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Bring Back the Art of Debate

In small doses and in the proper situation, it’s well worth your time to have your own ideas, along with the audience’s, challenged. 

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The last few weeks I’ve thought a lot about a quote I recently heard from Bill O’Reilly. I believe it was in a recent interview he appeared in with Glenn Beck, and O’Reilly was discussing his years as host of “The O’Reilly Factor”, the most-watched cable news show in the history of the medium. He was discussing how he went about booking his guests and said, and I paraphrase, “I tried to book the smartest people who could challenge me.” 

That’s one of the reasons that O’Reilly’s show was so successful. He did that on a nightly basis for over 20 years.

Unfortunately, that premise has gone by the wayside, in favor of echo chambers across the media landscape, including talk radio. 

But that doesn’t mean it can’t come back in some capacity and it doesn’t mean the host has to compromise their values. 

Each week on my morning show on KCMO Talk Radio, I interview Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas. Lucas is a Democrat, who has certainly angered lots of conservatives over the last 18 months on issues of COVID lockdowns, masks, and policing policy, just to name a few. One can debate how far left Lucas is on the “liberal spectrum”, but he will be the first to tell you he is a proud Democrat. 

Shortly after the pandemic began, I spoke with his office about doing a weekly hit to update the city on what was happening on the COVID front. The interview has continued ever since, every Thursday morning at 7:30, but has touched on any and every topic relevant to Kansas City.

And while every listener, plus Lucas himself, knows I have disagreed with much of his policies over the last 18 months, our conversations are challenging, but cordial, respectful, and informative for the audience.

However, like clockwork, after each weekly conversation, there will be a barrage of calls, texts, social media messages, and e-mails saying that I, as the host, “let him off the hook”, “am too soft”, and all the usual criticisms that come from a portion of the audience. These individuals insist they are done listening to our weekly conversations.

But you know what, something funny happens when I look at the KCMO Talk Radio streaming numbers each day or look at the ratings at the end of the month: Thursdays at 7:30 end up being one of our most-listened-to and highest-rated segments, by far. 

Then, when I go out in the real world, people tell me how much they appreciate the weekly conversations with the mayor, despite how much they may disagree with him. They think it’s important that our audience gets to hear from him, even if we aren’t his “based” constituency. 

To Lucas’ credit, he comes on my show, despite our differences. That’s a lost art for most politicians, left and right, who only want to go on media that is sympathetic to them and their beliefs. 

And then on the flip side, hosts on TV and radio have gone too far into the echo chamber, where they don’t want to hear from those who disagree with them. They also believe that the small portion of the audience that “wants blood” (theoretically speaking, of course) from their opponents, are the majority of the audience.

My research shows that’s not the case. And to reiterate, none of this requires a host to compromise their beliefs or become “squishy” on their opinions.

Granted, I wouldn’t spend hour after hour with guests who are disagreeable or don’t align with the audience, but the right guest in the right spot has real potential to create an excellent conversation and really good radio. 

There’s no doubt it’s harder than ever to book these guests, based on the aforementioned reasons, but in small doses and in the proper situation, it’s well worth your time to have your own ideas, along with the audience’s, challenged. 

And while hearts and minds are unlikely to change given the divisive climate we find ourselves in, you created a moment that connected with the listener, either good or bad, that will be memorable to them and keep them coming back for more. The loud-mouth haters be damned. 

BNM Writers

America’s E-Bike Future

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes says he has had a great experience with his futuristic commuting method, and he believes that most Americans would feel the same.

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If only they’d give them a try, Americans would fall in love with E-Bikes. 

That is the opinion of MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, who discussed his newfound joy of commuting via an electric bike last week on his “All In with Chris Hayes” program. He has had a great experience with his futuristic commuting method, and he believes that most Americans would feel the same.

“Last fall, it was still Covid, and there was no vaccine, and I started to have to come into the studio to do the show,” Hayes began. “I had a little bit of a commuting problem. I didn’t want to start taking the subway at that point. I think there’s some of it that suggest that masking is pretty fine, but I was like, eh, I wasn’t that psyched about it. But I had to get from Brooklyn to Midtown, it’s about nine miles, and I had to do without the subway. I didn’t want to take a car every day. I came up with the ultimate solution – a foldable E-Bike.”

Hayes said he started to use the foldable e-Bike to make the 9-mile commute to the MSNBC Studios and then stored it in his office. Among its benefits, according to Hayes, was that he got to enjoy the sights of New York City while not arriving hot, sweaty, and disheveled for his television duties.

“Changed my life, best commute I have ever had in my life,” Hayes said, noting that he arrived each day “cool and clean.”

