Wednesday, March 2, 2011

WHO WILL CREATE THE FIRST BLACK TICKET?

This one's been rattling around for awhile. 

You've seen the title, so you know where this is going.  So let's plow right in.

Ever since I started listening to The Ticket I've been struck by the number of black callers to the station.(1)   Nothing surprised me about it -- any sports guy or guy guy would enjoy The Ticket, regardless of race.  There were also Latino callers, Middle Eastern callers, even the odd Asian caller.  Female callers.  Mostly the white male demo.  But I noticed it because I've listened to other sports-talk stations around the country and they didn't have nearly this high a percentage of black callers.  Nice tribute to the broad appeal of The Little One.

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(1)  I don't mind the term "African-American," but I don't think it adds much to the racial dialogue.  It's clumsy, and at this point it's not even very accurate.  Scholars and politicians like it, but it's so obviously PC that it's already falling out of favor among the general public and, I think, blacks themselves.  If the Musers can have a Black Guy Round Table, that's approval enough for me to continue to use the term.
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Then I noticed -- there were actually quite a number of black callers.  (Not even counting Sports Shaniqua.)  Which, if callers are at all representative of the P1 Nation, would indicate that The Ticket had a large black following.  And, as I say, why not?

In fact  .  .  .  wouldn't the black audience for sports-talk be huge?  Don't need to cite statistics to prove the dominance of black athletes in almost every sport (except maybe the one broadcast on The Ticket).   Now let's be clear:  Black athletes are admired by whites as well.  And black sports fans root for the success of white athletes playing for the teams they favor.

But I'm not talking about the black public rooting for black athletes.  I'm talking about the black public making listening choices when they have one.

OK, now let's tread lightly here.   Am I out of line to observe that it is fairly widely acknowledged that entertainment can be racially targeted with success?  That racial groups are interested in entertainment relating to their own experience, ideas, language?  (Whites, too.)   Implied answer:  Not out of line.   Consider radio itself -- the "urban" segment is the code for "black hosts playing music by contemporary black artists."  Nothing wrong with it.  A fact of our society. 

Thus:    my hypothesis is that black sports fans and black-male-culture guys would listen to a quality sport/guy-talk-radio station with mostly -- possibly all -- black hosts.  They're not going to listen to garbage, or anything that is patronizing.  But if it's good radio, and if it reflects the concerns and enthusiasms of the young-to-early-middle-aged black male listener (remember -- it's not just sports) -- they're going to tune in.

So -- with a huge potential audience in major cities, why do we not see anyone tapping into it?  Why has no one tried to create a black Ticket?  And should someone do so?

Well, let's think about this:

Has anyone tried it before?  I've tried doing some research on this, and I cannot find any Internet reference to a black-dominated sports/guy-talk station.  I would love to hear from anyone who knows of one.  Satellite maybe?

Maybe someone has, and it has flopped.  Again, anyone know?

Now there is one well-known black sports-talk showgram, the famous "2 Live Stews" of WQXI-AM 790 the Zone in Atlanta.  You can hear them very early on weekend mornings on The Ticket sometimes, where the station will run a segment or two of 2 Live Stews.  They show up on Radio Row on Super Bowl week.   I have no idea what black listeners think about 2 Live Stews.

2 Live Stews
I know what I think about them.  They're terrible.   One guy is hyper, the other asleep.  But they're pretty popular with someone, since they're at least getting some syndication play.   Anyone know how they do in Atlanta?

And this brings us to our first reason that maybe no one has tried it:

It Is Difficult to Build a Quality Sports/Guy Talk Radio Station of Any Kind, Much Less One of the Greatness of The Ticket.  We've got two vanilla stations here in DFW trying to copy The Ticket's success, and, from all accounts, not doing a great job.  It would be even more difficult to build a black sports-guy-talker from scratch.

