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Who Believes Us and Who Doesn’t?

At present, a second woman has come forward to accuse Herschel Walker of pressuring her into getting an abortion back in the 1990s when he is currently running on an anti-abortion platform.

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The discussion among newsroom colleagues began oddly enough with the latest news coming out of the U.S. Senate race in Georgia. 

No doubt you’ve been following it, former pro football running back Herschel Walker, the Republican candidate endorsed by former President Trump is trying to unseat the incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock.

So far, no issues with that description of the current goings-on, I trust.

At present, a second woman has come forward to accuse Walker of pressuring her into getting an abortion back in the 1990s when he is currently running on an anti-abortion platform.

What became a topic of conversation and scrutiny were not the reports of continued and growing support for Walker and the discounting by followers of the accusers’ claims but instead the continued and growing public scoffing, skepticism and outright discounting of all news coverage reporting the accusations against Walker.

So, it remains apparent that a considerable portion of the news audience simply doesn’t believe the coverage. 

Or is it they choose not to believe it?

Allegiance aside, is it possible to make a political or national story believable across the board? 

Local stories, unless strongly political or candidate intensive do not appear to suffer the same nay responses. 

Criticism or refusal seems staunchly slotted for the network and the cable stations. Certainly, some of that is richly deserved but when is a news outlet no longer telling a story and instead just spinning its wheels?

The people staffing those newsrooms have to be asking themselves, “Are they ever going to believe anything we say?” 

It may sound flippant but an audience that chooses not to accept the details of one story makes just as easily discount anything we, as an outlet report.  Are the numbers we front conceived as accurate or is everything tainted with left or right-leaning or a perceived agenda?

“Don’t believe what CBS is saying about the investigation but you can trust Fox’s report”.

“Newsmax will only give you their slant so go over to MSNBC for the balance”.

Familiarity and comfort win out there.

When does the news as a service become merely subjective and how does the business remedy that problem?

Becoming subjective does not work for an already struggling entity. 

Instead of doing surveys on what stories will keep a person renewing their newspaper subscription or what the anchors should be wearing or how this one’s hair looks, the questions to the customer should be, “How do we get your trust back?” or “What makes us credible”? 

As I offered earlier, integrity questions really are less of a struggle for the local outlets. 

The singular homicide arrests, the condemned house with two-hundred cats or the town fair rarely raise doubts in regards to reliability or bias to the degree a network’s reputation might but it’s still a concerning proposition for any news platform moving forward.

Does it come down to being less dramatic and more discerning? 

Is a massive scale-down on graphics and hyperbole called for in order to reel the non-believers back in?

People do the entertainment factor but it does come at a cost.

It appears CNN was at least in the first stages of a shift but so far, the most notable things to be noticed from their corner are words of budget cuts, layoffs and nervous employees.

BNM Writers

Kanye West says things, does things and waits for the response. The news media often cause that response or at least the magnitude of that reaction.

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Kids make me laugh. More accurately, little kids make me laugh and why not? 

When they do things that are silly or funny or often just plain wrong, I smile and sometimes giggle, or even once in a great while, I will bust out in hysterics and fall to the floor. 

(A heads up though, kids…you better be talented and have done your homework if you want to see that happen.) 

I constantly break the parental rule of reacting when the toddler or the youngster misbehaves or mouths off in that innocent yet evil child manner, much to the chagrin and annoyance of the kid’s moms or dads.  

“Please don’t encourage him.” “Just ignore her, we don’t want her to think that’s okay or acceptable.” 

Too late. 

The child’s reaction to my reaction is usually worth the scorn I get from the adults. Plus, the kids, they do love attention. Children thrive on it. 

My kid is 22 now but there are some great memories, some involving the cat when she was a toddler. 

(Shut up, the cat lived a full life, and the evidence still lives on my Instagram if you’re really curious) 

Funny is funny, real is real and I’m getting older. Besides, you are not supposed to stifle a sneeze either, right? 

Point? 

Kanye (Ye) West is not a child, and we, the news media, are not his parents or his parents’ friends.  

In many ways, though, we in the news can be accused of being the bad adult reacting to the child, but in this circumstance, there may actually be some harm being done. 

Mr. West is also not funny…except perhaps in the clever jokes made about him but that praise and the credit goes to others. 

