November 26, 2015

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TRN’s Mark Masters: Viral Hosts Are Key To Great Talk Programming
“A truly great talent will outperform their home station's ratings, creating a ratings spike during their daypart that is typically an indication of that host's ability to create a unique audience, above and beyond that of their lead-in show or station,” Talk Radio Network CEO Mark Masters says in the current issue of Radio Ink. “That’s what programmers really are looking for.

“Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity are a few of these hosts who generate massive ‘viral’ rating spikes,” Masters continues. “I call them ‘viral’ since these hosts creates audience growth because they are so compelling that their listeners become ‘infected’ with ‘host talk,’ meaning they automatically start telling friends about the show, talking about what the host said over dinner to friends. This creates a true referral-based listenership that can turn one ‘infected’ listener into five or ten more referral-based listeners over time. This translates into rating spikes and strong ratings in general, which often outperforms the station's previous share in that daypart by 50 percent or more. When this happens, it becomes a good deal for a station to give up 25 percent to 30 percent of their inventory in the show, in exchange for a program that will justify the stations sacrifice of barter minutes by heavily increasing the value of the station's remaining local minutes.

“Ultimately, stations really look for shows that can create massive unique referral-based audience which, in turn, can greatly increase the audiences of that stations other programs—especially those shows leading into and out of a great syndicated “viral” show,” Masters says. “If a syndicated show can’t out perform the existing daypart by at least 30 percent or more, you may be better off staying local. But the greatest syndicated shows—Savage, Rush, Ingraham, Hannity, etc.—can double or even triple a station’s daypart, which is something few local hosts can do.”

Please read the entire Network Roundtable—including Mark Masters’ remarks—in the June 21 issue of Radio Ink.

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