Sunday, April 29, 2007

Worst Talk Show Hosts of the Week

Week Ending: April 27, 2007

Our worse talker of week is Sean Hannity. Hannity was interviewing former Republican V.P. candidate, Jack Kemp, on the April 24 edition of his nightly TV Show, Hannity & Colmes, when the subject of Senate Majority leader Harry Reid’s comment about the war in Iraq came up.

Reid stated at a recent press conference that the “war [in Iraq] was lost” and that “at this stage, can only be won diplomatically, politically, and economically."

Hannity was outraged. He said "I think [Reid is] a propaganda minister for our enemies. He's emboldening our enemies, and he's taking away the morale of our troops. They're out there fighting that war, and he said it's lost."

Well, the “propaganda minister our enemies” must be doing a good job since more than half of the American people agree with him.

Our worser talker this week is Michael Savage, who just can’t stay away from those Hitler analogies. This time Savage compared Hillary Clinton with Hitler’s Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels. It concerned a remark that Clinton made about the Supreme Court's partial birth abortion decision during a speech at Rutgers University on April 20.

Referring to the ruling Clinton said, "what message does it send when the Supreme Court decides that women's health doesn't matter?"

Savage called Clinton’s statement “rubbish” and an “Hitlerian dialogue". On the April 23 edition of his syndicated radio talk show The Savage Nation, the former Michael Weiner said, “Goebbels would be proud of you, Hillary Clinton. I know [former Chinese communist leader] Mao Tse Tung would have been proud of you." Savage also referred to Clinton as a "liar" and a "sickening person," and added, "this is life and death you are talking about. It's not about women's health."

However, our worst talker of week is Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh wins the top award this week for having a real bad sense of humor. El Rushbo has drawn much attention over the past few years for racist and other insensitive comments that he regularly makes on his nationally syndicated radio show.

First, on July 11, 2005 he repeatedly referred to Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as “Obama Osama” and “Osama Obama” Then, on March 19 he played a musical bit called “Barack the Magic Negro” to the tune of “Puff the Magic Dragon.” As if this wasn’t tacky enough he repeatedly referred to Obama as “Barack the Magic Negro" 27 times during his three-hour show.

Finally, as reported in Talking Radio last week, he accused Seung-Hui Cho, perpetrator of the Virginia Tech shooting, which claimed the lives of 33 people of being a “liberal.” Limbaugh said "If this Virginia Tech shooter had an ideology, what do you think it was? This guy had to be a liberal. You start railing against the rich and all this other stuff -- this guy's a liberal."

Now we find out that Limbaugh’s comments about Obama and Cho were jokes that the "drive by media" just didn’t get.

He said, on the April 23 edition of his show, that Media Matters which posted all three of these comments on it is website, was "taking these comment out of context" and that "they obviously didn’t understand that he was joking".

We realize that Obama does not worry about being attacked by right wing talk radio host, but wonder if the family and friends of the dozens of people killed and injured at Virginia Tech, appreciated the fact that their loved ones where used by this sick "wanna be" comedian in effort to make a joke.

Rush Limbaugh, once again, the worst talk radio host of the week.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

AAR Reveals New Program Line-up and Ad Sales Arrangement

This is a day of breaking news in the world of liberal talk radio. First the announcement that Stephanie Miller will guest-host her daily radio show next week on MSNBC. Now a big announcement from Air America Radio about changes in their ad sales and affiliate relations representation and program line-up.

AAR confirmed today that they have ended their ad sales arrangement with Jones Media Group and started one with an even bigger company --Westwood One. According to the anouncement, released just minutes ago, beginning June 1, WW1 will oversee all network ad sales for the liberal talk network in addition to affiliate ad sales. WW1 will also work with AAR's affiliate relations group to secure and maintain new radio stations coverage.

Serving more than 5,000 radio stations, WW1 is the nation’s leading provider of audio content. It distributes more than 150 news, sports, music, talk, entertainment programs, features and live events and, through its Metro Networks division, provides local content to the radio and TV industries including news, sports, weather, traffic, video news services and other information. WW1 is managed by CBS Radio.

"Because Westwood One is such a renowned network ad and affiliate sales firm," said Air America Chief Operating Officer Scott Elberg. "It’s obviously exciting that Westwood One will be a vital part of AAR 2.0. We appreciated Jones Media's past work and now look forward to a new effort behind the new Air America."

"We're pleased that the new ownership and management of Air America is looking to us to expand their audience and secure their success of being informative, entertaining talk programming," said Roby Wiener EVP, Chief Marketing Officer for WW1.

AAR also announced the addition of three new shows on weekdays and five on weekends (see new line-up below).

In addition to the previously announced Lionel Show, which will be carried from 9-12 AM ET, veteran early morning talker Mark Reily will launch a new show called The Air Americans from 8-12m ET and San Diego based host, Jon Elliott will be given a permanent slot in the line-up from 12m-3am ET.

"Our line-up combines the best of proven radio stars like Randi Rhodes, Thom Hartmann, Rachel Maddow and The Young Turks along with new programming that broadens and deepens Air America's reach," said AAR's President Mark Green. "When people ask what Air America 2.0 means, they'll hear the answer on May 21."

The biggest surprise in today’s announcement was the expanded role Riley. His new show will include contributors Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Mike Papantonio of Ring of Fire, David Bender of Politically Direct, and Laura Flanders of RadioNation. The show will consist of various segments discussing not so much the War on Terror abroad as the War Against Democracy at home as well as talk about culture and music.

It appears that two shows have been dropped from AAR's weekday line-up -- Politically Direct, hosted by David Bender and Ecotalk, hosted by Betsy Rosenberg. Bender, a friend of AAR president Mark Green, will have a continuing role on Mark Riley's new show. However, it appears that Rosenberg will not be a part of AAR 2.0. Also, Laura Flander's Show (Radio Nation), has been significantly cut back. Currently, Radio Nation is heard three hours on Saturdays and three hours on Sundays. Next month, Flanders is scheduled for only one hour on Sunday afternoons.

