Imus is coming back!...so they say...
Of course, this is all predicated on whether radio programmer Al Sharpton allows him back. Yes, that's right, in case you didn't know, Sharpton makes the programming decisions for WFAN, Infinity Broadcasting, MSNBC, and every network in between. Sharpton the media King Maker, apparently.
Sharpton believes Imus has "paid his dues..." so now he can come back. The height of absurdity, for sure.
I've had my thoughts on Imus already.
Yet, live in my world, and just imagine seeing it from my seat. This is how bad radio is. Radio was bailed out by Don Imus, and yet programmers are so bad at doing their jobs that they could find no replacement for Imus! Trust me, Imus' ratings are NOT THAT GOOD, and yet still, no one to replace him. Nationwide, tons of stations, did anyone go local? Here in New York, the media mecca, was there a replacement? I mean, there was Jim Cramer. Horrible. Joe Scarborough. Horrible. Some hack from Chicago. Horrible. Yet, tons of people, being paid behind the scenes to find the next guy, all suited up daily, somewhere in midtown Manhattan. Nothing.
Why nothing? Well, how can you replace a legend, right? Hmmm...how do you replace a legend, right, hmmm? Well, first you have to replace the balls of the people responsible for finding the replacement for the legend in the first place. You have to find people who work to find the next legend before you can replace the legend. You have to get people who think David Lee Roth will be a bad radio host to replace Howard Stern, people who don't all nod their heads in unison out of fear of being wrong. You have to replace them. The people who weren't good enough to go run their own stations, so they found a nice cushy job in NYC somewhere. You have to find the programmer who is somewhere in this country putting on someone he/she believes can make it amongst all the syndicated programming. That person probably exists...but not for long. You've got to find the Program Director that knows what he's doing, and that's what I mean when I say find a programmer. The suits in NYC, LA, and elsewhere, who make these so-called big decisions, they have not a clue.
So let me try to break this down into parts because it's tough, but in the end it should clear up the reason radio is sooooo not good, and this includes Sirius/XM, from a TALK perspective.
Syndication has killed radio, for sure. It has clearly made it cheaper to operate stations, streamline news departments, etc. Even in music, there's a program called "SELECTOR" which basically chooses songs for the DJ. I know you've heard people call in and say, "Hey, I'd love to hear The Reflex by Duran Duran..." and then comes "The Reflex..." Well, that little phone call was recorded weeks ago, and then SELECTOR chose The Relfex, and then the DJ played the call, and then maybe the caller heard the call she made in January (it had to be a she). Anyway, back to syndication. Good music stations, indy stations like KCRW, they're rare. Everything in music is corporate, and terrible, with the same clown doing the imaging and voiceover, everywhere.
Someone told everyone that Rush Limbaugh was amazing, and then he ended up on 500 stations. Then someone wanted to create the next copy of him, and then came Sean Hannity, who is truly garbage. At least Rush has real talent. So these two guys, and like 6-10 others (Savage, Boortz, Beck, O'Reilly) are now on every station in every city because it's cheaper to run Rush and Sean than it is to run someone locally, and pay them. Half the time you just have to give the syndicator a part of your commercial inventory so they can run their spots, etc. blah blah. So there it is, nationwide, 500+ stations, same programs, over and over.
What does that mean? Well, it means there is no local host, middays, 12-3PM, or whenever Rush runs. If lucky that guy/gal gets a weekend shift. Maybe, if lucky, that person falls into mornings, which really isn't talk radio because of all the elements you need to spin (news, traffic weather). But there's probably no place for that local host because the weekends need to have their syndicated Gardening, Auto, and Home Improvement shows. This is the standard.
So you have your somewhat local morning show, then after you get off comes some syndicated programming. But remember, your morning host sorta has to be in line with the syndicated shows because one of those hosts, say Rush, runs the network, and if you bash him, you're probably gone. But the station probably brands itself as a "Conservative Talker", going after one type of audience anyway, so it makes no sense to put on another opinion, regardless. Remember, the station has now become entirely one directional/dimensional because of those syndicated, non-local hosts.
