Connect with us
BSM Summit
blank

BNM Writers

The Chicks on the Right Created Space for Listeners With Nowhere to Land

Amy Jo Clark told BNM’s Jim Cryns that when The Chicks on the Right started its podcast, it was their goal to create a spot for people who had nowhere to land.

Jim Cryns

Published

on

blank
The Indianapolis Star

I can love two Chicks at once. I’m not being politically incorrect, it’s the truth. The Chicks on the Right are two charismatic, beautiful, entertaining and energetic women who have a highly popular podcast. I adore them. They’re also not afraid to kick some ass when required.

The Chicks are Amy Jo Clark ( a.k.a. Daisy) and Miriam Weaver (a.k.a. Mockarena a.k.a. Mock.) In a previous incarnation, Clark was a medical writer and communications consultant in the private sector. Weaver worked in corporate human resources. Amy Jo has a degree in English rhetoric and composition from the University of Tennessee and a master’s degree in communications from Southern Polytechnic State University in Georgia. Miriam has a psychology degree from the University of Kansas.

These are smart Chicks. Tough Chicks. Opinionated Chicks. Engaging Chicks. Hilarious too. 

You can’t fake the laughs or reactions they offer on their podcast. As a listener or watcher, you’d smell it if they were being disingenuous and that would cheapen the whole experience and vibe of the show.

“I have a tattoo of a daisy,” Clark said. “When we first started out I didn’t know what to call myself. So, it was a no-brainer. I chose Daisy. (Or Day-Z as it’s sometimes spelled.) 

Weaver asked for a little help from her husband regarding a moniker.  “He said you like to mock people, so how about Mockarena? I said, ‘That’s perfect.’ At times that is truncated to Mock.”

There’s momentum with the podcast you can feel it in your bones. I picture the Chicks as a young ingenue sitting at the counter at Schwab’s drugstore in Los Angeles about to be ‘discovered.’ In this scenario. In my opinion, the Chicks are going to take the country by storm. 

The Chicks said that’s not their end goal. They’re happy where they are. They’re not sure they’d even enjoy more high-profile success. 

“I would love lots more listeners and watchers in the morning,” Weaver said. “I’d love the growth of our podcast to a larger audience. But we’re not interested in fame at all. A bigger community would be welcome. Fame is not what we’re looking for. We’re not aiming to be on TV. We did enough television promo for the book. There’s all the fuss about makeup, hair. TV is exhausting.”

Would being ‘bigger’ kill some of the chemistry? Probably. Just ask the Beatles. 

Clark said when they started their podcast, it was their goal to create a spot for people who had nowhere to land. 

“We wanted to appeal to people who felt they didn’t belong anywhere,” Clark explained. “We felt like dorks when it came to some things so we imagined other people felt the same way. Some people may disagree with everything that comes out of my face, but that’s okay.”

They work extemporaneously at times, and that’s part of their charm. “We did an election night podcast live from Florida and we just shot the shit for four hours,” Weaver explained. It’s not just about subscribers or listeners at this point. Sufficient to say there are a lot of them. They worked together on a radio show at WIBC in Indianapolis. David Wood, who wasn’t the PD at the station yet at the time, was a casting agent of sorts.

“They just have infectious personalities,” Wood said. “They’re smart, funny and I can’t say enough good things about them. They’re not shoving anything down your throat. They definitely have their point of view. They can bring a hot take.”

Wood said the Chicks were booted off Facebook for a short time, some kind of content thing. 

“I’d been following their website and watching them on Facebook. They were talking about bailing on Facebook,” Wood said. “I emailed them and said, ‘You don’t know me from Adam; you didn’t ask me for any advice.’ In spite of that, I still gave them my opinion. I told them not to abandon Facebook as it was the biggest bullhorn out there at the time. I told them to continue with their brand.”

Wood said Weaver emailed back and thanked him for his unsolicited take. 

“They had videos on their site and I remember them sitting in a bedroom with tiaras on their heads,” Wood continued. “I hadn’t seen anything quite like it and I started thinking about how they’d sound on the radio. So I turned the screen away from me and just listened to them.”

He liked what he heard. Wood invited them to come into the station to talk. 

“We started them on weekends for six months,” he explained. “After that, our afternoon drive personality was retiring. They were up for doing afternoons, filling that slot. They were an anomaly in drive time, two women. But they were very successful.”