West is an adult and a businessperson and an artist.  

He is an entertainment figure.  

He says things, he does things, and he waits for the response. We, the news media, are often the cause of that response or at least the magnitude of that reaction. 

If the lady who owns the shoe store down the block did and said the same things, maybe a half dozen people would know and fewer would do anything but shake their heads and keep walking. 

We, as in us, are making it seem like we care because we constantly report it. We give Mr. West more attention not any less for the content of his platforms but equally for his antics. 

Unlike Alex Jones, West is not on trial or involved in significant legal proceedings where the names and faces of others have become public or associated. This could always change but for the time being, we may draw a division of sorts in news coverage of what West says and does and what Alex Jones has involved himself in recently and over the years. 

(A couple of months ago, I maintained that we should not turn our backs on Mr. Jones’s impromptu news conferences on the courthouse steps during his civil trial as they were part and parcel of coverage of the legal proceedings. I still see no reason to alter the position.) 

These are both men who want attention and if you strip away the coverings and decorations in the way they choose to go about achieving notoriety, they have significant similarities. 

This is not and should never be about censorship or ignoring what’s happening. It goes back to impact and interest. The two are not mutually exclusive, in fact, they work as a team. The news media can try and predict the impact of a story, but the interest must belong to the audience. 

The easy answer or rationale for what we do cannot always be because it involves a celebrity.  

It’s too easy. 

There will be instances where coverage of Kanye (Ye) West will be timely and appropriate for regular news programming but most of the time, we can exceed even our own expectations. 

The truth is we put this crap on the air because we think people don’t know or want any better. 

I say we’re wrong. 

Save what this guy says and does and what people like him do for the outlets that make their money and reputations covering this type of thing. 

It’s costing us too much in the long run. 

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BNM Writers

Doug Hamand Leads Cumulus Programming With Radio Wisdom Learned From Several Cross Country Stops

“Radio is a small, small world. Everybody knows everybody. You’ve got to be careful. Don’t be a crappy person, don’t blow your chest out when you’re doing well.”

Jim Cryns

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Doug Hamand is a man who likes to plant roots. Early in a radio career, you’re required to move around more than an Amazon worker in a warehouse. You just don’t have the luxury to call your own shot. As you progress in your career, you make choices that better suit a family.

Hamand is currently Vice President of Programming Operations for Cumulus in Atlanta, and has held that position for seven years. Before that, he held a similar position with iHeart in Tampa for more than 21 years.

The cool thing for Hamand about the switch from Tampa to Atlanta, among other things, was the wonderful fact didn’t have to physically move.

“I was asked when I interviewed for the Atlanta job how important it was for me to stay in Tampa,” Hamand said. “I told them it was very important. We’d been here a long time and didn’t want to start over. It’s also more expensive to live in Atlanta, and you can’t replace this winter weather with anything better.”

Doing a job from a distance isn’t as hard as it once was. “During the pandemic, we closed a lot of the offices,” Hamand said. “We’re on Zoom and video meetings all the time. Everything I need to do I can do from here. I don’t get the interruptions like I used to. I don’t get people sticking their heads in the doorway wanting to talk.”

That doesn’t mean Hamand didn’t welcome and enjoy helping people, he did and still does. But without being physically in the same office with 100 people, it makes it easier for him to attend to the nuts and bolts of his job, the revenue and ratings part, without interruption.

The way people have meetings all day via the web has changed that aspect of his career, Hamand said the way talent searches for a position has changed as well. The days of the manila envelope containing a typed resume and a cassette air-check are over.

“Today, they’ll send me an mp3, or a link to their website,” Hamand said. “I can immediately hear whether they’ve polished their craft. They can send a good resume and a solid cover letter by email, but I’ll know in the first 30 seconds of listening to their demo if it is right for me.”

How does he know? Hamand said he judges a candidate by tempo, how they deal with the listener one-on-one. The uniqueness of their delivery is considered. Hamand looks to see if they’re creative, and if they’re funny out of the gate.

“Its’ all those things,” Hamand explained. “Sometimes they may not be exactly as they presented themselves. When I get down to the final three applicants, I’ll have them send me three unedited shows. I can judge who they are by that point. A true feeling.”

We discussed big stations flipping formats and what that might mean in Atlanta.

