RUSH: Los Angeles, and Mark. Thank you for calling. It’s great to have you here. Hello.
CALLER: Analog and digital dittos, Rush.
RUSH: Thank you, sir, very much.
CALLER: Rush, right before I called and turned down my radio like a good caller, I was listening to your show on a clock radio I bought in 1985. My first exposure to you was actually on your syndicated TV show where I remember you wearing a Russian fur hat. You were talking about Bill Clinton’s trip to Moscow, and, at that time, that was the only news source where I could even hear that story. The only way to even contact you was either to call your 800 number on a land line, or I think you had like a ten-digit CompuServe e-mail address.
RUSH: That’s exactly right (chuckling), 70277,2502. That’s what it was. Exactly right.
CALLER: I got CompuServe just so I could contact you. You could get transcripts on that site, but now in this current environment I can listen to you with iHeartRadio anywhere. All these talk radio hosts are available to me constantly. I can Twitter you. I can put things on Facebook. There are so many different ways to get exposure to your show and for feedback. My question for you is, based upon what you were talking about in the last hour about how the media landscape has changed for cable television, for broadcast television, and for print media, how has all of this Internet revolution changed the AM radio broadcast market for you and for your other talk radio hosts? Is it different than what’s happening to broadcast and cable and print, or is it somehow the same?
RUSH: I’m not quite sure I understand the question. Are you asking me why AM has not fractured and been divided up into bunch of smaller pieces the way the network newscasts or the Big Three networks had it happen to them, or why the entire cable universe has so many niche networks now instead of broad/mass appeal networks?
CALLER: Well, the entire landscape has changed. I mean, I do work for E! Entertainment. So I’ve worked in that type of entertainment media, and even right now I just posted it on Facebook that I was waiting on hold to talk to you, and I’ve already had like 12 comments, and I’m just getting on the air with you. So it’s kind of a broad view of your opinion as a professional broadcast specialist about how Twitter and Facebook and Internet radio and podcasts and all the different technological factors impact radio.
RUSH: But are you asking me why has that not killed AM radio?
CALLER: Well, maybe, yes. Why is it I can still get it over the air? I’m listening on an AM radio right now. You know, why hasn’t the fact that people can listen to every other show not hurt your ratings?
RUSH: Oh! Okay. All right. Why have my ratings on radio not been cannibalized by the availability elsewhere? Is that what you’re saying?
CALLER: Yeah. And also just kind of your broader feedback. Now that people can Twitter you and there are so many different ways to reach you and there’s also so many different ways to hear your show… I mean, I used to have drive a car to hear the show.
RUSH: Well, but are there really?
Are there really that many different ways to hear the show?
Now, you can have somebody tweet what they just heard. You might be able to go to a radio station website or my website or what have you to get the program. But in terms of the actual entire show, it isn’t that fractured. About the only thing it has would be streaming on the Internet. But you can’t get the whole program on Twitter or on Facebook. You just get scripts — which will, of course, if you’re intrigued, direct you back to the source. I think that, probably, is the answer.
If I understand your question, I really think that the ultimate answer to your question is content. People will go wherever they have to in order to get the content that they want. So if what they want is on an AM radio station, that’s where they’ll go to get it. If they have to string two tin cans together with a piece of string to get it, that’s where they’ll go, if they want it. I think content is king. Surprisingly, a lot of broadcasters don’t subscribe to that. But I think it is content.
I’ve had so many people tell me that they are shocked that AM radio still even exists with all the different listening options. “Why haven’t you gone to FM?” In some markets we have. They ask, “But why aren’t you Internet only? Why aren’t you on this or that? Why don’t you stream your program? Why don’t you put a camera in there and let everybody watch your show on television?” I’ve got a specific answer to that: I do believe radio is to be listened to, not seen. But I still think it boils down to content. If people really like this show, the fact that it’s on AM radio doesn’t matter. They’ll go wherever it is if they want to listen to it.
