The End Of Sports Talk WDFN Plus Chipotle To Open In Ferndale And Portillo's Coming To Sterling Heights
Anybody, who knows anything about broadcasting? We'll tell you that local personalities attract audience. And yet these big companies are not investing in local personalities widely. That's Matt Freedman Media. Professional and public relations expert. Radio is a format that is long captivated listeners in Metro Detroit. A region that loves its local talent I've loved listening over the years to voices that are uniquely. But you're finding that less and less these days, so our feature conversation today is about the end of Sports Radio Station wd defense why it happened and what's next for the station and the radio industry here as a whole then we'll share a few things around town I'm jair stays, and I'm spend Gustafsen this is your daily Detroit for Wednesday July eighth, twenty twenty, a quick reminder of that daily Detroit is member supported Media Look I. Hear All the time from folks who say I should remember. Remember to become a member well. Here's your reminder. Join us as a member at patriotic dot com slash daily Detroit and help keep local voices who don't have to answer to corporate overlords on the air. I think remember to become a member should become a bumper sticker for US share and also daily Detroit no corporate overload. That's another one I agree. Here's thing daily traded gmail.com. Should we have jingles should remember to become a member become jingle. Tell me if you guys like jingles. Let's do jingles. Big News in commercial radio as. Sports Talk Station Eleven. Thirty Am W. D. F.. N. The fan is no more. The station changed formats to the black information network. A twenty four hour news service focused on issues of interest to African Americans. Station is backed by I heart media, a big national radio broadcast conglomerate wd then launched back in one, thousand, nine, hundred, ninety four. It was Detroit's I dedicated twenty four hour sports talk. Talk Radio Station and joining us to dissect all of that and talk about what it means is Matt Freedman he's one half of Tanner Friedman strategic communications and a good friend of us here at daily Detroit Matt. Welcome back to the show. Thank you always happy to talk shop. On daily Detroit. I should mention you're a also broadcast veteran in you. Track the industry very closely. I try I try yeah, been tracking it. It from home lately, but the numbers are interesting. What interests you about this change? Guys would struck you I know it's been a long time since I listened to sports. Talk Radio and used to listen to it I think the personalities and some of the tenor drove me away, but that's sort of immaterial Detroit huge sports town. You know we are one of relatively few cities with teams in all four major professional. Professional Sports Leagues. You know in Wfan at one time was like the big sports radio station in Detroit it was home to some of the big pundits and sports journalists in town like stone. WHOA, Joe Jamie Samuelsen Matt Dairy. ETC, etc, mean so, what happened to defend? Why did it suddenly declined or whatever well? There were a couple of factors put them the main factor is what happened to the corporation that owned it. So I hard. Media is a relatively new name for a company that's been around the radio business. Now for quite a while called clear channel. They rebranded because clear channel became something of A. Something of a bad reputation name in the broadcast business, and it's all happened in January of two thousand, nine, supporting, remember the history here and so that was really the day that the fan sites wasn't the fan anymore. They got rid of almost all of their local programming on that day. And the reason is that company got so big so fast that they couldn't pay back all of. Of the debt that they borrowed to buy all these radio stations the to become the behemoth that they became and the local broadcaster, and the local broadcast product suffered, so while were kind of writing obituary now for the fan. It's actually been eleven years in the making. It happened to be and I remember the day it happened. Be The day that Barack Obama was inaugurated as president. And, there's a colleague of mine who does a lot of our media buying. And she and I were having lunch after seeing client and we're watching the inauguration on TV. We picked a restaurant, so we could see history before our eyes, and she started getting calls and emails from people at clear channel saying they're getting rid of everybody. So that's how long it's been and the the other factor in addition to corporate largess that they couldn't keep up with. Is it really became hard for sports stations around the country to be competitive if they didn't have the rights to games? That live programming is is a must so somebody like us fan who kind of gets burned out with the chatter every day, but if you're a fan especially, if the teams are good, you're gonNA listen to the game sir, and they tried using the fact that they didn't air the Games as a marketing advantage. You may remember a slogan that they had the only sports station not bought and paid for by the home team's. They kind of had this