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Making Connections in Times of COVID-19

Thanks to digital media we can still capitalize on this in a big way and connect with listeners in a way that even 10 years ago didn’t seem possible.

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Here we are facing the most interesting election cycle of our lives, yet many of us are hesitant to be out rubbing elbows with listeners and doing things that make local radio great: connecting on a personal level.

There are days when I admit I get down about it. Something I’ve had a blast doing in Kansas City is our bimonthly “Politics and a Pint” events. We would book a restaurant or bar for a couple hours, welcome out a politician running for office or re-election and have a longform conversation over food and drinks. It was casual and fun. It was a chance for me to get to meet some of our loyal, P1 listeners. It was a chance to connect with either an office holder or soon-to-be officer holder in an intimate setting that built our relationship beyond the 10-minute phone calls on the air that were typically more policy and less personal.

It was a win for the station, me, the politician and the listener.

Then COVID-19 happened and all that came to a screeching halt. And it came to a screeching halt right as the election season was getting really hot.

But how do you work around it? What can be done?

My initial plan was to wait it out. Hope COVID passed sooner than later and we could get back to doing things in person. I was against the idea of Zoom, as it didn’t have the same level of intimacy for the listener as the in-person events did.

But obviously it became clear in late-spring the virus wasn’t going anywhere and we would have to figure out how to live with it.

I then opened up to the Zoom idea. Not that it was perfect, but it was better than doing nothing. We began hosting “virtual” Politics and a Pint. While it wasn’t the same as being in-person with listeners for an evening, there were some benefits that the in-person events didn’t have.

We started hosting these on Facebook Live and Periscope, so instead of having 75-125 folks in person, we were reaching thousands via our social media platforms for these events.

We were losing intimacy, but gaining in reach, that might reach a new potential P1 that may not have had any idea of the event we were hosting.

So like anything else, we took the pros with the cons. Another positive is that we can do more events, since the process of needing to book bars or restaurants is out of the equation. The fall was always a busy time, and some establishments were hesitant to do anything related to politicians given the divisive climate we find ourselves in.

Meantime, on a personal level, I’ve continued to do a handful of events that I get invited to emcee or host. This past weekend the McCloskey’s from St. Louis, who are now infamous for their photo standing on the front lawn armed as rioters stormed their neighborhood, came to Kansas City to keynote a “support the Blue” rally.

I was asked to emcee the event and willingly participated. The event was outdoors and I came armed with hand sanitizer and made sure I wasn’t shaking hands like I would be in a pre-COVID world. But I felt it was still important to “see and be seen” at events that would be valuable and important to our P1’s.

I’m not suggesting any host put themselves in a position they’re uncomfortable in or do something unsafe. But consider your comfort level with risks and when you think there is something that can be of value to your personal brand and the station brand, it still might be worth your time.

It’s an election cycle that will be one we will never forget. Thanks to digital media we can still capitalize on this in a big way and connect with listeners in a way that even 10 years ago didn’t seem possible. And figuring out how to balance these things will go a long way to keeping the show and station moving forward with momentum into 2021 and beyond.

BNM Writers

Children Are Paying a Heavier Price Over Covid

“Too many parents, studies, and experts are concerned with the overall mental and physical health of a child that it’s impossible to ignore any longer.”

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Image: Halfpoint/Shutterstock

Here we go again, another COVID surge. Big businesses will thrive, small businesses will get by, restaurants will struggle, but for the most part, we can handle another wave. Schools, however, I’m not so sure.

Since everyone will try and decipher where I stand on the issue, let me be upfront. I’m triple vaccinated, I don’t like to wear a mask, but I do, when asked, and usually after a few minutes in a store, I pull it down so it’s not so annoying. I have an toddler at home who is not yet school age.

Schools are the front lines of this war. Kids who are forced to wear a mask to protect other kids, teachers, and themselves is seen as a small inconvenience for the greater good. 

On the other hand, kids who are forced to wear a mask are having their self esteem destroyed, their ability to interact short circuited, and their mental health continues to suffer. They’re falling behind in their learning, and their overall general health is bad and is getting worse.

