Radio remains a vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to keeping abreast of today’s tumultuous politics and economic conversation. That was a key takeaway in the keynote conversation hosted by two veteran journalists at the Radio Show Luncheon held Wednesday at the NAB Radio Show in Orlando.
Both Major Garrett and Jill Schlesinger are CBS News journalists, book authors and TV hosts, yet both said that radio is their favorite medium for several reasons. Schlesinger is a business analyst for the network; Garrett is a chief White House correspondent.
For Garrett, there’s real power the radio medium for his show “The Takeout,” which he hosts each week from a different restaurant in the Washington area. The 45-minute-long program gives listeners a partisan-free take on the issues of the day in politics, policy and pop culture and “doesn’t have an ideological bent,” he said. “Guests are from all parts of the ideological spectrum,” including vocal parts of the Democratic resistance and cabinet officials from the Trump Administration, he said.
Schlesinger’s focus is on financial markets and the economy, and she said that the intimacy of her radio show “Jill on Money” has proven to be a perfect medium for talking about topics such as these. “From the moment I was on the air back in college … I loved the intimacy of radio. I love radio because when you cover economy, business and personal finance, it’s not a visual story,” she said. “It’s about forming a relationship and the intimacy of radio is the perfect place to do it.”
Both radio hosts heralded the power of the spoken word. “I wanted to create a space for myself [outside of TV] where I had something that I could control. I am the host and the creator; no one at CBS tells me who to host or what to ask,” Garrett said of his radio program.
According to Garrett, radio offers a freedom to create conversations that are driven by his own mandate; one that crosses party lines and prioritizes sharing female guests’ perspectives.
Both his and Schlesinger’s radio programs have tackled the issues of the current presidential administration. History has typically shown that when the economy is doing well, “those kinds of statistics tend to benefit the sitting president and party. But that is not happening right now,” Garrett said. Even though today the nation is fairly steady economically and internationally, he said, it feels like a very turbulent time.
“What accounts for that turbulence is the reaction to President Trump,” he said. “This primal aspect to our politics has created its own turbulence and this odd situation.”
For Schlesinger, she has used her radio program to talk about business and the economy under the Trump administration, including the notion that the big leaders in business — such as Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple — are not the darlings of this administration. Her radio program talks about the scrutiny companies like these are facing.
Schlesinger and Garrett spoke after a live performance by country singer Lance Carpenter. Following their keynote address, NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith and Beasley Media Group CEO Caroline Beasley honored NAB Senior Advisor John David with the NAB National Radio Award for his work in radio.
David was recognized by Smith and Beasley for his dedication to the industry and his sense of humor.
“For the past few months, I’ve been showing up unannounced at radio stations around the country,” David said in his acceptance speech. “Reactions when they see my card is from Washington, D.C., is that they think I’m from the FCC to inspect their station. So that has been some fun.”
David most recently served as executive vice president of NAB Radio.
“I’m incredibly honored to join the list of the National Radio Award recipients,” David said. “‘Thank you’ is not enough. So thank you, thank you, thank you.”