November 27, 2015

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11/10/03 The Rodney Dangerfield Of Media

Sometimes I feel that you and I are in the Rodney Dangerfield of media: “Radio, we get no respect.” We know the power of Radio — we know how to put businesses on the map locally and nationally. We know that our audiences feel more strongly related to Radio personalities than to television personalities or newspaper columnists. Consumers feel closer to Radio, probably because they spend so much time with us in their car, in their home, in their office. We’re with them when they’re working, getting up to start the day or even when they’re making love. But still we get no respect.

Radio is rarely the first medium advertisers consider using to brand a product or service, even though the sound of the human voice is known to be the most irresistible of psychological forces.

Today, there are approximately 1,400 talk and news/talk stations in America. Talk Radio has become such a powerful medium that the Democratic Party is funding a talk format to combat the conservative agenda that has captured the ears of the nation. Talk Radio has been credited with initiating the California recall, which resulted in a change of governor. How did Rush Limbaugh single-handedly change the way that talk Radio was perceived? The Democrats know that talk Radio influences the outcome of elections. It has a near-magical ability to capture and expand America’s thinking.

Rush may have paved the way for Radio once again. His faux pas on ESPN made him a veritable lightning rod that resulted in the exposure of his long-hidden drug addiction. Limbaugh’s frank admission of guilt became national news on the front page of every newspaper, and it was the lead-in on national and local TV news. Leno and Letterman were oozing with Limbaugh jokes. Political analysts were saying, “His audience will abandon him” and “His lack of presence on the airwaves will result in Republican losses because Rush won’t be able to influence the ’04 election.” All of this attention causes us to better understand how big Limbaugh has become — how much RADIO has had an influence on America.

Rush Limbaugh became huge because he had the courage to be specific, take risks and swim in the deep end of the pool. Are you infected with that kind of courage? If not, then you’d better get happy with your current levels of billing, because America has never much rewarded those players who sit on the bench.

It’s too soon to say whether Limbaugh’s listeners will return when he does, but lucky is the advertiser who has the guts to be there during his return week. Rush’s listening levels will be higher than ever. People will cling to his every word. Regardless of the rates, it will be the best advertising buy in recent history.

My guess is that Limbaugh will see a resurgence in popularity, and this event will make him stronger than ever. But whatever happens, all of us can benefit from the publicity that Radio has indirectly received. This incident is proof of the power of Radio.

Maybe we’ll finally start getting the respect we deserve.

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