Monday, April 09, 2012

The Future of Audio Talk Shows?

An interesting development in media happened a week ago. After over three years of waiting for his contract to end (getting paid nicely... he has the same agent as Howard Stern), Tom Leykis resumed his eponymous show, but he's doing it online.

As he points out, technology is progressing such so that new cars, new handheld devices, and home entertainment centers will be able to get live streaming audio from the Internet just like they do from AM, FM, and satellites. This means his potential will grow and his actual audience may grow as well.

His show was in very high demand last Monday and it was crashing web servers with all of the demand. Those trying to access his show might have had trouble doing so.

A fits his personality, he owns the whole operation (his company also streams audio for music and other things) and is not limited by bosses or the FCC or Canadia watchdogs, so he speaks very frankly (including what he thinks about various people in radio) and will use any language doing so - as will his callers. His show is targeted towards males, especially young, unmarried, unchurched males... and the women who want to know what these males are thinking. It is unlike any talk radio you'll hear. Leykis even says it isn't radio, since radio is an appliace. It is live streaming audio. The closest thing it can be compared to is satellite radio's Howard Stern (Leykis shares an agent with Stern, and praises Stern) and podcaster Adam Carolla (sounds like there's no love lost between Adam and Tom) - both themselves refugees from terrestrial radio. Leykis skillfully, bluntly, and often humorously spouts his opinions on current events, pop culture icons, radio hosts, politicians, monetary policy, investing, workplace culture, women, sex, relationships... just about anything. Anyone living on a steady diet of right-wing talk radio, syndicated or local newstalk, religious broadcasting, or bland, politically-correct public or otherwise Leftist radio may find Leykis' audio content disconcerting or a breath of fresh air, depending on their perspective. Just one example - if a caller asks for the call to be ended "Whitney Houston style", he (someone working for him, actually) will play a sample of one of her songs followed by the sound of someone drowning. If you think that's in poor taste, stick around for someone to ask to be "taken out Andrea Yates style".

Leykis does sell advertising time, but so far the ad breaks are short and he also hopes to get revenue from subscriptions that grant people access to podcasts of the show, including the ability to pick and choose which hours they want to listen to, when they want to listen to them... and high quality live audio. Otherwise, people can listen to the live stream for free (like here), or hear it while it repeats constantly until the next live broadcast.

As more of this happens with "radio" and "television", I will be curious to see if the traditional legacy broadcast stations and networks survive. It is so easy to order content on-demand now, and watch it with a portable appliance. My mother has dropped cable and satellite television companies and simply has her big screen hooked up to a computer so she can watch Netflix and DVDs. The shows to which I listen that run on terrestrial or satellite radio I usually listen to via an online stream or podcast.

As I've written over and over again, I think Leykis misses the mark on some important things. But he does have a show many will find entertaining and helpful, and I do think he gets a lot right when it comes to how males are treated and how guys can protect themselves.

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