Monday, December 24, 2007

What 'War on Christmas'?

While the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continue, victory has been declared in a war that has lasted almost as long. Earlier this month, Bill O'Reilly declared victory in the War on Christmas. O'Reilly has led this quixotic struggle against secularists and godless retailers who have replaced "Merry Christmas" with such blasphemous slogans like "Happy Holidays" and "Seasons Greetings." Washington Post reporter, Ruth Marcus, mused on the War on Christmas in a column that she wrote earlier this month.

I've been hearing about this "War on Christmas," so I headed to the Heritage Foundation the other day for a briefing from one of the defending army's generals: Fox News anchor John Gibson, author of "The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought." Gibson -- and Bill O'Reilly, his comrade in the Fox-hole -- see this as a two-front war: Assaulting Christmas from the government end, they say, are pusillanimous school principals, politically corrected city managers and their ilk, bullied by the ACLU types into extirpating any trace of Christmas from the public square. Battering the holiday from the private sector are infidel retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart, which balk at using the C-word in their advertising in favor of such secularist slogans as "Happy Holidays."
The assault, Gibson told the Heritage crowd, has reached a "shocking level this year."
After the lecture, I wandered over to Union Station to check out a retail battlefield. Inside and out, the station was festooned with giant You Know What wreaths. A huge You Know What tree, with presents wrapped in red and green underneath, stood in the main hall, near a placard announcing "Norwegian Christmas at Union Station."
A high-tech player piano was playing "Go Tell It on the Mountain," proclaiming the birth of You Know Who; the next selection was You Know Who Else Is Coming to Town. The most generic element was a small sign reading "Happy Holidays," but even then the words were bracketed by reindeer -- and let's just say, they weren't eating latkes. It was beginning to look a lot like You Know What. If the anti-Christmas forces are winning, then the war in Iraq is nothing short of total victory.
Merry Christmahanakwanza

Monday, December 17, 2007

Air America Radio to Drop the Young Turks Next Month

The Young Turks Show will be dropped from the Air America Radio line-up next month, according to announcements by the surviving Turk -- Cenk Uygur -- and a spokesperson for the liberal talk radio network.

Uygur, confirmed that the Turks relationship with Air America will end amicably on January 15. Speaking to his listeners at a hastily arranged podcast earlier today, Uygur said that a new venture would be started, at that time, which will involve the internet.

When the Young Turks were added to AAR’s line-up in September, 2006 there were three of them – Uygur, Jill Pike, and Ben Mankiewicz. Pike left in July and Mankiewicz dropped out in August. Since that time, Uygur has essentially worked alone.

AAR’s publicist, Anne Strahle told Talking Radio earlier today that AAR and the Young Turks mutually agreed to end their show. "The reason being", according to Strahle, is that "their show will be going in a different direction."

AAR has not announced how they plan to fill the Turk’s 6-9 AM ET time slot.

This represents the second weekday show dropped by the liberal talk radio network since the Green brothers – Stephen and Mark – took over the bankrupt network, earlier this year. The Air Americans, featuring several AAR hosts including Mark Riley, Laura Flanders, David Bender, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Mike Papantonio was dropped from the weekday line-up in August.

In a separate development, Dave Kaufman, AAR's VP of Affiliate Relations leaves the company to take a position with RBR/TVBR Trade Publications.

During his podcast today, Uygur was very upbeat about the future of the Young Turks franchise. He said that he was looking forward "a new direction" for the show and "couldn’t wait until he could tell everyone about it."

Uygur dismissed rumors that were circulating on the internet this morning that he was being suspended by AAR for drinking beer (to celebrate the anniversary of the end of prohibition) or for slamming Democratic party leaders like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

"Let’s put the rumors about Air America Radio aside," Uygur said. "The termination of the Young Turks Show was agreed too amicably."

The Young Turks never got much traction, despite the fact that there is not much competition in the early morning time period on liberal talk radio stations. Only 16 of the 50 plus stations that carry four or more AAR hosts picked up the Turks. The Turks also held the 6-9 AM slot on XM’s Air America Channel.

Rumors circulated on internet message boards that the Turks would return to Sirius Satellite Radio. (Before joining the AAR line-up, the Turks were carried by Sirius for several years.) Uygur would not confirm or deny these rumors on his podcast today.

One talk radio host must be very happy about AAR’s plans to drop the Turks. Bill Press, who’s 6-9 AM EST talk show is distributed by Jones Radio, would appear to be a strong candidate for carriage in the time slots soon to vacated by the Turks.

The Young Turks was definitely a different type of talk show. When Pike and Mankiewicz were on the show if often delved into non-political talk about sex and entertainment. It definitely appealed to a younger demographic than other shows on AAR’s weekday line-up. The Turks also offered a video feed of the daily radio show.

This irreverent style was displayed last month when Uygur threatened to sue Stephen Colbert for allegedly stealing one of his jokes.

While it’s hard to believe that Uygur is not unhappy about his departure from the AAR weekday line-up, there is no doubt that he is very happy that he doesn’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to do his radio show. Since the Turk's show originates from Los Angeles, Uygur had to go on the air at 3 AM PST.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Those Who Are No Longer With Us

Two companies involved in the radio business – Clear Channel Communications and Air America Radio – have been in the process of downsizing in the final months of 2007.

Now we all know that Clear Channel is the largest company in the radio business. It started the year with over 1,200 radio stations with access to 40% of radio listeners. It is also involved in the outdoor advertising and international radio businesses.

AAR, on the other hand, is one of the radio industry's smallest companies. It is now in the process of reorganizing after a painful bankruptcy just over a year ago and the loss of about 20% of its coverage. Regular readers of Talking Radio know that AAR provides about a dozen liberal talk radio shows to about 60 stations across the United States. According to TR, their programs account for about half of the listenership to liberal talk radio.

Clear Channel (unaffectionately known as "Cheap Channel") has been actively downsizing since the start of the year, when they announced a plan to take the company private. Since that time, they have attempted to unload 500 (or about 40% of their stations.) Almost half of those deals have been concluded as of now.

Presumably, they are doing this to make the company more attractive to the buy-out firm – Bain Capital Partners. However, the bean counters at CC haven’t stopped there. In the past few weeks we’ve noticed a lot of news about how they are cutting staff on their remaining stations.

Here are a few of the items that we have read in, Radio Ink, and

In San Francisco, the people who are, in the famous radio phrase "no longer with us", include Bob Agnew, a Bay Area veteran who’d been overseeing programming at talkers KNEW and "Green 960" KKGN. Also gone is KKSF/KNEW production director Mario Butzner. According to a CC source, about a dozen Bay Area staffers got pink slips in the past month.

In Honolulu a newsperson and a producer have been cut.

In San Diego at least seven people, mostly low level, were given the boot. Management termed it a "staff readjustment." People that were fired were given the option of a six week severance or their job back - part time and no benefits.

