The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

21 July 2005

Another London Attack Attempt

Covering London II

Networks, Radio Take Different Approaches

When major stories break, the Radio Equalizer always pays attention to how broadcast networks, as opposed to cable news channels, cover the story.

Why? Because cable outlets are sure to go wall-to-wall, that's what they do 24/7. News junkies go to FOX News, CNN and MSNBC first and stay there.

Broadcast networks, however, must break into regular programming. Is the story worth cancelling soaps, game shows, etc.? Do they believe the average oblivious viewer can be made to care?

Today, with London's terrorists attempting a sequel to their attacks of two weeks ago, American networks were still in their morning news programs. Did local affiliates stick with the news, providing updates, or did they go back to chat shows later in the morning?

All of Boston's TV stations had returned to normal programming by 1pm, with CBS affiliate WBZ-4 cancelling soap operas and remaining with coverage until that point. NBC's WHDH-7 also kept with developments for quite some time.

Others had gone back to regular programs much earlier, as if nothing had happened.
Emergency services by the 26 bus
Emergency services in protective clothing were deployed at the bus site. Photo, caption: BBC

I don't expect much from the local WB station, but what's the problem at PBS? Do they have the ability to take a live BBC feed? With the big debate about public television's future, why don't become more relevant to the immediacy of global news developments?

Did broadcast network anchors seem surprisingly caught off-guard today, considering it's just two weeks later? Or were they simply frustrated at the lack of early details?

Far more analysis of network coverage at TVNewser. Bloggers and insiders are emailing a number of observations.

It's the type of story that TV owns in the early hours, as viewers seek images, then is given to radio, as people look for a place to discuss it.

The busy recent news cycle has given Rush Limbaugh a huge boost, as there's lots to talk about and Rush tends to get fired-up at times like this. Interestingly, he moved on to other topics in the second hour.

Is it any less of a story, just because the bombs didn't detonate this time?

If other big terrorism stories break in the next week, however, Rush will be taking a holiday, which could become a problem for talk radio.

Here's an idea for talk hosts: will the public will hold London Mayor "Red" Ken Livingstone's feet to the fire, after he recently blamed the US and UK for provoking the attacks? Will the American left further ramp up this line of rhetoric, as well?

Friday update: TVNewser reports that MSNBC stuck with Imus rather than going to London coverage for a full 20 minutes. What makes Imus so important?

Any observations from you regarding TV, radio news coverage or talk shows today? Please leave your comments below, no registration required.

By the way, Bernard Goldberg's book, discussed on Limbaugh's show Thursday is found in the Amazon link boxes to the right. Your Amazon orders that begin with clicks from here help maintain this site. Thanks for your support.


  • and Michael Savage is #61!!!

    By Anonymous red dieper doper baby, at 21 July, 2005 15:14  

  • Hi Brian!
    We still miss you at KIRO! Speaking of KIRO, their new BORING host in the 9 to noon slot, Alan Prell did not discuss the terrorist attack until the 11:00 hour. Before then he had to get to his important topics such as pushing Sudafed to be purchased by prescription only. When he wasn't talking to "Miss Annie" and he giggled like a woman. Yesterday, it was really interesting. He was polling the audience on their favorite flavor of ice cream! REALLLY IMPORTANT!!

    Alan has really contributed to Rush's high ratings.

    Penny and Ed
    Edmonds, WA

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 21 July, 2005 20:22  

  • I don't do TV anymore.

    The blogosphere and Orbusmax gimmie my news fix. But for those hungry for more on today's atrocity - go HERE to my blog's mega-post.

    By Blogger Josef, at 21 July, 2005 23:02  

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