rebellious kind of renegade attitude and I think that helped them for awhile, but sooner or later. Later with that format in order to be really successful, you have to have the games and the only pro games that they ever really had where the Pistons on a trade deal. When the Pistons were really on the downside of their run again it was did ties in with the first point of this corporation that had trouble keeping up with its debt. If the corporate situation had been healthier, they probably would have gone out and gotten some rights for the Tigers. Wings are the Lions, or maybe the Pistons under different circumstances and would build the. The station around that yet one of the things it kind of astounds me is that this is such a sports town, but frankly the ticket is just kind of been the runaway success in the sports vertical. It just doesn't seem there's not. There's much air for anything else, but them across the board. It seems like they kind of run the table right now. Yeah, there on FM, and they have the the Games, so that's a great combination and the other thing, too. That plagued eleven thirty Wfan here and there was. They did have some signal. Signal problems there were parts of the market where you couldn't hear them real well at night, but that didn't get in the way of their success. They had a run in the two thousands or an afternoon drive. They were the number one station for men twenty five to fifty four. That's a really coveted demographic. And they had it, and that was the stone Ian Whoa Joe, show and it was a powerhouse radio show one of the most successful shows of its kind in the country and again if they had a an owner willing to invest. Invest rather than divest can only speculate as to what could have happened. The other thing is they've had some FM signals over the years. That owner has control that have not been real successful makes. You wonder what might have happened if they had moved the sports format FM with those personalities if they would have been more competitive, but it's all in the rear view mirror now on the what they've been running. The last several years is almost all nationally or statewide syndicated programming, coming from their co owned stations, and other markets or in different. Different areas of the state, the exception to that has been matched shepherd was doing a very credible morning interview show, but when he became the Tigers play by play voice on TV league that went away and there just wasn't a lot for them to hang their hat on anymore as I say that trend of centralized broadcasting and running syndicated programming is not unique to a M, and it's not even really in unique to Talkradio. Right I mean like FM stations that play music are often computer generated and broadcast centrally out of Wichita for multiple markets. Markets, or whatever right yeah we see that I mean you know the clear channel now? IHEART was really the pioneer in what's known as voice tracking so rather than have a DJ Hosta Music Show in Detroit for example they'll pay somebody in another market fifty bucks to track the show and other words it's to record their voice and mix it with music on a computer, and basically upload an FTP, audio file, and that becomes the show. They were really the pioneers in that by no means. Were they the only ones doing it and they in? In some of their newer rounds of cuts in the last year have talked about innovation like artificial intelligence, so they're going away from the local personality and more toward content, sharing and I understand how that might help them. Pay Down some debt, but it's really hard to see how that's going to attract new audiences, especially in a place like Detroit where we like our local voices, and we like our personalities, and you know show like yours can really connect with the community, because the two of you are of the community and listeners know that. I mean these national groups just WanNa. Keep doing only national programming I'm just GONNA. Go ahead and let them do that and then just pick up the table because I mean. It's amazing to me. When in this world of on-demand and personalization that you've got these companies that are going for even more of the mass market, but I think my next question is kind of in two parts, and I'll lay down the first one. To set up the second am versus FM. It really seems like a m is just not as relevant as it once was I. Mean you've got a few flagships out there? You know I think about like W W J and Wjr, but outside of that it just seems like am is slowly fading into the sunset, but I don't know if that's true, it feels that way. It feels like I'm very rarely on the AM side of the dial a year in Detroit we have more relevant and programming than almost any other market in fact I've set up clients and people from outside the market to go on radio shows here to be interviewed radio here and they. They were really am. Powerhouses in WW J. and wjr and that's unusual nationally to have that sort of I mean if you look at our top rated stations in the market. If you look at the most recent ratings, WWe Jay is second highest rated station in the market. Am only one their equivalent station. entercom calms equivalent station sister station. If