Hayes welcomed New York Times writer Jay Caspian Kang, who last week penned an Op-Ed titled “Free E-Bikes for Everyone!” Kang pointed out that his E-Bike conversion was much the same as Hayes’ and that his daughter now enjoys being brought to school on the bike. In addition, Kang said the bike had given him a liberating feeling, being able to travel to New York City after the past couple of years of Covid-related lockdowns.

“First of all, it’s a very cool feeling because you feel like a superhero. It’s like the vision I had as a kid of having a cyber-suit where you are like Ironman. It’s you, but you’re stronger,” Hayes said. “So when you’re pushing the pedals, there’s like this extra oomph, so you can put kids on it. You can run errands on it. It also means you’re not sweating in the same way. And it also just replaces a lot of car trips; I think that’s a key thing to think about.”

The MSNBC Segment by Hayes was titled “The Case For Giving Every American a Free E-Bike.”  

In his Times piece, Kang concurred, saying, “City governments should purchase an electronic bicycle for every resident over the age of 15 who wants one. They should also shut down a significant number of streets. Shutting down some streets for bikes is not only for safety but also because the more inconvenient driving becomes, the more people start to consider other options.” 

Some may see a similarity in this approach by Kang to the current president and administration increasing gasoline prices and the costs of many other goods. However, administration officials have made clear that one clear benefit and objective of these rising costs will be to change citizens’ behavior, similar to the change Kang hopes to see if New York were to use tax dollars to give bikes to New Yorkers.

“We have to get cars off the street somehow,” Kang said. “We have to get cars off the road somehow for every reason. Pedestrian safety, bike safety. But mostly because of climate change and the carbon that they emit. So I don’t know; I think you need to develop some kind of drastic measure that also incentivizes people. And I think that we’ve been waiting around for some sort of solution to this. I don’t know; I think every single person that I talk to who has ridden an E-Bike, and who has sort of committed to it in a way, has said it has replaced tons of their car trips.”

Kang said the only problem with having more people adopt the emerging technology is the expense, citing the high cost per E-Bike. (A quick internet search finds many E-Bikes priced near $1500 apiece.) Kang opined that only by “giving them away for free” could the plan be brought to fruition. 

“If you’re going to get cars off the road, you’re going to need something to replace that,” Kang said. “People are still going to want some sort of speed; they’re still going to want some sort of convenience. E-Bikes are the way right now.”

Hayes wrapped up the segment, saying that the key is for planners to think ahead and assess what cities, and suburban areas, would need as they move into the future. And as the holiday approached, he said he would soon be heading out on his E-Bike to pick up his Thanksgiving pies. 

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BNM Writers

Kyle Rittenhouse, Ahmaud Arbery Trials Captivate the Nation

The trial of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery from Georgia aired for 27 hours on HLN across Nov. 15-18 in daytime, averaging 288,000 total viewers and matching the demo from Rittenhouse — 67,000 adults 25-54.

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Both trials of Kyle Rittenhouse and those charged with the killing of Ahmaud Arbery continued to captivate the nation during the week of Nov. 15.

The announcement of Rittenhouse being acquitted on all counts including manslaughter occurred on the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 19, from Kenosha, Wisconsin. From 1-2 p.m. Eastern (noon-1 p.m. Central), Fox News Channel dominated the news landscape in breaking news coverage with 3.16 million total viewers and 620,000 viewers within the key 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research. CNN was a distant runner-up in cable news in each key figure; they posted 1.23 million total viewers and 318,000 adults 25-54. MSNBC was close behind CNN in total audience with 1.19 million viewers but with 173,000 adults 25-54, earned about half of CNN’s demo delivery.

The rankings of the cable news networks remained in the following hour (2-3 p.m. ET) with featured reactions to Rittenhouse’s acquittal including from his attorney who had addressed reporters. Fox News Channel rose to 3.58 million total viewers and 761,000 adults 25-54. CNN also grew but only slightly: 1.23 million total viewers and 332,000 adults 25-54 (CNN’s top 25-54 hour of Nov. 15-21). Meanwhile, MSNBC was approximately steady: from 2-2:35 p.m. ET: 1.15 million total viewers / 182,000 adults 25-54; for Rittenhouse’s attorney address from 2:35-2:58 p.m. ET: 1.015 million total viewers / 172,000 adults 25-54.

Fox News Channel continued to thrive on Monday, Nov. 22 when Rittenhouse was interviewed by Tucker Carlson for his “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that evening. Rittenhouse had relayed to the Fox News host: “I’m not a racist person. I support the BLM movement. I support peacefully demonstrating. I believe there needs to be change. I believe there’s a lot of prosecutorial misconduct, not just in my case but in other cases. It’s just amazing to see how much a prosecutor can take advantage of someone.” “Tucker Carlson Tonight” posted its most-watched edition since Jan. 6 (hours following the Capitol insurrection): 5.05 million total viewers, a 3.0 household rating and approximately 912,000 adults 25-54.

