It occurred to me on the way home from the office today while listening to Hannity that the top talk show hosts are leaving themselves wide open for competition. The number of interruptions in the content (traffic, weather, spots, obituaries, promos, in-program spots, whatever) has reduced the actual content to a very low level. A few years ago, a friend was a guest on a local talk show from 4 to 5 PM. I taped the show and telescoped it. How much actual content do you think there was? Exactly 22 minutes. How do you maintain continuity with 22 minutes out of 60 having meaningful content?
A tip of the hat to those of you in this thread. Often any attempt to discuss today's Talk Radio techniques results in readers assuming someone is bashing a personality because of disagreement with political philosophy. This thread seems to be avoiding that trap.
Each of the big name talk shows comes across with a delivery style that sounds like the host is just letting his personal style spill out and maybe some things are spontaneous. But the more you follow the industry the more you realize there are consultants involved, sometimes reviews of a program much like the football Monday game "films", etc.
The trade-off, the transaction between the program and the stations has to have a lot of tension at work. Too many of those commercial breaks and the listeners begin to lose patience. Not enough of the breaks and the stations can't place as much "inventory" into play to get the income out the program they want. Some other program formats would probably chase-off too much audience with the same amount of commercial break time and features like traffic etc. Apparently political talk radio is just listener-sticky enough to not let the breaks kill the audience numbers.
I had not thought about it quite this way before, but Hannity's time slot probably does need a more "busted-up program clock" to accommodate the expectations of the drive time audience.
So far the genre has benefited from the tendency of Conservatives being very accepting of Conservatives even though they don't all sing from the exact same song book. If tension develops between the "traditional Conservatives" and the "tea party Conservatives"... is it possible the audience could turn out to not be a "listener-sticky"... and how would a Talk Host defuse such a possibility?