you will in Chicago is simulcast am and FM so a Detroit is a little bit behind the trend, but you're right. I, mean FM. Radio sounds better than on of. Of the signal issues when you're driving around in your car, it's one less button to press and you know for younger audiences. I don't even know if they know what am is I worry sometimes is a former radio guy. They don't own FM is, but that's. That's a whole other conversation, but I think you know in Detroit we have some culturally ingrained properties I mean you look at W. W. J. Turning one hundred years old this year. Wjr Not far behind them. That's real tradition. If you grew up listening to you grew up with your parents. Your grandparents listening to it you at least know what it is. That's not the case in every market well, and they do a lot of local programming. I. Think that's the other thing. People forget like Jr, whether or not you know. A lot of their lineup is pretty conservative boss, a lot of it is pretty darn local, which is good to see, and then also on Wwe J.. They're just constantly doing news and traffic, but a lot of that is you know local content? Almost all of it is makes a huge difference. In so back to what we were talking about. What's eleven thirty and that signal? DFM I guess they'll probably still use the call letters. At least for now you notice their announcement has been. It's the black information network emphasis on network and I. Don't see at least initially anything about programming, and I wouldn't be surprised. If there isn't any right away now, it may help fill a void. I crunched some of the numbers from Nielsen yesterday, and according to Nielsen twenty two percent of the radio audience in this market is black and I think it'd be hard to argue that. Twenty two percent of the radio programming appeals that community Oh. It definitely doesn't. I mean we need a lot more voices of color. Color on the air and in mainstream areas, especially with radio and I think about when, and I asked the question in part because when I hear about the black information network I started digging around I was like this is going to be. This isn't the same zone as like nine ten am, which also prides itself as being a voice of the community in that kind of way, but they really haven't made that huge strides in the ratings game. Well, they haven't. They haven't had a lot of consistency on the air which has been a challenge for them. You know it's hard to know. The players are without a scorecard. Something different and they have attracted an audience, and the question is if you agree that there's room for more choices than I do. Who are the voices going to be? I think that it would be much better if it were local voices. There are some terrific local voices that aren't being heard right now. That have a lot to say and a lot to listen to and ideally station like this would employ them, but that's a pretty tall order in today's corporate media environment to expect that they would actually pay somebody to be on the radio locally. That's a lot to ask really. and. That's unfortunate. We really look at that as something where it's a function of finances, because one of the things I keep hearing from media, critics, and the is is you've got all of these different? You know more mainstream voices or voices you've always listened to, and then you know. Why don't they add more people of color of things like that and one of the things I keep hearing is is that well? There's just the economics don't work to hire anybody, but I'm not an expert I don't know if that's necessarily true. It seems like you have more insight in that than I, do. I haven't seen their books. Okay, but what I do know is that. Anybody, who knows anything about broadcasting, we'll tell you that local personalities attract audiences. And yet. These big companies are not investing in local personalities widely. So why is that while when you look at a company like Iheart, which still owes a? Tremendous amount of money in in debt and they're at least most visible. Is Bain capital, and we all remember Bain capital from the Mitt, Romney Kansas we do, and we know about private equity, and how that works, you know it's all about trying to maximize as much money to send those people as possible and not necessarily to pay people here locally to host radio programs, and so I just want to temper expectations that while there may be a black oriented network on air ear in Detroit, and that helps fill a void expect to hear national voices, either primarily or Exclusively and so it fills part avoid, but doesn't fill the void and again as somebody who really likes and appreciates and started in the medium. That's a shame met. Does this tell us anything about the future of of Commercial Radio and talk? Radio in general. I think it's a symptom of something that's been around for a long time like I said this really came to light in two thousand nine, and if you want to go back, even further than that, the seeds were planted in one, thousand, nine, hundred, ninety, six, when federal law was passed and signed by President Bill Clinton, which basically allowed broadcasting companies. Companies to own as many stations as they wanted, and bigger became