Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Two New York Stations Shake-up Their Morning Talk Line-Ups

Two New York talk radio stations – conservative WABC/770 and liberal WWRL/1600 -- have revamped their morning line-ups with new shows and new hosts.

WWRL, the Air America Radio flagship station in New York, the number one radio market, dumped its morning show co-hosted by Sam Greenfield and Armstrong Williams on Friday and launched a new show featuring two veteran lib talkers -- Richard Bey and Mark Riley.

Bey has racked up extensive experience as a talk show host and TV personality over the past dozen years. He was a weekday host on WABC, until he was fired in 2003 after coming out against the war Iraq. In addition, he has hosted comedy TV shows on WCBS/Chan 2 and WWOR/Chan 9 in New York.

Bey is teamed up with Riley, who co-hosted an AAR talk show with another funny guy named Marc Maron. It looks like WWRL is looking for same kind chemistry that has been sorely missed on the lib talk network since Morning Sedition was cancelled a year and a half ago.

The big news however, is the shake-up soon to occur cross-town on WABC. Last week it was officially announced and widely reported that Don Imus will be returning to radio as the morning host on New York’s number one talk station.

Imus, who lost his syndicated radio talk show (as well as his TV simulcast on MSNBC) after referring to the Rutgers women’s basketball team as "nappy-headed hos," replaces the duo of Curtis Sliwa and Ron Kuby, who had occupied the morning slot for over eight years.

According to Phil Boyce, vice president for news-talk programming at Citadel Communications, the owner of WABC, they will find a new slot for Sliwa, but it appears that Kuby the popular duo’s liberal voice, has been shown the door.

Asked about his abrupt dismissal, Kuby had the following comment:

"Our show has enjoyed the best audience: intelligent, compassionate, decent and kind. The new owners don't want that kind of show."

Boyce seems very happy knowing that Imus will part of WABC weekday line-up, which is without a local talker during AM drive, for first time since the station converted to talk in 1982.

"The truth is, the lineup is more consistent, top to bottom," he posted on the radio-info board.
"Now...I can drive traffic from morning to noon to night...and get that TSL up to astronomical numbers, which in turn gives me better shares."

However, it doesn’t appear that Imus will produce "astromical" shares for WABC. When the I-Man was carried on WFAN/660, he was consistently beaten in the ratings by Curtis and Kuby. Moreover, WABC has underperformed as New York’s top talker. In the most recent Arbitron survey the station’s average share was 3.1 – that’s 31% lower than KFI/640, the top talker in the number two L.A. Market, which recorded a 4.5 share.

Citadel plans to use WABC as a flagship station as they attempt to syndicate Imus' show.

Boyce doesn't see a problem with the fact Imus' show will be syndicated around the country, meaning it will almost certainly have less local content than Curtis and Kuby.

"I've found that if something interesting is happening in New York, the rest of the country wants to hear about it," says Boyce. "So we'll still be paying attention to what's happening here."

However, conservative blogger Brian Maloney is concerned about this development. He called the hiring of Imus, who he refers to as "the crusty old fossil" an "injustice" that "could send a number of ABC-Citadel staffers straight to the unemployment lines.

Maloney presented a list of the Citadel talkers that were at risk to be dumpled when Imus is syndicated. The list includes:

  • WABC -- New York's Curtis & Kuby Show (this one is already a done deal)
  • KABC /790 -- Los Angeles morning host Doug McIntyre
  • KSFO/560 -- San Francisco's Lee Rodgers & Melanie Morgan Program
  • WBAP/820 -- Dallas's WBAP Morning News with Hal Jay (and possibly part of Mark Davis's program as well)
  • WJR/760 -- Detroit's Paul W Smith
Since all of these hosts are very conservative, it would be a very unwelcome development for right-wingers, like Maloney, who consider Imus, who is opposed to the war in Iraq, to be almost a liberal.

This is not surprising. Since the passage of Telecommunications Act of 1996 which allow conglomerates like Clear Channel and Citadel to gobble up radio stations and replace local radio programs with syndicated shows and voice tracking, more than 50% of local talkers have been dumped and replaced with syndicated shows.


raccoonradio said...

