Talkers Magazine has released its semi-annual survey of "The Top Talk Radio Audiences." The survey which corresponds with the Spring 07 Arbitron ratings has been published on theTalkers website. I assume paying subscribers to Talkers will see these results in the November issue, (That's four months after Spring Arbitron survey was released.)
According to the Talkers survey, Ed Schultz is the number one liberal talk radio host. They claim that Schultz is reaching 3.25 million radio listeners per week or more than twice as many listeners at the three other top lib talk hosts – Randi Rhodes, Stephanie Miller, and Thom Hartmann. According to Talkers, Rhodes, Miller, and Hartmann each had only reached 1.5 million listeners.
Most of the hosts ranked ranked in the Talkers survey are not lib talkers. They are coservatives with Rush Limbaugh on top reaching 13.5 million listeners per week.
If you’re are regularly reader of this blog, you know that Talking Radio also releases periodic rankings of talk show hosts. However, we only rank syndicated lib talkers and release our findings quarterly corresponding with the Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall Arbitron reports.
We released our Spring report on August 2, (see below). As you can see, we did not find Schultz to be the number one lib talk host. Instead our survey found a very close race for the number one slot between the top four hosts. In a photo finish, Rhodes was first, Miller was second, Schultz was third, and Hartmann was fourth.
So how does Talkers Magazine, which calls itself the "Bible of Talk Radio", have Schultz doubling the ratings of the rest of the field while Talking Radio, a puny blog, almost finds it "too close to call."
Well, the short answer is that we are right and they are wrong. There is absolutely no way that Ed Schultz has twice as many listeners as Rhodes, Miller, or Hartmann. If you believe this, I have a bankrupt liberal talk radio network to sell you.
Earlier today, we found that several blog's were covering the release of the Talkers survey, showing Schultz as the number one lib talker. We were troubled that excellent blogs like Raw Story and Liberal Talk Radio were running with the story.
We also found ourselves to be in rare agreement with Brian Maloney, the Radio Equalizer, who blasted Talkers and its publisher, Michael Harrison on his blog today.
Maloney wasn't happy about the fact that Talkers only gave Limbaugh credit for reaching only 13.5 million listenners per week. He feels it should be closer to 20 million. Here's what he said.
Well, what about Schultz? Isn’t he carried on more stations? Yes, if you go to Big Eddie's website you will see that he is carried on about 25 more stations than the other three top lib hosts. However, unlike Rhodes and Hartmann he is not carried in New York and unlike Rhodes, Hartmann, and Miller he has a terrible time slot in Los Angeles, 7 to 10 PM with frequent sports pre-emptions.
The coverage that Schultz loses is New York and L.A (which account for 13% of the lib talk universe) is greater than the exclusive coverage he gains on those 25 stations. Moreover, since most of those stations feature conservative talk, Schultz has generally poor time slots.
The only way that Schultz has more than twice the number of listeners is if his ratings are more than double those of Rhodes, Miller, or Hartmann. While we don’t have access to all the ratings data, from what we've seen, Schultz’ ratings are comparable to his lib talk competitors.
However, the most ridiculous finding of the Talkers survey is that listnership to lib talk increased by from 8% (for Schultz) to 20% (for Rhodes, Miller, and Hartmann) from the Fall 06 to the Spring 07 surveys. During that six month period 22 stations dropped lib talk, (with an associated 12% loss of coverage) and largely because of the Air America Radio bankruptcy lib talk ratings fell by another 11% on the remaining stations. Given these conditions how can listnership of the top lib talk hosts be up so sharply. (In fact, listnership is down.)
Talking Radio will be releasing its rankings for the summer ratings period within the next 30 days. We once again expect a close contest between the top four. It will be interesting to see how Talkers sizes things up four months from now.