In Los Angeles, Mike Nolan, who for over 20 years was talker KFI's "Eye in the Sky", and about a half dozen Airwatch traffic reporters were shown the door. Motorists in L.A. are going to have pay more attention to those ugly electronic freeway traffic signs. In addition, longtime AC KOST midday host Mike Sakellarides and at least five other employees will not be playing Christmas music at the soft rock music station.

In Cincinnati, John Kieswetter, Cincinnati Enquirer TV/radio writer reports that "you won't hear Gregg Doyel on WCKY-AM any more. Doyel, who co-hosted 9 a.m.-noon with Mo Egger, was fired today in a budget cut. Egger will continue to host solo, says program director Dave Armbruster."It was just part of our budget cuts. I didn't want to do it. I think he was getting a lot better," Armbruster says. Morning co-host John Phillips has exited WKRC-AM and Anchor/Reporter Will Sterrett is out at WLW-AM as part of the cluster's budget cuts.

In Louisville, talk host Joe Elliot exits WHAS after 14 years in the time slot as part of a larger layoff at the cluster.
In Boston, Karl Moore, regional director of operations at CC owned, Boston's Total Traffic Network, exits along with staffers Bill Trifiro and Mike Czarnecki.

In Chicago, management has trimmed at least four staffers from the programming payroll. Those include Armando Rivera, assistant PD at V103/WVAZ "once considered a rising star." There were also cuts at WGCI and "Kiss FM" WKSC.
These are items that we picked up over the past two weeks. An email that we sent to CC’s personnel department in San Antonio requesting additional information on lay-offs has not been answered.

A thread has been started at the Radio-Info News/Talk board, which we check out from time to time, entitled "Clear Channel Cuts Nationwide." has named"The fired and laid-off employees of Clear Channel, CBS Radio, Citadel, Emmis, Cumulus and other large, medium and small market radio stations who have devoted their immense talents to broadcasting"as the recipients of the "2008 Radio Persons of the Year" award.

When we checked out CC’s corporate website we discovered the following quote from the company's founder and chairman Lowry Mays. It reads, in part:

"We believe Clear Channel's people are our most important asset."

We are not very surprised about the staff cutbacks at Air America Radio. After the Green brothers (Stephen and Mark) took over the struggling network, earlier this year, their first order of business was to cut costs. Mark Green told Talking Radio in August that staff was reduced from over 70 people to the low 40’s and operational loses were significantly cut.

However, in the past two months staff cutbacks at AAR started to reaching the bone of the network. The first high profile lay-off involved V.P. of Programming, David Bernstein. Recently, we learned that four more staffers have been let go.

We are not comparing the cutbacks at Clear Channel to the on-going problems at AAR – That would be like comparing watermelons to grapes. However, we wonder if the continuing problems besetting the radio industry, where station values, stock values, and ad revenue continue to slide downward, mean that we will hear about more about those who "are no longer with us."

Monday, December 10, 2007

The 'Lion of Left' De-clawed by Feds

When Rush Limbaugh was charged with doctor shopping and he paid his housekeeper to buy drugs for him behind the Denny’s Restaurant in West Palm Beach, he took some time off and voluntarily entered rehab. After several weeks, he was back on the air and about a year later copped a plea. Rush's punishment represented little more than a glorified slap on the wrist.

In December of 2004, Bernie Ward, host of the longest running and highest rated liberal talk show in the country, downloaded a few images of child pornography and talked about them in an internet chat room. A police investigation of the matter revealed nothing more. There were no images on Ward’s computer and no other complaints.

However, unlike Limbaugh, Ward, who has hosted a talk show on KGO/810 (owned by Citadel Broadcasting) in San Franciso for 22 years, will probably be off the air for a lot longer than a month and faces some very serious charges which could lead to a lengthy prison term.

Friends of Bernie Ward have created a website with information about the his legal dilemna. The site also provides a way to contribute to Ward's defense fund.

Ward's attorney Doron Weinberg told the San Francisco Chronicle that the talk show host "is not a sexual predator."

"He is just being prosecuted for a mistake he made (more than) three years ago."Federal authorities seized Ward's computer in early 2005, and there was no evidence of child pornography or any other impropriety, Weinberg said. "We have been trying to convince the government that this is not something they should proceed with. They said, 'He violated the law, sorry.' "

Ward told investigators at the time that he was doing research for a book on hypocrisy. Now federal authorities have chosen to prosecute. Clearly, the feds didn’t think that Ward was a sexual predator. If they did, he would have been arrested three years ago. They appear to responding to draconian rules regarding child pornography, contending that Ward violated the letter of law.

Before we get too far into this report, I should reveal some prejudicial information. Bernie Ward is my favorite liberal talk show host. I have frequently listened to recordings of his 10 PM to 1 AM weekday show. Unlike his better known syndicated lib talk counterparts, Bernie rarely does interviews and never uses sound bites or funny bits. However, his show is stimulating because he is so passionate, smart, and articulate. Also, despite the fact that the broadcast is limited to the Northern California region, his callers are generally knowlegable and interesting. It is not surprising that while even the best lib talkers max out with 2 to 3 shares, Bernie has consistently recorded double digit shares and is always number one in his time period.

Everyone who knows Bernie Ward finds it hard to believe that the charges against him are true. While Ward can be an aggressive, even combative talk show host he is also well-known for his kindness and charitability.

Over the past dozen years, he has led the KGO Thanksgiving Charities Drive that has raised over five million dollars for several Bay Area charities. He once sat on a billboard for 24 hours to raise $75,000 for a Leukemia fund drive. Ward also hosted the popular God Talk radio show on Sunday mornings for many years. (He's is a former Catholic Priest, Congressional aide, football coach, and investigative reporter.)

His fans adore him and many KGO staffers and community leaders are very supportive, despite the seriousness of the charges against him. Here are a few comments:

"He's always been a wonderful person to work with. And he is such a wonderful father. During commercial breaks, his kids would call him. Bernie would drop everything to solve whatever crisis came up, whether it was a homework problem or somebody locking themselves in the bathroom. Then he went back on air without missing a beat." -- Margo Magowan, former producer of the Bernie Ward Show.

"Bernie Ward has been a valued, long-time employee of KGO Radio. We were just recently made aware of these serious charges and are surprised and concerned by their nature." -- Jack Swanson, KGO PD.

"Our heart goes out to Bernie and his family. (He is married and the father of four children.) Bernie has been an incredible leader. His approach is not only to talk about what is broken in society, but to inspire people to fix it."-- Poncho Guevara, executive director of Sacred Heart Community Service in San Jose.

"I think Bernie is one of a kind. He has a huge heart. He has never been cautious. Like many people he was ignorant of the law, he made a mistake and it is tragic. People who know him know that in no way is this Bernie Ward." -- Susan Prather, founder and executive director of Fresh Start, a Walnut Creek organization that helps the poor and homeless.

"I know Bernie as a dad, a talk-show guy and an investigative reporter. This is utterly inconsistent with those three facets of Bernie. It doesn't jibe with what I know." -- Stephanie Salter, former San Francisco Chronicle columnist.

Of course there have been the predictable cheap shots from right wing talkers and bloggers.

