Monday, December 22, 2008

Talk Radio Edges Past Country as Most Popular Format
Dec 22, 2009

Changes are afoot for talk radio. Television talk show host Joe Scarborough is starting a radio show, while Bill O’Reilly is ending his run. Fred Thompson, Law & Order star turned presidential candidate, will begin hosting a two-hour show on Westwood One in March.

Meanwhile, the talk format ranked as the most popular radio format in the U.S., surpassing country music for the first time ever, according to The New York Times. Talk news has been added to 40 stations in the last year, for a total of 2,064 stations using the format - up from just 1,500 ten years ago.

Those stations are increasingly relying on syndicated programs from Premiere Radio Networks, ABC Radio Networks and other syndicators.

On the other hand, talk generally becomes less popular the year after an election, says Maja Mijatovic, vp and director of national radio for Horizon Media. Still, between the economy and renewed interest in the presidency, talk is likely to remain a popular format.

Other changes in talk radio include conservative commentator Monica Crowley entering weekday syndication through the Talk Radio Network and CNN anchor Lour Dobbs signing new affiliates for a three-hour afternoon show.

Network radio ad spending slipped 3.5% through the first three quarters of the year, compared to the same time frame in 2007, per Nielsen. Overall radio industry revenue plummeted for the 19th straight month in Nov., down 20% compared to the same month last year. Local revenue slipped 21%, while national was down 24%.

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