But it seems to me that that is not a good reason for a media entrepreneur not to give it a try in some metro market.  Sure, you'd have to go find talent.  I guess I'd start with the local newspaper sports guys.  (By the way -- Whatever happened to Jean-Jacques Taylor on The Ticket?  After Mark Elfenbein departed, he showed up on Sunday mornings and I thought he was pretty good, and I also thought he and Norm made a formidable team.)   Maybe I'd poach a talented black broadcaster from a white station (like Donovan).  Maybe I'd grab a popular black local TV sports broadcaster (like Newy), or, if I were in New York or Los Angeles, a national black sports anchor.  Maybe I'd find retired black athletes who had shown some talent for the microphone.  (I think Jason Terry has a career in broadcasting when his playing days have concluded; Terence Newman, maybe, too.)  Maybe I'd find experienced black DJs who have a strong interest in sports.   I cannot believe that there isn't a lot of black-guy talent out there.  And by that I mean black men who are "guys" in a black-culture sense the same way that The Ticket guys are are appealing hang-out "guys" to The Ticket demo.  Guys capable of talking in their own voices, and not some overamped radio voice.

Also -- there are tons of white sports-guy-talkers, but no black ones -- there has got to be a large pool of untapped black talent out there.

And maybe I'd do it the same way that white sports-talk got started -- put an evening sports show on an urban station and see what happens.  (Actually, I'd probably jump in with both feet and just put the damned station on the air with drive-to-drive sports-guy-talk programming, but I've always had a gift for spending other people's dough.)

Established Media Companies Don't Want to Cannibalize Existing Programs.  So should Cumulus try this in Dallas?  Well, if it's the case that a lot of black guys listen to The Ticket, why would you introduce a competitor of any kind, much less one that would poach an identifable group of listeners?  And you'd probably find the same situation with other media companies in other markets.  Now maybe if I were Cumulus and I had no sports-talk presence in a big urban center, I might give it a try.  But I have a feeling that if this concept is ever to be risked it will be by an independent media company -- quite possibly minority-owned -- or a single-station owner in a major market at what has fondly come to be known as the enchilada end of the dial.  There's a lot of them.

By the way -- there's a lesson from The Ticket:  You don't need a gold-plated signal to succeed.  A light-bulb AM could string this together (although maybe not with the high-profile talent I've hypothesized above).

Why Would Anyone Switch Allegiance from a Great Station Like The Ticket?    If The Ticket is serving the needs of the black listener, why start another station?   My concern here is not with service to the black listener -- it's with the company that is trying to come up with a money-making idea who, incidentally, will put on programming that is even more appealing to a target demo.  And, as noted, we're not necessarly talking just about DFW, but any city with a large black population.

How About a Brown Ticket?  Absolutely.  Same opportunity for targeting the Latino (or is it "Hispanic" these days? -- cue Bacsik giggle) listeners.  Possibly (likely) Spanish-language.  (I have not researched whether there might already be such stations.  If there are, that only supports my point that someone should try this with the urban audience, too.) 

Conclusion.  Someone should do this thing.  Might be tough here because The Ticket is such an 860-pound gorilla -- but, on the other hand, the greatness of The Ticket might have conditioned core black listeners to the appeal of sports-guy-talk radio.

If I had some walking-around money, I might throw in with that myself.

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PS to Confessor commenters:  No censorship here, but I would really prefer that this comment thread not be about Donovan, although it seems to me that The Ticket's appeal to and attitude toward black listeners (and that of its local competitors) is fair game.  I'm more interested in what you think about the idea, though, than I am about The Ticket's attitude toward racial matters.  Future article, maybe.

And please, keep the sensitivity of this issue in mind in framing your comments.

And no "Race Week" jokes.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

I take it that you're not familiar with Soul 730 am here in Dallas? That is the black guy talk (and all things local within the "community") station in the DFW area. They also have a sports program.

The Plainsman said...

You are correct, I am not familiar with it. I'll look it up, but can you give us more info? At what time does the sports show come on, and how is it?

When I went looking for whether there were any black sports-talk stations, my Googling always mentioned "sports," since I was thinking of a sports-dominated station that would appeal mainly to men, and not just a talk station. I expected that there were lots of black all-talk stations, but I was looking for something much closer to The Ticket.

Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

The Plainsman said...

