The Loudest Voice



There’s a new series on Showtime that everyone in our business should be watching, for a lot of reasons. It’s called, The Loudest Voice.

Russell Crowe plays Roger Ailes, the founder and architect of FOX News, and he is fantastic!

In the very first episode, he challenges the 2-person team, long-time friends of Rupert Murdoch’s, who’ve been charged with creating “The Plan” for FOX News. They want to cast a wide net, believing that because FOX News will be a “cable” channel, they have to aim broadly if they hope to get enough viewers to matter. They want to be broad and shallow and safe, hoping that will attract millions of eyeballs.

Ailes, when asked by Murdoch, disagrees completely: Who is your audience?

The rest, as they say, is history.

No radio station in the world needs a 50 share to print money, and Ailes understood that if you super-serve whatever distinct niche you are targeting, they will not only listen, they will love you.

He’s not targeting everyone because targeting everyone will bland down the product to the point of…well, what you hear now on most radio stations in most cities around the world.

Declare! Stand for something, something distinct, something no other station is standing for, and then deliver, over and over and over.

Feed the beast!

Look, from most reports over the years, it’s clear that Roger Ailes was the worst kind of bully and sexual predator. I am not condoning his character, nor his behavior. I was never a fan of his all-or-nothing politics and ruthlessness. I’m not an advocate of “win at all costs.”

But your path to #1 lies in exactly what Ailes preaches: Identify who you’re speaking to. Then pick something, something she cares about, something she wants, and give it to her every time she listens.

That means every daypart, and every break.

It needs to be clearly distinct — and clearly better, in her eyes — from her other choices, and this is where Radio screws it up. We think we can win with the tightest playlist. We think we don’t need to spend money on talent, and if all we want from those on the air is a bright read of vapid liners, we don’t.

But if you want to win, win big and win quickly, we’ve got decades worth of proof that won’t work.

Try to win 100% of the 10% of your town’s population you need to be ranked #1. Forget the other 90%. Target the 10% with a laser focus.

You’ve only missed a couple of episodes and this may be one you want to binge watch anyway.

Everyone involved in any part of programming, in any way part of the creation of all between-the-songs content should watch this series!


And while you’re setting your DVR, check out Years and Years on HBO:

It helps if you know a bit about Brits and you may have to run your closed captions to catch every word, but the first episode was both hilarious and terrifying.

It’s about what’s happening in Britain, and in America, right now, and where it might lead. Check it out. You can thank me later.

Either — both — of these new series are worth the price of the subscription.