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Barrett News Media’s Top 20 National News/Talk Shows of 2023

The second annual Barrett News Media Top 20 series is taking a break from focusing on local shows to turn our attention to the national circuit. Today, we reveal the Top 20 National News/Talk Shows for 2023. If you missed the Morning, Midday or Afternoon Show lists, click here for the Top 20 section to get caught up. To avoid missing out on the rest of the series, please bookmark our website, follow BNM on X at @BNMStaff or on Facebook at Barrett News Media or sign up for our daily newsletter, ‘The Rundown‘ by clicking here.

This year’s series focuses on six categories; Major and Mid market news/talk radio morning, midday, and afternoon shows, program directors, radio stations, and the format’s best national talk shows. Major Markets represent shows, stations, and PDs operating in markets #1-#20. Mid Markets cover markets #21 and below. Not included are NPR brands and shows. Maybe in the future we’ll change that or add an extra category but for now, mainstream news/talk radio outlets are the main focus.

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As you review the results, please remember that they represent the collective opinions of fifty four (54) news/talk radio programmers and executives. We try our best to make sure the top shows, hosts, programmers and brands are listed for voting consideration. Industry decision makers are then asked to vote on categories based on where their stations/shows operate. BNM’s role in the voting process is to gather the feedback, add it up, and present the results.

I want to thank Barrett Media’s Digital Director Alex Reynolds for doing an awesome job on this year’s graphics, as well as each PD and executive who participated in this process. We had representation from fourteen companies and forty different cities, which was even better than last year. For those who didn’t vote and were invited to do so, I hope you’ll change your mind next year. It’s good for the format if you’re involved, and depending on the final votes, it can benefit your staff, sales team, and company, and excite your audience and advertisers.

Moving on to the voting, here are a few things to keep in mind.

#1 – Our executive voters are asked to rank their Top 20 selections for each category based on a few key factors; quality of show (ear test), originality, ability to entertain-inform-connect across multiple platforms, ratings success, clearance (national shows) and industry buzz. Remember, our voters live in different cities, have different tastes, work for different groups, and value certain factors higher than others. This is not a perfect system but it’s the best one we’ve come up with to showcase the industry’s top performers. Having done this for eight years with the sports talk format, we’re going to stick with it until a better option arises.

#2 – The executive panel consisted of program directors and corporate executives from a number of top broadcasting companies including Audacy, iHeart, Cumulus, Hubbard, Cox Media Group, Townsquare Media, Salem Media Group, Radio One, Alpha Media, Bonneville, FOX News Radio, Westwood One, Federated Media, and Zimmer Communications. We involve a large number of people in this process in order to receive feedback from all parts of the country, and to avoid the results heavily favoring one group. Given the variety of people in this process, it means there’s no guarantee that last year’s success will be repeated this year.

#3 – A total of 62 national shows were eligible for voting consideration in the National News/Talk Shows category. Many of these programs air nationwide on hundred’s of radio stations. They help brands deliver ratings and revenue success while elevating the station’s relevance in the process. Many on our list are vital to the format but only one can be crowned the category winner, so let’s get to the results.

Last year, Sean Hannity claimed the top prize. In 2023, that top honor goes to Clay Travis and Buck Sexton. The Premiere Networks tandem ranked 2nd in 2022, and moved up one spot to knock off Hannity by thirty nine (39) points. Clay and Buck launched their show in June 2021, stepping into Rush Limbaugh’s former timeslot. To earn this recognition two and a half years into their run speaks volumes about how well the show has been received by industry decision makers. BNM congratulates Clay, Buck, Julie Talbott, Peter Tripi and the Premiere Networks team on the first place finish, and every other show that earned a spot on this year’s list.

Now, here are the full results of “Barrett News Media’s Top 20 National News/Talk Shows of 2023!”

A photo of Derek Jeter

Additional Notes:

  • Clay & Buck won the afternoon category by thirty nine (39) points over Sean Hannity. The two shows were tied for the most first place votes in the category with nine (9).
  • Spots 21-25 were claimed by Michael Knowles, Michael Smerconish, Bill O’ReillyOur American Stories, and Markley, Van Camp & Robbins.
  • The closest contests saw George Noory hold off Mark Levin by five (5) points, and Hugh Hewitt edged Charlie Kirk by six (6) points. Todd Starnes also held a slim seven (7) point advantage over Michael Knowles for 20th place.
  • Of the 62 shows to receive votes, fourteen (14) received at least one 1st place vote.

Here is the remaining schedule for the BNM Top 20 of 2023.

  • Friday December 15 = BNM’s Top 20 Major/Mid Market News/Talk Program Directors of 2023
  • Monday December 18 = BNM’s Top 20 Major/Mid Market News/Talk Radio Stations of 2023
Jason Barrett
Jason Barrett
Jason Barrett is the President and Founder of Barrett Media since the company was created in September 2015. Prior to its arrival, JB served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He also spent time programming SportsTalk 950 in Philadelphia, 590 The Fan KFNS in St. Louis, and ESPN 1340/1390 in Poughkeepsie, NY. Jason also worked on-air and behind the scenes in local radio at 101.5 WPDH, WTBQ 1110AM, and WPYX 106.5. He also spent two years on the national stage, producing radio shows for ESPN Radio in Bristol, CT. Among them included the Dan Patrick Show, and GameNight.You can find JB on Twitter @SportsRadioPD. He's also reachable by email at [email protected].

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