The weekend line-up will receive a dose of fresh voices with five new programs:

*Your Money with Marc Sussman 9-10am ET on Saturday mornings, will be a unique show for ethical, personal planning, and socially responsible investing.

*This Week in America, 6-7pm ET Saturday, will be the network's first weekend news-of-the-week-in-review -- from a decidedly beyond-the-beltway perspective -- with "immoderator" Mark Green and panelists Arianna Huffington and Bob Kerrey.

*Clout with Richard Greene on Saturday 8-10pm ET, will explore how corporate and political muscle is exercised in the corridors of power.

*Sam Seder’s new show, Seder on Sunday, airing Sundays, 4-7pm ET, will recap and review the Sunday morning political talkfests largely from the view of bloggers and the blogosphere -- hence the program will be the first of its kind to look at the networks from the netroots.

*A new RadioNation with Laura Flanders will be an hour program at 1pm on Sunday and will focus on the articles featured that week in The Nation Magazine, the country's oldest and most read liberal magazine.

Here's the new AAR schedule which debuts on May 21. (All Time shown are ET):

6A-9A "The Young Turks"
9A-12N "The Lionel Show"
12N-3P "The Thom Hartmann Program"
3P-6P "The Randi Rhodes Show"
6P-8P "The Rachel Maddow Show"
8P-12M "The Air Americans" hosted by Mark Riley with David Bender, Laura Flanders. Robert Kennedy Jr., and Mike Papantonio

12M-3A "This Is America, with Jon Elliott"
3A-6A (rebroadcast) "The Randi Rhodes Show"
6A-9A "The Young Turks"
9A-12N "The Lionel Show"
12N-3P "The Thom Hartmann Program"
3P-6P "The Randi Rhodes Show"
6P-8P "The Rachel Maddow Show"
8P-12M "The Air Americans" hosted by Mark Riley with David Bender, Laura Flanders. Robert Kennedy Jr., and Mike Papantonio

12M-3A "This Is America, with Jon Elliott"
3A-5A Best-of "The Young Turks"
5A-7A Best-of "The Thom Hartmann Program"
7A-9A Best-"The Air Americans" hosted by Mark Riley with David Bender, Laura Flanders. Robert Kennedy Jr., and Mike Papantonio
9A-10A "Your Money, with Marc Sussman"
10A-11A "State of Belief" with Reverend Welton Gaddy
11A-1P Best-of "The Lionel Show"
1P–3P Best-of "The Randi Rhodes Show"
3P-6P "Ring of Fire" with Robert Kennedy Jr., Mike Papantonio, & David Bender
6P-7P "This Week in America" with Mark Green, Arianna Huffington, & Bob Kerrey
7P-8P "The Time Is Now" with the Reverend Dr. James Forbes
8P-10P "Clout" with Richard Greene
10P-12M Best-of "The Young Turks"

12M-1A Best-of "The Young Turks"
1A-4A Best-of "The Air Americans"
4A-7A Best-of "The Lionel Show"
7A-9A Best-of "The Young Turks"
9A-10A (rebroadcast) "This Week in America" with Mark Green, Arianna Huffington, & Bob Kerrey
10A-1P Best-of "The Thom Hartmann Program"
1P-2P "Radio Nation" with Laura Flanders
2P-4P (rebroadcast) "Clout" with Richard Greene
4P-7P "Seder on Sunday" with Sam Seder
7P-8P (rebroadcast) "State of Belief" with Reverend Welton Gaddy
8P-10P (rebroadcast) "Ring of Fire" with Robert Kennedy Jr., Mike Papantonio, & David Bender
10P-11P "The Steve Earle Show"
11P-12M "On the Real" with Chuck D. (Hour 1)


MSNBC is going to give Keith Olbermann some competition next week when they will present the Stephanie Miller Show, Monday through Wednesday, in the slot formerly occupied by Imus. Liberal Talk radio fans do not want to miss this rare opportunity to catch one of its top stars on the teevee.

According to Stephanie's co-host Chris Lavioe, details of her appearance will be spelled out on tomorrow’s radio show. – 9 am to 12 noon.

"For those of you who are up late and blogging away, I wanted to let everyone know that Steph and the mooks are gonna be on MSNBC on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in the old Imus slot. Woo hoo! You are going to be able to see us do the radio show from Imus' old studios at MSNBC!" Lavoie posted on several blogs.

MSNBC is testing several radio talkers in the slot formerly occupied by Imus, until his "nappy headed hos" comment about the Rutgers women’s basketball team, got him canned. This week they featured Michael Smerconish, a conservative talker from Philadelphia.

The show will be taped live from 6-9 am EDT on MSNBC and then rebroadcasted from 9a-12 noon EDT to Stephanie's radio affiliates.

Blatherwatch, a usually accurate blog covering liberal talk, reports that Stephanie has the inside track, in the Imus slot sweepstakes. He writes...

It's "temporary," we're assured by our spy out at MSNBC Redmond, and no done deal. But we've learned that Miller is the top contender, and the one for whom the network has the greatest hopes."They decided it was time for a woman in that slot," he told BlatherWatch.

There's a great discussion about Stephanie's MSNBC gig going on right now at Daily Kos.

Here are a few of the over 200 posts as of 12 noon PDT

Let's say the StephCasts hit a homerun, which I bet they will. Could this be a test run to see if the Olbermann effect is more than just one man doing an amazing job, and there is room for other progressives?

This IS a great day! With Stephanie's humor, I have no doubt she's going to be a hit. And this will give Billo something else to explode about!!

Stephanie Miller is the sweetest funniest show ever. She's the future, Smerconish the's that simple. This is great news, I just heard her talk about it. Dam, there goes my sleep schedule, 3-6am. Worth it though. Woo hoo!!!

She will be better to look at then the guy who was on this week, and it will be great to watch Jim the man of a thousand and one impressions doing his act.

