For those of you in Boston, Cincinnati, and New Orleans who have lost or will soon lose your Air America station follow the lead of a determined group of activists and lib talk fans who are keeping the heat up on the beleaguered Clear Channel managers in Madison regarding their plan to switch WXXM-FM 92.1 from talk to sports on Jan 1.
That’s right . Madison, arguably the most liberal city in the country east of San Francisco, is going to be without a liberal talk outlook because Clear Channel, in their infinite wisdom, has decided that what the people of that town really want is more coverage of high school sports and rantings from Fox Radio’s Jim Rome.
The Capitol Times in Madison reports today that the group opposing the plan to drop lib talk is planning a funeral procession on Wednesday in their effort to keep the pressure on CC management. Here’s the first few paragraphs of the article
Efforts to resuscitate the progressive talk radio format of "The Mic" WXXM-FM/ 92.1 have failed so far. Concerned listeners now plan a "funeral procession" as the Jan. 1 end of the format nears. The march will begin at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Brittingham Park near the intersection of South Park Street and West Washington Avenue and head down Fish Hatchery Road to the Clear Channel Madison offices. A 420-page petition of more than 5,500 signatures to keep "The Mic" on the air will be delivered to Jeff Tyler, Clear Channel vice president of marketing, by activists Valerie Walasek, Gary Tipler and businesswoman Barbara Wright.Despite the petition and a rally at the High Noon Saloon on Dec. 12 to demonstrate advertising support for the station's political talk forum, Clear Channel still plans to change the format to sports talk with an emphasis on prep sports and the University of Wisconsin. It also will feature syndicated sports personalities Jim Rome and Dan Patrick. In an interview with The Associated Press published in The Capital Times on Wednesday, Tyler said Clear Channel would explore ways to continue progressive talk in Madison."Our company sales team embraced the station, the format and enthusiasm we all had for the station and its role in the community," Tyler said. "However, there are many advertisers, local and national, who have been at conflict with the programming or stay away from controversial programming."The station has cancelled its local progressive talk shows, but it still airs programming from Air America, and other nationally broadcast talk hosts, including Al Franken, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Rev. Jesse Jackson, Ed Schultz and Stephanie Miller.
What part of running a station don’t these people understand. WXXM has doubled its ratings since switching to lib talk two years. Conversely, the conservative talk station in the market has seen their ratings decrease by 20% over the same time. CC’s market manager in Madison, Jeff Tyler, complains that it is hard to sell advertising on the station. One finds that hard to believe considering the ratings growth and the demographics in Madison.
In any case, don’t expect the lib talk supporters to give up. They appear to be very well organized and motivated.