Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Clear Channel Poised to Flip Lib Talk in San Diego

Updated in bold face italic on September 28, 3:15 pm pdt

For over a month rumors have swirled around the beaches and mountain foothills in San Diego that the three year reign of liberal talk radio, on KLSD/1360, will soon be coming to end.

While other blogs have confirmed that KLSD will be dropping its lib talk format, (see here and here) we have avoided making this call, hoping that the station's owner, Clear Channel, would be influenced by the overwhelming display of popular support and preserve the station’s format.

In the past month there have been two well attended rally’s at CC's San Diego office and studios, the station has encouraged listeners to send supportive emails, an on-line petition has attracted over 3,000 signatures, and potential advertisers have come forward.

At one point it started looking like KLSD had manufactured the format switch story as a promotional gimmick to hike ratings and find advertisers.

However, we are now of the opinion that KLSD will be changing formats (probably to sports) in the middle of October.

We attribute this to "off the record" comments that we have received from reliable sources associated with KLSD, statements by CC’s San Diego Programming Director, Cliff Albert, and CC’s bid to take the company private.

One source told us that the switch to sports is "done deal." Another said, "you can put a fork in KLSD, it’s finished." Both sources declined to be mentioned by name.

The San Diego Union Tribune reported on Sept. 28 while there was "still no decision on whether Clear Channel will flip KLSD-AM (1360) to an all-sports format, every rumor mill in town says it will happen beginning Oct. 15."

On Monday morning, Albert appeared on the Stacy Taylor Show, the only locally produced talk show on KLSD. Three weekend shows have been dropped over the past few months. The latest firing involved popular local talker Scot Tempesta (AKA Scooter) who was also Taylor’s co-host.

Albert told the station's listeners that "no decision has been made about KLSD", but that he expected one would be made within the next week.

Then Albert started using the familiar CC argument against lib talk.

"Traditional radio advertisers, like real estate and financial management companies, are run by conservatives so they don’t want advertise on progressive talk," Albert said.

He went on to say that several formats have been discussed and even if CC goes in different direction, he has a plan to keep the format alive in the market. (Is Albert talking about HD radio or WI FI?)

Donna Halpert, a broadcast consultant from Boston, posted the following comment about the current trend to drop lib talk in several markets around the country on a Yahoo Message Group started by lib talk supports in San Diego.

"CC is dumping the format in city after city, using the same talking points yet refusing togive the progressive format a chance to succeed," Halpert blogged. "Why is progresive talk relegated to stations with poor signals and no promotion, where owners feel free to dump it at a moment's notice, no matter how many eager fans listen to it?"

If CC dumps lib talk in San Diego, this would be a serious blow to the format. KLSD has three times as many listeners as the largest station to flip lib in the past year –WSAI in Cincinnati. Also this would break the chain of lib talk stations on the West Coast from Mexico to Canada. (Currently you can drive from border to border on Interstate 5 and always stay tuned to a lib talk station.)

But most importantly, if CC goes ahead and flips KLSD from lib talk to sports, there will be a massive protest directed against the San Antonio based company by a very organized and angry group of listeners.

By deciding to let this situation linger for several weeks, CC has allowed lib talk fans in San Diego to express their opposition to the programming change and to organize.

With the exception of WXXM in Madison (where an announced flip was stopped) CC usually doesn’t back down when they announce their intention to make a programming change. Now, that the huge radio station owner has successfully converted from a publicly to a privately owned company, they are even more likely to turn a deaf ear to the angry listeners and just do what they want to do.


Anonymous said...

But, no one is listening with HD radios:

Anonymous said...

Lib talk on HD might give people a reason to listen.

What if the suits are right? What if lib talk is a tough sell? Sports is an easy sell. At the local level, retail advertisers will buy without any evidence of an actual audience.

The wing nuts have done a good job of convincing many people their product is patriotism and thus not controversial. They have done a good job of painting liberals into a corner. Whose fault is it that liberals can't play the game of politics well?