They were a program director’s dream. A fantastic duo just appeared in front of Wood’s eyes. A brick of gold landed in his lap.

A midday slot opened and the Chicks opted for the move.

“I’m not sure they knew afternoon drive was a higher profile gig,” Wood explained, ‘but they seemed happy to go to middays because they had family responsibilities. It didn’t occur to them that they were giving up a prime spot.”

Wood said he was certainly disappointed when they left the station, but he understood the reasoning. 

“Amy Jo left first to do a corporate communications gig. We had a producer on the show.  I hired Rob to produce their show and he already had chemistry with them, so I created Mock and Rob. That show was also successful.”

The podcast started as a side hustle. Since they started working on this podcast full-bore in the spring of this year, the Chicks said things are going strong. 

“We’ve been around for 14 years,” Clark said. “I think you could describe our base as a cult following. Not underground but a distinct niche. People will come up to us and say, ‘I’ve heard about you guys.’ We’re not well-known across the board, but we do have subsets of fans.”

They describe themselves as counter-conservative, apparently a market that has gone underserved. Theirs is a distinct brand. 

“We decided to devote 100 percent of our time and efforts in February of this year. We’ve been best friends since 2008,” Weaver said. 

Their friendship is what drives the on-air chemistry. As PDs will tell you, that’s not easy to find and nearly impossible to fake.

“We would be terrible at trying to act, to fake who we are,” Clark said. “In the beginning, a lot of PR people came to us and suggested tweaks and changes. ‘You need to do this or that.’ We resisted all of that and stayed true to ourselves.”

As they prep for their show, the Chicks say they know what they are going to cover based on their prep work, but nothing about the show is scripted. “We know what stories we’re going to cover as a base and starting point,” Weaver said. “Beyond that, we have no idea how the conversation is going to go.”

Think of it as a friendly free-for-all. Two women sitting, having coffee, talking honestly about anything they feel like.

“A lot of what we do is raw material,” Clark said. “When people listen to us I think they feel they have a spot at our dinner table. It’s very comfortable and inclusive. It’s like we’re a small club and everyone is welcome.”

A club that welcomes everyone. We need more of that in the country. 

The Chicks probably agree on 90 percent of what they discuss, but that doesn’t mean they don’t differ on occasion. “We disagreed with each other on the air the other day,” Weaver said. “It was about the 2024 election. I said I didn’t think Trump was going to win, and was pretty pessimistic about the GOP’s chances, and some of the audience blew up on me.” 

They have a magic that takes place whenever they are together, even though they do their podcast from different locations. The magic is impossible to replicate. They’re lightning in a bottle. If they could be replicated, radio stations and podcast producers across the country would jump at the chance. There’s no checklist for success.

“I’m in a constant state of amazement that so many people listen to us,” Weaver remarked.  Clark credits their authenticity.  “Listeners get that we’re not stuck-up. We’re one of them. They hear what we genuinely feel. It’s important to us to build our community. We love the experience of our meet-and-greets.”

The women look like they’re having way too much fun. I suspect they are.

“We don’t have to report to anyone but each other,” Weaver said. 

The Chicks do a weekday morning show. They also deliver Deep Dive, a weekly show separate from the daily podcast. On Deep Dive they offer their unique take on the world, from the dinner table to the swamp. 

With Deep Dive they can focus more on a specific topic. Last week they discussed the backlash that conservative commentator Candace Owens faced recently when she asked men to weigh in on their opinion of women’s use of Botox and fillers to enhance their lips.

The duo added their own views of the ever-growing use of injectables, wondering why so many women ‘put all that crap in their faces.’ See? They have fun, but they’re not going to hold back.

They get instant feedback from watchers and listeners. “We have live comments so we can get the pulse of what is happening all the time,” Clark said. “We see it live, in real-time. If people are outraged by something we say, they can weigh in quickly.” 

“But even if we see someone criticize what we said, that doesn’t mean we’re going to change our course or apologize,” Weaver pointed out. “Some listener/watcher may get mad at me for my take and say something like, ‘Daisy needs to reign in Mock. Set her straight.” 

The Chicks don’t like being told what to do.  “It’s not our job to police each other’s opinions,” Clark said. “We will never change what we’re talking about just because someone gets offended. They can bite me.”

