Last update, January 29, 2007, 10 am PST (changes set in bold type)
We were certainly not surprised today when Michael Zwerling, the eccentric owner of KOMY-AM in Santa Cruz announced that he was flipping the station from lib talk to oldies. Over three months ago, Zwerling announced his intention to do just that and just appeared to waiting for someone to come up with a low cost alternative.
What was a surprise were the ridiculous statements that Zwerling made in an equally ridiculous article in Today’s edition of the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
According to Zwerling he decided to flip the station because allegedly it was difficult to sell advertising. "We were not able to sell a single ad for the station in a year and half despite getting decent ratings," he said.
Do you think the Sentinel reporter Shanna McCord would ask Zwerling why that was, since the other lib talk station serving the Monterey/ Salinas/Santa Cruz market, KXRA, seems to have dozens of local advertisers and it has been on the air about the same time.
No, McCord didn’t ask that question. She didn’t even mention that Santa Cruz still had a lib talk station in market. Her entire article (you can read it here) was little more a puff peach which allowed Zwerling, who’s politics I am told are somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun, to vent on how lib talk had failed despite his efforts to give it a platform.
Zwerling revealed his personal biases in the Sentinel’s article. He called AAR "an angry, nasty, pissing and moaning format where the only thing they say is 'Bush stinks' or 'Bush is bad'.
The article also didn’t mention that Zwerling carried right-wing yakker, Michael Savage (until he couldn’t afford to pay Savage’s license fee), that he would pre-empt AAR programming to make right wing editorials, and filled a good part of the broadcast day with infomercial programming.
To make matters worse, the AP picked up the story and transmitted to 100's of newspapers around the country. I guess they thought it was funny that AAR got flipped in liberal community like Santa Cruz. No one at the AP thought it was worth the time to check out the facts.
The good news is that KRXA, the other liberal station in Santa Cruz is picking up some of the replays of some AAR weekday schedule and live coverage of weekend programming including Laura Flanders and Ring of Fire. Consult the KRXA program schedule for details.
Santa Cruz is one of the most liberal medium size cities in the country. Over three-quarters of the voters in the 2004 cast their ballots for John Kerry. Monterey and Salinas are more moderate, but overall Democrats have the majority of registered voters in the market.
Now we hear from Northeast Radio Watch that liberal talk station WAVZ will soon be flipping from lib talk to sports. WAVZ has barely registered in the ratings during is two year run as an AAR affiliate.
This is the 17th station to drop lib talk in the past year – the 11th in the past two months. Three of those stations KOMY, KTTH in Eugene, and WHLD in Buffalo were in markets with another lib talk station. The others were all low-rated, underperfoming stations in mostly small to medium sized markets. While the station loss represents over 20% of all full time liberal talk stations, it represent less than 5% of the radio listeners to the format.
One station, WXXM-FM in Madison announced they were going to flip, but changed their mind when local supporters of lib talk put a lot of pressure on local Clear Channel management with a petition drive, and a series of high profile community events attended by local politicians and potential advertisers.
On-going efforts to restore liberal talk are now underway in Boston, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dallas.