TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
Al Mayers is the general manager for Bloomberg Radio, the 24-hour, digital all-news business radio station.
Bloomberg Radio recently launched the new “Bloomberg Businessweek Radio” show, airing Friday evenings at 8 p.m. and Saturdays at 8 a.m. on WBBR 1130 AM in New York as well as Sirius XM across the U.S. Last week, Bloomberg Radio announced the introduction of Bloomberg Businessweek Updates and radio programming into national syndication.
Mayers joined Bloomberg Radio as station manager in 2001. He oversees the station’s programming, syndication, and business operations.
Mayers talked via e-mail to Talking Biz News about business news on the radio. What follows is an edited transcript.
1. What is the market like for business news on the radio?
Similar to the way that major news events such as a terrorist attack or the Gulf oil spill spark an interest in general news stations, the ongoing economic crisis has done the same for business radio. Bloomberg Radio has seen greater audience interest and higher numbers during the last two years of market volatility.
2. How is business news on the radio different than business news delivered in other formats?
All the business formats have their own unique strengths. Radio is immediate and with our conversation presentation, able to provide lots of detail. We can react to breaking news instantly while dedicating the necessary time to cover and analyze the news thoroughly.
3. What is the strategy behind the new Bloomberg Businessweek Radio show and Bloomberg Businessweek updates?
The strategy of the program is to reach beyond the investor class and to serve listeners who have more of a “Main Street” interest in business news. Bloomberg Businessweek content is less market-centric than much of our day to day coverage, and so the program allows us to broaden our reach.
Through our agreement with United Stations Radio Networks, we’re now offering the Businessweek content to about 300 affiliates as well as our listeners on WBBR 1130 and Sirius XM radio.
4. How does radio fit into Bloomberg’s overall strategy?
Bloomberg aims to serve its customers through the whole spectrum of media platforms. A Bloomberg subscriber might wake up and check headlines on a mobile device and then watch Bloomberg Television while getting ready for work. Once in the car, radio keeps the listener engaged and up to date. After arriving at work, the customer can log on to the Bloomberg terminal or check Bloomberg.com throughout the day for the latest news. On the drive home, Bloomberg Radio helps to wrap up the markets and put the day in perspective.
We also stream Bloomberg Radio for free on the Web all day so listeners can check in at any point. On Sundays, we air the Sunday morning political talk shows, including NBC’s “Meet the Press,” ABC’s “This Week,” “Fox News Sunday,” Bloomberg’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” and “Sunday Brunch with Charlie Rose.”
5. What are some of the ways that Bloomberg Radio works with the company’s other outlets?
With over 20 live interviews a day on the air, Bloomberg Radio generates a considerable number of news making quotes. These are often picked up by Bloomberg News reporters whose stories appear on the terminal and on Bloomberg.com.
Bloomberg Television carries many radio interviews, often putting a camera inside the radio studio for a live simulcast of a newsworthy guest. The production of the Bloomberg Businessweek radio program involves close coordination throughout the week, to discuss story angles and to schedule interviews with the reporters and editors whose stories are featured in the two hour program.
6. What are the most popular shows on Bloomberg Radio?
All of our programs have shown an increase in ratings. The biggest has come from “Bloomberg Surveillance,” which can be heard weekday mornings from 7 a.m.to 10 a.m. with hosts Ken Prewitt and Tom Keene.
7. How can radio keep a business story fresh, such as covering the markets, that it does every day?
The market takes new twists and turns, moment to moment, throughout the trading day, even when some of the overall themes are in play for months at a time. New economic data, Fed announcements, mergers, product launches, analyst reports and newsmaker comments all provide fresh grist for daily market analysis. Our live guests provide fresh insights on the news flow, and are a rich resource for audio clips to enhance our news reports and market updates.
8. Do business journalists who have worked in other formats make good radio? What do they have to adjust to?
Journalists from any medium can be top performers in radio, as long as they have a solid understanding of the content, know how to tell a story and can engage the listener in a lively and conversational manner.
9. What have been the major changes with Bloomberg Radio in the past two years?
We’ve evolved from a headline service to more of a discussion-based format. We continue to provide news updates throughout the day but the essence of our service is to present high level guests who engage our listeners with intelligent talk and in-depth market and economic analysis.
10. Who do you consider your biggest competitors in business news on the radio?
We compete with all of the New York radio market, particularly the all-news stations. But we don’t want to compete as just another commodity in the headline news business. We differentiate ourselves by drilling down to get to the bottom of the story. With assistance from our premiere line-up of guests, we tell listeners what is happening, why, what it means, and where the story is headed. That’s our trademark and it’s what we aim to do every day.