The show mixes it up and the loyal base digs it. You never get the feeling the Chicks are beating you over the head on a topic with a polo mallet. The dialogue is real and it comes across that way. The Chicks have the ability to attract people to the show because of who they are, not just because of what they talk about or say. You may listen to Tucker or Levin to hear their view or rant of the day, but I’m willing to bet it’s not because they make you feel comfortable or welcomed to the table.

There was a video on YouTube recently which showed a mother rescuing her daughter from a raccoon attack on their front porch. Weaver said she might have hugged the raccoon after it was dashed against the ground. Clark said she’d have taken out her Glock. That should speak volumes about their personalities, at least at that moment. Either can take the other stance on a different topic. 

“We feel an obligation to at least be knowledgeable about all the news,” Clark said. “at least a little. If not we’re going to sound like complete idiots. We’re total dorks, super-fun and grateful every day.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement

BNM Writers

Market Still Finding 2023 Footing

After some rigorous data analysis, the thoughtful, numbers-based host was able to formulate some potential conclusions.

Avatar photo

Published

on

blank

While it’s hard to imagine 2023 being as painful for investors as 2022, experts still cannot say for certain we are destined for blue skies ahead. Many in the media are starting the year by sifting through the stock market tea leaves; trying to figure out what historical data can tell us about probabilities and expectations for the next twelve months.

Some think the United States is poised for a market rebound, while others remain quite bearish, feeling that negative policy implications have yet to be fully realized.

Peter Tuchman of Trademas Inc. joined Neil Cavuto on his Fox News program Friday, to offer his thoughts about where the American stock market might be headed in light of the newly-divided United States Congress.

“Markets have a sort of a gut of their own,” Cavuto opened. “Today’s a good example. We’re up 300 points, ended up down 112 points. What’s going on?”

“Markets don’t like unknowns, and markets need confidence. The investing community needs confidence,” Tuchman said. “And I think it’s going to take a lot of work to rebuild that. And as we saw the other night with what went on in the House, it feels like people should get busy governing as opposed to all this posturing.”

Six months ago, Tuchman didn’t have a solid feel for the direction of the market. And just two trading weeks into the year, he still doesn’t believe any real trend has been established.

“The market has yet to find its ground. It’s yet to find its footing,” Tuchman told Cavuto. “And still, even coming into 2023, the first week of trading we have not found our footing. We have come in on a couple of economic notes that were a little bit positive. We opened up with a little bit of irrational enthusiasm. By the end of the days we were trading down.”

Meanwhile, some financial outlets, such as CNBC, have dug into the data showing what a market rise during the year’s first week – such as what we experienced this year – potentially means for the rest of 2023. They published a story last week with the headline, Simple ‘first five days’ stock market indicator is poised to send a good omen for 2023“.

On an episode of his popular YouTube program late last week, James from Invest Answers dug into 73 years of stock market data, to test that theory and see if the first five days of yearly stock market performance are an indicator of what the market might do over the full year.

“Some analysts pay attention to this, the first five trading day performance, can it be an indicator of a good year or a bad year,” James began last week, “I wanted to dig into all of that and get the answer for myself. Because some people think yes. Some people swear blind by it. Some people think it’s a myth or an old wive’s tale. Some people think it’s a great omen.”

After some rigorous data analysis, the thoughtful, numbers-based host was able to formulate some potential conclusions.

Based on James’ analysis…

If the gains from the first five market days of the year are negative, the market rises 86 percent of the time over the full year, with an average gain of 6%.

If the first five days are positive, the market increases 92% of the time, with an average yearly gain of 16%.

Most importantly, in this year’s scenario, where the first five days saw a jump of more than 1%, the market traditionally ends positive for the year 95 percent of the time. Those years see an average yearly gain of 18%.

“Is it a good omen, does it look bullish?” James asked. “Well, yes, based on history. But remember, there are factors like inflation, interest rates, geopolitical turmoil, supply chains, slowing economy. All that stuff is in play. But history also says that the market bounces bounces back before the market even realizes it’s in a recession. That’s an important thing to know.”

On his Your World program, Cavuto wondered if the recent House speaker voting drama has added to the uncertainty facing markets.

“Historically, Wall Street definitely is a bit more friendly to a Republican administration,” Tuchman said. “We’re in new ground, there’s no playbook, Neil. And I went over it with you the last time. There’s no playbook for coming out of a pandemic. No playbook for what’s gone on over the last two and a half years. Let’s think about it. March 2020, the market sold off so radically. We had a rally of 20 percent in 2020. 28 percent in 2021, in the eyes of a global economic shutdown due to the Federal Reserve’s posturing and whatnot.

