Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Presiding Over the Death of Terrestrial Radio?

Tom Leykis is rapidly approaching a full year of doing his daily show again.

A lot of people call it radio, but it isn't radio. Radio is a transmission method. His show is delivered through the Internet. His show left radio in 2009, when CBS Radio decided it was going to flip the format of the FM talk station he was on in Los Angeles into a Top 40 format, to compete with the ancient existing Top 40 station, owned by Clear Channel, and featuring Ryan Seacrest in the mornings. CBS did this because they needed a station with more female listeners, as their other stations in the market were not very effective at getting women. The ratings did go up. Meanwhile, due to his contract requiring it, CBS payed Leykis his salary until a certain date in 2012. Immediately after that was over, Leykis' show was back, only without corporate dictates and FCC restrictions on language.

He does the show live during the same afternoon timeslot that his radio show ran, for three hours. Commercial breaks are much shorter, and there's no traffic reports, so a lot of content can be packed into those three hours. There's an hourly "News for Guys" presented by two of the guys on his staff. If breaking news or audience response makes it worthwhile, he'll do a fourth "bonus" hour. That's flexibility he wouldn't have on corporate radio. (He will also, on occasion, do the show early or late, and inform listeners via social networking). Speaking of audience response, because of the technology he's using, he can see how many people are listening at any given time, allowing him to adapt immediately.

In addition to ad revenue, his venture brings in income by:
  • subscriptions to his premium content (subscriptions also allow access to past shows)
  • an Amazon link on the website (his business gets a portion of whatever is spent by the person clicking through to Amazon via that link)
  • selling studio services for anyone wanted to use the studio for recording/producing audio content
  • donations... I think.
His venture doesn't have the overhead a radio station has, or the massive debt accumulated by the merged/acquired/leveraged corporate radio giants.

If someone is not a premium subscriber, they can either listen live or catch the replays, which run constantly between live show - for free. More and more people will be able to access the show through their smart phones and their automobile dashboards as technology is adapted.

I like the show better now because it is more honest. I think he's figured on the best way of adapting to technology and changes in media. Leykis speaks and length about his own life and the radio business. The insights into what's happening and previously happened with radio is informative and something I actually care about. Of course, Leykis is still an abortion and atheism promoter, which I don't like. However he tried doing "Ask the Atheist" again and it didn't generate enough interest. Leykis claims, and often promotes, libertarian philosophy, but has a populist streak. He encourages others to do what he did: rebuff the Big Corporate world and start their own businesses and buy from small businesses.

He's still telling men how to avoid being the guy everyone else (especially women( walks all over, which is generally good, although I can't go along with some of the specifics. He has sworn off marriage (four times was more than enough) and has no living children (they were all slaughtered in abortion clinics) and doesn't want any, and he's a good salesman for never marrying and remaining childless. As he long has, he discourages shacking up, too. A new part of his instructions is that if a man truly wants to have a child, he, alone, should hire a surrogate mother (and, presumably use a donated egg) so that there's no risk of an ex-wife or ex-girlfriend taking the child away.

Because fewer people are going to tune into the show "accidentally", he can't do hours of talking to people who hate him or his show. He addresses current events that interest him when he's not doing he regular features. Among his regular features are:
  • Money Monday, which is money-saving and financial advice for part of the show
  • Leykis 101 at 5pm Pacific on Thurssdays, which tells men how to get more tail for less money and tells women how men think
  • Leykis 201 for guys who failed Leykis 101 by getting married, becoming a parent, shacking up, etc. and are now having problems
  • Be Funny, during which callers can call up and say something funny, whether a joke or whatever, no matter how offensive it is
  • His sponsor divorce lawyer taking calls
  • Ask a Mexican, which is inspired by a popular column of that name with the columnist himself
  • Someone calling in on Fridays to warn of the various drunk driving checkpoints listeners might encounter
  • Flash Fridays during daylight savings time, during which drivers turn on their headlights and loyal female listeners are supposed to show their breasts to such drivers. Leykis now uses social networking to solicit related pictures 
As narcissistic, misogynistic, cold, and crass as he might sound at times, you hear his softer side when a woman calls and needs advice on escaping an abusive relationship, investing, starting her own business, or just about anything else in life. He'll spend a long time with listeners, male or female, telling them how to make something of themselves and stop their self-defeating behaviors.

I take the good, and I know why I disagree with the bad. I listen regularly enough that I can be considered a fan.

As your favorite radio hosts disappear from the airwaves, when your favorite radio station flip formats, you should know... Tom said it would be like that.

You can read my previous entries on Leykis by clicking on the tags below.

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