In that sense, the content has to be continually better than whatever else is out there as an option.
CALLER: Now also… (crosstalk) Okay, go ahead.
RUSH: Maybe I’m still not answering your question, and, if I’m not, it’s ’cause I still don’t quite understand what it is.
CALLER: Well, also, when I go on to iHeartRadio I can listen to your show but I also have a choice of any other number of talk radio hosts all across the country that I can listen to.
CALLER: And rather than just say, there’s two AM stations in my market that I can get right where I am now, I have to listen to their programming. So why can’t people just say, “Oh, I’m gonna go to listen to Air America.” I don’t even know if they’re still even on.
RUSH: Well, but the reason they didn’t is because it wasn’t any good.
RUSH: It was available everywhere. They were giving it away. But it wasn’t any good. People didn’t want to listen to it. The Air America people totally misunderstood why this program, and any others like it, are successful. But it boils down to content and where people can best get it.
RUSH: I’m still trying to figure out what that guy’s question was, and I’ve got people telling me what he really meant. Somebody just said to me that what he was asking was, “With all of these other media options, why is this old-fashioned AM radio still even around?” Is that what he was saying? Well, again, it’s the same answer: Content. ‘Cause there’s something on it people want to listen to. Pure and simple. That’s why it’s relevant.
AM radio has something there that people would want, so they’ll go there to listen to it. Content, content, content! Content is king, just like cash is king. Ask ’em about that in Cyprus. Content, content, content, content. Marshall McLuhan. Remember him? He said, “The medium is the message.” The message is the message. In my world, the message is the message. If it were simply about modernity, AM would not exist, ’cause it’s not modern. There’s nothing hip about AM.
In terms of audio quality, you can do much better.
In terms of reception, you can do much better.
I think television is probably maybe seen as less hip or less modern by kids that know how to stream video on their “iDevices,” yeah. Because that’s on demand. If you can find it, you watch what you want when you want to watch. Why do you think Netflix is kicking butt? Why do you think when I pulled my little stunt last week, that Netflix was gonna raise prices so as to no longer subsidize people who didn’t have the money for it — or they were gonna raise prices to pay for people that couldn’t — it caused a stir?
You didn’t know this, but for the five minutes that I let it hang out there, it ticked people off like you can’t believe. Apple, iTunes: $1.99 to buy a high-definition episode of a TV show that aired last night. It’s become one of their biggest profit centers, buying for a buck ninety-nine a high-definition TV show that you coulda watched last night for nothing. There are no ads on it. You watch it in 42 minutes. It’s going gangbusters. Movies, the same thing.
There’s a massive, massive media transformation out there that’s taking place. But content… (interruption) Do I what? Sometimes I do. Sometimes I watch Netflix on the iPad. If I’m sitting on the sofa and I don’t want to get up and walk five feet to get my TV remote, I’ll watch it on the iPad. So you know what I’ve done? I got a program on my iPad that turns on the TV. Essentially, I’ve got a remote control, a Crestron app, for my TV sets in every room in the house on my iPad. So it depends how intimate I want to be.
In fact for me, the reason I choose to watch it on an iPad is because I can hear it better, and I don’t need to turn the captioning on as much with that speaker real close to my implant. The media landscape is fascinating. I’m doing an interview. We’re in our 25th year here on this program, and for some that’s significant in terms of anniversaries. Silver is your 25th. So a trade publication submitted some questions. I agreed to do the interview, and they submitted their questions via e-mail and I answered via e-mail.
One of the questions was — and I found this literally fascinating. This publication’s been around at least 20 years if not longer. This is not a criticism. I don’t want anybody… I’m not even gonna tell you who it is. It doesn’t matter. It’s a trade magazine. You’ll never see it. Just people in radio read it. “How come you don’t do personal appearances and television shows and books to also connect with your audience?”