the imperative right, and that was the first domino to fall, and you know here. We are in twenty twenty having some of the same conversations we were having before. The trends are not positive in local terrestrial radio and I. Think everybody who a fan of the medium is rooting for the hang onto the status quo as long possible, because it's really hard to envision any sort of local personality and talent expansion, but that's for podcast. Come in. That's where satellite while it's not local has a lot of quality. That's that might come in. Public radio comes in which is doing pretty well. I looked at the the current ratings in this market and public radio is holding its own in terms of audience, Dave. The ratings by the way have been a little weird the last few months because we don't have drive time to write. That normally would, and the fear was that nobody was going to be listening to the radio because nobody was going to be in the car. During drive times, those fears were exaggerated. The audience has shifted a little bit in some cases from format a format. Sports Radio doesn't quite have the audience did. A few months ago. Understandable sports aren't being played not much to talk about I mean if you listen to the Valenti show now it's a completely different show on the ticket, and it's more about what's happening in the world because there's literally nothing to talk about in the sports world yeah. Yeah, newsradio WW! J. Seems to be holding their own and some of the music stations are in by the way listener ship. Ship and ratings is a very inexact science and radio for those who don't now it's based on a device called a portable people meter. It's about the size of a pager view. Remember having a pager when you're supposed to keep it on your person at all times in a pocket or purse or on a desktop, and that measures what you're listening to, and some people won't carry them. Some people carry them. Because, they want to participate in the survey, but basically the ratings are with a portable people. Meter picks up, and so it's an exact, but sometimes you look at it and common sense tells you that in cases like this, it's probably right. Not Surprising more people listen to news and fewer people are listening to other formats well, and it kind of gives you an idea of trends. You know as far. Far as an exact science I mean I used to work in broadcast. TV and we all used to joke that it's kind of a group hallucination. We all agreed to. You know so. We know that people are listening. We know the trends you know it isn't an exact science, and it's based on sampling and I can share from our experience I mean our listenership. A lot of people worried about. About podcasts in general, and maybe there's some areas that podcast have declined, but for us, listenership is way up throughout the pandemic. We've never seen numbers like this before, and it's frankly was kinda surprising. The other thing we saw is that with us with digital downloads. We know kind of wind people listening to shows you know kind of like when people are downloading and lizzy an idea that it's definitely flattened. Flattened out where it used to be big spikes in the morning in the afternoon, they're still there, but things have kind of flatten out through the day where people kind of consume it as they have time, and here's what's going to happen. You know you're not GonNa one day wake up and told you know sorry guys. We're GONNA. Get a couple of people from Dallas to do daily Detroit podcast. That's not going to happen. Commercial. Terrestrial radio that's been happening for a long time. I mean the format changes always happen. Since the dawn of the medium way that technology is being exploited now by these corporate owners means that there's a lot of looking over their shoulder. It's like one person in media is told me I think the radio people will relate to this every day. They show up. The keycard still works, and they feel good, because they can actually get into the building and A. that's a really tough way to live, but when when you listen to the people on the radio that's. To some extent, that's what they face and for those who really connect with them as personalities it's it's hard to imagine that a corporate accountant would see differently differently. Yeah, BRUTAL BUSINESS! Oh, for sure Matt. I'll wrap this up with you know. What would you do to win in this kind of situation because it feels like these format changes, their constant I mean they've always been in radio, but it's something where across the country you're seeing kind of the same patterns over and over again i. mean it's a large. Large number of cities that this black information network is going out and I kinda thought it would be something where maybe there's some centralized national news, and then some local voices, but as you're sharing a lot of it's GonNa. Be National Guess Yeah Yeah. What would you do to kind of win and rethink it to kind of you know? Give radio another renaissance. It's easy for me to say this because it's other people's money, I'm talking about but I. would think in a market like Detroit I talked about that. That twenty two percent, black audience estimate by Nielsen underserved that you