Shortly after last fall’s election, some pundits declared that conservative talk radio was dying. After all, we lost the election and had no impact on voters. In an op-ed piece written by Steve Elman and Alan Tolz in the Boston Globe on November 8, 2008, the authors stated, “overall use of their medium is in decline.” The authors also stated, “Alternatives to broadcast radio have proliferated – satellite, netcasts, downloads, blogalogue, iPod entertainment, cellphone updates. As a result, younger listeners largely ignore talk radio, and its existing audience is calcyfying.” http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/11/08/the_rising_irrelevance_of_talk_radio/
Not a rosy picture for conservative talk, right? Let’s check the facts. For decades my job was to produce ratings as a National Talk Radio programmer. We check those ratings constantly. Apparently, the authors of this Boston Globe commentary don’t keep the same scorecard that radio keeps. While it is true there are many sources of information today, talk radio listening has increased dramatically in the past year. The 2008 election provided us with daily drama that translated into ratings. In keeping my scorecard which included ratings for over 40 radio stations nationwide, we registered one of the highest fall ratings reports ever. KKOH in Reno which has always been the market leader registered the highest ratings in 14 years. KKOB in Albuquerque which has been the market leader for over eight years, increased its ratings stranglehold on that market. In almost every market, conservative talk radio increased its ratings. And, it hasn’t slowed down.
Talk radio is at its best when it has opposition – and we have the most opposition we’ve ever faced in Washington DC. When the new President declared war on Rush Limbaugh by telling Republicans to quit listening to him in January, we knew we had been handed a silver platter. We were right. Winter ratings at talk stations across the board are increasing yet again. As Rush pointed out the other day, they are soaring in the nation’s largest markets. In New York, Chicago, Houston, Detroit, and Los Angeles, the show has leapt to the top position for all radio listeners. He was second in San Francisco where conservatives are an endangered species. Third in Washington, fourth in Dallas, and fifth in Atlanta. Limbaugh summed it up, “These ratings are good news for all of us. It shows there’s a healthy hunger for some opposition to what is happening. Don’t feel alone. You’re not.” http://www.radioandrecords.com/RRWebsite20/members/ShowHeadline.aspx?ContentID=48110&FormatId=11&ContentTypeID=106
For those who suggest conservative talk radio is irrelevant – remember the only report card we keep in radio is ratings. Ratings drive advertising revenue. While radio has suffered in this economic storm, talk radio has suffered much less because ratings have remained strong, and in most cases, grown for the past year. Millions of Americans concerned with the far-left agenda only have conservative talk as a balance to the new administration. All the more reason to brace ourselves for impending media regualtion by the FCC which would result in less conservative talk in America. Stay strong and speak up. “New” Fairness Doctrine-like regulations are lurking at the FCC. We must not lose this battle. Thank you.
Brian Jennings is author of CENSORSHIIP: The Threat to Silence Talk Radio, due out from Simon & Schuster May 5th. http://www.amazon.com/Censorship-Threat-Silence-Talk-Radio/dp/1439154422