ARNN ramping up to 12 hours of news


As Mark Masters, CEO of America’s Radio News Network, and its representative, Talk Radio Network Syndications, Ltd, told NAB Radio Show attendees back in September, America’s Radio News Network (ARNN) will ramp up to 15 hours a day of news in 2011—filling a void in long-form news radio enough that any station can flip over to an all-news format. And indeed, he’s well on his way to doing just that.

ARNN announced the launch of yet another 3-hour daily all-news programming block to its planned 15 hours per day of long-form news programming. The next launch is being accelerated, just as the last launch announcement, due to affiliate demand and current world events. ARNN’s first 3-hour daily block of all news programming, broadcast Monday-Friday at noon to 3 p.m. ET, was launched 1/24 .

The second installment is scheduled to begin 3/28 at 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., the third installment is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET will begin May 9th.  ARNN will provide 9 hours back-to-back programming from noon to 9:00 p.m. ET. That’s 12 hours a day of news programming between America’s Radio News Network and America’s Morning News, which airs 6AM-9AM.

Anchors Lori Lundin and Chris Salcedo deliver the news in a tight format with bumper-to-bumper interviews, humorous exchanges and faced-paced sound interludes.

Who knows what may happen in many markets to NPR long-form news affiliates if Congress and the President cut The Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s (CPB) budget. A commercial station offering ARNN could take much of that audience away in a heartbeat and offer local advertisers a new place in the sun. Either way you look at it, the critical mass of what will be nine hours of back-to back news on 5/9, will be a strong competitive alternative to the left-leaning pubic radio affiliates no matter what happens with CPB. At bare minimum, it fills a need for many stations that want more than top-of-the-hour news.

The idea first emerged with AMN back in June 2009, via the partnership with The Washington Times and TRN. AMN, airing 6AM-9AM, now has over 100 markets, and 13 in the top 30, including LA, San Francisco, Dallas, Boston, Washington, D.C. and Seattle.

RBR-TVBR spoke with Masters about the first launch (listen to the audio) of the five ARNN news blocks on 1/24, offering syndicated long-form news in co-anchored 3-hour news-only blocks (Noon-3 p.m. ET).

ARNN differentiates itself as a provider of non-partisan news programming to affiliates nationwide, billed as compatible and complimentary with all forms of spoken-word radio programming available today. It’s fast-paced and is designed to sound good on FM stations as well as AM. The network covers 10-12 stories with 4-6 audio actualities each quarter hour. Talk Radio Network Syndications, Ltd is the rep.

Masters gave RBR-TVBR an anology: “When Steve Jobs came out with the iPad, a lot of people made fun of it, and for the first few weeks there was a lot of criticism. After about a month people started finding that they actually liked it. About two months later, people were buying it en masse. A year later, everybody couldn’t praise it enough. And what they found was there was a space between laptop computers and smartphones for another type of product. Now there are 14 knockoffs of the iPad. But Apple is so far ahead of the game, that when a lot of these companies came out with their first generation knock-off, Apple is coming out with its second-generation iPad. This proved once again the innovation of Steve Jobs to find a huge market space without eating any of the cellphone or the laptop business. So in my anology, if Talk radio is the newest generation super-light, brilliant laptop or smartphone, long-form syndicated news is the iPad of spoken word programming. It’s a new product line that actually fits perfectly and compliments Talk radio, just like the iPad compliments smartphones and laptops. This is going to be a real revenue salvation for a lot of stations where the sales staff is more music-centric in their position because they don’t know how to sell controversy. So they will be able to sell news-only, which is non-partisan.”

“Stations love the long-form news product so much they are asking for more of it sooner — we are frankly stunned by the demand!,” he adds. “With all of the life changing events in this world, the likes of which we haven’t seen since WWII, our affiliates are telling us that this level of high quality non-partisan news product is a must-have, especially from a ‘safe buy’ revenue perspective. We have never seen affiliate demand like this for any other program.”

It’s also positioned as a “safe island” for agencies to buy politically-neutral news programming. This network is kept separate from TRN’s personality division.

“Opinion radio can be, in rare cases, a boycott-laden space of ‘super sensitivities’ for certain agency buyers,” he noted. “Because our anchors are just reporting the news, breaking news stories or interviewing news makers, they won’t be offering opinions, just great energy and focus on the important topics of the day. News radio is a ‘safe buy environment,’ the type of environment which is usually bought by music or top of the hour news buyers, making it the best of both worlds for our affiliated stations’ revenue needs.”

RBR-TVBR observation: The train is rolling. As more and more political and civil upheaval keeps churning up in this nation and around the globe, ARNN is a more viable option for stations—both AM and FM. When the 15 hours are completed, it becomes more of a turnkey option than ever for affiliates or potential affiliates to go all-news.