I for one am a big fan and get her streaming since they took AAR out of our local lineup and she's not on XM but on Sirius.

MSNBC may just go back and forth between right wing and liberal to see who sells. This will be a business decision, whoever brings in the ratings and young demo will probably get the job.
Her wit will play well to a mainstream audience. It will also open the doors of mainstream media to liberal talk shows.

I've caught Stephanie Miller's radio show. She's got talent! I like to laugh. Smart move. Make her the permanent host!

If you would like to see Stephanie get a permanent show with MSNBC send Viewer Services an email.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Randi Rhodes is Now Top Lib Talk Host

The "goddess" of liberal talk radio is now the top rated lib talk host in the country. In the most recent Talking Radio survey of syndicated lib talk hosts, Randi Rhodes has ended Ed Schultz’ two year reign as the number one talker and held off aggressive challenges from number three Thom Hartmann and number four Stephanie Miller.

Despite improving his time period on about 20 stations, Schultz slipped to number two in the quarterly survey. Schultz was hurt by his continued lack of coverage in New York, a downgrade in Los Angeles, and the loss of carriage on KTRH in Houston. There is also some speculation that critical comments made by Schultz about other liberal talkers and AAR, which angered many listeners, also contributed to his decline. On the other hand, Rhodes hung on to all of her stations and received time period upgrades on eight stations.

The TR survey* rates the performance of virtually all of the syndicated lib talkers who broadcast on weekdays. You will notice that the hosts are rated by the percentage of the total audience that they reach.

Furthermore the positioning of the hosts is based on all radio listeners, not the so-called money demo, i.e. adults 25-49. You will have to go to other sources e.g. trade magazines or the host's websites to find specific data concerning ratings, shares, AQH's and cumes. Here is the ranking of syndicated lib talk hosts as of April 15, 2007:

Overall, listenership continued to fall over the past three months. The lib talk audience decreased by 7% over this period, primarily because of the loss of lib talk stations and the termination of two talkers. Since, the beginning of the year, eight stations serving 4 million potential listeners have dropped the format and two talkers – Al Franken and Sam Seder – are no longer doing weekday syndicated shows.

Of the 15 lib talk shows contained in the current survey, only one – The Young Turks – has maintained the same position. The other 14 talk shows have either moved up or moved down.

Not surprisingly, Thom Hartmann, who has taken over Franken’s slot on Air America Radio, gained the most coverage over the past three months. In January, Hartmann had a 5.4 ranking. In the current survey, Hartmann’s ranking is 16.0 -- a gain 10.6 or about 300%.

Rhodes secured her number one ranking even though her show is carried on 23 fewer stations than Schultz'. The difference was in New York and LA where Rhodes’ show is carried live. On the other hand, Schultz has no carriage in New York and is carried from 7 to 10 PM in LA with frequent sports preemptions.

Late night talker Alan Colmes is carried on the most radio stations – 85. However, Colmes is only ranked sixth on the current survey because he is always carried during the late night daypart when radio listenership is very low.

AAR hosts continue to lose lib talk audience share. Non-AAR talkers attracted 43% of the listenership in the current survey – that’s up from 34% in the January survey.

There are 161 stations that carry at least one syndicated lib talker on weekdays. Of these 96 stations carry only one host, 12 stations carry two hosts, and 53 stations carry three or more hosts.

*These estimates, pertaining to characteristics of the liberal talk radio audience across America, are excerpted from Talking Radio’s in-house, non-scientific study. It is drawn from interviews with listeners of general news-talk radio across the United States supplemented by input from talk radio programmers, hosts, sales personnel, and radio station in-house research in addition to occasional studies provided by academic institutions.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Worst Talk Show Hosts of the Week

Week Ending: April 20, 2007

The week before last ended with the abrupt cancellation of Don Imus' long running syndicated radio and TV talk shows, following his racially insulting description of the Rutgers women’s basketball team as "nappy headed hos." This week opened with news of the murderous rampage at Virginia Tech. Accordingly, one would suspect that talk radio hosts would lighten up a bit.

Instead it turned out to be business as usual on talk radio, and while a nation mourned the senseless loss of life in Blacksburg, VA, hosts continued to spew insulting and insensitive messages.

It seems like everybody wants to get the last word in on the Imus controversy. First, leading conservative hosts like Hannity and O’Reilly claimed that this has nothing to do with their rantings because Imus is a "liberal." Then there are local market hosts who just can’t let Imus’s racist comments go.

Our worse talker this week is one of these hosts. Austin Rhodes, who does a PM drive talk show for WGAC/580 in Augusta, GA, actually made his egregious comment when he called another station – WAAW/94.7 (which interestingly offers gospel music and Christian talk.)

According to CBS affiliate WRDW-TV, Rhodes said (referring to the Duke sex controversy) "a sex worker with multiple samples of male semen in her body, is what I call a ‘ho’." He then went of to say "as far as nappy hair goes, that's a description of myself, if I am going to say that about myself, I’m not going to be shy about saying it about somebody else either."

The Augusta branch of the NAACP and local church leaders, have calling upon Beasley Broadcasting, which owns WGAC to fire Rhodes.

However, our worser and worst talk show hosts of the week focused on an even more sensitive issue – the horrific shooting rampage at Virginia Tech, which claimed over 30 lives.

Syndicated right wing talker, Neal Boortz attributed the extent of the trajedy to "wussifcation of America". On April 17, after we knew the details of how Seung-Hui Cho carried out his murderous rampage, Boortz asked "how the hell do 25 students allow themselves to be lined up against the wall in a classroom and picked off one by one? How does that happen, when they could have rushed the gunman, the shooter, and most of them would have survived?"

We knew at this time, that the victims were not "lined up against a wall" but were shot as their desks. We also knew by Tuesday, that many of the victims – both dead and wounded – performed heroic acts like pushing doors shut even while Hui was shooting at them.

