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The Essence Of Successful Talk Radio

Thursday, February 14, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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From Rush to Time Magazine:

What is it that the mainstream media don’t understand about your role and the role of conservative talk radio in general?

I don’t think they understand why I do it, number one. I treat it as a business. My definitions for success have nothing to do with who wins elections, but rather, Is the program growing audience-wise? Are we attracting new sponsors? Are those sponsors paying confiscatory rates? Are we able to charge confiscatory rates? Which we are. Are they getting results for their advertising? Yes they are. We’re sold out constantly, we’ve got a waiting list for people to get on. That’s how I define it.[# More #]

Now, in terms of the content, I just come here and I try to have fun every day. And I’m honest. I don’t say outrageous things I don’t believe just to get people in a tizzy. I have the benefit here of not having anybody tell me what I can or can’t say. It’s totally up to me. But I’m very serious about a lot of things. And so I get very passionate about those things, and I do so with honesty. But I also -it’s show biz, too. There’s a lot of radio out there. There’s a lot of TV. There’s a lot of competition. And you have to do certain things to cut through the noise. And that’s where the showbiz characteristics will surface, such as “Talent On Loan From God.” You know people think I’m saying I’m Christ, which I’m not. But it’s just these little signature things that sometimes rub people the wrong way or make them think that I’m an arrogant and pompous person. Those are just the showbiz things.

The second thing that the media doesn’t understand -and I think it’s because talk radio is outside the Beltway. It’s a phenomenon that attracts what I call the people who make the country work. I don’t think politicians and elected officials and bureaucrats and even the media are responsible for the greatness of the country. I think it’s individual Americans laboring in anonymity, not seeking fame, just trying to get by, play by the rules, work hard, ordinary people doing extraordinary things. And those are the people that listen to talk radio. And the media thinks that they’re all hayseeds and hicks without minds of their own. When in fact, they are totally independent thinkers. And most of my audience is there not because I have Pied Pipered them to where they believe. They already believed what they believe -I just came along and validated it. When I started in ’88, there was CNN, the three networks, your magazine and Newsweek and US News and the newspapers. That was it. I started in ’88 and I was the first so-called national voice espousing conservatism and people glommed onto it because finally, “Somebody who agrees with me!”

So the assumption is that people who listen to talk radio are idiots, or mindless robots, or victims of slick marketing and packaging. So there’s sort of a condescending view of the audience of talk radio, people are sometimes held in contempt by some people. It’s just totally wrong. It’s 180 degrees out of phase.

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