Darryl Parks on the death of syndicated talk


To appreciate the significance of this, you need to know who he is. Clear Channel (now iHeart) has one news/talk station that is very different than the rest. While most Clear Channel stations news talk stations are drifting down toward 1% shares, WLW-AM is the #1 station in the market in Cincinnati Ohio with an astounding 11.9% share. Darryl was the program director at WLW for most of the time Clear Channel has owned the station – until they fired him last year. You’ll find no stronger evidence that iHeart wants to kill news/talk as a format.

Most failing Clear Channel stations run a minimum wage guy in the morning, then Beck + Limbaugh + Hannity. WLW-AM in Cincinnati has Bill “the Great American” Cunningham” and had Mike McConnell until he left to work at WGN in Chicago. WLW carries no Premiere programs at all – and is 100% local live programming. They still run a live trucker show overnight.

His article is much stronger than a similar “expert” opinion run by Tom Taylor about a week ago, written by an unknown newspaper guy who had a radio show on Saturday Nights on one station and failed miserably at his first weekday morning drive job in Raleigh.

Darryl does what most people in radio do – he floats a straw man based on cherry picked statistics. He tries to make the case that Rush Limbaugh sucks because he talks about the same stuff every day. He proves the point by pointing to Don Imus being #38 in morning drive in New York on WABC. Don Imus is no Rush Limbaugh – while Imus likes guns and country music, he is very far from being a “Conservative”, quite the contrary. Sports news is a big part of the show along with talking about entertainment news a lot. He is failing by not being like Rush.

With that said, he does provide interesting insights to one small (but important) metric – 18-54 year old morning drive commuters in New York City. He has access to Nielsen unpublished data and so has to avoid directly disclosing numbers. To those who might have thought Salem’s WNYM-AM was where the audience went after Hannity and Rush left WABC, it isn’t the case – at least those younger than 54. He states in a comment that the morning drive for Salem (who is not a Nielsen subscriber) is a barely registering 0.1%. Salem’s business model is now mostly selling TownHall.com magazine subscriptions, not selling advertising, so they don’t care that 22 year olds don’t listen to Bill Bennett or Curtis Sliwa.

Young people that work in New York (the few who still listen to radio) listen to two things – NPR on WNYC-FM and the Jersey Guys on FM 101 – a station that just barely reaches New York.

He seems to be supporting the rumor that iHeart is about to pull the plug on WOR and switch it to Fox Sports. Hannity would not likely return to WABC – he really firebombed any bridge to return to Cumulus as long as the Dickey brothers still run the place (Stay tuned on that angle)

In related news, political advertising on the radio is almost nonexistent this year. Since radio stations usually set aside commercial inventory for last minute political advertising during election years, nobody buying ads is going to murder their revenue for this quarter, as they have to fill those unsold commercial slots (“avails” in radio jargon) at a fire sale price.

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5 Responses to Darryl Parks on the death of syndicated talk

  1. Parrott says:

    speaking of death, I heard that one of the ‘Tappet’ brothers ‘Clack’ of Click & Clack , the call in work on your car show has passed.
    bummer. I listened to them when I had to work on on my old 85 Ferd Mustang and Nissan truck keeping them on the road right after getting married and starting out
    oh well, they were good for a laugh or two.
    yeah radio is in a slump
    best regards

  2. foyle says:

    On the topic of radio dying/fading away: I listen to Jim Bohannon’s podcast daily. He has mentioned on a number of occasions that he was a smoker for many years. I have noticed while listening to his show that he regularly (and obviously) is short of breath. I am wondering if he now suffers from COPD. He’s had a great run at what is left of Mutual/Westwood One but I would imagine at his age (70) he is not long from retirement (by choice or force from his bosses). With the current state of the radio business I doubt there will be another host hired to carry on the show that has existed since Larry King started it in the 1970’s.

    • Art Stone says:

      I wasn’t aware he smoked, but that’s not surprising – “back in the day” smoking was the way you developed a deep “radio voice”.

      I expected Cumulus to pull the plug on either Dirk Vann or Jim Bohannon as they are doing almost identical shows in the early morning. Dirk’s show was keeping the “NBC Radio” trademark active for Westwood One. The NBC Radio News experiment goes away when Cumulus picks up the CNN news item feed, which will be ghastly.

      The Larry King replacement show he does in the evening frequently left me unsatisfied – Jim has this habit of feeling a need to rephrase the caller’s questions, like a priest does interceding between a sinner and God.

      An exaggerated hypothetical of what I’m referring to:
      Jim: Welcome back, we’re talking tonight with former Vice President and Presidential candidate Bob Dole. Let’s go to the phones. First up, we have Bob calling from Peoria, Illinois
      Caller: Thanks for taking my call – I’m Bob from Peoria.
      Jim: Yes, we know that – please ask your question
      Called: Mr Dole – a few months ago you did a celebrity endorsement for Viagra. Up until recently, it was not legal for prescription medications to be advertised on TV, let alone have celebrities endorse them. Do you think we’ve gone too far?
      Jim to Bob Dole: The caller makes an interesting point. As a veteran, I’m sure you are aware that many veterans suffer from Post Traumatic Stress disorder, which can interfere with their relationships with their wives. Do you think the Veteran’s Administration should pay for Viagra?
      Bob Dole: Well, my wife Liddy would support that idea!
      Jim: I’m sure that’s true. Let’s go to our next call.

      • foyle says:

        You have certainly pegged one of Bohannon’s annoying habits. Having listened to him for over 30 years, I find a number of irritating things about him, but overall he has decent guests and he is not a rah-rah Republican or Democrat like so many in talk radio, so I keep listening.

        Another thing he does that bugs the crap out of me is inconsistency in how he treats callers (often in the same hour, so it not just Jimbo having a “bad day”). He will jump down the throat of one caller simply because HE doesn’t like the question, then he will turn around and coddle a useless caller and sometimes even use that as a launching point to verbally attack his guest.

        Anyway, I take the bad with the good. There are some of his guests that I just completely skip — for instance he has the “old record guy” Mighty John Marshall on for at least a full hour once or twice every month — I wonder if it is just paid advertising? All the guy does is take callers who say things like “I have a signed single of Last Train to Clarksville by the Monkees, what is it worth?” I would imagine it is quite easy to find this information with a simple web search!

        • Art Stone says:

          You’ve pointed to a very important aspect of podcasting – having the ability to skip. You can’t be forced to listen to things you don’t want to hear. The DVR transition has been slow to be adopted by radio users.

          This directory was originally built to work well with a software product called Replay Radio – one click and it program the software to record that show based on the schedule. Unfortunately, after publishing the API, they decided a better business model was to get eyeballs to their web site and stabbed me in the back.

          There is another thing out there called dar.fm – the developer of that wanted me to incorporate his service here, but I declined as I thought the risk of copyright infringement claims was too great, and even more so after the Aereo court decision

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