Given time to reflect on his outrageous comment, Boortz decided to continue his attack on the victimized students and faculty members at VT. In the April 18 edition of his daily program notes called Nealz Nuze, Boortz asked: "How far have we advanced in the wussification of America?" He went on to accuse the victims of being taken in by the "doctrine of left."

"It seems that standing in terror waiting for your turn to be executed was the right thing to do, and any questions as to why 25 students didn't try to rush and overpower Cho Seung-Hui are just examples of right wing maniacal bias. Surrender -- comply -- adjust. The doctrine of the left."

We were ready to make Boortz our worst talk host of the week, but then Rush Limbaugh weighed in (pun intended) on the tragedy, further characterizing the VT massacre as a left wing plot. On the Thursday edition of his program El Rushbo said:

"If this Virginia Tech shooter had an ideology, what do you think it was? This guy had to be a liberal. You start railing against the rich and all this other stuff -- this guy's a liberal. He was turned into a liberal somewhere along the line. So it's a liberal that committed this act."

He went on to say that he (Limbaugh that is) not the 30 plus dead people in Virginia – was the real victim:

"I can tell you from the history of this program, starting way back in the early '90s, when there was any kind of an incident, crime or what-have-you that attracted national attention, in the early days of this program, the drive-by media went out and they tried to connect the perpetrator to this program."

Of course he didn’t identify who the "drive by media" was (is there any liberal talk show host with 600 stations?) or provide any examples of how he or his show was accused by the media of inciting any "incidents" or "crimes."

It looks to us like Limbaugh is the king of the "drive by" media. Is there any part of the United States where you can't hear El Rushbo while "driving by?"

Sorry Neal, our worst talker of the week is the real victim of the Virginia Tech massacre – Rush Limbaugh.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Worst Radio Talkers on the Topic of Race

Because we now live in the post Imus era, we need to take a new look at how we define the worst talk radio hosts. For the past few months, we have been identifying the three worst talkers of the week.

Last week, ironically, we selected the Imus as the worst talker of the week for his infamous three word characterization of the Rutgers women’s basketball team as "nappy-headed hos." As a result of this politically incorrect and racist comment, a simulcast of the I-man’s daily talk show was cancelled by MSNBC on one day and the syndicated radio talk show, itself, was cancelled by CBS, owner of Westwood One, the next day.

What the Imus factor tells us, is that it's not just radio listeners who are following talk radio. Now when a host puts his foot in his mouth, like Imus did earlier this month, the statement is just as likely to show up on a blog, on You Tube, or on Media Matters.

Imus’ show may have reached only 2% of the population each week. However, when you add the Internet and cable news channels, his inflammatory language probably resonated with 250 million people.

Big advertisers like American Express, Procter and Gamble, and General Motors decided that they didn’t want to be associated with Imus and pulled the plug on potentially millions of dollars in advertising. NBC and CBS saw the writing on wall and Imus’ 30 plus year run on radio came to screeching halt.

So taking the Imus factor in consideration, we will be reformatting the worst talkers of the week. From time to time we will pick a topic and select three talkers who expressed the most outrageous comments on that topic. We will probably do this about once a month. The other three weeks we will offer our Worst Talker of the Week feature.

Unlike the Worst Talker of the Week, the talker who wins the worst talker by topic will hold that award until another talker replaces him or her at a future time. The comment had to be said on the radio, when the talker was the host (not a guest) on a regularly scheduled talk show. Also, there is no time limit. That means the talker can get credit today for something that was said many years ago.

In memory of Imus, our first topic will be racism. Unlike homophobia and misogyny, racism is the gold standard in offensive speech.

Maybe it’s because the institution of slavery lasted over 200 years and Jim Crow segregation another 100 years. Maybe because, many African Americans still face discrimination in housing, employment, and education. Or maybe it’s because of the speech itself. Calling a Caucasian a "cracker" just doesn’t match up to using the "n" word when referring to an African American.

We listened to Marc Germain, Mr. K and April Winchell on KTLK/1150 in Los Angeles, Monday, when they were trying to compare a joke made by Al Roker about gays in San Francisco (he lisped when reporting the weather in San Francisco) to Imus’ "nappy-headed hos" comment. Most of their callers thought such a comparison was preposterous – "like comparing apples to oranges" one caller said.

Germain claimed that they were not attacking Roker, who was one of the first and most prominent broadcaster to call for Imus' firing, for his comment. They were just noting that "it is a slippery slope when you try to get people fired for having bad taste."

Okay here they are – the worse, worser, and worst talk show hosts on the topic of racism.

Despite the fact that he lost his job over a racial comment, Imus is only the "worse" talker of all time on this topic. By now just about everybody who owns a TV or a radio knows that Imus called the Rutgers women’s basketball team "nappy headed hos." However, very few people remember when Imus made the following comment about the New York Times’ Washington correspondent Gwen Ifill in the late 1980’s. The I-man reportedly said. "Isn’t the Times wonderful…It let’s the cleaning lady cover the White House."

Racial comments made by Neil Boortz are not as well known as Imus’ (possibly because most of his affiliates including his flagship station WSB/750 in Atlanta are in the South where such comments are not very controversial.)

Boortz has also made two comments to earn his place in the top three. On the October 24, 2005, broadcast of his radio talk show, Boortz suggested that a victim of Hurricane Katrina housed in an Atlanta hotel consider prostitution. "If that's the only way she can take care of herself," Boortz posited, "it sure beats the hell out of sucking off the taxpayers."

Then on the March 31, 2006, edition of his show, Boortz said that then Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) "looks like a ghetto slut." He was commenting on a March 29 incident in which McKinney allegedly struck a police officer at a Capitol Hill security checkpoint. Boortz said that McKinney's "new hair-do" makes her look "like a ghetto slut."
For these two comments Neil Boortz is our worser talker on the topic of racism.

However, the nation’s number one talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, who was just named top syndicated talk host of year by Radio and Records Magazine, receives the dubious distinctiom of making the worst racial statements. We have identified six statements made by El Rushbo over his 30-year career that many people would consider being racially offensive.