“And now we’re trying to unwind that position. In tech, and in possible recession, and inflation and supply chain issues. So, there’s no way historically to make a judgment on what the future looks like in that realm, let alone what’s going on in the dis-functionality of what’s happening in Washington. I would like to disengage what’s going on in Washington and try and rebuild the confidence in the market coming into 2023.” 

So while the data might indicate a strong year ahead, the fact is that many analysts still won’t make that definitive call amidst such economic turmoil gripping the country. 

Along with U.S. markets, they remain steadfast in their search for solid footing.

Continue Reading

BNM Writers

Does Radio Need A Video Star?

If there’s revenue attached, the debate is over. If there isn’t a deal on the table, and there aren’t already orders to monetize a video stream, it’s likely coming soon.

Avatar photo

Published

on

blank

Last week numerous stories about using video with broadcasting or audio podcasting became a hot topic of discussion.

A Morning Consult poll found that 32% of Americans prefer podcasts with video, compared with 26% who like just audio better. Among podcast listeners, 46% said they favor them with video, compared with 42% who said they would rather listen without video. It’s worth noting that these are podcast listeners, not radio listeners.

Video has become the latest trend in audio. Almost everybody is trying to do some form of video. Many shows already stream online. A few others simulcast on a television or cable channel. It seems nobody believes in pure audio anymore. It’s a wonder everybody didn’t go into television instead of radio.

Before everybody else starts adding webcams in the studio, it’s worth weighing the reasons to move ahead versus slowing down.

The first person to realize they could use video of their show may have been Howard Stern. In June 1994, Stern started a daily half-hour show on E! network, featuring video highlights from his radio show. Stern added slick production values and faster pacing on the E! show.

Don Imus started simulcasting on cable during the same month. It’s possible others that I’m not aware of started earlier.

Stern’s E! show made sense. It answered the most common questions people asked about the show, in addition to what’s he really like; the first questions people usually asked were: 1) Are the women really as good-looking as he says? 2) Do they really take their clothes off? The E! show answered those questions. In addition, it gave a backstage glimpse of the show.

The same month Stern’s E! Show began, Imus began simulcasting his show on cable networks. I would have feared losing ratings. In fact, Imus’ program director did!

I spoke to my long-time friend and colleague Mark Chernoff (Current Managing Director of Mark Chernoff Talent and on-air talent 107.1 The Boss on the NJ Shore, Former Senior VP WFAN and CBS Sports Radio, VP Sports Programming CBS Radio) about the impact simulcasting Imus’ show had on WFAN. Chernoff may have the broadest range of experiences with simulcasting radio programs with video. 

Imus began on CSPAN but shortly afterward moved to MSNBC. Chernoff told me: “When we started simulcasting Imus, I suggested we’d lose about 15% of our radio audience to TV, which we did.” Chernoff added that there was a significant revenue contribution and that the company was content with the trade-off.

WFAN had a different experience simulcasting Mike and the Mad Dog on YES in 2002. “In this case, TV was helpful, and we increased listenership,” said Chernoff. WFAN also benefited financially from this simulcast.

Imus was on in morning drive while Mike & the Mad Dog were on in the afternoon. Keep the era in mind, too. Before smartphones and high-speed streaming, it was not uncommon for people to have televisions in the bed or bathrooms and have the tv on instead of the radio as they got ready for their day. In the afternoon, fewer people would have had video access in that era.

Ratings measurement moved to Portable People Meter (PPM) by the time WFAN started streaming middays on its website. Chernoff reported streaming had no ratings or revenue impact – positive or negative – on middays. However, the company did provide an additional dedicated person to produce the video stream.

The early forays into video by pioneers such as Stern, Imus, and Mike & the Mad Dog are instructive.

There are good reasons to video stream shows. Revenue is a good reason.

If there’s revenue attached, the debate is over. If there isn’t a deal on the table, and there aren’t already orders to monetize a video stream, it’s likely coming soon.

Another good reason is if the video can answer questions about the show, as the E! show did for Howard Stern.