"Left wing bigmouth Bernie "Whored" of KGO (The "Lyin' of the Left") indicted on kiddie porn." -- Michael Savage

"We've since heard from broadcast professionals in California that signs of self- destructive behavior on Ward's part go back years and may be quite shocking in nature. Will some of this eventually come to light as well?" -- Brian Maloney, The Radioequalizer (Of course, no "broadcast professionals" were mentioned or quoted.)

One has to wonder, why the feds waited three years to pursue this matter. Despite the virtual zero tolerance policy that has characterized enforcement of child pornography law enforcement, there have been exceptions provided to journalists. Writing in Counterpuch, Debbie Nathan cites the case of Kurt Eichenwald, a former New York Times reporter, who was not prosecuted after downloading more child pornography than what Ward is being accused of doing.

Ward has not said much since his arrest last week. He told the San Francisco Chronicle "I'd like to say what this is not, It's not child abuse. It wasn't solicitation. I wasn't part of any ring. Most importantly, there was nothing on my computer. None of this was for titillation or entertainment."

Meanwhile, it’s going to be awhile before we hear the ‘lion of left" on the radio again. Ward’s next court date will be in January. In the meantime, he has been suspended, with pay, by KGO.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Lib Talk Returns to Columbus Ohio: One Down 16 to Go

Liberal talk radio returned to Columbus, OH on Monday morning, 11 months after it was unceremoniously dropped from WTPG/1230 to by Clear Channel.

According to Brian Rothenberg, of Progress Ohio, WVKO/1580 is the new lib talk station in Central Ohio. The station, which previously programmed an urban format for many years, has most recently offered Spanish programming. Here's what Rothenberg said in an email that we received on November 30.

Thanks to the efforts of Ohio Majority Radio and longtime radio executive Gary Edwards, central Ohioans will once again hear progressive talk from favorites like Stephanie Miller, Ed Schultz, and Randi Rhodes. We'll also hear coverage of local high school football, boys and girls basketball, and other local sports.

The email also asked supporters to make donations to fledgling lib talk venture.

The launch of WVKO represents the first "re-flip" of a lib talk station since station owners started dropping the format about a year. Since November 2006 17 radio markets have lost their only lib talk station. Interestingly, six of the nine rated stations in these markets have seen their shares fall since abandoning the format!

The WVKO line-up features seven of top syndicated lib talk hosts:

Bill Press, 6-9 AM

Stephanie Miller, 9 AM-12 NOON

Ed Schultz, 12 NOON-3 PM

Randi Rhodes, 3-6 PM

Rachel Maddow, 6-8 PM

Thom Hartmann, 8-11 PM and

Jon Elliott, 11 PM-2 AM

WVKO, is owned by Bernard LLC, which also owns WVKO-FM/103.1 which broadcasts a Spanish format. There’s an interesting string on discussing ownership issues involving the two Columbus stations.

WVKO general manager Gary Richards told the Columbus-Dispatch, that the coming political year had a lot to do with the programming change at the station.

"[With] AM stations, you're kind of limited in what you can do," Richards said. "Music is a losing proposition on AM, and we had to find a niche, and we think there is one in political talk -- especially with 'something big' (the 2008 election) going on next year."

Clear Channel flipped WTPG/1230 (now called WYTS) from lib talk to conservative talk on Jan. 1 of this year. CC also owns and operates the number one talk station in market WTVN/610, which is also a conservative talker. Since flipping WCOL/WYTS, the station has seen is ratings in the market drop from a high of 1.4 in the Spring of 2006 to 0 in Fall of 2007.

Ohio Majority Radio has maintained an active profile on the internet with a Yahoo discussion group and a petition drive. While its attempts to convince CC management that the decision to offer a second right-wing talk station in predominantly Democratic central Ohio was a bad one, they have apparently succeeded to make that argument with the owners of WVKO.

WVKO is a 3200 watt station that offers very good coverage of the Columbus market.

Here are the other 16 markets where the only lib talk station has flipped formats in the past year:

Market/Station/New Format
Akron WARF AM Sports
Austin KOKE AM Spanish
Binghamton WYOS AM Sports
Boston WXKS AM Spanish
Burlington WTWK Womens Talk
Cincinnati WSAI AM Sports
Corpus Christi KCCT AM Sports
Duluth-Superior KQDS AM Oldies
El Paso KHRO AM Alternative
Little Rock KDXE AM Sports
Memphis WSMB AM Sports
New Haven WAVZ AM Sports
New Orleans WWWL AM Conservative Talk
Portland, ME WLVP AM Sports
Quad Cities, IA WKBF AM Christian
San Antonio KTXX FM Spanish

Good job Progress Ohio and Ohio Majority Radio! Now that’s one down 16 to go.

For more information on markets that have lost their lib talk station go to Non-Stop Radio.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

"Balanced Talk" Doubles Down in Southern California

The newest "balanced" talk radio station KGIL/1260, which features Michael Jackson, the highest rated liberal talk show host in the 1990s, will make a significant move to increase it’s coverage and hopefully its ratings when XESURF/540 flips from country to talk on Tuesday.

Combined the two stations offer reasonably good daytime coverage in the two largest radio markets in the Southern California region – Los Angeles and San Diego. KGIL puts a good signal over the northern two thirds of the L.A. market. 540 AM, as it is known, which broadcasts out of Tijuana, provides decent coverage in the San Diego market. We can even hear it here in the world headquarters of Talking Radio in Orange County (which constitutes the other third of the L.A. market.)

Unfortunately, the newly merged stations will be beefing up their conservative talk line up when they launch 540 AM. Lars Larsen (3-5 pm) will join Neal Boortz (7-9am) to bolster the right-side of spectrum. Jackson holds up the liberal side, with a two hour show (7-9am) that will be repeated (5-7pm).

However, the big news it that sex and relationship guru Drew Pinksy will be launching a daily talk show, targetted for syndication, calling it the "Dr. Drew Show." Pinksy is one of the country’s longest surviving talk hosts. For the past 22 years he has participated on "Loveline" which is syndicated, Sunday-Thursday nights, on over a 100 stations – mostly FM rockers. Pinksy currently co-hosts Loveline with Ted Stryker.

It’s hard to believe that Pinsky will continue to do both shows. That would be 20 hours a week of radio for a guy that also is practicing physician and the father of triplets!

Pinsky joins Dr. Joy Brown (1-3pm) on the non-political side of the new twin talker. The line-up is completed with a one hour show by Larry King (yes he still does a radio talk show) from 7-8pm. No attempt will made to continue talk in late evening and early morning when the two stations reduce power. Listeners who find either station at these times will hear standards music.

Saul Levine, owner of KGIL and operator of Mexican owned 540 AM said he was making move because he felt that the demise of KLSD/1360 created an opportunity. As we know, KLSD in San Diego dropped liberal talk two weeks ago, after a three year run, and is now offering a sports format.

"We felt the need to access an audience in San Diego as well as provide an alternative frequency for Orange County," Levine said.

