Sorry TV titans and fancy producers, but the American media landscape is not dominated by streaming video, Sunday night football and vampire dramas. Here’s the realty check. It’s syndicated talk radio hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity — plus their fellow broadcast talkers — who are the winners. None other than Nielsen Media Research reveals some stark facts about public preference.
“According to Nielsen audience measurement data, adults 18 and older in the U.S. spend just shy of six hours (5 hours, 51 minutes) with their TV-connected devices each week. While that’s nothing to thumb your nose at, it’s dwarfed by the amount of time Americans spend with traditional radio, the proverbial patriarch of the media industry. In fact, radio commands nearly 12 hours (11 hours, 51 minutes) of our weekly media diets — that’s almost four hours more than a typical work day,” Nielsen says.
“But it’s not enough to simply know how much time people spend with radio. Capitalizing on the opportunities with the original electronic mass media hinges on knowing who’s listening to what, where and when. At a broad level, the news/talk format remains the most popular genre on the radio — a designation it’s held for nearly a decade. And with the U.S. presidential election coming up next year, the appeal of news/talk will likely remain strong in 2020,” the industry group advises.
It also found that “adult contemporary” radio and country music place second and third, respectively — followed by a dozen other categories which share portions of the audience. Mr. Limbaugh, incidentally, is the leading radio talk show host, drawing 15.5 million listeners. Mr. Hannity ranks second with 15 million according to Talkers Magazine, which tracks the trends. Dave Ramsey is in third pace with 14 million, followed by Mark Levin (11 million) and Glenn Beck (10.5 million) to round out the top five.
Politics, incidentally, has always driven radio. Consider the very first commercial radio broadcast, delivered by a Pittsburgh-based ham radio operator named Frank Conrad, who had the backing of Westinghouse.
“On November 2, 1920, station KDKA made the nation’s first commercial broadcast (a term coined by Conrad himself). They chose that date because it was election day, and the power of radio was proven when people could hear the results of the Harding-Cox presidential race before they read about it in the newspaper,” notes a PBS historical report.
A round of applause, please, for Fox News, which has remained the nation’s No. 1 cable news channel for 18 years. The network now has garnered its highest-rated year in its 23-year history with 2.5 million prime-time viewers in an average evening according to Nielsen — finishing 2019 as the most-watched network in the entire cable realm for the fourth consecutive year in both prime time and throughout the day.
“Fox News Channel continues to exert its dominance in cable television as the country experiences what may be one of the most fervent news cycles in history and we are proud to provide our audience with news and opinion they can trust across a variety of programming,” notes a statement form Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott and Fox News Media president and executive editor Jay Wallace.
BERNIE SCALES THE MOUNTAIN
The news media is still friendly to Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernard Sanders. His campaign events are crowded and lively, and the public has not thought much about his sudden heart attack just three months ago. The Vermont socialist appears to be in full stride as a candidate — with some numbers to back that up. Mr. Sanders has raised more money that his remaining Democratic rivals.
“With an average donation size of $18.53, the feat that Sen. Sanders pulled off in the fourth quarter of 2019 in terms of fundraising is quite impressive,” writes Nate Ashworth, editor-in chief of Election Central.
Indeed, Mr. Sanders brought in a tidy $34.5 million in the last three months of the year, far exceeding his nearest rival Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend, Indiana, mayor who added $24.7 million in his campaign war chest.
“In total, Bernie brought in over $97 million in 2019 and still has $88 million remaining cash on hand. As it stands, Bernie’s the front runner in terms of the money race and no other candidate, so far, has come close,” says Mr. Ashworth.
All of this suggests that Mr. Sanders has a respectable base of voter support who possibly share one solitary trait with Trump voters. They feel fierce and possibly overlooked; whether that motivates them to get to the polls is another matter. Meanwhile, the harsh realities of the 2020 race are many.
Among many other things, President Trump’s campaign has more money than anybody with $102.7 million, the campaign says. Former vice president Joseph R. Biden has wider name recognition than the Democratic pack and has polished up his smiling “Joe” image.
“Sanders has his vulnerabilities. Ill feeling lingers in some quarters of the party from his long 2016 campaign against eventual nominee Hillary Clinton. Centrists frequently voice fears that he could be too far to the left for the nation at large,” advises Niall Stanage, White House columnist for The Hill.
“Even if Sanders won both Iowa and New Hampshire, the party establishment would almost certainly try to block his path to the nomination. But there is no guarantee the centrists would succeed. Sanders has a real shot of becoming the nominee,” he notes.
CALLING ALL SCHOLARS
A polite notice from the Ronald Reagan Institute — located in the nation’s capital and part of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. The organization now seeks applications from recent Ph.D. recipients for a new Postdoctoral Visiting Fellows Program meant to “complete President Reagan’s unfinished work and to preserve the timeless principles he championed: individual liberty, economic opportunity, democracy, and national pride.”
Visiting Fellows will be selected based on the relevance of their research to these principles. Proposals will also be judged on the likelihood of completion of a book manuscript during the fellowship period. Applicants must submit proof of having successfully defended a dissertation by Aug. 15; the fellowship runs from September 2020 to August 2021. There is a $75,000 stipend, with an additional $5,000 for expenses.
Applications close March 2; consult RonaldReaganInstitute.org. The specifics can be found under the “Reagan Institute” heading, specifically “Scholarship.”
POLL DU JOUR
• 28% of Americans say they are trying to keep New Year’s resolutions.
• 76% of that group are confident they will stick to their resolutions.
• 50% plan to exercise more, 49% to save money.
• 43% plan to eat healthy, 37% to lose weight, 34% to reduce stress.
• 30% vow to both get more sleep and stick to a budget.
• 28% plan to increase “spiritual growth, 25% to learn a new skill, 24% to improve “family relations.”
Source: A YOUGOV poll of 1,174 U.S. ADULTS conducted DEC. 18-19 AND RELEASED WEDNESDAY.
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