Take a look at the Top 5 Talkers of 2010, and you can see why talk radio industry types are worrying about succession, and appealing to the next generation.
A big worry is that there's no next generation -- Luke Burbank, David Boze, and Pocki Finpockets are real exceptions. It's the market not at work. The industry, run for years by old, Wall Street-sucking, risk averse porn-dogs, have made radio unattractive financially and spiritually to talented young people entering media. There's little training radio: case in point:
The Frank Shiers Show (KIRO m-f, 7-11p) is the only real live and local show in Seattle that's not in the prime hours. Evenings, late night, and weekends - once the training hours for new radio talent - are dead except for newscasts, syndicated re-runs and informercials.
1. Rush Limbaugh, 59, is aging, playing a lot of golf, lately, has a young wife to keep happy, and has many prayer circles both Christian and Pagan praying for the aneuryism that will send him to the next time slot.
2. Sean Hannity, 59. has some years left, but let's face it: he's a bland and unsubtle movement tool; no Rush Limbaugh; and his numbers have been stagnant for several years.
3. Glenn Beck, 49, is young and claims "I am not dying," but his numbers have also calcified as his Wizard of Ozian curtain has been pulled back, and he has opted for teevee. and business schemes. Much of Rush's old white demo don't like him for his messianic view of his role in the universe; the young and the growing brownish majority are appalled at his prima facie racism, and politically incorrect stunts. Industry suits are afraid he's an unstable element that will flame out as the political/economic era that created him ends.
4. Michael Savage, 68, is popular with those who confuse multisyllabicism with knowledge, and hell, he's older than Rush! His listenership, and advertisers has flagged as well. The Mean, it seems, has limited appeal to all that many listeners.
5. Dr. Laura's age (63) is irrelevant - she's signing off next year. And there doesn't seem to be anyone in the wings ready to pounce on the naggy, moralistic agony aunt spot she's held down for lo, these many.
Get below the Big 5, you take a precipitous drop in listenership, name recognition, mass appeal, or, in most cases, talent: Laura Ingraham, Dave Ramsey, Mark LeVin, Lou Dobbs, Thom Hartmann, Ed Shultz, Neal Boortz, and Mancow. Howard Stern, once huge, is caught in the ether between earth and the deep space of subscription radio.
Who do you think will be in the Top Five of say, 2015? Will anyone know their names?