It is strange that Levine has not chosen to offer other liberal hosts. There are several nationally syndicated lib talkers that are not offered in Los Angeles, including Lionel, The Young Turks, Jon Elliott and Peter B. Collins. Also, Levine must be aware that Stacy Taylor, the only local weekday talker on the now defunct KLSD, is looking for a job. We got an email from Taylor on Friday stating that he was mulling over an offer from Clear Channel to host an early evening show on their conservative San Diego station KOGO/600.

Go ahead Saul... make Stacy an offer that he can’t refuse.

KGIL/540-AM is the latest of several balanced talk stations to launch in the past two months. Others include 3WT/1500 in Washington and WTAN/1340 in Tampa.

In fact, according to our records there are at least three dozen balanced talk stations on the air right now. These stations include KGO/810 in San Francisco, WRJN/1400 in Milwaukee, WJNO/1290 in West Palm Beach, and WTDY/1670 in Madison.

We define a "balanced talk station" as a stations that offers at least two liberal talkers and at least one conservative talker on weekdays. We have identified about a 100 talk stations that carry one syndicated liberal talk host. About half of these stations offer Alan Colmes, about 25 offer Ed Schultz, and the balance contain other syndicated lib talkers. We call these stations "marginals."

Are we going to see more balanced and marginal talk stations launch in the future? It’s hard to say.

The fact is, that you count the full time liberal stations that have launched this year on the fingers of one hand and they have all shown up in small or unmeasured markets.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wendell to Fill In for Malloy, Colmes, and Mr. K

The Thanksgiving holiday is providing one talk radio host something to be thankful for.

Johnny Wendell, who regularly hosts a talk show on KTLK/1150 in Los Angeles on Saturdays from 7 to 9 am, will be busy over the coming week filling in for other hosts who will partaking in Thanksgiving holiday festivities.

On Wednesday, Wendell will be filling in Mike Malloy on Nova M Radio and on Thursday (Thanksgiving Day) he will be sitting in for Fox Radio late night host Alan Colmes. You can find out how to catch Wendell here for the Malloy show and here for the Colmes show.

Listeners in Los Angeles can also catch Wendell on KTLK where he be filling in for Marc "Mr. K" Germain on Thurdsay and Friday from 3 to 7 pm.

If you haven’t had a chance to hear Wendell, try to catch his show over the next few days. He is funny and passionate and does a talk show the old fashioned way. That is, he focuses on one topic per hour and if you don’t agree with him by the end of the hour, you probably have changed the station.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sports Talk 3 Lib Talk 0 in San Diego

It has been a week since Clear Channel pulled the plug on liberal talk radio in San Diego and lib talk supporters are now finding out that they were being used while the radio station group finalized it’s efforts to launch the third sports station in the market.

While 19 lib talk stations (six owned by CC) have ceased to exist during the past year, the flip of KLSD/1360 represents the most serious blow yet to the format. (Ironically ratings for the station were up 33% in the last Arbitron Survey.)

KLSD was, by far, the largest lib talk station to drop the format. In fact, listenership for the San Diego station was more than double that of any of the other stations that have dropped lib talk.

It was the first station on the West Coast, serving an Arbitron Radio market, to drop lib talk. Arguably, before the KLSD flip, you could drive from the Mexican border to the Canadian border and always be able to tune in to lib talk station. If the format is struggling in some parts of the country, it has been doing quite well in the West Coast. (28% of lib talk listeners live in the three states bordering the Pacific Ocean)

KLSD was the only station to drop the format that had a daily local talker. Listeners in San Diego were particularly outraged to lose the morning talk show hosted by popular Stacy Taylor. Ironically, Taylor and his team had won an award at the San Diego Press Club's 34th annual journalism the night before his show was dropped. (Stacy is currently mulling over an offer to be carried in an evening time slot on KOGO/600, CC's conservative talk station in San Diego.)

One of many posters on the Save KLSD message board expressed his steadfast support for KLSD morning talker.

As one of the many loyal listeners of The Stacy Taylor Morning Show, I have to say, when the show is gone I will not suddenly decide to listen to any of the other Clear Channel stations. In fact, I will do everything in my power to never listen to a Clear Channel affiliate again.And the termination of lib talk at KLSD was handled very differently than the other format flips over the past year. Virtually all of the other flips were carried out with little or no advance notice and corporate and station managers remained tight lipped.

However, the flip of KLSD (now called 1360 Xtra Sports) was handled very differently. Clear Channel announced that they were thinking of flipping the station’s format over two months before the flip was made.

The station’s program manager, Cliff Albert, actually encouraged listeners to voice their support for continuing the lib talk format. Albert even posted encouraging messages on the KLSD website and spoke at rallies attended by hundreds of KLSD listeners.

However, despite receiving many hundreds of emails, an on-line petition with over 4,500 signatures, and several appeals from station advertisers, the flip was made. It seems that Albert’s boss, Bob Bollinger, CC’s San Diego Operations Manager, was quietly planning the change while Albert was sweet talking hundreds of lib talk fans.

Bollinger, who never spoke publicly about the matter during the two month long kabuki dance directed by Albert, told the San Diego Union Tribune on November 9 (three days before the flip.)

"I think there's always room for another great restaurant, no matter whether there's one in town or 10 in town. And we feel, with the foundation that we have through our Chargers broadcasts (on sister station Rock 105.3), that we could put on a good product with good content."

Actually, Bollinger played his hand a month earlier when he told the San Diego Union Tribune on October 13 that Clear Channel had hired Chris Ello, a longtime sports talker in San Diego.

John Bauder, writing in the San Diego Reader reported that a day earlier, John Lynch, chief executive of XX Sports parent, Broadcast Company of the Americas, tendered his resignation from the San Diego Radio Broadcasters Association. (XX Sports is the number 1 sports radio station in San Diego.) Lynch complained that the "dominant member" of the association (Clear Channel) "continues to engage in what I believe is anticompetitive behavior."

The "anticompetive behavior" concerned a move by CC to contact 19 of XX Sports employees "to discuss employment on one of their new formats."

Then on October 15, Brad Samuel, KLSD’s top ad sales executive, sent out an internal e-mail jubilantly declaring, "XTRA Sports -- Welcome Home!" It gave the details of the flip and even listed the talent.

According to Bauder’s report "the next day, Samuel tried to retrieve the e-mails, claiming he had sent them by accident. He profusely begged forgiveness but announced who the general manager and program director would be."

The mixed messages delivered by CC managers over the weeks before the KLSD flip, elicited the following response from one San Diego radio veteran.

"In my years in the business, I have never seen something so badly handled," said Ron Bain, former president of CBS Television Sports. "For months this has been rumored; they have denied it, said they were thinking about it. If you are going to flip a format, flip it."

Meanwhile, Albert is still at it. He has started a blog called San Diego Progressive Talk encouraging backers of lib talk to once again register their support for the now defunct format.

He wants them to convince lib talk syndicators like Air America Radio and Jones Radio to license their talk programs for an HD radio channel that Clear Channel could launch so that the 50 people in San Diego who own HD radios can listen to lib talk.