On the other hand, audio companies are going to throw a lot of money at video, based on the notion that it’s what they “should” do because:

  • It’s the latest trend. Being late on this trend is different from missing the Internet or Podcasting. Industries already revolve around video; television and film come to mind.
  • Podcast listeners like it (by a slight plurality).

Before turning on webcams, see what viewers will see. The studios at many stations I’ve worked at were better not seen. Considerations include; the set, lighting, wardrobe, visuals, and a plan.

Too many video streams of studios feature the fire extinguisher prominently in the shot or the air personalities milling about during terminally long breaks.

Before going live, watch the video with no audio. Is it interesting? Compelling? Does the video draw you in, or is it dull?

With program directors now spread so thin handling multiple stations, a dedicated person to oversee streaming should be a requirement for stations streaming shows.

Other considerations:

  • How could this help us, and how could it hurt us?
  • How does the video enhance the show?
  • Will personalities do their radio show or perform for the cameras?
  • What production values are you able to add to the video?
  • What happens during those seven- eight-minute breaks if it’s a live radio show (vs. a podcast)? What will people streaming video see and hear? Does everybody on the show get along?

Do you have revenue attached? What do you expect will happen to the ratings?

WFAN earned significant revenue for two. Therefore, the company wasn’t concerned when the ratings took a hit for the first one and were surprised when they helped the second one. They didn’t see any impact on ratings or revenue the third time.

After all the budget cuts and workforce reductions over the past decade-plus, before audio companies invest in video, shouldn’t we get: people, marketing, promotion, or research monies back first?

Most of us decided to get into radio (or podcasting) instead of television or film. There’s a reason they said, “video killed the radio star.”

Continue Reading

BNM Writers

Streaming Platforms Cannot Be Forgotten By News/Talk Program Directors

BNM’s Pete Mundo writes that if you’re a News/Talk program director, you run two radio stations and what comes through the streaming platforms.

blank

Published

on

blank

If you’re a News/Talk program director, you run two radio stations. Didn’t you know that? Oh. Well, you do. 

I’m not just referring to our over-the-air broadcast but also what comes through our streaming platforms. Alexa, Google Home, apps, computers, etc., are all streaming platforms of our radio stations, which for most of us, are airing different commercial inventory than what is coming through the radio.

I understand none of us are unnecessarily looking to add to our plate, but our streaming platforms are the way we are getting more people to use our product. So neglecting, or forgetting about it, is a bad business decision, especially in the talk space. 

Across all clusters, talk radio is far more likely to have high streaming use when it comes to total listening hours. Listeners are more loyal to our personalities and often can’t get the AM dial in their office buildings during the day, or even if they can, they don’t want to hear our voices through static, so they pull up the stream. 

It’s never been easier to listen to talk radio stations, thanks to our station apps and websites (although welcoming some sites to the 21st century would be a good idea). So, given the challenges many of us face on the AM band, why not push our audience to the stream and make sure the stream sounds just as good as the over-the-air product?

The tricky part in putting together a quality stream sound is trying to balance what ads are programmatic, which ones are sold locally, where is the unfilled inventory and what is filling that gap?

And unlike your over-the-air product, where you can go into a studio, see what’s coming up, and move inventory around, that technology is not available in most cases. So yes, it’s a guessing game.

But as the talk climate continues to change, the best thing we can do to build our brand and trust with the next generation of talk radio listeners is to find them and engage them where they are, which may not always be next to a physical radio. That will be on a stream. How do I know that? Because if they have a smartphone, they have (access to) the stream.

Of course, the over-the-air product remains the massive revenue generator for our stations, as in most cases, the streaming revenue is not close to comparable. But then, if we look years down the road, that will likely start to change. 

To what degree? That’s unknown. But double-digit growth on an annual basis should not be out of the question when it comes to stream listening. It should be a very achievable goal, especially in our format. So our listeners who are P1’s, love the station and want to consume as much of the content as they can, can be on the AirPods in the gym, desk at work, or in their home office and listen to our radio stations. 

Heck, with Alexa and Google Home, they don’t even have to turn a dial! They just speak. So if they’re there, let’s keep them there.

There are simply too many media options today to lose our listeners due to sloppy streaming quality that makes us sound like a college radio station. Instead, listeners, who find us there should be rewarded with a listening experience that is just as high-quality as what they would get on the AM or FM band.

And if we play our cards right, it will be better, serving the industry incredibly well through a new generation of listeners.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

blank

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2023 Barrett Media.