get some compelling personalities local to augment the national programming in Salad, multi-platform in other words, listen to us on the radio. Listen to our podcast stream us and really empower the listener to connect with the personality in the ways that make sense for them I would think that that would be a money maker may require some upfront cost of course and talent fees, or maybe some salaries, and it would have to be well produced and really attentive to. To the audience, but I think it would be a winner especially if some consistency could be established, there's some known quantities in this market like I said there are some real talent people who could host shows and and really deliver audience. If if only given the opportunity, so I'd love to see that, but I'm pessimistic that something like that would happen because these corporations. They're gonNA order. A company wide format flipped to accommodate a network. That's code for. We're GONNA make this as low cost as we possibly can. Matt Friedman is half of the tenor Friedman Strategic Communications Public Relations Firm. Matt thanks so much. Always always enjoy having you on. Thank you always enjoy being on. The four! We let you go. Here are a few things to know around Metro. Detroit we. Have, phase one reengagement of our economy, and we had hoped to take the rest of the phase five, but we dialed it back right before by because we see these numbers increasing so not having bars that are serving indoors That's one thing, but we're going to continue to monitor the numbers of keep moving up. We're going to dial back if we have to insult last thing any of us wants I. Tell You I want to reengage this kind. kind of me more than anyone but I'm not going to do it if it is too risky to do so, and that's why we're saying focused on the epidemiology I'm not going to be bullied into moving before it safe, and if we have to move back, we're GONNA. That's Governor Gretchen Whitmer on CNN on Tuesday talking about the gradual uptick in Covid, nineteen cases in Michigan. The state reported four hundred fifty four new corona virus cases on Tuesday. Tuesday with thirty deaths. Most of those new deaths are due to a record update, but even with that it's still an increase. We now have more than sixty six thousand six hundred cases and six thousand deaths in Michigan the states. Effective spread is down to one point one eight. That's eighteenth highest in the nation, but key here is the virus will continue to grow until we can get that right blow an RT level of one meanwhile the Associated Press. Press reports that a trade group representing the nation's biggest retailers like Walmart. Target and home, depot is urging state governors to require people to wear face masks in public, and while shopping in stores, the Retail Industry Leaders Association told the National Governor's association that different rules around the country are leading to confrontations between angry shoppers and employees who are trying to enforce store rules. Fewer than half of states require masks to be worn in public. The group says. In an exclusive story. You're hearing I hear on daily. Detroit to port lays planning to open a new location in Ferndale. A spokeswoman tells me that the fast casual Mexican eatery plans to open this fall at two three, one, two three Woodward, avenue that's the former site of dickey's barbecue pit, which recently closed. This'll be outlays I store in Ferndale in shout out to our own eagle-eyed producer Cheyenne no Sereni for putting this. We have a blog post up all about it on daily Detroit dot com so spend. That's just north of nine mile on Woodward there. Are you going to miss? dicky's I'm going to be good in a neighborhood where. You're looking forward to the police. I Yeah For sure from ferndale up to sterling heights spin. Are you ready for a road trip to the Golden Corridor? Not really well. That's what Portillo's is saying in their press materials as popular chicago-based hotdog and sandwich chain is coming to Metro Detroit. They're doing their first garage style concept in Sterling Heights off of hall road near Hayes and Schaffner Portobellos. If you haven't been to Chicago Servewell, the Chicago style, hot dog, Italian, beef, sandwiches, burgers and chocolate cake, I can speak to the. The Italian beef but I I have my questions about cake yet. Don't don't need all those things at once. You'RE GONNA. Give yourself a horrible stomach. This isn't the first time. A Chicago staple has made a run at Detroit recently, there was a domino's deep dish pizzeria in downtown Detroit. They closed after a short lived stint near Greektown. The restaurant will be nearly eight thousand square feet seat more than one hundred eighty people inside and have a patio for an additional fifty diners. Intrude Golden Corridor car centric fashion. It will also have a double drive folks. It'll be ready in the second half of next year, definitely good to be able to report a couple of restaurants opening as opposed to closing for a change. And, that's all for today. Thanks so much for listening and be sure to tell a friend about podcast I'm chair stays and I'm spend Gustafsen take care of each other. We'll get through this together.