Finally realizing that they have been taken for ride, one commenter on Albert’s blog summed up the feelings of the legions of disgusted lib talk fans.

"Clear Channel is run by corporate swine (who care about nothing other than making money) and their gutless mid-mangers who do as they're told."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Sirius Signs Black Activist for Midday Talk Slot

Sirius Left (channel 146) launched a new talk radio show today – "Make It Plain," hosted by Mark Thompson – but in doing so, the satellite radio channel had to drop one of the leading national liberal talk show hosts.

Thompson, the first African-American to get a weekday slot on Sirius Left, is a veteran talker whose career included stints on WOL in Washington and more recently as the first African American host on XM.

To make room for Thompson, Sirius dropped Stephanie Miller and cut Ed Schultz’ show from three to two hours. Schultz, Mike Malloy and Thom Hartmann are the only lib talkers carried on both satellite services.

Sirius described their new lib talker as someone who will speak passionately about political, social, and economic issues from an African-American perspective. Their press release calls Thompson "an African-American broadcast pioneer, human rights visionary, and community leader, who launches with a powerful, high-profile and stellar lineup of guests from the African-American community." Make It Plain will air weekdays, 5 to 9 pm.

The rest of the Sirius line-up remains unchanged.

Bill Press, 6 to 9 am
Alex Bennett, 9 am to noon
Thom Hartmann, noon to 1 pm
Lynn Samuels, 1 to 3 pm
Ed Schultz, 3 to 5 pm
Mike Malloy, 9 pm to midnight


In addition to Schultz (noon to 3 pm), Mike Malloy (10 pm to midnight) and Hartmann (8 to 10 pm), Air America Radio (Channel 167) on XM’s weekday schedule includes the following hosts:

The Young Turks, 6 to 9 am
Lionel, 9 am to noon
Randi Rhodes, 3 to 6 pm
Rachel Maddow, 6 to 8 pm


Sirius currently has 7.7 million subscribers (XM has 8.6 million). Arbitron reported satellite radio ratings for the first time during their Spring 07 survey. Sirius Left recorded a cume of 59,100 homes and AAR on XM recorded a cume of 109,600 according to Arbitron. The combined Sirius and XM cumes are slightly less the cumes recorded on WWRL in New York and KTLK in Los Angeles.

However, ratings scored by lib talk hosts on satellite radio do not generate ad sales. Accordingly, satellite radio does not provide a revenue stream for lib talk.

Thompson told a reporter for Tennessean that he’s looking forward to his new show on Sirius.

"It means that our audience will still have an opportunity to hear me and to continue with some of the things we started. To be able to talk about all of the political and social and economic issues of the day from an African-American's perspective is still very important."

"We all in America, the different cultures, speak different languages. That is OK; diversity is a good thing. However, in talk radio, there aren't a lot of African-Americans broadcasting nationally, so this is an important opportunity to step up to bring diversity to what is a very real cultural institution in America, and that's talk radio.

"Black talk radio has always had its own special place when it comes to the African-American community. It's something we need to keep alive, and satellite radio is one of the best places to keep that going."

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.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Blogging from South Florida

We are blogging from South Florida this week (while Hurricane Nicole lingers about 150 miles offshore.) The last time out on the road we didn’t even try to blog. This time we found a comfortable business center in a Miami Beach condiminium and we're going to take a shot at it.

And there is much to blog about. Glenn Beck’s latest outrage suggesting that movies like “Happy Feet” and “Superman Returns” are attempts by Hollywood to push a “one world government"; successful efforts by minority groups in Minneapolis and Cincinnati to get station owners to take action against racist comments by talk hosts; the spat between Ed Schultz and WABC PD, Phil Boyce (and others) about whether the New York conservative talk station is poorly managed; and whether Clear Channel is trying to censor Bruce Springsteen.

Instead we’ve decided to cross-post a message that appeared yesterday on News/Talk board on a thread dealing with the WABC ratings issue. The message, posted by Radnowski, offers an articulate and cogent take on the state of talk radio in general and liberal talk in particular. Here it is:

This thread has been interesting, entertaining, informative and to an extent, exasperating. Much like talk radio. In some instances, this thread has devolved to a "mine's bigger than yours" posting match. In other ways, it's been an informative class in Arbitron 201: Cume, Quarter Hour Shares, Persons, Ratings Points, Turnover Ratios, TSL... I'm surprised a few sales types haven't jumped in with Gross Ratings Point, Reach and Frequency. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Somewhere between Free FM (moment of silence, please) and what passes for Talk radio from Hannity, Schultz and others (notice I use a lefty and righty) these days lies the future of the talk format. Maybe it's somehwere between the politics of Hannity/Schultz and the lunacy of Opie & Anthony. Maybe it's NPR crossbred with The Daily Show.

One thing about talk radio these days, it's old. It sounds old and it appeals to old people. What's old? 45+? 55+? 65+? A friend of mine, a 43 year old attorney who lives on Staten Island has long ago tired of me asking him about talk radio in the Big Apple. He doesn't listen. Why? "It's for old people, WABC is a parody of itself," he says. "But why?" I wonder. He reponds, "There's very little there I'd want to listen to for any length of time." I persist, "WABC is a legendary station. You're an attorney, doesn't even Kuby interest you?" "No, he's an ass... and he's hopelessly liberal." "You're a third generation Republican, a legacy... surely you'd like Hannity and Rush." "They don't speak for or to this Republican," he replies. He loved Stern and listened to NPR. What's up with THAT!?

So Phil [Boyce], what's the median age of a WABC listener these days? I'm sure the qualitatives look nice, upper demo and upper income, with plenty of white guys from the burbs who drive Mercury Marquis and Buick Park Avenues. Ah, but those land-barges do have a nice ride.

Much as I was intrigued by what Air America might do, it was readily apparent within a few weeks of their launch that they would fail. Fail across the board and fail especially when going up against stations like WFAN, WABC, WRKO, WJR, WLW, KFI and WWL... you'll recognize these as the "heritage talkers," the Big Daddy 50 kW flamethrowers. The AA affiliates and AA itself lacked discipline and substance. It had plenty of style, but very little form. It more resembled an amoeba than a vertabrate.

This having been said, it did have potential. Randi Rhodes can be shrill, but she knows how to push the buttons and work the room. Too bad the whole Air America platform reeked of poor design and execution. Leasing time? Buying stations? WTF? Get a network up and running, polish it, work it, sell it, promote it and improve it day by day.

Most Progressive Talkers are running on life support these days. I often thought that when CC committed to Progressive talk, it intentionally co-opted it. Sure, progressive talk does well in a few markets, notably Portland, Oregon. Buffalo has a 50 kW flamethrower on 1520 that, according to recent ratings, attracts about 27 people on a good day. Bill Press, Stephanie Miller, Randi Rhodes, Ed Schultz and Alan Colmes can't get arrested here.