OK, Anonymous, you inspired me to research 730 AM. This is an excerpt from Wikipedia's article on the station, and it tends to support my point:

"KKDA AM, also has a sports show that serves the African-American community. "Talking Sports with Roger B. Brown." can be heard Monday through Friday's 6-7P.M., and Sunday's 6-8P.M. The show has a host of characters like Rufus D. (real name: Rudy Jones), Flipp Da Burd, Eric B. (real name: Eric Sattler) among others. Rufus D. is the entertainment and sports editor on Sunday’s and also serves as co-host. Eric B. also serves as co-host. The show is one of the few sports talk shows hosted by black broadcasters."

The station does not appear to have a dedicated website.

Roger B. Brown has been around for awhile, but they only give him an hour. And the article does confirm that there are few black sports-talk shows.

Thanks again, Anon.

Anonymous said...

Black guys seem to disproportionately enjoy calling into sports talk shows and express their opinion. If you listened to the fan when they were taking calls all day (and still at night with Arnie), it seemed to be about 90% black callers.

The Plainsman said...

Doesn't that at least indicate that black listeners are passionate about the subject matter?

And are we really sure that the number of black callers are all that disproportionate to the listening public?

And remember -- just like The Ticket created its own audience, against the predictions (and despite the best efforts) of consultants, a credible black sports/guy talk station would attract (I am speculating) a black listenership that now is not listening to the Big One and Little Two stations in DFW. And it may well be that other markets would be better than DFW -- largely because of the dominance of The Ticket.

ap said...

Couple of scattershooting notes -- would Jamie Foxx's "foxxhole" program/station on sirius radio qualify as a "Black Ticket?" It's a hodge-podge of sports, music and talk from what I could gather.

- re: Former athletes -- I would tune in regularly if I found out that Darren Woodson hosted a regular radio show. He's got a very smooth voice, he's got broadcasting experience and he comes with instant sports credibility. I've heard T-New speak before, and it seems like his voice could get monotonous quickly.

- re: programming for specific ethnicities - The Hardline and Orphanage used to frequently mention that the largest ratings draw (overall, not in any specific category) belongs to a station that targets the hispanic demographic. I believe it's mostly a music station though.

so...sports...

The Plainsman said...

The FoxxHole may well be a model for a terrestrial format, although you'd be hard pressed to find a major celebrity willing to do a live show in a local market.

T-New's voice is a little sleepy -- but his ads are marginally better than most athletes' ads. Jason Terry, on the other hand, is pretty glib and would probably only get better.

Good thoughts, thanks AP.

Anonymous said...

AP-
They're talking about KLNO. In the latest ratings
http://www.radio-info.com/markets/dallas-ft-worth
They're second overall. In those rare months when 1310 does get beat in M25-54, it's by KLNO, and usually only by .1 or .2.

The Plainsman said...

KLNO 94.1 FM. Music format. Almost 100,000 watts.

So, AP, you got a couple mill laying around? We'll get this thing going.

Christy said...

Off-topic (still reading):
Baseball Time in Arlington linked to Junior Miller's entry on the last radio ratings. I linked to both because I found UTB's comment interesting in the baseball blog:

The ticket is money - but there is no reason for Ben and Skin to rank behind Scruggs or anything else on The Fan.

Unfortunately, their show is like Arrested Development: high quality material that doesn't appeal to the masses.


I'm shocked as well by the low ratings for Ben and Skin. I think they work hard to put on a quality show. They remind me of BaD Radio with the amount of production value, being young-ish, and even their guests tend to be the same. I'm not saying they should have more listeners than Norm, but they're behind Newy?! It saddens me to think this might be it Dallas radio-wise for those boys.

Christy said...

Oh, The Ticket is, of course, winning. Okay, back to reading Mr. Plainsman's actual post.

The Plainsman said...

Christy, you may have veered back onto topic by sheer inadvertence:

Why might Newy have better ratings than Ben & Skin?

Are any of our radio insiders (and I know we have a few of you out there) aware of whether ratings are broken down by ethnicity? We might find something very interesting about their respective audiences.

And it might even provide some evidence for my point, which would be a first.

Anonymous said...

Plainsmen- there was a radio study done some years ago that fairly succesfully charts the typical pattern of radio station format development as a market grows. If you have one station in a town, it's usually "mass appeal", like an adult contemporary station. 2nd is likely country, then rock, then talk, etc. As a market grows, you start to see more segmentation- active rock/classic rock/alternative in the rock field, new country versus classic country, etc.