Back to Nov. 19, 239,000 viewers tuned in to CNN-owned HLN for the Rittenhouse verdict at 1-2 p.m. ET; 211,000 for the verdict’s aftermath in the 2-3 p.m. ET hour. Its eleven hours of Rittenhouse trial coverage on Nov. 15 and Nov. 19 averaged 295,000 viewers and 67,000 adults 25-54.

The trial of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery from Georgia aired for 27 hours on HLN across Nov. 15-18 in daytime, averaging 288,000 total viewers and matching the demo from Rittenhouse — 67,000 adults 25-54.

Compared to last week’s total day delivery, HLN increased 14 percent in total audience. The network drew the most weekly total viewers since Apr. 19-25 (244,000).

Cable news averages for November 15-21, 2021. Fox News Channel extended their streaks to 40 weeks as cable’s most-watched network in total viewers..

Total Day (November 15-21 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.784 million viewers; 326,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 0.746 million viewers; 87,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.549 million viewers; 118,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.241 million viewers; 71,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.148 million viewers; 21,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.144 million viewers; 35,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.107 million viewers; 13,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.099 million viewers; 21,000 adults 25-54

Prime Time (November 15-20 @ 8-11 p.m.; November 21 @ 7-11 p.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 2.945 million viewers; 518,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 1.217 million viewers; 141,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.719 million viewers; 157,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.225 million viewers; 71,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.165 million viewers; 25,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.156 million viewers; 43,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.115 million viewers; 23,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.051 million viewers; 9,000 adults 25-54

Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top MSNBC and CNN programs with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:

1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 4.323 million viewers

2. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 4.203 million viewers

3. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 11/15/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.960 million viewers

4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 11/16/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.927 million viewers

5. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 11/16/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.907 million viewers

6. Hannity (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.788 million viewers

7. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 11/17/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.727 million viewers

8. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 11/18/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.672 million viewers

9. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 11/15/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.640 million viewers

10. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 11/17/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.630 million viewers

53. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Wed. 11/17/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.163 million viewers

128. CNN Newsroom “Rittenhouse Trial Verdict” (CNN, Fri. 11/19/2021 2:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.273 million viewers

Top 10 cable news programs (and the top CNN, MSNBC and HLN programs with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:

1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.913 million adults 25-54

2. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.791 million adults 25-54

3. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 11/15/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.774 million adults 25-54

4. Special Report with Bret Baier (FOXNC, Mon. 11/15/2021 6:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.763 million adults 25-54

5. America Reports (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 2:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.761 million adults 25-54

6. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 11/16/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.752 million adults 25-54

7. Hannity (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.724 million adults 25-54

8. The Story (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 3:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.700 million adults 25-54

9. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 11/17/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.681 million adults 25-54

10. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 11/15/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.668 million adults 25-54

69. CNN Newsroom “Rittenhouse Trial Verdict” (CNN, Fri. 11/19/2021 2:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.332 million adults 25-54

86. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Wed. 11/17/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.281 million adults 25-54

178. Forensic Files “Order Up” (HLN, late Tue. 11/16/2021 2:30 AM, 30 min.) 0.168 million adults 25-54

Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research

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BNM Writers

Networks Benefit From Interest In Rittenhouse, Arbery Trials

“The trial of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery from Georgia aired for 27 hours on HLN across Nov. 15-18 in daytime, averaging 288,000 total viewers and matching the demo from Rittenhouse — 67,000 adults 25-54.”

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Both trials of Kyle Rittenhouse and those charged with the killing of Ahmaud Arbery continued to captivate the nation during the week of Nov. 15.

The announcement of Rittenhouse being acquitted on all counts including manslaughter occurred on the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 19, from Kenosha, Wisconsin. From 1-2 p.m. Eastern (noon-1 p.m. Central), Fox News Channel dominated the news landscape in breaking news coverage with 3.16 million total viewers and 620,000 viewers within the key 25-54 demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research. CNN was a distant runner-up in cable news in each key figure; they posted 1.23 million total viewers and 318,000 adults 25-54. MSNBC was close behind CNN in total audience with 1.19 million viewers but with 173,000 adults 25-54, earned about half of CNN’s demo delivery.

The rankings of the cable news networks remained in the following hour (2-3 p.m. ET) with featured reactions to Rittenhouse’s acquittal including from his attorney who had addressed reporters. Fox News Channel rose to 3.58 million total viewers and 761,000 adults 25-54. CNN also grew but only slightly: 1.23 million total viewers and 332,000 adults 25-54 (CNN’s top 25-54 hour of Nov. 15-21). Meanwhile, MSNBC was approximately steady: from 2-2:35 p.m. ET: 1.15 million total viewers / 182,000 adults 25-54; for Rittenhouse’s attorney address from 2:35-2:58 p.m. ET: 1.015 million total viewers / 172,000 adults 25-54.

