Talk Radio Network Launches News Net

Hoping to replicate the success of the cable news networks and provide a challenge to National Public Radio, Talk Radio Network announced Monday (Sept. 27) plans to launch a long-form syndicated radio news network. The new, yet-to-be-named network set to debut in January, would be offered to stations in three-hour syndicated blocks. By the end of 2011, TRN’s news net will offer 15 hours of live syndicated long-form news, from 9 a.m. to 12 a.m.

TRN’s concept stands in stark contrast to the short-form offerings radio news networks produced by news organizations such as ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox or CNN. Those networks offer radio stations five minutes (or shorter) news segments to run at the top or the bottom of the hour.

Radio stations that carry TRN’s long-form news can carry one or several of the three-hour blocks to fit existing lineups or carry all the blocks to create a 24/7 news station.

Over the next eight weeks, TRN will spell out more details about the news network, including naming anchors (TRN hinted blocks would be co-anchored) and content partners. The format will also include investigative reports and in-depth interviews, steering clear of the divisive opinion that is the hallmark of Talk radio.

For most of radio, running an all-news station remains a costly proposition, yet all-news stations are increasingly more popular in local markets, especially as stations migrate to the FM band to appeal to younger listeners. In many cities, all-news radio stations hold the top two positions in the ratings. In 45 of the top 100 markets, news stations are broadcasting on the FM band.

“Long-form syndicated co-anchored news-blocks’ time has come,” said Phil Boyce, president of programming of TRN and president of Talk Radio Network Syndications, Ltd.

The timing of the news network coincides with the run-up to the presidential election in 2012.

“The presidential election cycle may well see a 25 to 40 percent increase in news and news talk stations by 2012,” predicted Mark Masters, CEO of TRN. “There is not enough quality syndicated long-form news radio programming to the fill the gap,” he said.

Masters has already tried his hand at long-form news. In June 2009, Masters’ TRN Entertainment partnered with The Washington Times to launch America’s Morning News. The three-hour news program (6 to 9 a.m.) is cleared on 83 stations and draws 2 million listeners.