As a young DJ in the 1970’s, Rush was having a hard time understanding an African-American caller, so he told the caller "take that bone out of your nose and call me back."

In the early 1990s, "after becoming nationally syndicated, he mused on the air: "Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?" Also, at that time when Carol Moseley-Braun (D-IL) was in the U.S. Senate, the first black woman ever elected to that body, Limbaugh would play the 'Movin' On Up' theme song from TV's 'Jeffersons' whenever he mentioned her.

Everybody knows about the comment Limbaugh made about Philadelphia Eagle quarterback Donovan McNabb. When he was a commentator for ESPN, Limbaugh said that "the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well" and, therefore, that McNabb "got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve."

He was fired from ESPN for that comment, but we can’t include this slur because Limbaugh said it on TV not on the radio.

On the August 23, 2006, edition of his radio show, Limbaugh commented on a season of CBS' reality TV program Survivor in which contestants were originally divided into competing "tribes" by ethnicity. Limbaugh said that the contest was "not going to be fair if there's a lot of water events" and suggested that "blacks can't swim."

Finally, just over two months ago, on February 1, Limbaugh responded to a Reuters report on a University of Chicago study that found that "a majority of young blacks feel alienated form today's government" by asserting: "Why would that be? The government's been taking care of them their whole lives."

Rush Limbaugh the number one talk radio show host and the purveyor of the worst racial comments in the world.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Imus Fans Now In Mourning

When MSNBC dropped its simulcast of the Don Imus Show, it was big news in the mainstream media, but not as big a deal in the talk radio business. However, now that CBS, which has syndicated the legendary shock jock on over 60 terrestrial radio stations, has confirmed that they have also cancelled his show-- that's another story.

This is the first time that we can recall that a syndicated talk host has been canned on the spot for a comment made on the air. Certainly, it has never hppened to anyone with Imus’ status and standing in the talk radio business.

Yes, Howard Stern abandoned terrestrial talk radio after the FCC hit him with some huge fines. However, he was not fired by CBS and only made the move to satellite radio when he received a compensation package of over a half billion dollars from Sirius Satellite Radio. Imus will not even be allowed to do a final show tomorrow! (We knew that we should have recorded his show today.)

When we selected The I-Man as the worst talk show host of week on Friday (see column right), we had no idea that our choice would generate such a firestorm.

By Tuesday his radio show syndicated by Westwood One (owned by CBS) and the TV simulcast carried on MSNBC had suspended Imus (without pay!) for two weeks.

On Wednesday several huge advertisers like Proctor and Gamble, General Motors, and American Express had told NBC they were not only going to pull advertising from the MSNBC Imus show, but also from some daytime programs on the Peacock Network. Also, the Rutgers women’s basketball team held a press conference adding human faces to controversy, which started when Imus called these young women "nappy headed hos." By yesterday, NBC threw in the towel and cancelled the MSNBC simulcast. And today’s cancellation announcement by CBS was the deathblow for long running show.

Of course, both NBC and CBS claimed it wasn’t about the loss of advertising revenue but rather a response to the outrage expressed by their employees, community leaders, and the Rutgers student athletes.

Here’s the statement that MSNBC released to press yesterday:

"This decision comes as a result of an ongoing review process, which initially included the announcement of a suspension. It also takes into account many conversations with our own employees. What matters to us most is that the men and women of NBC Universal have confidence in the values we have set for this company. This is the only decision that makes that possible. Once again, we apologize to the women of the Rutgers basketball team and to our viewers. We deeply regret the pain this incident has caused."

And here’s the statement issued by CBS President Leslie Moonves today:

"From the outset, I believe all of us have been deeply upset and repulsed by the statements that were made on our air about the young women who represented Rutgers University in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship with such class, energy and talent. Those who have spoken with us the last few days represent people of goodwill from all segments of our society – all races, economic groups, men and women alike. In our meetings with concerned groups, there has been much discussion of the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society. That consideration has weighed most heavily on our minds as we made our decision, as have the many emails, phone calls and personal discussions we have had with our colleagues across the CBS Corporation and our many other constituencies."

Now if you think for a minute, that NBC was more concerned about the erosion of the "confidence" held by their employees or that CBS was troubled by the "goodwill from all segments of our society" than they both were about the erosion of advertising revenues, than I have a bankrupt liberal talk radio network that I would like to sell you.

According to the New York Times, while the Imus Show is not a big revenue source for NBC, it is a very big one for CBS.

WFAN, CBS’ flagship station in New York receives a $4 million fee from NBC for the MSNBC simulcast. In addition WW1 generates nearly $20 million in advertising and syndication revenue from the show; the show’s individual radio affiliates, collectively, earn another $20 million in revenue.

This is not pocket change, and there is no way that CBS would walk away from this revenue windfall unless they were genuinely fearful of an advertising boycott that could spread to other segments of their station and syndication business.

Remember that WW1 also syndicates the Bill O’Reilly Show and he is known to offend people from time to time.

After all, wasn’t O’Reilly the guy who called the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith "an extremist group that finds offense in pretty much everything" and told its president Abraham Foxman "to go back to Israel" if he didn’t like it.

Is this just a case of chickens coming home to roost?

For years we’ve heard apologists for right wing talk radio say that radio is just business. That the reason why there are 13 hours of conservative talk for every one hour liberal talk is that ratings and advertising revenues call for this ridiculous imbalance. Now that the marketplace is turning against the racism, misogyny, and homophobia espoused by right wing talkers, what will their position be?

"We have right to say anything we want and advertisers should be required to subsidize us."

Maybe it is appropriate that Imus was the target off this backlash against hate talk radio. After all he is personification of the conservative talk demographic -- aging white men.

It will be interesting to see how the "Imus factor" plays out in the coming weeks.

Will we see a backlash similar to one that occurred on network TV (and to a certain extent on hot talk radio) after the Janet Jackson’s naked breast appeared in the Superbowl half time show last year or when CBS was fined millions of dollars by the FCC for Howard Stern’s antics?