In the news/talk field, an all sports is usally the 3rd or 4th talk station in a market. In other words, you'll have a 'newsy' station (KRLD in our case) and at least a couple of talk stations (WBAP and KLIF (before their massive failure) in DFW) before you're likely to see that 4th talk station flip to all sports.

After that first station flips to sports, the additional number of sports stations in a market is usually dependent on the success of that first station. In DFW's case, The Ticket has been (for much of the last decade) one of the top 3 or 4 billing stations in the market.

That's why we have 2 other sports stations. Why isn't one of them 'black'? Typical black % of population is 10-15%. Not that black hosts can't appeal to other audiences, but I think most PD's want interesting hosts, of whatever color they may be.

cancer monkey said...

A Blicket?

Christy said...

I gotta say this to you, Mr. Plainsman: this is a pretty creative entry. While I have also noted the plethora of black callers with sports points, I'd never have thought more beyond that and written a lengthy post on it. Hats off to ya.

Now that you mention it and made me think about it, I don't think I've ever heard a black caller on bits like Screenless and voting on the E-brake...

In addition to Newy and Donovan, the other black sports broadcaster in this market is Nate Newton with Coop on 103.3.

Before that, Michael Irvin had a show on the same staion that posted low ratings. He's now broadcasting in Miami.

I generally don't listen to former athletes sports broadcast because they tend to side with the players and defend them. I prefer listening to unathletic broadcasters who are jealous of the professional players and have an axe to grind.

Just throwing out former black Ticket personnel:

- Chris Arnold - What I remember from his entry in Full Disclosure is that he had an extremely popular show, ratings-wise. I hope that's accurate...

- The Hot Spot from 7-10(?)pm were co-hosted by black men. I don't know why they were succeeded by Big Dick's Wild Ass Circus nor do I remember how long their tenure was.

- Curt Menefee - he was before my time and I don't remember the entry on him from Full Disclosure, but clearly, he's done well for himself.

shaggy said...

I agree with anonymous--it seems black guys and gals disproportionately enjoy calling in to talk shows to comment/ask questions. I am pretty sure in The Musers' recent Black Guy Roundtable, the black guys actually addressed the fact that The Ticket is very much NOT popular in "the community". I think they each commented that most of their black friends do not listen.

Anonymous said...

Plainsman, while I believe that you're well intended here, I also think that you've approached this in a rather ham-handed fashion (but at the same time you did so very respectfully).

The Ticket brand or formula, as has been evidenced by its numerous competitors over the years (both locally and nationally), cannot be simply imitated. It is an organic thing. It can't be prearranged. It just has to "happen." Hence the Ticket's singularity.

To be the "Black or Brown" Ticket is like The Fan "trying to suck less." It's just asinine.

I love this site. And I very much appreciate you, Plainsman, but this STD is a Smoldering Ticket Disquistion.

Anonymous said...

Off-topic:

I've posted many times here that while I think Gordo's imitations, characters, and man on the street interviews are absolute gold, his superficial philosophical/psychological analyses are sophomoric at best. Well, yesterday's conversation pertaining to the sport fan's alleged love of "feeling the pain" is a perfect example of what I'm talking about.

Gordo took off on this existential cum Freudian riff about sport fans' supposed masochistically enjoying the pain of home team failure... at first both Junior and Georgio put up a bit of an argument, but they ultimately relented to Gordo's usual "I will keep on this tack until you see things as I see them" bit. But the thing is, Fernando chimed in saying to the effect: "Hey, I grew up rooting for the Knicks. I've rooted for them for 40 years. Am I supposed to not root for them because they've sucked for the last 20 years? Does THAT mean that I'm addicted to the "pain"? No, it means that the Knicks are my team and I'm loyal." Fernando nailed it. And it's that very exchange that exemplifies what I mean when I say that I wish Gordo would stop with the philosophical/psychobabble b.s.. He turns what is commonsensical and evident into what passes for "serious thought" on a bar stool. (And people, the man isn't even a drinker!) To finish, what I thought was most interesting, was how Gordo handled Fernando's objection: he made a joke out of it and thus ignored it. Very telling.

The Plainsman said...

