Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Second Tier

Lib Talk After AAR and Jones

Everyone knows that there is a big gap between the first and second and third tiers conservative talkers. The top conservative station (usually the Limbaugh station) in the top 50 radio markets gets an average share of 5.3. The second tier does a 2.6 and the third tier a 0.8. However, with a few exceptions, lib talkers only have one outlet in the top 50. In fact, only 20 of the top 50 radio markets have a full time liberal talk radio station.

What this means is that the second tier lib talkers have to scramble for a handful local market jobs. Those who get jobs have to toil for relatively low pay, or find refuge in the "politically correct" world of satellite radio or yak away in cyberspace waiting for the call to big leagues.

And then there are the dozens of liberal talkers who have been and continue to be replaced by conservative talkers. Talkers like Hall of Famer Michael Jackson and Gloria Allred in Los Angeles replaced a half dozen years ago by Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly or Arlene Violet and Howie Bart in Providence replaced a few weeks ago by Hannity and Quinn & Rose.

Yes, there are some exceptions. The Young Turks secured an early distribution deal with Sirius (which actually provided them with salaries) and had a few broadcast outlets before they were picked up by Air America Radio in mid-2006. Jon Elliott, also got a call from AAR to fill-in for Mike Malloy’s late night slot after Malloy was canned in August, 2006. However, for the most part, second tier lib talkers are still waiting for the call that never seems to come.

Who are the second tier liberal talkers? Some are veterans, others are rookies. Generally, there is universal distinction between primary and secondary lib talkers. Primary lib talkers either have a deal with AAR or Jones Radio. Secondary tier lib talkers don’t.

In the next few weeks Talking Radio is going to profile some of the second tier lib talkers. No, we probably won’t find them at the Radio and Records Talk Radio Seminar, March 8-10 in Marina del Rey, CA. (However we will be there) We will, however, talk with them over the phone or communicate by email. Unlike, first tier talkers, they are more likely to work out of their home than at a radio station. More likely to have another means of employment, and less likely to have blog or a message board than Randi Rhodes or Ed Schultz.

There’s Doug Basham, doing weekends Las Vegas, Mark Levine, Guy James, Bob Kincaid and Jeff Alan Wolf streaming on the Head On Radio Network. Veteran talkers like Lynn Samuels and Alex Bennett, banished to satellite radio, local talk radio personalities like San Diego’s Scooter and the KLSD Watchdog, Johnny Wendle and Bree Walker on KTLK in Los Angeles, Peter B. Collins with KRXA in Monterey, Christine Craft with KSAC in Sacramento, Sly with WTDY in Madison, Peter Werbe with WRIF in Detroit, and Jim Phillips with WTKS in Orlando.

Of course, there are liberal talk show hosts who are more like first tier talkers without the AAR/Jones Radio pedigree. Leading this group is veteran late night talker Bernie Ward on KGO. With over 20 years at KGO, Ward is the longest continually employed liberal in the talk radio business.

There’s also, Neil Rogers on WQAM in Miami, Sam Greenfield on WWRL in New York, Jay Marvin on KKZN in Denver, Dave Ross and Ron Reagan on KIRO in Seattle and Stacy Taylor on KLSD in San Diego. They might not have a deal with AAR or Jones, but these guys are on the top of their game.

So look for our continuing coverage of second tier liberal talkers. After all, there is only so much you can say about the AAR bankruptcy, Ed Schultz’ latest outburst, or whether Thom Hartmann will be able to fill Al Franken's shoes.

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