Sunday, February 18, 2007

AAR Snubbed in Talkers Magazine List

Talkers Magazine has put together its "Heavy Hundred" listing of the top talk show hosts in the country which appears in the February, 2007 edition of the trade magazine that calls itself the "bible the talk radio industry."

Actually, for the past two years Talkers has produced a listing of the top 250 talk shows in various categories including political, hot, sports, financial, health, home, psychology/relationships, pop culture, and specialty talk radio. Political talk dominates the survey, accounting for 168 or two thirds of the shows listed.

Not surprisingly, conservative talk dominates the list. Talk shows hosted by conservatives account for 123 or 73% of the shows on the list. The other shows include 25 or 15% hosted by liberals, and 20 or 12% hosted by moderates.

The top twenty shows, led by the perennial favorite Rush Limbaugh, include 16 conservatives, two moderates, and three liberals. The three liberals who made the top 20 are Ed Schultz (5th), Randi Rhodes, (13th) and Talkers’ favorite liberal Alan Colmes (16th).

Now here is the interesting thing. Only three AAR talkers made the top 250 – Randi Rhodes, Jon Elliott, and the Young Turks. Not appearing on the list were weekday AAR hosts Sam Seder, Rachel Maddow, Mark Riley, David Bender, and Betsy Rosenberg. All of weekend hosts didn’t make the cut.

Now what is interesting is that every conservative host with a weekday show affiliated with the top seven syndication companies made list. This includes all five Salem Communications talk hosts – Bill Bennett, Dennis Praeger, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt and Mike Gallagher.

Salem is similar to AAR in that both companies operate more like a network than a syndicator.
However, in markets where both networks are offered, AAR beats Salem most of time. In fact, in the 12 top 25 markets where they compete, AAR beats Salem eight times, loses once, and the networks tie three times. Overall, AAR’s ratings are 47% higher than Salem’s in these markets.

So why do all of Salem’s talkers make the Talkers list while only three of AAR’s eight weekday shows are represented. Could it have something to do with advertising? Salem advertises extensively in Talkers Magazine. The February, 2007 issue includes two full-page ads promoting Salem’s talkers. On the other hand, somehow AAR has not spent much of the $40 million they have spent over the past three years on the industry’s leading trade journal. Yes, AAR stiffed Talkers before going bankrupt several months ago. However, according to the bankruptcy filing, AAR owed Talkers a measly $3,600.

Talkers doesn’t claim that their ranking of talk shows is a scientific one. (e.g. based on ratings or surveys) In fact, in a disclaimer that they published in the magazine, they state that "the selection process is subjective with the goal being to create a list reflective of the industries diversity and total flavor as well as giving credit where credit is due."

The disclaimer goes on to state that "the Talkers Magazine editors who painstakingly compile this super-list draw upon a combination of hard and soft factors when evaluating candidates. The include (in alphabetic order) courage, effort, longevity, potential ratings, recognition, revenue, service, talent and uniqueness. We acknowledge that it is as much art as science and that the results are arguable."

Yes, we would argue that the list put together by Talkers Magazine is not very accurate. If they want to thank their advertisers, they would be better off hosting a dinner for them at the upcoming Talkers Magazine Talk Radio Seminar to be held in New York City on June 8-9.

How about that for a shameless plug.

1 comment:

punditfight said...

I'd be curious to know how the selection process works. do they listen to each talker? 250 is a long list.
The question you would have to ask yourself is this. Who buys 'Talkers Magazine'? Besides industry types i would say that the magazine's audience wouldn't be the AAR listener types.