“I can’t speak to some markets but nothing like that is happening here,” Hamand said. “I’ll tell you what scares the heck out of me. By 2023, Ford F150 trucks will no longer have the opportunity for owners to listen to AM radio.”

Some people are concerned the removal of AM radio presents a safety risk to the public.

Pete Gaynor, the former Acting Secretary of Homeland Security and administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said AM stations play a “particularly vital role” in the National Public Warning System “as many AM signals can be received at great distances, which is critical when disasters impact entire regions.”

Granted, a lot of our big news/talk people are on HD2, but we have to teach listeners what that means.

“A lot of television stations had the right idea when they just shut analog off and forced people to go digital,” Hamand explained. “I don’t know if radio can pull that off. You’re converting an entire audience. Have we done a good job as an industry with this? Not really.”

Born in Emmetsburg, Iowa, Hamand said he listened to a lot of radio, like CKLW out of Canada after the family moved to Detroit. “It was just over the border. Big 8 was a top 40 station.  He listened to a bit of Howard Stern as a kid on WWWW-FM.

The family moved to Canon City, near Denver.

“My stepfather had family in Colorado,” Hamand explained. “Canon City was a small town, but it was a lot of fun. In junior high school I took theater and speech classes.”

Hamand said there was a jock at the local KRLN who invited him in for a tour. That changed everything for him.

“It was weird, shag carpeting over the walls. A quarter was on one of the needles so it wouldn’t pop up. It wasn’t really what I was expecting, not nearly as cool as I thought it would be when you’re listening on the radio.”

Aesthetics aside, Hamand was hooked. He became friends with the DJ and started going to the station during his junior year during his first hour.

“It was just up the street,” Hamand said. “He let me hang out and watch, learn as much as I could. I would play carts, set up records.”

Finally, the big break.

“I got to out-tro ‘Sister Golden’ Hair by America. My stomach was in knots but it was amazing.” Hamand started filling in for some air shifts during his senior year. After graduation, while also working part-time at an auto store, he worked some more fill-in shifts. I knew this was going to be my thing. I started working at 96 Rock in Colorado Springs under a program director named Chuck Finney. He was having a meeting and I overheard him talking about ratings. I was just in there looking for carts and stuff.”

Hamand was curious and joined the conversation.

“I asked him what a ‘cume’ was,” Hamand said. “Chuck took the time to explain the ratings system to me. I always thought that it was nice of him to take the time to do that, describe the ratings aspects to me.”

He worked for a while in Vail, then it was back to Lakewood/Denver, Colorado and a startup station, KQKS where Hamand did nights.

“I enjoyed six amazing years there,” Hamand explained. “We were a real ratings success. In those days I’d earn more doing radio appearances at venues than I’d make on the air in salary.”

Hamand still gives students a tour of radio stations when time permits. He considers it paying back.

“That’s how I got started, a tour of a radio station,” he said. “It was a pivotal moment for me. When radio stations have glass around the studios and people can watch the talent do their stuff, that’s a lot of fun. That’s entertainment. It can be a worm and hook for a young person to get into the business.”

From Lakewood it was on to West Virginia and a morning show in Charleston. Hamand said it was all good fun, but it was still a job.

“Here I was with my first daughter in kindergarten and I was getting up before 4am to do a show,” Hamand said “Then I’d get home around 8pm, and do it all over again. You don’t think of it, you just do. There’s a fire burning in you and you do what you need to. You do pay a price.”

Then it was off to Lexington, Kentucky.

“I thought I knew everything by this point,” Hamand said. “I had the proverbial playbook memorized. But that was when things changed. I realized I was a better coach than I was on the air. I think I had good vision. I put the Ben & Brian show together back in the day.”

Hamand explained how Ben and Brian were working at two separate radio stations in Knoxville, Tennessee.

“I knew if I could get these guys together, they’d be great,” Hamand said. “I talked with each of them and they agreed to meet with me. I put them together in a hotel room with a white board. I told them when I came back after the weekend, if one of them were dead, we would know they wouldn’t have been able to work together.”

They got along famously, and their career together took off. He struck gold again with Bandy and Bailey, another successful morning duo. What does he look for when mining for a new show?

“I listen for comedic value and timing when considering talent,” Hamand said. “I see if they can find the ‘out’ to a segment. It’s easy to get ‘in,’ but I need to hear the middle as well. There’s a real story arc. Of course the chemistry has to be there.”