...Wonder how WABC would fare against a full blown competitor operating on a 50 kW 1A (such as the 50 kW WCBS signal) that offered as solid (if not more resourceful) news department, as efficient vertical and horizontal promotion and equally talented and compensated (if not left of center) air talent that can be found on the very well-programmed WABC. The idea is purely hypothetical, but it's worth imagining.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Bad News Week for Lib Talk Ends with Some Good News

It’s been a bad week for liberal talk radio. We learned that one liberal talk station –KOKE/1600 in Austin had flipped to Spanish and two others will soon flip to sports– KRFT/1190 in St. Louis, which offers some lib talk, and KLSD/1360 in San Diego, the largest station yet to drop the format.

We also had to sit with our teeth clenched while master showman Rush Limbaugh humiliated 41 Democratic Senators by auctioning off a letter written by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to Clear Channel CEO, Mark Mayes seeking a reprimand for Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" remark. Finally, we have Randigate and enough has been said about that matter.

So we were somewhat relieved when we learned that the embattled lib talk format was beginning to fight back. A few days ago we received a press from Air America Radio announcing that 11 stations would soon be carrying all or part of the lib talk networks schedule. Since, the press release didn’t identify when these new stations would launch and which hosts were to be offered, we contacted AAR’s VP of Affiliate Relations Dave Kaufman, for more information.

What we learned is that the network will soon (within the next few weeks) launch its entire schedule on one station add some AAR hosts to two other stations and expand coverage on two incumbent talk stations. In addition, they are still working on deals with several others.

Kaufman confirmed that KXLJ/1130 in Juneau, the first full time AAR affiliate since, WTAA/1490 in Atlantic City, launched the format in June, will start broadcasting in a few weeks. Seattle Streaming Radio LLC, owner of KXLJ, is conducting signal tests right now.

Interestingly, this will be the 11th lib talk station on the air in a state capitol. The other 10 are – WPYR/1380 in Baton Rouge, LA; WOIC/1230 in Columbia, SC; KKZN/760 in Denver, CO; KUMU/1500 in Honolulu, HI; WXXM/92.1 in Madison, WI; KTNF/950 in St. Paul, MN; KPHX/1480 in Phoenix, AZ; WCHL/1360 in Raleigh, NC; KSAC/1240 in Sacramento, CA; and KTRC/1260 in Santa Fe, NM.

The stations expected to launch before the end of the month with a partial lib talk format are WTAN/1340 in Tampa and KKEE/1230 in Astoria, OR. WTAN will launch with Lionel, who is a Tampa native, and will possibly be adding Randi Rhodes in the near future. KKEE will start with both Lionel and Rhodes.

Two other stations mentioned in the AAR press release – 3WT/1500 in Washington and KJLL/1330—already offer lib talkers, but will be adding new ones in the coming weeks. 3WT and KJLL are what we are calling "balanced" political talk stations. They offer both liberal and conservative talk hosts.

Deals with three other stations mentioned in the AAR press release – WBDB/92.7 in Ogdensberg, NY, WVPO/840 in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and WPLY/960 in Allentown – are still being finalized by AAR.

According to Kaufman, AAR is moving away from the strategy of securing full time affiliates that carry all of the network’s programs. Many of these so-called turnkey affiliates have subsequently dropped the lib talk network in search of easier operations like satellite delivered sports talk.

Hopefully, Kaufman will be as successful finding radio stations as he was during his last position as Affiliate Relations VP for ABC Radio Networks. During his tenure at ABC, Kaufman was involved in the successful rollout of the Sean Hannity Show which now is carried on over 500 radio stations.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Michael Jackson to Return to the L.A. Airwaves

After learning last week that one lib talk station has flipped to Spanish – KOKE/1600 in Austin – and another will soon be flipping to sports – KLSD/1360 in San Diego – it was great to learn that the legendary Michael Jackson will be returning to airwaves in Los Angeles. Not the Michael Jackson with the white sequined glove, but the one who had the highest rated local market talk show in the country until Rush Limbaugh led the transformation of talk radio from a mostly local market business into appendage of the Republican Party in the early 1990s.

Jackson will be the only local host on KGIL/1260, which will launch in Los Angeles on October 29. Formerly, KMZT or K-Mozart, the new talker will offer a “balanced” format including syndicated yakkers Larry King, Neal Boortz, and Dr. Joy Browne.

KMZT will move to HD radio.

This is the second “balanced” talk radio station to launch this month. Earlier in the month Bonneville International terminated their deal with the Washington Post and rebranded their talker 3WT/1500-AM and 107.7-FM.

The station, with its slogan “Left. Right. And whatever we want,” is attempting to fill a niche in the Washington market which has been unkind to the talk radio format. The only political talk station that gets ratings is conservative talker WMAL/630. The lib talk station –WWRC/1260 -- has such a bad signal that you can’t hear it when driving in downtown DC! It rarely shows up, in the ratings book and number one lib talker, Randi Rhodes, jumped at the opportunity to become part of the 3WT line-up. Stephanie Miller will follow Rhodes across town to the new talker next month.

In addition to the two lib hosts, 3WT has morning block of local talkers led by the popular Tony Kornheiser and two conservative talkers – Neal Boortz and Bill O’Reilly. They also have sports rights to the Washington Capitals (hockey) and Washington Nationals (baseball.)

While 3WT is well positioned to get ratings, KGIL is going to have tougher time. KMZT has not been showing up in the ratings book and the station’s weak daytime signal and weaker nighttime signal are going to be problems. However, with Jackson, a proven ratings winner, anchoring the program line-up in the morning and afternoon, there is some reason for optimism.

Jackson, a member of the Radio Hall of Fame, was the top talk host on KABC-AM/790 for over 30 years. While his politics are definitely liberal he employs an easy-going non-confrontational style. Jackson has probably interviewed more famous people and politicians than any other talk show host. Since he left, KABC in 1998 the station has gone down-hill, losing the number slot to KFI/640 which has the two best local talk shows in Southern California – The John and Ken and Bill Handel shows.

Radio entrepreneur and KGIL owner Saul Levine is quite optimistic about the new format. Levine contends that there is too much bluster and not enough news on the airwaves.

"Anybody who's going to foam at the mouth about Hillary [Clinton] or George [Bush], I'm not going to foster that, and I don't think that's what made America great," Levine said.

Is the emergence of these so-called “balanced” talk radio stations a new trend? It’s too early to tell. But there is no doubt that radio executives will be looking at how 3WT and KGIL do in the coming months.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Confessions of a Blogger

The right-wing noise machine has been having a field day with Randi-gate. Once, they smelled blood in the water they attacked Talking Radio and other liberal blogs (here and here) like a school of piranhas going after fresh meat. They shouted with glee over the apparent discrepancy between what actually happened to the liberal talk radio host (which we still don't know) and how it was initially reported.

Randi Rhodes spoke out for the first time at the beginning to her October 18 show. The lib talk show host told her listeners that she "was watching football in an Irish pub. I went out to smoke a cigarette, and the next thing I knew I was down on the cement, face down, bleeding. I don't know if someone hit me from behind, or if I fainted because I hadn't eaten all day."

Talking Radio was responsible for those initial reports. Not the New York Times, the Washington Post or CNN. Not Keith Olbermann, Wolf Blitzer, or Chris Matthews. Just this "tiny little blog" as Brian Maloney AKA the Radioequalizer has smugly reported.

