the local scene in a way that few talk-show hosts are these days.
So now we are left with one full-time talk station, WRKO (AM 680), home to right-wingers Rush Limbaugh and Howie Carr, a local legend whose shtick descended into bitter self-parody years ago. (Limbaugh’s syndicated show recently moved back to WRKO from a weak AM station owned by Clear Channel.) It certainly hasn’t helped either WTKK or WRKO that their ratings pale in comparison to two full-time sports stations — a phenomenon that didn’t exist during the heyday of local talk.
The only bright light is Dan Rea, who helms a very conservative evening program on all-news station WBZ (AM 1030). Rea, a former television reporter, eschews the shouting and demeaning putdowns in favor of smart conversation.
What happened to talk radio in Boston? I would point to three factors. And I would suggest that none of these are unique to our part of the country. Boston may be on the leading edge, but these same trends could sweep away talk elsewhere, too.
• Corporate consolidation. Since the passage of the lamentable Telecommunications Act of 1996, corporations have been buying up radio stations in market after market, transforming what was once a strictly local affair into a bottom-line-obsessed business.
As far back as 1997 I wrote in the Boston Phoenix that the rise of chain ownership would eventually kill local talk. We are now seeing that come to fruition. The automated music stations that are on the rise may not garner many listeners. But they are cheap, which means that their owners can bleed some profits out of them regardless.
“In our current media environment, corporate owners seem to have less tolerance for the station that is unusual, the station with the niche audience,” media scholar and radio consultant Donna Halper wrote for Media Nation earlier this year. “Part of what makes radio unique as a mass medium is its ability to befriend the listener. So losing a favorite station is much like losing a friend.”
• The rise of public radio. Boston is home to an exceptionally vibrant public radio scene. Two stations with strong signals — WBUR (90.9 FM) and WGBH (89.7 FM) — broadcast news, public-affairs programming and (yes) talk all day and night, and enjoy some of the largest audiences in the Boston area. (Disclosure #1: I’m a paid contributor to WGBH’s television station, Channel 2.) Other, smaller public stations broadcast far more eclectic musical offerings than anything on commercial radio.
This trend is related to corporate consolidation, as it was the slide in quality on the for-profit side that sent many listeners fleeing to nonprofit radio. If anything, that trend will accelerate.
• Technological change. Earlier this year The Phoenix sold the FM signal for its independent rock station, WFNX, to Clear Channel — but kept streaming online. The Boston Globe, meanwhile, hired a few of the people who were laid off when WFNX left the air and now streams its own indie rock station, RadioBDC. All of a sudden, we’ve got a war between two local music stations, neither one of which can be heard over the air. (Disclosure #2: I’m an occasional contributor to The Phoenix.)
These days it’s not difficult to stream Internet radio in your car, which is where most radio listening takes place. Pandora, Spotify and out-of-town music stations (WWOZ of New Orleans is a favorite of mine) are powerful draws, which gives the local flavor of online stations like RadioBDC and WFNX a considerable edge over computer-programmed corporate radio — or, for that matter, subscription-based satellite radio.
It is this last development that gives me reason for optimism. Radio has always been held back by the physical limits of the broadcast spectrum. In a world in which those limits don’t exist, “radio” stations must compete on the strength of their programming rather than their stranglehold on the AM and FM dials.
Seen in that light, the end of WTKK is just another step on the road toward what may be a brighter, more diverse radio future.