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UPCOMING EVENTS

Taylor Swift Has Opened The Door For News/Talk to Buck Old Stereotypes

Typically, the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl can mean a big boost for sports talk radio. But as sports, politics, and culture continue to intertwine, the opening for news/talk continues to grow during these two weeks. And we get to do it without the awful, cheesy, salesy interviews from Super Bowl Radio Row!

In recent weeks, Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce have stolen the headlines of the NFL season. In fact, in what feels like the first time in a long time, the X’s and O’s story on the field before the Super Bowl is far from the biggest story going into the game. It’s the off-field storyline around the two lovebirds. It’s a beautiful blend of sports, culture, and politics wrapped into one nice package of two celebrities: the sports star and the pop star.

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It’s a match made in heaven, and it’s talk radio gold.

The question is: If you’re a news/talk show, will you figure out a way to royally screw this up as so many have?

If your goal is to appear like an out-of-touch, old, angry conspiracy theorist, then by all means, join the portion of the “online right” who have elected to take the Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift story and turn it into a secret plot to help the Democratic Party in 2024. Huh? 

Everything from the NFL is rigged, to the relationship being fake, to Taylor Swift getting attention to set up a Joe Biden endorsement to her being a Pentagon asset have made the rounds on social media and on corners of cable news. 

This noise has been coming from those generally on the right side of the political aisle, and there may be a temptation for some, who might assume those with large, national platforms might know what they are talking about. Please understand, they don’t.

This story creates an opportunity for news/talk to expand its audience beyond the base of die-hard P1s that we overly rely on. It’s a chance to show off our pop culture knowledge, embrace the top pop culture story of the year, lean into the football angle, and prove to the listeners across our cities that we aren’t one-trick ponies reading Presidential polls. While that is an unfair characterization of our format at large, it remains accurate for too many, unfortunately.

But by taking this golden opportunity and turning it into an alleged psyop on behalf of the Democratic Party and Joe Biden, will only continue to detach our format from cultured, smart, and information-seeking 25-54-year-old adults, who could be listening to any other format in the marketplace.

Oh, but you say that some of the biggest personalities in the “online right” have gone viral pushing this nonsense? Yes, they have. But their goals are far different from a talk show host. 

These individuals care about nothing more than their online traction and ability to go viral. And yes, it’s our job to get ratings and grow the audience, but like anything else, at what cost? Clicks on social media are a different strategy from consistently growing ratings and trust in our medium. Our level of trust with an audience that tunes in every day goes much deeper than getting affirmation from various corners of the internet. They’re playing a different game. Some might say grifting is too strong, but it’s not.

It’s a grift and it’s a well-coordinated one, at that.

But the end result will be two things:

1) Republicans losing more elections by looking like absolute lunatics who would go to war with America’s favorite pop star, when she has given zero reason whatsoever to deserve it.

2) Declining ratings and listenership in a format that is already struggling to reach the younger end of the demographic, which is occurring already for various reasons, some out of our control, some self-inflicted.

So as you look at this story, use it to your advantage. Have fun. Be original. Find angles. Showcase your depth of knowledge and interest in life beyond the political headlines of the day. Be the personality you’d want to take to and hang out with at a party.

And yes, you might get some pushback from your P1s. But just Shake It Off, they’ll be there, I promise. You don’t have to worry about any long-term Bad Blood. In our Wildest Dreams, we could never have imagined a Love Story like this falling into our laps, yet it has. Embrace it. You won’t become the Anti-Hero

Pete Mundo
Pete Mundo
Pete Mundo is a weekly columnist for Barrett Media, and the morning show host and program director for KCMO in Kansas City. Previously, he was a fill-in host nationally on FOX News Radio and CBS Sports Radio, while anchoring for WFAN, WCBS News Radio 880, and Bloomberg Radio. Pete was also the sports and news director for Omni Media Group at K-1O1/Z-92 in Woodward, Oklahoma. He's also the owner of the Big 12-focused digital media outlet Heartland College Sports. To interact, find him on Twitter @PeteMundo.

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