Already there are other victims. Today we learned that Gary Smith of the Gary in the Morning Show on WSBG-FM in Stroudsberg, PA, was fired by Nassau Broadcasting Partners yesterday for holding an on-air contest in which listeners were encouraged to say "nappy-headed ho." Somehow I don’t think that Smith will be the only victim of the Imus fall out.

How about the right wing talker who shared worst talker honors with Imus this week. When KSFO in San Francisco talker, Melanie Morgan told her cohost Lee Rodgers "Do you remember when [Al Sharpton] was on that rolling fast for peace with Cindy Sheehan ... and I went on television and offered him ... a loaf of bread? He did not like that, Lee.” Rodgers replied: "Well, thank God you didn't offer him watermelon."

After all, as our friends on the right always remind us, " don’t take it a personally, radio is just a business."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

AAR Provides Exclusive Broadcast Coverage of MoveOn Event

Air America Radio dropped its blockbuster announcement yesterday that Sam Seder will be soon be replaced by veteran talker Lionel and the blogosphere went crazy. Lengthy discussion strings appeared on well known liberal talk radio blogs like Air America Place, The Morning Seditionist, and Seder’s Majority Report Radio and the reviews were decidedly negative.

The respected Liberal Talk Radio blog detailed several of these comments this morning. Our favorite was one, posted by crestwo, that we found on the Morning Seditionist blog:

If Mark Green had signed the Beatles in ‘62, he’d have turned McCartney into an Elvis-style hip-wriggling lead singer, and the rest of them into a backup band, with George playing standup base.

If Mark Green had been the producer of “Animal House” he’d have written in a central role for Barbara Streisand, with a ten-minute interlude for one of her brain-rotting songs, smack in the middle, right after the horse drops dead.

However, the enthusiasm for the Lionel announcement was not shared by the mainstream media, even the mainstream radio media. Only a handful of local newspapers picked up the story. Even the usually attentive David Hinckley, radio columnist for the New York Daily News, didn’t give the story very much ink. Hinckley picked up the hot Imus story and buried the Lionel item in the bottom of his column today.

However, there is another story which is involves AAR which is generating tons of news. It is barely being discussed on any of the aforementioned blogs, and it is not even being heavily promoted by AAR itself (AAR finally posted a link to a feed on its webpage today.)

We are of course referring to tonight’s “virtual town hall” which was hosted by and carried live by AAR.

Dozens of newspapers are carrying an AP story about the show, and it has also been featured in the New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Washington Post. In fact, if you go to Google News, and key in "Air America" you would have to scroll past several pages, with articles about the MoveOn event, to find the few articles on Lionel’s new show.

AAR’s exclusive coverage of MoveOn’s “virtual town hall” is a real coup and should have been better promoted. Seven Democratic candidates are taking part in the event that has been billed “as the largest and most ambitious experiment yet in harnessing the power of Internet technology to reshape participatory democracy.”

Calling in by telephone, candidates Joseph Biden , Hillary Clinton , Christopher Dodd , John Edwards , Dennis Kucinich , Barack Obama , and Bill Richardson will each answer several questions about Iraq. The liberal activist group, which is hosting the event, asked members to vote on which questions to ask from among 6,800 queries proposed by members for the forum.

About 10,000 MoveOn members are expected to gather in about 950 living rooms around the country to listen to the event, which began at 7 PM. EST. The group will conduct a straw poll afterward among its 3.2 million members about which candidate gave the strongest answers.

AAR is carrying a stream of event, which you can listen tonight accessing the feed at the AAR website and will re-broadcast it tomorrow night from 8pm to 10pm on all of its affiliated stations. It will be interesting to see which stations carry town hall meeting and which opt for alternative program.

"It's politics 2.0," said Adam Ruben , the political director of MoveOn. "I think it shows how the Internet is changing the way campaigns are run. It's a way of democratizing the subjects of political debate, rather than the terms of the debate being set only by the campaigns and the media."

There have been online debates for statewide elections before, but specialists in technology and politics said they know of no previous event of such a national scope. In addition, most previous online debates have allowed candidates.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Breaking News
Seder Out, Lionel In as AAR's Morning Host

It is no secret that Sam Seder is out as a weekday host on Air America Radio. It’s been discussed on blogs for weeks and was confirmed last night by Seder himself. Now it is no secret about who is going to replace the veteran AAR talker, who started his talk radio career as the co-host (to Jeneane Garofolo) on the Majority Report when the liberal talk network launched on March 31, 2004.

In a press release this morning AAR announced that its new morning host will be Lionel. So much for rumors published here and elsewhere that Seder’s replacement would be Marc Maron, Stephanie Miller, and even AAR’s new president Mark Green.

Yes, Lionel, the quirky late night talker, who is syndicated on a few dozen stations as a late night alternative to the ascerbic Mike Malloy, the articulate John Elliott and the bland Alan Colmes, will now be competing for the desirable morning time slot against talk powerhouse Stephanie Miller. Miller currently, owns the 9am-12 noon ET time slot, with clearances on lib talk stations with about 75% of current listeners.

It was not clear from the release whether Lionel will give up his evening show or his evening time slots. We will post this information now and hopefully have some answers to these and other questions later in the day.

The good news for Seder fans is that he will not be leaving the lib talk network. The release states he will be moving to Sunday afternoons, 4-7pm ET, with a brand new show, “Seder on Sunday” The show will be a recap and review of the Sunday morning talk shows. Seder will focus on two areas that are of high interest to him and AAR listeners -- the networks and the netroots, with a special emphasis on bloggers as guests.

Seder is the sixth original daily AAR talk show host to leave the network. The others were Liz Winstead, Chuck Dee, Mike Malloy, Al Franken, Garofalo and Maron. The only original AAR talkers still dong a weekday show are Mark Riley, Randi Rhodes, and Rachel Maddow.