Here’s how it happened. We were about to close up shop in the evening of October 15 when we picked up on a string started on Democratic Underground about how Jon Elliott, Air America Radio’s late night talk radio host, had reported that Rhodes had been attacked outside her New York City apartment.

We recorded a delayed broadcast of Elliott’s show and posted a report including some of his comments about the attack. We are not going to repeat those comments because Elliott has subsequently issued of retraction. (You can see Elliott’s comments here and his retraction here)

Early on the morning of October 16 we noticed that a story was posted on the on-line edition of the New York Daily News by radio reporter, David Hinckley. The story claimed that "cops and [Rhodes’] lawyer say reports that she was mugged near her Manhattan apartment were bogus."
("Bogus"? That's unsual language for a cop or lawyer to use)

What reports were they referring to? That’s right -- it was the article that we posted in Talking Radio late the previous night. So how did the Daily News, one of largest newspapers in the U.S., find out about a report generated by a "tiny little blog." Well, most likely they read about it on the Drudge Report. It seems that Drudge picked up on our story almost immediately.

We know this because we started receiving hundreds of comments starting at about 5 AM. According to Google Analytics, 80% of those comments were linked to the Drudge Report’s web site.

Well, once the Daily News article was released, a media feeding-frenzy erupted. The story was reported in all of the New York papers – the Post, the Village Voice, Newsday, and even the Times. The Associated Press filed a story, which was carried in dozens of American newspapers.

Several right wing talk radio hosts picked it up including Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, and it was featured on several segments of the Fox News Channel. Needless to say the story was hit in blogosphere. Just Google <"Randi Rhodes" "Talking Radio"> and you get over 300 hits! And just think, if we closed up shop like we usually do after the Colbert Report, this probably wouldn’t have happened.

Sorry Jon and Randi.

Now right wingers love to be righteous. They love to catch the "liberal media" f—king up." Liberals don’t really get all worked up when conservatives mess up. We have this web site called Media Matters, which reports on right wing lies and misinformation on a daily basis. Check it out right now. Media Matters is currently reporting on about a dozen faux pas's by right leaning TV personalities and talk radio hosts that occurred during the past 24 hours. Just another day in the office.

However, the right wing pundits were not happy just blasting Talking Radio and Jon Elliott. They couldn’t just take their shots and move on. No, they have now become the purveyors of bad information about Randi’s Manhattan tumble.

Here are a few of the embellishments and out lies that our friends in the right-wing media have put out over the last few days reports that Randi had imbibed 14 Ketel bloody-Marys before plunging to side walk. This was also reported in the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post. (If I drank four Bloody-Marys I'd be flat on my back.)

One right wing blogger suggested that the whole matter was just a publicity stunt by AAR.

The conservative publication the American Spectator listed several examples of crazy liberal outrage over the alleged attack on Randi. One of the targets, was yours truly. Shawn Macomber wrote "the proprietor of Talking Radio wailed, ‘These whack jobs appear determined to do whatever it takes to silence the opposing point of view’."

Well, we did say that, but not in reference to Randi’s misfortune. Our comment was about right-wingers, who shoot up talk radio stations, issue death threats, and beat and kill lib talk show hosts. I presume that the editors of the American Spectator would agree that such psychos are "whack jobs."

On his radio talk show earlier this week, Fox News commentator John Gibson, addressing John Elliott’s accusations that right-wingers attacked Randi Rhodes, identified Elliott as Rhodes’ "sometime substitute host." For the over a year now, Elliott has worked full time as a late night host on AAR. He rarely, if ever, has substituted for Rhodes.

But our favorite was the Maloney’s feeble attempt to gain some attention at the expense of Rhodes’ misfortune. In his latest post on the matter, Maloney said "in this exclusive, Radio Equalizer- created video, listen as Randi digs a deep hole for herself."

What exclusive? Maloney was referring to a recording that he made of the first seven minutes of Rhodes’ October 18 show. You could have listened to it live at 1 PM PDT on Thursday or if you missed it, you can pick it up right now on the or watch it on You Tube.

As of 12 midnight PDT, Maloney’s "huge blog" had 1 post, that’s 1,402 less than our "tiny blog."

For a much more detailed account of right wing hypocrisy over this matter check today's post on Liberal Talk Radio.

As New York Magazine said regarding Randi-gate.

"Oh Talk Radio fans! You are all so insane"

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What a Difference a Day Makes

First of all, we would like to thank the 1,300 plus people who took the time to the post a comment on the Randi Rhodes mugging story. We especially appreciate the hundreds of right-wingers that discovered this blog for the first time. We hope you come back and visit us on regular basis.

Also, we would like to thank all conservative bloggers including such big players as the Drudge Report, Michelle Malkin, the American Spectator and Little Green Footballs for linking their stories on the Rhodes incident to our blog.

Oh yes, and then one final shout-out -- to conservative talk radio blogger Brian Maloney who for the first time mentioned Talking Radio in his "no-spin zone." Well, Maloney didn’t actually mention Talking Radio by name, but he did say that the Randi Rhodes mugging story was started by "a tiny blog whose author has been a frequent critic of [his] site."

Tiny! When’s the last time that your blog recorded over a thousand comments?

However, while we are appreciative of the response we received in the MSM and blogosphere. (We even got linked to an article in the New York Times!) we regret that the accuracy of some of the information that we presented in our post last night has come into question.

When 41 members of the U.S. Senate and members of the anti-Iraq war veterans group expressed outrage over Rush Limbaugh’s "phony soldier" remark, the right-wing talk show host said that his critics didn’t consider the "context" in which his remark was made.

Well, we too have a "context" issue. Our coverage of the alleged attack on Randi Rhodes was presented in the "context" of several very real politically motivated attacks against liberal stations and talk hosts. We chronicled the recent shooting at a lib talk station in Houston, a death threat directed to Stephanie Miller, and a beating received by Tom Leykis. We also, referred to several incidents that may be forgotten because they occurred several years ago – e.g. shots fired at Thom Hartmann's car, transmitters blown up in Texas, and most tragically, the murder of lib talk show host Alan Berg.

If you take the time to scan the more than 1,300 comments posted to yesterday’s blog or read the posts in the right-wing publications listed above, you won’t find a single reference to any of these incidents.

We still believe that more answers are needed before we can say what happened to Randi Rhodes. The truth is not served when the media only reports part of the story.

For example, many of the comments that we received referred to an article written in yesterday’s New York Daily News by David Hinckley and Tina Moore. Also, the Drudge Report, linked to Daily News article in four items that they posted about incident.


LAWYER: She ‘fell while walking dog’ no crime

She hit her head on the street and was ‘disoriented’

ANOTHER ‘AIR AMERICA HOST ASKS ‘Is this an attempt by the right-wing, hate machine to silence one of our own?’
However, the Daily News story gives a different spin to Rhodes incident than an Associated Press article that appeared in dozens of American newspapers.

