The Continued Demise Of The Local Night Show
Earlier today AllAccess reported that Clear Channel VP/Special Programming Projects Tim ‘Romeo” Herbster is taking over nights at nine of the company’s Top 40 stations.
Herbster, who also hosts the nationally syndicated “Saturday Night Online” will be heard on “Z104.3” WZFT Baltimore, “Channel 96.1” WHQC Charlotte, “G105” WDCG Raleigh, “107.5 The River” WRVW Nashville, and five other stations yet to be announced. Romeo becomes yet another syndicated personality in the evening daypart.
The AC format has long been the domain of syndication with the likes of Delilah and John Tesh. Rock has seen the growth of Sixx Sense with Nikki Sixx, HardDrive XL, VH1 Classic Rock On Tap with Nik Carter, Nights with Alice Cooper, and Loudwire Nights with Full Metal Jackie. Country has become mostly syndicated across the country with shows like Nash Nights Live, CMT Radio Live, Lia, and Big Time with Whitney Allen. Romeo joins Nights Live with Adam Bomb, Zach Sang And The Gang, and Party Playhouse among others.
As budget cuts and layoffs become the norm in the industry, local night shows are usually the first to go. Listenership is lower in the evening than earlier dayparts making it an easy target. Unlike most I am not against nationalized radio. I believe a show/format that airs live across the country with the best talent can do more good than a jock voicetracking different shows for stations across the country or automation. Nights are likely the best place to experiment with this in Top 40, particularly if it can be used to be interactive, have big name guests on-air and break new artists. Enable the show the ability to go viral nationally with clearances across the country as opposed to just “select” markets. It has to be all or nothing. Even better will be if competitors have the ability to build a local show to go against it as opposed to plugging in another syndicated show as we normally see in AC and Country.
There is one major drawback to this that our industry must resolve. Nights were usually the home of young and up-and-comers getting their first break. The elimination of local night shows eliminates yet another position for new talent to break in and develop. A station isn’t going to throw an untested talent in middays or drive times so where do they start with nights and weekends mostly off the table? Most broadcast companies aren’t using HD subchannels to develop talent, electing instead to pipe in a pre-packaged or automated format.