After a nearly 12-year run, The Doug Banks Morning Show was pulled from syndication by ABC Radio Networks earlier this month. It had aired in more than 50 markets and consistently ranked in the No. 1 or No. 2 spots for its timeslot.
However, Banks launched a new radio show for ABC on Jan. 11(national syndication begins Jan. 14) called The Doug Banks & DeDe McGuire Show, which will air on WVAZ-FM in Chicago.
Some experts say the cancellation of Banks’ syndicated program reflects the troubled state of radio. “In addition to the poor economy, the radio industry is struggling to find ways to compete with new media such as the Internet,” says Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers magazine, an industry trade publication covering talk media. There is also a glut of syndicated programs. “Most radio stations have more syndicated programs than local programming. There are actually more programs produced for syndication than places to air them.”
“It’s cheaper to run a syndicated show in a market than it is to hire a local announcer. The station gets the added benefit of having a celebrity who brings with him or her immediate recognition and listener loyalty,” says Kevin Ross, founder of RadioFacts.com.
But black radio faces added obstacles. Shows such as The Doug Banks Morning Show, says Harrison, are viewed by advertisers as niche programming unable to reach a broad market. “[Advertisers] are still using the old method of determining where to place ad dollars,” he notes. “They are looking at the number of people a show attracts rather than the culture of the show, the host’s relationship with the listeners, and if they act to buy based on what they hear on the show.”
Ross says the blame doesn’t lay with advertisers alone. He says besides declining advertising, black radio has failed to reinvent itself. “I’d like to see urban radio be more progressive. We’re pretty much doing the same thing today we were doing 10 years ago,” he says. “One of my greatest concerns is the lack of new blood in the programming departments. Urban radio has recycled the same program directors for the last two decades. Urban radio stations are also missing an incredibly viable tool by continuing to ignore the Internet and their Websites. The station’s Website could be such a great tool for additional branding, listener participation, client benefits and most important a revenue generator.”