LIMBAUGH, STERN CONTINUE TO DOMINATE NATIONAL TALK RADIO LANDSCAPE Study Shows Local Hosts Gain Ground
April 09, 2006 Entertainment News(PRLEAP.COM) AUSTIN, Texas — Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern were the two most widely identified radio talk hosts in the U.S. [94%] and [89%] according to a recently released study by the Benchmark Company. But there was a general decline in the ability of regular talk radio listeners to identify other nationally syndicated hosts.
“With the exception of a few, well-established icons like Limbaugh and Stern, it may well be that the number of nationally syndicated radio hosts has gone past the point where the average listener can absorb all the names,” said Dr. Rob Balon, CEO of Benchmark.
The study of 1120 regular listeners of AM and FM talk radio was the third installment in the Benchmark series on talk radio that began in 1994.
In addition, the study found that there were more listeners who classified themselves as political moderates and fewer who identified themselves as conservatives.
“This may not bode well for stations that have gone to all conservative formats,” said Balon. “We’re at a very critical point for the format. “First and foremost, talk radio should be about entertainment. And the industry has tried to divide it into two monolithic camps: conservatives vs. liberals [Air America]. Endless advocacy can flat out get boring, no matter which side you subscribe to.”
Another surprising finding was the perceived importance of local radio talk hosts. Sixty-nine percent of respondents mentioned a local host when asked who their favorite radio personality was.
“Local hosts talk about things that impact folks on their own turf,” explained Balon. “Sometimes it is politics, sometimes water cooler stuff.; but it is what the listener relates to.
Almost 50% the respondents [overwhelmingly female and moderate/liberal] felt that talk radio format lacked balance. Many listeners [24%] also chastised talk radio for having“sameness” about it.
“The radio industry has always had a tendency to clone good things,” said Balon. “While Rush Limbaugh has been a very good program for stations, there simply may be too many shows that emulate him at this time.”
Seventeen percent of respondents also expressed that they wanted their talk stations to feature more two-way talk between hosts and listeners. The study also addressed the role of the Internet and of technology in talk radio. 49% of respondents said they’d consider a monthly subscription if their favorite host went to a satellite station. And 65% mentioned visiting their favorite talk station’s web site while 19% said they at least occasionally listened on-line.
If you’d like more information on this study, or to schedule an interview with Dr. Balon, please call RJ Gacutan at The Benchmark Company, 512-707-7500 or email RJ at email@example.com