According to the Daily News, Rhodes' lawyer Robert Gaulin said that Rhodes was injured in a fall while walking her dog. Gaulin said that the lib talk host is not sure what happened, and only knows that she fell down and is in a lot of pain.

However, the AP, which also uses Gaulin as its source, confirmed that Rhodes was injured after "she was floored by someone or something" and that "she wasn't sure herself what sent her tumbling to the pavement." "She hit her head on the street and was disoriented," Gaulin said. "She's not sure what happened. She didn't see anything."

It’s funny that none of the right wing commentators or bloggers made reference to the AP story.
Furthermore, Rhodes, who is resting at her Manhattan apartment, has yet to comment on the incident.

In any case, it appears that Air America Radio wants to put an end to this story.

The lib talk radio network has posted the following item on its WebPage:

On Sunday evening, October 14, Air America host Randi Rhodes experienced an unfortunate incident hindering her from hosting her show. The reports of a presumed hate crime are unfounded. Ms. Rhodes looks forward to being back on the air on Thursday.Air America vice president of programming David Bernstein said "I spoke with Randi. She said that it happened, it took her by surprise and it's over."

Also, AAR’s late night talk show host, Jon Elliott has repudiated some of the statements that he made during his show last night about incident.

"I shouldn’t have speculated based on hearsay that Randi Rhodes had been mugged and that it may have been an attack from a right wing hate machine. I apologize for jumping to conclusions based on an emotional reaction. I wish Randi nothing but the best and look forward to a speedy recovery."Since our coverage of the alleged Randi Rhodes mugging was largely based on Elliott’s comments, we have decided that we cannot support the claims that were made and that we will withhold judgement on the matter until all the facts become known.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Randi Rhodes is the Victim of a Violent Attack

Updated on October 18 at 1:20 PM PDT. Update set in bold face italics

We just received the 1,400th comment to this post. Needless to say, this is a record for Talking Radio. It might even be a record for political blogs, although we can't confirm that. We can confirm that on October 16 this blog was visited over 200,000 times. This says a lot about the power of the internet.

Randi Rhodes was mugged on Sunday night on 39th Street and Park Ave, nearby her Manhattan apartment, while she was walking her dog Simon.

According to Air America Radio late night host Jon Elliott, Rhodes was beaten up pretty badly, losing several teeth and will probably be off the air for at least the rest of the week. At of late Monday night we have not able to locate any press accounts of the attack and nothing has been posted on the AAR website.

Several liberal blogs, including the Randi Rhodes Message Board and Democratic Underground have logged numerous posts on the Rhodes mugging with most of the posters expressing concern about the condition of the popular lib talker.

AAR's official blogger, Nancy Scola, posted the following message on the lib network's website this morning:

Air America host Randi Rhodes experienced an unfortunate incident hindering her from hosting her show. The reports of a presumed hate crime are unfounded. Ms. Rhodes looks forward to being back on the air on Thursday.

Morning talk host, Lionel filled in for Rhodes on Monday, but did not say anything about why she wasn’t on hand to do her show. The Randi Rhodes board reports that Sam Seder, who does a Sunday afternoon show for AAR, will be filling on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Elliott was extremely agitated when he reported on the incident. He opened his show by saying "it is with sadness that tonight I inform you that my Air America colleague Randi Rhodes was assaulted last night while walking her dog near her New York City home."

Pointing out that Rhodes was wearing a jogging suit and displayed no purse or jewelry, Elliott speculated that "this does not appear to me to be a standard grab the money and run mugging."

"Is this an attempt by the right wing hate machine to silence one of our own," he asked. "Are we threatening them. Are they afraid that we're winning. Are they trying to silence intimidate us."

Some of blog posters also expressed concerns that the attack on Rhodes was hate crime. Other posters warned that we need more facts before any judgements are made.

According to Elliott, Rhodes was resting in her New York City apartment and was not hospitalized.

Attacks on liberal talk radio stations and their hosts are not a new thing. About a month ago a gunman fired a shot through a window at the studios of KPFT, Houston’s, Pacifica station narrowly missing a DJ who was hosting music show at the time. There is currently a $10,000 reward offered to anyone who identifies the shooter.

This is not the first politically motivated attack on KPFT. More than 35 years ago, the Ku Klux Klan blew up the station's transmitters twice within the Houston station's first year on the air.

Also, shortly after AAR morning talk show host Thom Hartmann, started doing talk radio (about four years ago), he was told by auto mechanic that there were several bullet holes in his car.

"To this day I don't know if somebody shot out my car as kids joyriding with a pistol or rifle... or was a warning or statement of displeasure about my radio show," Hartmann told TR. "I've gotten a lot of death threats and hate mail over the years - hate mail is pretty much a norm in this business - but nobody has taken a shot at me or my car since 2003."

Talk show host, Tom Leykis, who known to express liberal views on his daily "hot talk show" was assaulted outside a Seattle bar three years ago by agitated radio listeners.

According to the Seattle Times, a witness reported two men were involved in the incident:
"…One of the men said to Leykis, "I called your show once and you called me" a name. "You had no right to do that." Then a man standing to Leykis’ left kicked him in the face. The blow knocked him to his knees, leaving his right knee scraped and bruised."

Last year Stephanie Miller received a death threat from a nut case in Ohio named "Sock" Sokolowski. Here's what the letter said in part.

"As with Cindy Sheehan the best thing that could happen to you would be seeing some WONDERFUL activist sticking an AK-47 up your Glory Holes and sending you into eternity" ---
Miller called Socko during her show (yes, he actually included his phone number in the letter) and Socko claimed several times during the phone call that he didn't threaten Miller in the letter.

(Socko is not to be confused with Spocko, who is a liberal blogger who was threatened by ABC Radio's lawyers after he posted a list of advertisers to Lee Rodgers and Melanie Morgan's conservative talk show on KSFO-AM in San Francisco.)

Apparently, some right-wing critics of lib talk aren’t happy that conservative talk only accounts for 90% of the programming on talk radio. These whack jobs appear determined to whatever it takes to silence the opposing point of view.

Not surprisingly, the only talk radio host killed for his political views was a liberal. In 1984, two right wing extremists gunned down Denver talk show host Alan Berg. Berg’s tragic murder was memorialized in a chilling movie Talk Radio

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Is Ed Schultz the #1 Lib Talker?

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.

"Every six months, the folks at Talkers Magazine create headaches for hosts, industry insiders and others by publishing a credibility- challenged list of the "top talk radio audiences".Using the kind of mathematics that would get one flunked out of first grade, the monthly advertorial publication clumsily attempts to rank syndicated talk hosts by audience size.While most in the industry send the list straight to their circular file, it is quoted quite often by mainstream media reporters who assume the data is reliable."
TR uses a very straightforward method of ranking talk show hosts. For each host, we add up the number of stations, the coverage of those stations, factor in the time period, and complete our analysis with ratings data. Rhodes, Miller, and Hartman are carried on about 50 stations. They all enjoy relatively good time periods. (Miller’s time slot is slightly better.) The reason why Rhodes was number one is because she had the best ratings.

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.