By Bird, I mean the Westwood One XDS satellite. What were you thinking?
This is a stunning announcement on many levels. For those of you who weren’t around or have moved on to other things, Art Bell was a pioneer. While Rush Limbaugh was in national syndication on ABC radio starting in the late 1980s, he was pretty much the only one. NBC radio had Talknet with Bruce Wikliams and Sally Jesse Raphael, but the national radio ownership caps meant nationwide syndication was still impractical.
This unusual guy in Utah named Roy Masters decided to take a shot at syndicating Art Bell on his Talk Radio Network. After the 1996 Telecom Reform act, the forces that would morph into Clear Channel bought Talk Radio Network to own Art Bell, They kept Art, and spit out TRN which reverted back to Roy Masters.
So since the end of July, Art has been doing his three hour a night show from Pahrump, distributed by Keith Rowland and streamed over the Internet, with Art retaining control over the archives, and no delayed broadcasting. Maybe a dozen radio stations persuaded Art to allow them in, with only 2 minutes of local commercials per hour. This is radically different than the normal (failed) business model that crams up to 28 minutes per hour of non-content into every hour.
Beginning October 1st, the syndication is being opened up to all terrestrial radio stations using the Westwood One XDS satellite, which most radio stations already have. George Noory just got punched in the gut.
We may be seeing the new version of talk radio emerging. It won’t make Art $50 million a year, but it will compete against SiriusXM