Since I began this page I have offered many sound pieces of advice to Cumulus: Give KTCK-FM the 93.3 signal; buy Michael Gruber some better equipment; work Mike Bacsik into The Hardline. OK, two out of three. Number 3 seemed like a good idea at the time. The Hardline got better, Bacsik got drunk. Who can predict these things?
Here's number four: Give some serious thought to syndicating some of The Ticket original programming. Below I'll offer some priceless advice on what's more likely to appeal to remote entertainment-starved 25-54 males.
The point being that a local program can easily succeed in other markets if the quality is there. And I think most Confessors would agree that The Ticket -- although in many ways unique in a local sort of way -- represents radio broadcasting of a very high order.
Let me hasten to add that I know approximately dick about syndication. I have the notion, for which I have no support, that other than the cost of the sales effort, it would require almost no additional capital investment. The production of the programs is already financed -- all you have to do is get the feed to the syndicatee, let it sell some commercials, and Cumulus watches the mail for the checks to come in. I'm sure it's more complicated than that, but really -- what could it cost? If you can get it on Wunder Radio, if you can get it online, you can provide it to KXXX Sports Radio 790 in Odessa.
So how would The Ticket fare in syndication? A few thoughts. (I told you I've been cooking this one for awhile.)
(1) Much of The Ticket's sports content is not local. All of the shows highlight sports news of national interest. I wouldn't want them to deemphasize their local sports coverage, but there would have to be some adjustments in content. Frankly, expanding The Tickets list of topics couldn't hurt. There's only so much you can say about a team at an particular time of the year.
The non-sports local content is more of a problem. (For example, Community Quick Hits, which Everybody Probably Wouldn't Love in San Antonio.) But I don't think it's a big problem. The broadcasting is inherently interesting, and it doesn't really matter that some of the topics relate to matters that are not taking place in the syndacatee's hometown.
Besides, fart humor is universal.
(2) Syndication could start with Texas properties or possibly other Cumulus properties (which probably wouldn't be technically classified as syndication at all). And they might start with syndication to North Texas stations whose listeners have an interest in the Dallas teams. I have to believe that would be a low-risk proposition. Syndicate to Amarillo; Longview/Tyler; and the like. See how it goes. Why wouldn't a struggling radio property outside of a major city (and believe me -- and as someone who has investigated purchasing radio stations, I know a little whereof I speak here -- they're all struggling) want to jettison the costs of producing some of a day's broadcasting but still get advertising revenue?
(3) You can syndicate to non-sports-talk stations. You can imagine that a rural station might want to run local-interest stuff during the day, but would run sports-talk in the evening or sometime when men might tune in. (Since The Ticket is not caller-intensive, a non-real-time broadcast isn't such a weakness.)
(4) What, if any, of the Ticket is syndicatable? (Syndacatable?) My current view:
Norm: Possibly, probably.
BaD Radio: Probably not in its current configuration.
Let's focus on the anchor showgrams, The Musers and The Hardline. Love Norm but it's a two-hour showgram and possibly not so attractive as a stand-alone. But possibly worth offering as a package with The Musers. BaD Radio I have some thoughts about that I'll save for another article. Obviously a popular property, but not an immediately acquirable taste, in my view.
I treasure The Hardline, but they would have to take show prep more seriously, and I assume that syndication requires a little more attention to things like, oh, I don't know, the clock? And they would have to clean the show up considerably. The casual profanity, misogyny, and sexual and excremental references would have to reined in if not eliminated. I happen to think that the show would not be adversely affected by these changes, but it would unquestionably change its character in a way that DFW listeners might not like.
The Musers are a different story. That showgram does seem to have a greater respect for show prep, and it has a smoother feel overall. It is not as vulgar as The Hardline (again, I'd like to have a less vulgar Hardline, but I acknowledge that that's part of what makes it Hard, and I listen to it religiously), and it has a more conventional feel to it that would go down easier issuing from foreign transmitters. It would be very liberating for Gordon, who would instantly have a reason to expand his repertoire of targets. George and Junior are likable without a lot of learning time, and Gordon, when he's not wrecking the show, could be a breakout national talent.
I acknowledge that The Ticket is a unique broadcast property. It doesn't sound like much of anything else on the radio, even if you limit the universe to sports radio. It might be a tough sell, although the Gentleness of The Gentle Musers seems to me to be tailor-made for a wider audience. Throw Norm in, and program directors in East Jeebus could solve their morning problems. If that worked, you see if Austin and Oklahoma City might have an interest. From there, who knows? Omaha?
And then you could buy Michael Gruber some better toys.