I wrote back, “But I have. I’ve been there, done that. I did that long ago. I wrote two books that sold a combo of 10 million copies in hardcover. I did three years of 49 weekends a year of speeches, and I did four years of a syndicated TV show before there was cable. I’ve been there, done that.” I said, “What your question should be, is, ‘Why do you not have to do that in order to still have the largest audience there is?’ That’s the question for somebody that really is interested: Why do I not have to do TV every night? Why do I not have to constantly have a book out there?”
That, to me, is the question.
But I didn’t answer it because it wasn’t asked.
RUSH: This is Phillip down at Boca Raton, Florida. Hello, sir, and welcome to the EIB Network.
CALLER: Hello, Rush. What a pleasure. I am so glad I got in today to chime in a little bit about this media issue that you brought up in the first hour.
RUSH: Yes, sir.
CALLER: That’s right up my alley. Yes, I made my transition professionally from terrestrial to digital media, or actually streaming media, back in ’94. So, as such, a little backdrop, fast forward now. In January of this year, after the election, I was invited by three GOP consultant types to have lunch in Boca Raton to discuss programming ideas to get into how we change this GOP message. Their concept, very simply, was CNN News-style — you know, Fox News-style — talking heads with the suits and the whole thing, and I just started shaking my head.
I said, “You know what? This is not gonna work for one simple reason.” He said, “What’s that?” I said, “This does not fit the cultural template that the audience you’re trying to reach desires to watch or receive that message. It’s just not gonna work.” I said, “Let me demonstrate this, and let me illustrate this. Our server came up…” Now, this is not just a sandwich shop guy. We were at a nice restaurant our server came you I said, “Before we give you our order, do you mind if I ask you a couple questions?” He said, “Sure, go ahead.” I said, “How old are you?”
He said, “Twenty-eight.”
I said, “Do you go to the college?” He said, “I’m back now. I’m taking courses to finish up.” I said, “Great. When it’s time to get your news, when you get your news, where do you get your information from?” Rush, the “M” on “from” did not even make it off of my tongue, and he said Democratic Central. (sic) Now, if you were to see, now, the next second was actually an hour almost because the gasp and the jaw draw from the three individuals that I was sitting with at lunch was so apparent, it took the kid aback. He was like, but I also get my news from —
RUSH: Wait a second. Wait, wait. Are you telling me that you were with three consultants, Republicans, who were surprised that a 28-year-old watched Comedy Central?
CALLER: No, that he got his news from Comedy Central.
RUSH: Well, same difference. The Daily Show and Colbert Report.
CALLER: Right, exactly, exactly.
RUSH: And these guys were surprised by that?
CALLER: They were totally taken aback that out of an impromptu, one question is asking somebody, that was the response. They were dumbfounded, totally dumbfounded.
RUSH: What were they expecting this 28-year-old to say when you asked him that question, where he gets his news?
CALLER: Obviously they maybe would have thought CNN or MSNBC or some of the conventional means by which you and I were used to getting our news as we were groping, a platform of, you know, you watched one guy at an anchor desk and that’s how you get news. Now, the story goes on. He said, “I have my mobile phone, and I get headlines from this service,” and I know the service. It’s called Fluent News, and you can just scroll down and get headlines, but you can filter what you want.
RUSH: Wait, wait, wait, hold it. What’s it called?
CALLER: Fluent News. I have nothing to do with it, by the way. It’s just what he showed me.
RUSH: No, it does have to do with it. You have a 28-year-old who’s a got a website that’s feeding him news. Spell it for me. What is it?
CALLER: It’s an aggregate. It’s an aggregate. F-l-u-e-n-t. It’s a news aggregate site.
RUSH: Fluent News. Are you calling us on Skype, by the way?
CALLER: No, I’m on my mobile phone.
RUSH: Okay. It’s obviously not an iPhone.
CALLER: Yes, it is. I just have my Bluetooth in.
RUSH: It is an iPhone. That’s why it sounds so good. I thought you were on Skype. Well, anyway, I can’t believe that these guys were shocked that a 28-year-old would be watching Comedy Central.