Schools have been able to find common ground on much tougher issues (bullying, drugs, violence, kickball) so why can’t we find an acceptable alternative when it comes to masks?

It’s all masks all the time or no masks ever again.  

The latest numbers in St. Louis have 54 children ages 18 and younger in the hospital and 10 children in the ICU.

Each one tragic, and if I were a parent, I would want to call out the national guard. But, too many parents, too many studies, and too many experts are generally concerned with the overall mental and physical health of a child that it’s impossible to ignore any longer. If you disagree, look at the mental health of the adults around the kids. We parents aren’t handling this pandemic well so what chance do our children have?

Conversely, some parents are petrified of the great unknown when it comes to Covid. Children get it at a much lesser degree, and not as severe, except when it’s your child.  

Politicians aren’t helping the situation either. They are using the issue to gain attention from their respective fringes, hoping it will propel them to a higher office. They win when we stay angry with each other. If one were cynical, one would say they don’t want a solution. Fixing the problem doesn’t help them.

During the polio outbreaks of years ago, schools would delay openings, cancel schools, and parents would limit who could play with their kids because “they have polio over there”. It wasn’t ideal, but in the 1930’s you had one parent home to help. ( In fact, radio, back in the day was part of the solution. Radio helped with the virtual learning. It was the zoom of its day.) Today with both parents working it’s much more difficult for a family.

At some point we have to arrive at a new normal. It’s been two full years and now our third February. We can’t continue to have virtual learning, and school board meetings where parents are screaming at each other like junkyard dogs. At what point do we put down our weapons,  and come up with a compromise?

While one parent worries about the long term negative effects of the vaccine, the other parent worries about the long term negative effects of COVID. It seems like they should be able to understand each other.

In some ways there is no answer, but in others, we must find one. The children are watching.  We are making them pawns in our political fights. We are using them to propel our political agenda. I worry what long lasting negative effects all of this will have on them long after COVID is gone.

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BNM Writers

CNN Remains Top Destination For New Year’s Eve Celebrations

“From 11p-12:30am, CNN drew 3.3 million total viewers, matching its second-best ever total audience of that date’s time slot.”

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The calendar changed from 2021 to 2022, and cable’s No. 1 non-sports destination for New Year’s Eve celebrations, CNN, remained so. Once again at New York’s Times Square were hosts Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen. Some of the guests featured were actor Leslie Jordan, performer Katy Perry, Academy Award winner Regina King and King’s former “227” co-star Jackee Harry.

For the 90-minute period of 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Eastern, it drew 3.3 million total viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research, matching CNN’s second-best ever total audience (with New Year’s Eve 2017) of that date’s time slot. It was during that time frame when the night’s most viral moment took place. Shortly after the clock struck midnight, a ticked-off (and tipsy) Cohen criticized the “victory lap dance” by “horrible” New York City mayor Bill de Blasio.

CNN’s full 4.5-hour telecast averaged 2.12 million total viewers including 746,000 within the key 25-54 demographic (from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.). This marked a 35 percent decline in each key figure from their record-setting New Year’s Eve 2020. Still, it delivered cable’s best adults 25-54 performance of the week (ending Jan. 2) outside of ESPN’s football coverage, Paramount’s “Yellowstone” and TLC’s “90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days.”

Cable news’ runner-up telecast for the week among adults 25-54 was CNN’s continued New Year’s Eve celebrations from New Orleans, Louisiana. It was hosted by a visibly-inebriated Don Lemon alongside fellow CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota and “Daily Show” comedienne Dulce Sloan. The special, which began at 12:30 a.m. Eastern, averaged 1.455 million total viewers including 614,000 in the 25-54 age range. While it dipped to its lowest total audience amount since 2014, the telecast ran until 1:30 a.m. Eastern, meaning the figure included the steep drop in viewership after 1 a.m. Eastern/midnight Central. Prior to Dec. 31, 2019, CNN had concluded Lemon’s portion at 1:05 a.m. Eastern. This was the first year Lemon spent New Year’s without Brooke Baldwin, his longtime fellow co-host on the occasion; Baldwin had departed CNN back in April.

