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Atlanta Talk Radio Listeners Gripe, Praise

Results from unusual “open” focus group

Many of the programs on conservative talk radio sound the same and call-ins from listeners don’t always add to the understanding of a topic.

Those were some of the broad overall takeaways from the results of a focus group conducted in Atlanta.

Research firm NuVoodoo Media Services conducted the unusual focus group at the Talk Radio Boot Camp on Feb. 7 in Atlanta. Normally focus groups are conducted in closed rooms with a moderator who asks questions of a few respondents; a two-way mirror separates them from station executives listening on the other side.

NuVoodoo conducted this focus group live on a stage with talk radio listeners from Atlanta who the company says were comfortable speaking in a room with talk radio managers, consultants and programmers. There were eight panelists, men and women age 40 to 54.

The eight panelists represented a balance of conservatives and liberals, but even the liberals admitted to spending time with the more conservative-leaning talk hosts on WSB(AM/FM) and WGST(AM) in Atlanta. Conversely, the conservatives in attendance were aware of offerings on NPR and several referenced shows they listen to regularly on station WABE(FM). Many of those on the panel spend at least some of their time listening to sports radio, according to NuVoodoo.

Other findings were: Despite the conservative-oriented talk syndicated hosts having distinct personalities, many panelists felt the shows were fungible and contained too much political talk. All the panelists felt callers added to the entertainment value of the shows, especially when the host and the caller were at odds, however several called out the need for screeners so that not all the callers agree with the host, according to the findings.

While there was an overall feeling that talk radio could do some things better, there was a clear love of the product and a passion for myriad variations of the talk format, summarized the research firm.