The Continued Demise Of The Local Night Show

Nighttime Radio Tim Romeo Herbster CHR SyndicationEarlier 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.

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  1. johndavis says

    While it’s true that nights aren’t a big daypart for adult formats, it was the one time of day that CHR used to pretty much turn it over to teens, with contesting and features aimed straight at the audience. Not only was it a place to break in up-and-coming jocks, but it was also where people like me got hooked on radio. It was a media that spoke directly to me and my friends and we had a shared experience as high school spirit contests battled back and forth nightly. Sure, I outgrew that when I got older, but I found stuff that spoke to me at that stage of life.

    So yeah, it saves $25-30K a year and it keeps the needles moving, but it also takes away that part of growing up in your own town.

    There are some good night shows… Lia is solid for country with good artist content and features that make me perk my ears up to listen to what’s going on. But there are a lot of syndicated programs that just sound disconnected to the rest of the station. I wish shows were picked more for their strength than their cost.

  2. BC says

    where will other jocks like me find our place? doing radio for free, either volunteering at local community radio stations, and if not that, youtube star, podcaster, so on! The biggest problem with this being a solution, is that we have to train ourselves. Heck if it wasn’t for people like kobe from Jacksonville, I would have never understood the concept of word economy. Speaking of which, I tend to ramble so I’ll end it there. The only solution i can think of is jocks locally stepping up to mentor people with an established game plan, seeing them less as competitors and more as a potential side resource for the station.

  3. Lou Pickney says

    A national night CHR show has potential, but it would likely require a national major player rolling out in several key markets to have gain the maximum potential leverage. Splitting between west coast/east coast isn’t easy, but the TV networks have been doing it for years.

  4. saltydog says

    The action of radio executives speak much louder than their words when they say all is well with radio (i.e. reach and ROI as per the most recent study). They wouldn’t be cutting these shifts if they thought revenue was about to grow again.

  5. Mike704 says

    People don’t seem to care much about radio it’s just there. We so many places to get it, the internet, mp3 files and CD’s. There are many other forms of entertainment to compete with too, DVD’s, 200+ TV channels, Being a DJ now doesn’t carry the prestige that it used to unless you are on a high profile morning show. With today’s computer automated radio station a DJ is a bit like a buggy whip salesman.

  6. firepoint525 says

    Agree with what most of you have said so far here about the lack of potential to develop a “bullpen” of future djs. What I see happening is that we won’t have any fallout from that right away, but maybe in a generation or so when there is no longer a “farm team” of djs to move up to the majors.

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