Anonymous-before-last:

"Ham-handed"? I thought it was exquisitely nuanced, sophisticated, and subtle as hell.

Teasing. Your Plainsman is a simple man of the Southern Great American Basin who happens to reside in one of the few pockets of the local geography where one or the other of The Ticket's signals may occasionally be heard. There is much that is hammy about me, so not surprising that my hands are thus.

The "Black Ticket" phrase is meant to be a grabber, not a prediction. A commenter once called The Ticket "lightning in a bottle," which I thought was pretty good, and is in line with your point.

So I would not expect any new sports/guy-talk station of any kind to be like The Ticket or to succeed like The Ticket, and certainly not in DFW. But -- and I haven't seen anything in the comments that changes my mind -- I think an all-black/all-brown (or maybe all black/brown) sports/guy-talk station in a major metro that had credible, knowledgeable hosts, no Ticket-quality competition, and promotional support would succeed.

The Plainsman said...

Hey, can anyone provide more information about Christy's recollection that there was a black-hosted evening sports-talk show called The Hot Spot on The Ticket? Sounds like the sort of thing I'm talking about, and maybe it didn't go so well (but I wouldn't expect an evening show to do as well). This would have predated my arrival in Dallas.

Anonymous said...

The "Hot Spot" was comprised of David Robinson and Kevin Blanford. The show wasn't very good. And to make matters worse, David Robinson was hot headed and prone to exaggeration and even lying about his personal history. Have you've ever heard the "I'm going to beat your ass / WHOA! WHOA!" drop? It originates from a prank the Hardline played on the Hot Spot during a mix and mingle between the two shows (the Hot Spot followed the Hardline - pre Top Ten days).

Anonymous said...

Whoa. just heard Danny say "this is not the way to beat The Hammer."

-Anon B

Scott said...

I concur, the Hot Spot was not good. I think Kevin Blanford had potential, had he been paired with someone other than David. It was a long time ago, but I think he would be good paired with Donovan.

As I listen to the Ticket, I hear black guys calling into Norm and BaD. Is that because Norm has a loyal following among black guys over 35 who listened to him growing up? Just a thought.... The HL and Musers rarely take calls, I don't notice black guys calling to those shows much.... But, maybe I am just not listening hard enough.

The Plainsman said...

I hear BGs calling into the Musers with some frequency -- when they take calls. The Hardline rarely take calls, so the sample size is fairly tiny.

Jay said...

To be honest Newy is the best thing on the fan. He makes good points, has great topics and the show never seems stagnant.

On the other hand Ben & Skin get off topic far too much. They were great doing a non sports show

Derick G said...

I really enjoyed the comments that have been added to this blog. I am Derick and have been featured on the (Black Guy Round Table) and have pondered some of the same thoughts that have been shared here. While the Ticket has a large Black following, I truly believe that you could broadcast there content anywhere, even places that English or American culture isn't fully embraced, and the end result would still be GOLD.

The Ticket, has found the "sweet spot" of being an ESPN (sport-like) and The View (all topic encompassing women's talk show) brand of entertainment. Having said that, I don't know if one could create a "Black" Ticket without completely duplicating the format of the Ticket, and I fear that the result would be failure for any station Black or White to attempt to copy what 1310 has created.

However, I do believe that there is room for a show on the Ticket which could be hosted by members of "the community" in order to present additional points of view and to open new revenue streams as well with more diverse sponsors.

Stay hard guys.

P1 Derick (from Frisco)

JUST A SIDE NOTE

I'm an insurance adjuster, and just yesterday I was speaking with an estimator at a local shop, when a guy stands up and yells out, "are you the Ticket's own Derick" it was both shocking and flattering to be mentioned like that. It's crazy how "we" all embrace this station and enjoy so much.

The Plainsman said...

Derick, welcome. Glad you found us. I always wonder how folks wander onto the site. Enjoyed the perspective, and please give us the benefit of your views when the spirit moves you.

I still think it's a good idea for a market that isn't completely swamped by The Ticket. I agree with Derick and others that you have got to have the right guys and the right chemistry; otherwise It's Just Exploitation.

In fact, I have recently heard it said that a "Brown Ticket" might actually be a better bet. Could be.