"Lionel will be an eclectic mixture of current events and off-the-wall topics infused with his special brand of humor," said Mark Green. "Because he's one of the biggest names in talk radio, Lionel will be a very important addition to our line-up and affiliate base.”

"Air America is about one thing: radio. Not about ideology, but democracy. Radio that’s an alternative to the usual, bumper sticker Rush wannabe. Radio that’s listenable," said Lionel. "My goal is to garner and gather listeners. If you’ve got a radio, I’m your guy. Listeners want smart, funny, thoughtful, thinking, entertaining talk radio. With that in mind, my first show for Air America will be 'Great Polkas of the 20th Century.'

Lionel has resisted being called a liberal. He prefers libertarian. It will interesting to see if his show becomes more political now that he’s part of the AAR team.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

New Talk Show Targets Hispanic Market

There is a large population group that mostly that votes Democratic and generally skews to the liberal side of the public discussion, but one that is usually a no-show when it comes to talk radio in general and liberal talk in particular.

We are of course referring to Hispanics, the fastest growing population group in the U.S. According to the Census Bureau, there are 46 million Hispanics in U.S. In fact, since the year 2,000 nearly half of 9.4 million Americans added to the U.S. population have been Hispanics.

According to a Talker’s Magazine survey only 7.9% of talk radio listeners are Hispanic. That same survey found that 19% of talk radio listeners were African-Americans. So despite the fact that Hispanic’s account for a larger percentage of the American population than African Americans (14.0% versus 12.5%) they are much less likely to listen to talk radio than non-Hispanics.

Well, a new daily radio show, which will be launching early next week, is going to challenge the conventional wisdom that Hispanic’s just don’t do talk radio. The Mario Solis-Marich Show will be debuting on two of the most heavily penetrated U.S. Hispanic markets – El Paso and McAllen-Brownsville. The show will be picked up by two stations – KHRO/1650 in El Paso and KNVO-FM/101.1 in McAllen -- owned and operated by Entravision, one of largest operators of Spanish-language stations in country.

But Solis-Marich's show will not be in Spanish. It will be in English and directed as much to the general market as to the Hispanic market. For the past year, Solis-Marich has done a show on LA liberal talk station KTLK/1150, which is a Clear Channel Communications O & O station.

According to Paul Woodhull, president of Media Syndication Services and a partner in the new venture, Solis-Marich “has been honing his skills as talk show host in LA (where he is the number one weekend talk host) and now he is ready for prime time."

Woodhull should know a thing or two about talk show programming. He developed and owned The Ed Schultz Show, which he sold about two years ago to Product First --owned by radio veterans Randy Michaels and Stu Krane. He is also currently is part owner of The Bill Press Show.
Woodhull claims that while the show will attempt to bring Hispanics “to the talk radio table,” it will be presented in the familiar format of entertaining talk, interviews, and callers.

“Senor Pizza, the fastest growing pizza chain in the U.S, is owned by a company headed up by Hispanics, but they still use cheese, tomato, and dough to make their pizzas,” Woodhull said.

He also pointed out that the most popular TV show among Hispanics is not Mind of Mencia, but rather Grey's Anatomy.

“You don’t need an all Hispanic cast,” Woodhull said. “But it certainly doesn’t hurt to have an Hispanic in the ensemble.”

Solis-Marich confirmed that his new show will have an inclusive format.

“We don’t need to change the conversation, we just need to invite Hispanics into the conversation," Solis-Marich said. "Other talk shows have not invited them into the conversation. They haven’t focused on the issues that Latinos care about like the environment, education, and immigration.”

While it might be true that Hispanics are not big fans of talk radio; they seem to love all other kinds of radio, especially the Spanish language format.

According to Arbitron, Spanish language radio is far and away the fastest growing radio format. Over the past eight years (from 1998 to 2006), the combined AQH share of Spanish stations has grown from 6.7 to 11.2 -- a gain of 67.2%. The only other formats that have grown during this period are Sports -- 52.4%, Religious -- 38.1% and Urban -- 23.2%. Every music format has seen their share of the radio audience decline. News/talk, has essentially been flat over the past eight years, garnering a 14.3 share in 1998 and a 14.4 share in 2006. That’s a gain of less than 1% in eight years!

In addition to fact that the Hispanic population is growing much faster than the general population, there are other reasons why Spanish language radio has been experiencing double digit annual growth. Hispanics prefer radio to other media like newspapers and television. Also, they spend more time listening to radio than non-Hispanics – 22.5 versus 19 hours per week.

If Hispanic radio listeners accept Solis-Marich's invitation to table, that will probably be a good thing for liberal talk radio. In the last election, Hispanics favored Democratic candidates over Republicans by a 2-1 margin. Hispanics appear to be particularly annoyed with conservative talkers like John and Ken on KFI in Los Angeles. The LA talkers spend about 50% of time bashing immigrants and making fun of Hispanic politicians like Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (who they call Villa “Reconquista”) and former Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (who they call Busta “Menche”)

The Mario Solis-Marich Show will debut "live and loud" on Tuesday from 2pm to 5pm CT.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Post your Right Column Comments Here

Want to comment on Talking Radio’s Right Column. You can post comments here on all of TR’s on-going features such as Breaking News Stories and The Worst Talk Radio Hosts of the Week. This is also the place to express comments on subjects not covered by TR and letting us know how we can better serve our readers.

Station Flips, Roseanne, Entercom, and Big Eddie

We’ve been away for a few days and apologize for not maintaining the “up to the minute” coverage of liberal talk radio that our readers have come to expect.

Fortunately, there has not been a lot of news in the past few days. Yes, another liberal talk station, KFPT in Fresno, dropped the format…another station (this one in Akron) may pick up lib talk…another comedienne -- Roseanne Barr -- has launched a daily show… there will be no charges filed against Entercom employees in Sacramento regarding the death of a woman…and the number one lib talk host, Ed Schultz, now reaches over 3 million listeners per week.

Wow! It looks like a lot has happened over the past few days.