Fox News Channel continued to thrive on Monday, Nov. 22 when Rittenhouse was interviewed by Tucker Carlson for his “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that evening. Rittenhouse had relayed to the Fox News host: “I’m not a racist person. I support the BLM movement. I support peacefully demonstrating. I believe there needs to be change. I believe there’s a lot of prosecutorial misconduct, not just in my case but in other cases. It’s just amazing to see how much a prosecutor can take advantage of someone.” “Tucker Carlson Tonight” posted its most-watched edition since Jan. 6 (hours following the Capitol insurrection): 5.05 million total viewers, a 3.0 household rating and approximately 912,000 adults 25-54.

Back to Nov. 19, 239,000 viewers tuned in to CNN-owned HLN for the Rittenhouse verdict at 1-2 p.m. ET; 211,000 for the verdict’s aftermath in the 2-3 p.m. ET hour. Its eleven hours of Rittenhouse trial coverage on Nov. 15 and Nov. 19 averaged 295,000 viewers and 67,000 adults 25-54.

The trial of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery from Georgia aired for 27 hours on HLN across Nov. 15-18 in daytime, averaging 288,000 total viewers and matching the demo from Rittenhouse — 67,000 adults 25-54.

Compared to last week’s total day delivery, HLN increased 14 percent in total audience. The network drew the most weekly total viewers since Apr. 19-25 (244,000).

Cable news averages for November 15-21, 2021. Fox News Channel extended their streaks to 40 weeks as cable’s most-watched network in total viewers..

Total Day (November 15-21 @ 6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 1.784 million viewers; 326,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 0.746 million viewers; 87,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.549 million viewers; 118,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.241 million viewers; 71,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.148 million viewers; 21,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.144 million viewers; 35,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.107 million viewers; 13,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.099 million viewers; 21,000 adults 25-54

Prime Time (November 15-20 @ 8-11 p.m.; November 21 @ 7-11 p.m.)

  • Fox News Channel: 2.945 million viewers; 518,000 adults 25-54
  • MSNBC: 1.217 million viewers; 141,000 adults 25-54
  • CNN: 0.719 million viewers; 157,000 adults 25-54
  • HLN: 0.225 million viewers; 71,000 adults 25-54
  • Newsmax: 0.165 million viewers; 25,000 adults 25-54
  • CNBC: 0.156 million viewers; 43,000 adults 25-54
  • The Weather Channel: 0.115 million viewers; 23,000 adults 25-54
  • Fox Business Network: 0.051 million viewers; 9,000 adults 25-54

Top 10 most-watched cable news programs (and the top MSNBC and CNN programs with their respective associated ranks) in total viewers:

1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 4.323 million viewers

2. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 4.203 million viewers

3. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 11/15/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.960 million viewers

4. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 11/16/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.927 million viewers

5. The Five (FOXNC, Tue. 11/16/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.907 million viewers

6. Hannity (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.788 million viewers

7. The Five (FOXNC, Wed. 11/17/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.727 million viewers

8. The Five (FOXNC, Thu. 11/18/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.672 million viewers

9. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 11/15/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.640 million viewers

10. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 11/17/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 3.630 million viewers

53. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Wed. 11/17/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 2.163 million viewers

128. CNN Newsroom “Rittenhouse Trial Verdict” (CNN, Fri. 11/19/2021 2:00 PM, 60 min.) 1.273 million viewers

Top 10 cable news programs (and the top CNN, MSNBC and HLN programs with their respective associated ranks) among adults 25-54:

1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.913 million adults 25-54

2. The Five (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.791 million adults 25-54

3. The Five (FOXNC, Mon. 11/15/2021 5:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.774 million adults 25-54

4. Special Report with Bret Baier (FOXNC, Mon. 11/15/2021 6:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.763 million adults 25-54

5. America Reports (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 2:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.761 million adults 25-54

6. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Tue. 11/16/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.752 million adults 25-54

7. Hannity (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.724 million adults 25-54

8. The Story (FOXNC, Fri. 11/19/2021 3:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.700 million adults 25-54

9. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Wed. 11/17/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.681 million adults 25-54

10. Tucker Carlson Tonight (FOXNC, Mon. 11/15/2021 8:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.668 million adults 25-54

69. CNN Newsroom “Rittenhouse Trial Verdict” (CNN, Fri. 11/19/2021 2:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.332 million adults 25-54

86. Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC, Wed. 11/17/2021 9:00 PM, 60 min.) 0.281 million adults 25-54

178. Forensic Files “Order Up” (HLN, late Tue. 11/16/2021 2:30 AM, 30 min.) 0.168 million adults 25-54

Source: Live+Same Day data, Nielsen Media Research

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