In the overnight on CNN, a rerun of “New Year’s Live with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen” from 1:30-3:30 a.m. drew 755,000 viewers (with 252,000 adults 25-54); at 3:30-4:30 a.m., a re-airing of “New Year’s Live” with Don Lemon (remaining uncensored) posted 369,000 viewers and a still-above-CNN’s-total-day-average of 124,000 adults 25-54.

Over at Fox News on Dec. 31, their one-hour 2021 retrospective “Who Can Forget” at 8 p.m. drew 1.35 million viewers (172 adults 25-54), followed by the 1.85 million (including 242,000 adults 25-54) who tuned in to Greg Gutfeld’s one-hour New Year’s special at 9 p.m.  “All-American New Year 2022” from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. averaged 1.85 million total viewers and 359,000 adults 25-54 — approximately twice more than last New Year’s Eve.

Also during the week, from federal court in New York City, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted on federal charges of luring underage teenage girls to engage in sex acts with American millionaire Jeffrey Epstein. The jury had deliberated for five days before they found her guilty of five of the six counts charged against her. The verdict occurred on Dec. 29 at 5:10 p.m. Eastern. Fox News Channel was the top cable news outlet in breaking news coverage with 2.9 million viewers and 386,000 adults 25-54. Although no labels from Nielsen indicated the news event on CNN and MSNBC, the 5-6 p.m. hour of CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper” drew 822,000 total viewers and 173,000 adults 25-54; MSNBC’s “Deadline: White House” from 4-6 p.m. delivered 1.12 million viewers and 134,000 adults 25-54.

On upstart NewsNation, their “Rush Hour” program on Dec. 29 from 5-6 p.m. posted 119,000 viewers. Oddly enough, it was the least-watched weeknight edition from Dec. 27-31; overall, “Rush Hour” averaged 156,000 viewers for the week.

Cable news averages for December 27, 2021-January 2, 2022:

Total Day (December 27-January 2 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.225 million viewers; 187,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 0.531 million viewers; 58,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.529 million viewers; 110,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.224 million viewers; 74,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.164 million viewers; 38,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.154 million viewers; 28,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.094 million viewers; 12,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.093 million viewers; 12,000 adults 25-54

Prime Time (December 27-January 1 @ 8-11 p.m.; January 2 @ 7-11 p.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.749 million viewers; 232,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 0.774 million viewers; 75,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.743 million viewers; 170,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.245 million viewers; 82,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.191 million viewers; 60,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.156 million viewers; 34,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.111 million viewers; 14,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.063 million viewers; 13,000 adults 25-54

Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top CNN and MSNBC programs with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:

1. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 12/27/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.128 million viewers

2. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 12/29/2021 5:00 PM, 10 min.) 3.015 million viewers

3. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 12/28/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.940 million viewers

4. Special Report: Maxwell Verdict (FOXNC, Wed. 12/29/2021 5:10 PM, 50 min.) 2.897 million viewers

5. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 12/30/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.762 million viewers

6. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 12/28/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.690 million viewers

7. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 12/29/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.519 million viewers

8. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 12/27/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.415 million viewers

9. Hannity (FOXNC, Tue. 12/28/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.325 million viewers

10. Special Report with Bret Baier (FOXNC, Mon. 12/27/2021 6:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.277 million viewers

14. New Years Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen (CNN, Fri. 12/31/2021 8:00 PM, 270 min.) 2.124 million viewers

62. New Years Eve Live (CNN, Fri. 12/31/2021 12:30 AM, 60 min.) 1.455 million viewers

65. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Wed. 12/29/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.432 million viewers

Top 10 cable news programs (and the top HLN and MSNBC programs with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:

1. New Years Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen (CNN, Fri. 12/31/2021 8:00 PM, 270 min.) 0.746 million adults 25-54

2. New Years Eve Live (CNN, Fri. 12/31/2021 12:30 AM, 60 min.) 0.614 million adults 25-54

3. All American New Year’s (FOXNC, Fri. 12/31/2021 12:00 AM, 60 min.) 0.462 million adults 25-54

4. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 12/27/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.406 million adults 25-54

5. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 12/30/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.401 million adults 25-54

6. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 12/29/2021 5:00 PM, 10 min.) 0.397 million adults 25-54

7. Special Report: Maxwell Verdict (FOXNC, Wed. 12/29/2021 5:10 PM, 50 min.) 0.386 million adults 25-54

8. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 12/28/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.379 million adults 25-54

9. All American New Year’s (FOXNC, Fri. 12/31/2021 11:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.364 million adults 25-54

10. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 12/28/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.361 million adults 25-54

74. Forensic Files “Who’s Your Daddy” (HLN, Tue. 12/28/2021 11:30 PM, 30 min.) 0.206 million adults 25-54

115. The Beat with Ari Melber (MSNBC, Mon. 12/27/2021 6:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.155 million adults 25-54

Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research

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BNM Writers

An Insider’s View of the Media Game

Last week, former co-host of The View, Jedediah Bila, joined radio host Glenn Beck to discuss the recent years of her career inside the mainstream media.

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It is one thing for an outsider to critique the media for its lack of honesty or intellectual curiosity. After all, polling consistently shows that Americans are steadily losing trust in the legacy, corporate media.

However, it is quite another thing for a true insider to reveal what she saw inside the belly of the beast.

Last week, former co-host of The View, Jedediah Bila, joined radio host Glenn Beck to discuss the recent years of her career inside the mainstream media.

“We are truly in two different countries now,” Beck said. “I’ve never felt that about America, but we are. I don’t even understand the thinking of people. With Rittenhouse, what people said after the trial. Watch the trial. What happened with Jussie Smollett. MSNBC didn’t even report on that in primetime at all. That creates two Americas – one where there are facts and one where there’s just this fantasy fact.”

“I actually got into this business years ago; I wasn’t someone who grew up in a political family. I wasn’t someone who worked in Washington, D.C. I didn’t want to work in Washington, D.C. But I was interested because I watched Sarah Palin. I didn’t know who she was at the time. She came on the scene, and she was immediately attacked,” Bila remembered. “You had media that landed in Wasilla, Alaska, and decided they were going to do oppo research on her. So I immediately said to myself – oh, I need to find out what she’s done right because she’s angered all the right people, so let’s look at her record.”

Bila, who spent time as the lone conservative voice on The View, said that was her first real inkling that the media was “very powerful and very destructive.”

“The second moment I had where I said to myself, wow, this is insanity, was the Kavanaugh hearings,” she explained. “When you saw what happened there, this guy, they were destroying him; there was no evidence that he had done any of these things. They made a decision that they were going to make this about politics, and the media gathered together and decided he was guilty. There was no evidence being presented.”

The two noted that to this day, based on this baseless media spin, many people still believe Justice Kavanaugh is guilty. Beck also pointed out that many also believe the same evidence-free media tale of “Russian collusion.”

“How do you survive that?” Beck asked.

“I think what you are saying about two countries; there are people who care about facts. They’re all over the country, and they are sprouting up, not on mainstream media outlets, but you are seeing them on alternative media outlets,” Bila said. “That’s why you see them in podcasting; you see them in Substack. You see them all over Twitter saying, wait a second, I’m not affiliated with corporate media, but I’m going to tell you the truth. And more and more people are flocking to them.”

To Bila, who has worked in different areas of the country, and for various media organizations, the threat is much more significant and overarching than any one outlet or news source.

“The problem arises that you have collusion here,” Bila opined. “You have Big Tech, which has a narrative. You have Big Media, which has a narrative. You have Big Politics right now, meaning Democrat politics. It’s all the same narrative, and they’ve all come together and decided, we’re going to make what’s untrue true, at all costs.”

Bila believes it takes much more effort these days to determine what is fact and what is political propaganda, and citizen journalists have often been at the forefront of ferreting out the truth. But in her estimation, non-traditional media has already been successful in exposing this media corruption and purposeful deception.

“People start to say, I’m being manipulated by the media,” Bila said. “This is a game, and I’m being played. So see the game or be played by the game.”

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