I was discussing Bob Rivers' (pictured) departure from KZOK with a friend of mine, it's really a sad thing and forced me to accept what I hope is really not true... I'd love to be wrong. I thought I'd share my thoughts with you to see if you find any value in the premise:
I'd love to be wrong about this, but I think the big morning "show" is dead. While PPM is probably the culprit here, I'm beginning to believe the audience shares some of the blame too.... I think if PPM were here 20 years ago (before the internet and 24/7 cable news became so dominant), it would have been a different story as attention spans weren't as short.
Ultimately, it's all MTV's fault - the truncating of attention spans began with them. The quick cuts and short story frame of music videos influenced the editing process and pacing of commercials, TV shows, newscasts, movies, music... everything. Video really did kill the radio star; it's just that we all thought the cable channel was going to be the weapon. It turns out it was a time bomb that exploded much later and our own attention spans were the smoking gun... kind of like the way the aliens used our own satellites against us in Independence Day! Can we ever hope to lengthen the attention spans in our culture?
And here is my response:
Jay, I look at it this way...
First, all those great morning shows that have historically been wall-to-wall talk might want to re-evaluate that basic premise. And re-think their approach. Maybe bits don’t have to all be 17 minutes long. Just because 100% talk worked in the diary doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be open to modifications with meters.
Two, those great numbers in the old days weren't entirely real. Maybe attention spans aren't the entire problem. Yes, they're shrinking but much of the drops in AQH are due to the reality that people aren't drawing a line through four hours of morning shows anymore on a paper diary. No one really listened non-stop to a morning show every day and every week. Howard Stern's numbers would be lower, too, in PPM.
Three, sales has become accustomed to selling gigantic morning numbers. When they're not as gigantic, the rates have to drop. That means less money for Bob Rivers. But for many, it's still great money. Maybe big brand personalities need to consider other ways to make contributions to the station (live spots, sales calls, client events) and maybe themselves (greatest hits CDs/mp3s, podcasts, revenue sharing on websites and digital assets).
Many people in the music business have done the same thing. As CD sales have precipitously dropped, new revenue comes from concerts, merch, and at times, even performing at private parties and corporate events.
I think that blaming these outcomes on PPM is an excuse. It’s like the DH rule in American League baseball. It's the same game. It's just that in some contexts, the rules have changed. But it’s still fundamentally the same game. Smart players and coaches adapt to the rules and make them work. The elements that make a great hitter or a great morning guy are the same. But an important change in the rules requires new thinking, strategies, and tactics.
In Bob’s case, his “Twisted Tunes” franchise has been a huge success over the years. And who knows – Bob and other big brand morning shows – may feel they could have had more control and earned even more revenue by taking their shows off-air and into online and on-demand formats.
What are YOUR thoughts on this, and how do you explain what is happening with big brand shows, economical broadcasters, and PPM?