How Powerful is Your Message?

I’m often asked if I think talk radio is dead.

The answer is yes. And no. The old way of doing talk radio is dead. The skeleton has been walking around for a few years now to save funeral costs.

It used to be that you could find a former Congressman or Judge and give them a radio show and people would listen because they thought perhaps the former “insider” might have interesting stories to share about what it was like “inside” the machine. Or access to guests that other hosts didn’t have the juice to get.

Now, everybody hates the machine, and they don’t care about the perspective from the “inside” because that’s where the scoundrels are. And they have nothing but contempt for the “insiders” friends. Besides, this type of talk radio is monotonous and boring anyway… listeners are burnt out on it. Millennials certainly aren’t buying it.

To this day I’ll get an occasional on-air demo from a would-be talk show host who proclaims “I’m the next Rush Limbaugh that you’re looking for…” The problem is I’m not looking for the next Rush Limbaugh, and I can assure you that you aren’t him anyway.

Don’t misunderstand… I have nothing but the utmost respect for Rush and what he has accomplished. He single-handedly saved the AM band in the late 1980’s when he ushered in an era of entertaining conservative talk. His combination of humor, politics, and sarcasm, along with the confidence of “half his brain tied behind his back” was unique and compelling for the time. And despite all of the attempts to copy the formula throughout the years, there is still only one Rush Limbaugh… nobody else will ever do what he does as well as he does it. Period.

But the world doesn’t need another Rush Limbaugh.

I’m convinced that the next generation of talk talent is going to come from YouTube. If you actually take the time to filter past the non-sense and extreme stupidity that makes up about 70% of the videos on YouTube, you can find some real gems from people who have a genuinely powerful message and want to share it with the world. They’re not traditional “radio” hosts – they’re just people who have something to say – and they do so with passion and authenticity.

The reason that talk radio as we know it is dead is due to the fact that most hosts rarely have anything different or powerful to say. The future of talk radio will be generated by those who have truly powerful messages and they likely won’t deliver their message in the confines of a traditional broadcast delivery system. But delivery system doesn’t matter anyway… it’s really about the power of the message that will drive their listenership… and that’s a GOOD thing.

The new world of media over-saturation has one major benefit – only those that are truly good, unique, or compelling will stand out and command an audience. Everything else is ignored. Anybody can have a talk show now – but only those with truly powerful messages will be heard. I would rather take someone with a powerful message in their heart and teach them “radio” than take a “radio” host and try to teach them how to deliver a powerful message. That should be the new mission of all spoken-word programmers… find those with a powerful message to tell, and develop them into hosts.

Choice is only bad if the option that you offer isn’t the absolute best – so if you want to survive in the new world, you had better build an outstanding product… because the new world is an abundance of choice with no gatekeepers or barriers to entry. The absolute best content will be consumed – everything else will be niche at best, and most likely ignored.

So, how powerful is your message?


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