Lib talk is failing. Right wing talk is in decline, too. Political talk won't last. Listen to the spots. All bottom feeder advertisers. Then listen to the ads on sports talk. Ads tell you who is buying and who (they think) is listening.

Listeners don't matter except to satellite radio because listeners don't pay.

The novelty of lib talk has worn off. Let's all go back to public radio (or music).

Bill's Mom said...

And the talking points of the "libs" are that they are all on crappy signals and get no promotion and no one gives them any TSL. Boo HOO! It was Clear Channel - and only Clear Channel that gave the format an gonna tell me that KLSD, WSAI, WINZ, KPOJ and KTLK are crappy signals? Oh, yeah, CC should have dropped the successful formats at co-owned and co-located KOGO, WLW, WIOD, KEX and KFI to offer up an unproven format. Guys - get over it. Until you all stop with your eat the young attitude the format is done. "Progressive" hosts are waay to focused on message and not about brining people into the tent...Don;t believe that's an issue...take a look at the non-success of Salem stations - smart and talented hosts, talking wing nut nonsense non-stop. And nobody listens. Anyone with two minutes of radio programming experience will tell you IF the product is there, IF it's unique and compelling, people will find it and WILL listen.

Ok - you may now flame on.

Anonymous said...

"Bill's Mom" makes some valid points. If it wasn't for Clear Channel, Air America wouldn't have lasted for more than a month and the stations she (?) listed DO have decent signals. On the other hand, KPOJ in Portland continues to do well because the suits running the station believe in the format, market it well, and make a genuine effort to sell advertising.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mon,

NO, they are not ALL on crappy signals.

It was not ONLY Clear Channel.

Salem and AAR get comparable results.

And, speaking as one with radio experience, if you program it they will come is naive and the ultimate in wishful thinking. People who believe that consistently go broke.

Political talk mostly works on stations that already have an audience. AM stations can keep an audience but they can't attract one.

To paraphrase Harry Truman, mom, if you don't know what you're talking about stay in the kitchen.

gracie's mom said...

I live in Escondido CA which is in the Northern part of San Diego County. I can attest to the fact that the signal is crappy. I lose signal quite often and end up getting christian radio from I believe Arizona. I don't want to hear christian radio. I want to listen to KLSD! Also, when there is any foul weather, again there goes the signal. So to those who say KLSDs signal is strong all over, you obviously don't know what you are talking about.

Anonymous said...

I live just south of Escondido and the signal has been bad for around a year. I can't imagine a huge company like Clear Channel would allow their signal to be interfered with without kicking up a fuss or "fixing" their equipment. I understand they have a bad link from the studio to transmitter or something like that. They probably look upon as a blessing in disguise. The station is a success and they are probably emabarrassed by it.

Anonymous said...

"HD Hypocrisy"

"Here's a few more reasons why only iBiquity and a few clueless radio group heads could make a big thing out of HD radio tagging... The very damn radio stations that broadcast in HD offer no programming worth listening to. HD Radio is a virtual sewer of formats owners don't want on their terrestrial frequencies and other assorted garbage that no one sane would listen to -- let alone spend money for new radios -- tagging or not."

“Is HD Radio Toast?”

“There are serious issues of coverage. Early adopters who bought HD radios report serious drop-outs, poor coverage, and interference. The engineers of Ibiquity may argue otherwise and defend the system, but the industry has a serious PR problem with the very people we need to get the word out on HD… In New York City, the #1 market in the country, there are 25 stations broadcasting 42 HD channels. You’ll find CHR, AC, Classic Rock, Hip-Hop, News, Talk, and Sports. In other words, everything you can find on the regular FM dial… The word has already gotten out about HD Radio. People who have already bought an HD Radio are telling others of their experience (mostly bad) and no amount of marketing will reverse this.”

tighelander said...

Why does the station have such stupid ads? Are these ads also aired on the right-wing stations? It seems so, because if you can believe what Rush Limbotomy says, then you would fall for the pitches these ads use to sell "male enhancement", various get rich quick schemes, and sundry snake oil type medicines. There are few ads that don't make my eyes roll. Maybe the station would be more profitable if they ran ads that didn't insult it's audience.

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