Imus got fairly good ratings and billings at Boston's WTKK. He could
wind up there, with temp. fill-in
Michael Graham being moved back to
10 am. WTKK had tried to get conservative host Howie Carr from
WRKO for am drive, but legal problems are preventing that, so they may get Imus

Some have said Imus could be nasty
to Hillary, even if he is left-
leaning. We'll see.

Jill said...

Richard Bey is one of the good guys of radio and I'm glad he's back on the air. I'm glad also that that awful Bush shill Armstrong Williams is gone. But as much as I like Bey as both a person and a radio personality, let's not compare this show with Morning Sedition, shall we? That was some of the most brilliant comedy ever on radio, and until and unless THAT entire crew is reassembled, nothing will even come close.

Emacee said...

Phil Noyce (to use Steph's term) is a lying sack of crap. At least the Cincinnati wing-nut ADMITS his goal is to purge radio of anybody who is not a neo-con. Whatever the guy's goals or programming strategy, the way Ron Kuby was treated here is very shabby. At least grim reaper Noyce could have allowed Ron a graceful exit.

Truth is some change at WABC was needed. OK ratings but billings keep dropping with Sun City demos. Imus drew advertisers on WFAN.

That said, the writing has been on the wall for Kuby for a couple of months. Why the BLEEP didn't WWRL go after him - instead of Reilly (a small market level talent but affirmative action poster child) and Bey (out jerrys Jerry - a cheap infomercial pitchman). This shows the gurus of lib talk haven't learned in anything in the past three and a half years.

In broadcast regs, we need to be reactionary. Roll back the FCC rules to 1967. Maybe bring back Rick Sklar, too.

PS: "One of the good guys?" Jill what are you smoking? Infomercials! Tabloid trash on channel nine! The man is a whore and not even a very good one.

Jill said...

Yes, and not even Bey tries to deny his trash-show past. But if you want to talk about people being treated shabbily, how about the way he was treated by WABC, when he was summarily fired for opposing the war?

I've gotten to know the man a bit, and he's been wandering in the radio wilderness for four years; not left enough for AAR, and too left for any other talk radio. He's a very nice man and deserves better than what he's gotten.

And just for the record, I didn't think it was a terrible thing when Springer had his radio show either. He reached the kind of moron-Americans that progressives haven't been able to reach.

Anonymous said...


You're right. Bey does deserve a chance to repent and be forgiven (like Imus). After bringing back the fairness doctrine and ownership caps, next let's get rid of infomercials (which used to be illegal).

Not sure want to dumb down liberal talk for "moron Americans." Of course, that seems to have been the strategy all along - to do Rush's act with a liberal twist. What you propose is not anything I'd want to listen to (nor, I suspect, would you). And your comment smacks of the kind of liberal elitism Rush and his ilk like to rant about. If my "moron Americans," you mean working class and poor Whites, the problem there is they don't feel liberals of the Democratic Party cares about them or represents their interests (and they are right). That smacks or elitism, too.

Shabby treatment is part of radio. Everybody in the biz understands formats changing. But there was no reason to pull Kuby off a month early and with not even a chance to say good-bye. Kuby didn't screw up. He didn't fail to deliver. And if Noyce weren't such a nasty human being and a complete idiot should have realized he missed a great month-long audience grabbing opportunity. Instead, he's got half a team filling time and running out the clock. Yawn.

kpm said...

As a listener in the New York area, I'm still trying to understand the logic behind this move. If I didn't listen to Imus when he was on WFAN, instead listening to Curtis & Kuby, why would I listen to him on WABC? He's not funny, and he's not relevant.

I found myself fishing around the dial in the morning looking for something new.

Bill said...

I just want to say the WABC Radio lost myself and my wife as listeners.
We enjoyed Curtis and Kuby. We will NOT be listening to Imus or ABC much for that matter.
We didnt like Imus when he was on WFAN.
Thank you.