Someone decided that a host was good back in New York, some suit, and he can give you the show cheaply, and you're trying to make money, so you take it, and then the station sorta blows because it's not unique, and you've heard the same shit over and over and over, and there's no creativity, and chances are they're conservatives, who are rarely funny, and quite often puppets, and you're hearing it every day, and the money isn't coming in, so the news department gets caught, and then that gets syndicated statewide, and there's one person in the newsroom who has to cover the local eletion of schoolboard superintendent, but there's really no place on the station to talk about it because there's nothing local, and that person is not even in the building, so maybe the issue gets talked about in the morning, maybe, if you're lucky. And this is everywhere. Even in big cities. Everywhere.
Of course, then you're told "progressive talk doesn't work..." Well, why would it when the talk stations across the country have been feeding only meat to vegetarians for YEARS! Somehow "progressive" works in every other format, right!?!? Works in the newspapers, since you're always told they're liberal. Works on the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, Keith Olberman, CNN (supposedly liberal), every comedian, every politically incorrect cartoon, Bill Maher. Works everywhere but radio, and why is that? Because there has been no radio for these people, and now what's offered, as an alternative to the right, is the left's own version of this whole paradigm, yet it's WORSE!...but I can't go into that right now.
In New York the top talk station is WABC/770, and it has one of these syndicated lineups with some local shows, although one can argue it's sorta all local because most of the programming is derived from their studios. But these are the shows going out to the rest of country. Ratings aren't bad, but then again, you're pulling ratings in an industry of shit. There's hardly any good options on the radio, especially in New York, so it's like you're the fastest man amongst the cripples.
So then there's Don Imus, again. People are just dying and trying to bring him back because THEY HAVE NO OPTIONS. Finding a replacement in a country as small as America is REALLY REALLY HARD! I mean, we've scoured every TV Host we can find! You know, those people who are used to reading a prompter, and who have most of their material written and produced for them. We tried that! Please, don't force us suits to make a decision for it may jeopardize the steps on the ladder we're climbing. Lets us have Imus back. We never had a bullpen!!!!!!!!
Today's news brings us the possibility that Boomer Esiason will take over at WFAN in the mornings, Imus' flagsip station, and a sports station before anything else. Well, let me tell you right now, failure is just around the corner for Boomer Esiason does not have what it takes to do morning radio as a lead host. Besides, he knows sports, that's what he does, and if he thinks he's going to do sports against Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN, he's crazy, because they will do it better. But WFAN has stretched themselves, and this is what they've come up with. They can't afford to listen to tapes, find the next host, and take a chance. A job or two is on the line! Plus, these people at WFAN aren't in St. Louis. This is New York City. The bosses are across the water.
Boomer Esiason, no joke. Nice guy, great player, good at talking football on the radio, and has a decent personality. A replacement for a radio legend who told off-color jokes and broke down politicians? I don't think so. In fact, I know so.
But again, this is radio, and radio, for the most part, sucks, and it sucks because of New York City. Making it in radio in New York City is impressive because in order to make it you have to climb a pile of shit so high that you'd be lucky not to lose your leg in the ass of all the supposed executives working for the broadcast companies. This is why hosts don't want to come to New York. If you can make it here, you can truly make it anywhere, assuming Al Sharpton gives you the green light, of course.
I'm waiting for the day a station puts talk radio on, and not conservative talk, or liberal talk, or FM talk, but good talk. Show me a station that has a great local host, and then maybe Rush, and then maybe something else, maybe a person on the left, maybe a sports host, who knows. Show me a station that is a great station because it's diverse, and because it's just good, period!
So don't be surprised that Al Sharpton makes the decision as to whether Imus comes back, or not, because you can bet your ass the suits in New York City don't want to make it. That's why they chose the desk jobs over the microphone job.