Hamand said a PD can’t be afraid to dump something if it’s not working. And they don’t hesitate. They can’t afford to.

“I had one show recently where it just wasn’t working. They weren’t talking off the air and it was blatantly obvious it wasn’t cordial on the air. The show was horrible.”

Hamand said a new team may get 90 to 100 days to improve, but there’s no time to let a horse with a broken leg continue on. You have to put it out of its figurative misery. There comes a time when you have to punt and absorb your losses.

Everybody knows getting canned is part of the radio business. Many station owners and management won’t allow their talent to say goodbye to their audiences, like the recent explosion of KGO in San Francisco. The management didn’t let any of their talent sign off. Hamand said that decision for him is made on a case-by-case basis.

“If I trust them, I’ll let them say goodbye,” Hamand said. “Radio is a small, small world. Everybody knows everybody. You’ve got to be careful. Don’t be a crappy person, don’t blow your chest out when you’re doing well.”

Hamand said overseeing talk, music and sports requires different techniques. Each has their own challenges.

“I always say if you’re brilliant in basics you’ll win,” Hamand said.

When he looks for a talent, he goes primarily for the personality. “I do like the loud guys, but when they start to scream, that doesn’t work for me,’ he explained. “I also like some low-key shows. It isn’t a one size fits all thing. Here in Tampa, there is one person that screams at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers all the time. I’m thinking, they are not listening, it’s just me. Tone it back.”

There’s no question listeners are changing how they ingest their content, it’s morphing daily.

“We still rule the car,” Hamand said. “It’s like the situation with the Ford truck. A listener doesn’t feel the need to figure all that out, they just know they want what they want at that moment.”

“We need to find a way to fuse it all together,” Hamand explained. “It’s all a tender balance.”

When working with his on-air people, Hamand said they need to hit core topics every 10 or 15 minutes to stay fresh for the listener. He’s not a believer in long teasing.

“If you’re going to tease information, make it realistic. Don’t make the tease last three hours. I had a situation with a morning guy who would wait two hours to pull a trigger. You can’t do that, just pay off the damn tease.”

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BNM Writers

HLN Sees Uptick In Viewers Comes Before End of ‘Morning Express’

HLN sees an uptick over the holiday weekend with a marathon of the Emmy award-winning political drama “The West Wing” that originally aired on NBC.

Douglas Pucci

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Almost all the news outlets suffered brief declines during the Thanksgiving week (for the week ending Nov. 27). The lone cable news channel to see an uptick was HLN, which aired a holiday weekend marathon of the Emmy award-winning political drama “The West Wing” that originally aired on NBC from 1999 thru 2006.

But the positive news at HLN was short-lived as its parent company Warner Bros. Discovery began a new round of layoffs for the news division on Dec. 1. Among those let go, HLN’s long-running program “Morning Express with Robin Meade” ended after a 17-year run. For Nov. 21-25, it averaged 147,000 viewers, including 30,000 in the key 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research — a relatively normal amount for the now-defunct morning news show.

WBD’s downsizing also comes at a time CNN had posted its lowest-rated primetime adults 25-54 demo in over 30 years as well as its lowest-rated total day 25-54 demo since May 2014.

In the daytime, ABC’s “The View” continued to reign as its No. 1 talk show averaging 2.373 million viewers from Nov. 21-23. Its Thanksgiving Eve telecast (Wednesday Nov. 23) drew 2.591 million viewers — the most-watched edition of “The View” since Mar. 31, 2022. Their guests on Nov. 23 featured actor Kumail Nanjiani (“Welcome to Chippendales”) and legendary R&B singer Patti LaBelle (“A New Orleans Noel”).

ABC’s “GMA3: What You Need to Know”

topped CBS’ “The Talk.” and the recently-installed “NBC News Daily” (which replaced “Days of Our Lives”) for the 11th consecutive week. 

“GMA3” improved on the previous week in total viewers (+2 percent – 1.615 million for Nov. 21-23 vs. 1.580 million for Nov. 14-18), drawing its largest overall audience in 4 weeks (since the week of Oct. 24, 2022) and it’s second largest of the season. Of course, the program’s recent bump in ratings may be attributed to associated tabloid fodder (link: https://pagesix.com/2022/12/01/amy-robach-and-t-j-holmes-not-ashamed-of-their-romance/ )

“The Talk” averaged 1.512 million viewers (from Nov. 21-23); “NBC News Daily” 1.2 million (Nov. 21-22).

Five Fox News Channel daytime programs also accomplished besting “The Talk” and “NBC News Daily” during this week, based on total viewers (with three of them also topping “GMA3”): 

“America’s Newsroom” (9-11 AM/ET; 1.804 million)

“Outnumbered” (11 AM/ET; 1.764 million)

“The Faulkner Focus” (12 PM/ET; 1.667 million)

“America Reports” (1-3 PM/ET; 1.519 million)

“The Story” (3 PM/ET; 1.514 million) 

Cable news averages for November 21-27, 2022:

Total Day (Nov. 21-27 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.225 million viewers; 160,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 0.556 million viewers; 62,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.428 million viewers; 83,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.174 million viewers; 38,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.118 million viewers; 29,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.098 million viewers; 12,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.094 million viewers; 9,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.085 million viewers; 15,000 adults 25-54

Prime Time (Nov. 21-26 @ 8-11 p.m.; Nov. 27 @ 7-11 p.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.664 million viewers; 189,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 0.791 million viewers; 74,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.433 million viewers; 88,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.238 million viewers; 51,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.208 million viewers; 55,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.118 million viewers; 15,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.091 million viewers; 14,000 adults 25-54
  • NewsNation: 0.068 million viewers; 13,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.064 million viewers; 11,000 adults 25-54

Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top programs of other outlets with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:

1. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 11/21/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.484 million viewers

2. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 11/22/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.451 million viewers

3. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 11/23/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.131 million viewers

4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 11/21/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.091 million viewers

5. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 11/22/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.063 million viewers

6. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Mon. 11/21/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.040 million viewers

7. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Tue. 11/22/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.900 million viewers

8. Special Report with Bret Baier (FOXNC, Tue. 11/22/2022 6:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.834 million viewers

9. Special Report with Bret Baier (FOXNC, Mon. 11/21/2022 6:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.788 million viewers

10. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 11/23/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.745 million viewers

22. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Mon. 11/21/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.951 million viewers

148. Erin Burnett Outfront (CNN, Mon. 11/21/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.769 million viewers

339. The West Wing “Hartsfield’s Landing” (HLN, Sat. 11/26/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.372 million viewers

348. Varney & Company (FBN, Mon. 11/21/2022 10:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.360 million viewers

420. Shark Tank “Shark Tank 813” (CNBC, Mon. 11/21/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.275 million viewers

643. Highway Thru Hell “(716) The General” (TWC, Sun. 11/27/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.151 million viewers

671. Newsnation: Rush Hour (NWSN, Fri. 11/25/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.141 million viewers

Top 10 cable news programs (and the top  programs of other outlets with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:

1. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 11/22/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.444 million adults 25-54

2. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 11/21/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.439 million adults 25-54

3. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 11/23/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.417 million adults 25-54

4. Special Report with Bret Baier (FOXNC, Tue. 11/22/2022 6:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.391 million adults 25-54

5. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 11/21/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.385 million adults 25-54

6. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 11/22/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.358 million adults 25-54

7. Gutfeld! (FOXNC, Mon. 11/21/2022 11:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.352 million adults 25-54

8. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Mon. 11/21/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.347 million adults 25-54

9. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 11/23/2022 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.340 million adults 25-54

10. Jesse Watters Primetime (FOXNC, Tue. 11/22/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.335 million adults 25-54

67. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Mon. 11/21/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.180 million adults 25-54

68. Erin Burnett Outfront (CNN, Tue. 11/22/2022 7:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.178 million adults 25-54

201. How It Really Happened “Yosemite Mur:Evil Side Pt2” (HLN, Mon. 11/21/2022 12:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.099 million adults 25-54

230. Shark Tank “Shark Tank 1213” (CNBC, Tue. 11/22/2022 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.088 million adults 25-54

477. America’s Morning Headquarters (TWC, Wed. 11/23/2022 9:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.046 million adults 25-54

555. Varney & Company (FBN, Mon. 11/21/2022 10:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.038 million adults 25-54

603. Newsnation: Rush Hour (NWSN, Mon. 11/21/2022 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.033 million adults 25-54

Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research

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