First the bad news. Yes, another week, another station drops lib talk. This time it was the anticipated loss of KPFT/790 in Fresno.

I say anticipated because the format was doomed when the station was sold by CBS to Peak Broadcasting in November. Peak in turn spun off KPFT to Fat Dawgs 7. Since there is no way that a company named “Fat Dawgs” would do lib talk, we assumed that a flip was in the works. Guess what? We were right. KPFT will be switching to sports later this week. A Yahoo group has been formed calling itself “Bring Air America Back” to lobby for the restoration of radio lib talk in Fresno.

Meanwhile, a rumor is beginning to circulate that lib talk may return to Akron. You will recall that, last week; WARF flipped from lib talk to the “format du jour” -- sports. They did this even though there were three other full-time sports stations in the market. Well, it now seems that one of those stations; WJMP/1520 may flip to lib talk. The usually reliable Ohio Media Watch reports that WJMP, which dropped lib talk and picked up sports when WARF launched “Radio Free Akron” in May, 2005, may re-launch as a lib talker rather than compete in the crowded sports format. WJMP, a 1,000 watt daytimer, would not provide good coverage but at least lib talk would regain a foothold in Democratic leaning northeast Ohio.

Much fanfare was made about the launch of the well-publicized Dennis Miller Show last week. However, how many of you know that comedienne Roseanne Barr also launched a talk show a few weeks ago? However, while Miller’s Show is syndicated by Westood One and is reportedly carried on 80 stations, Roseanne’s show, which skews liberal, is just carried on a suburban station in Southern California -- KCAA/1050 in San Bernardino.

I listened to the show today and let’s say, found it interesting. I called in and chatted with Roseanne for awhile. She gave me a pair of tickets to her show in Las Vegas. Maybe I will go to the NAB next week after all.

We will have more on new lib talkers later this week.

Prosecutors will not file criminal charges in connection with the death of a 28-year-old mother of three, who died from water intoxication after participating in a “hold your wee for wi” contest on KDND-FM/107.9 Sacramento in early January. Only a few hours after competing, Jennifer Lea Strange was found dead of water intoxication.

In a statement, Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully said that Strange "knew what the contest involved when she entered it and had the option to stop or discontinue her participation in the contest at any time." Strange drank nearly two gallons of water during the contest and was found dead about five hours later in her home.

Following the contest's deadly outcome, Entercom fired "Morning Rave" hosts Trish, Maney & Lukas from KDND along with seven other employees, including PD/Station Manager Steve Weed. A few weeks later, Entercom also dropped lib talk on KCTC/1320, but did not indicate that this had anything to do Jennifer Strange tragedy.

Finally, it was another rough week for Ed Schultz, as he got into an on-air argument with fellow Jones talker Stephanie Miller. Apparently, Mama cracked a joke at Ed’s expense and Ed didn’t like it so he unloaded on Stephanie on his show last Wednesday. The issue started a thread on Air America Place, which now has over 100 posts.

Despite his problems with liberal bloggers, and stations that are canceling lib talk, the Ed Schultz Show now reaches over 3 million listeners each week (according to sometimes unreliable Talkers Magazine). If this is true, Schultz would be the first liberal talker (in the post AAR era) to reach this threshold.

Congrats big Eddie. Now just lighten up a bit.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Sunday Morning Meltdown

We thought about doing an April Fools edition, but after reading the latest post on Marc Maron's Morning Seditionist blog we decided to stick to the hard news. Since we slept in this morning we missed the Sunday morning TV talk shows. Fortunately Maron updated us on what happened.

On Press the Meat, the Potaoheaded one hosts Pat Leahy, who will hopefully choke the shit out of Gonzo apologist, Orrin “down the” Hatch. Also, Charlie Rangel will be on to hawk his new book.
Meanwhile, it’s more Gonzo and a little bit of Iraq over at CBS, as Bush buddy Bobby Schieffer hosts Chucky Schumer and Arlen “all talk” Specter, plus Bush “Counselor,” Dan Bartlett.
Over at Fux News Sunday, Weaselface Wallace hosts Mitch “the prick” McConnell and Senator MBNA, Joe Biden. The topic? Will our brave president be allowed to give our soldiers
what they need to fight his glorious war, or will the godless Democrats be allowed to starve them to death, by insisting on a non-binding timetable to pulling out of this mess?
On the Goebbels network, it’s more Dan Bartlett, this time on with Dick Durbin to talk some more Gonzo, and a little Iraq. Then, for reasons know only to Mickey and Goofy, its’ freakin’ Tommy Thompson, on to pretend he’s got something relevant to say, and to talk about his presidential aspirations (lotsa luck,Tommy; just what the Republicans need, another loser in the race). Then, at the Roundtable, it’s Fareed “token” Zakaria, graduate of the NPR school of hackery, Martha Raddatz, and George Will. And then Cal Ripken apparently has a book to hawk, too. To quote Archie Bunker, “whoopdie-doo, whoopdie-doo, whoopdie-doo.”
Over at CNN, the only people that look interesting from Wolf Blitzer’s Late Emission are Mick Ware and Al Sharpton.
Later, on 60 Minutes, Steve Kroft reports on how the pharmaceutical industry lobby bought off Congress to foist the despicable Medicare prescription drug law on us (better late than never, eh, Steve?), Lesley Stahl does a story on whether, if crime scene DNA is matches a suspect so closely that the odds are the perpetrator is in the suspect’s family, the cops be allowed to investigate family members (would the answer be, “duh?”), and Scott Pelley breaks a big story: Global Warming is real! Who knew?
Now, get out there and fool at least some of the people some of the time today.


As Ohio Goes, So Goes the Nation

Updated, Sunday, April 1 at 12:30 am. Update in boldface type.

With the announcement today, reported in Ohio Media Watch, that WARF-AM, 1360 in Akron is going to flip from liberal talk to sports on Friday there will then be no lib talk station in the entire state of Ohio.

And this happens less than five months after the Democrats dominated the election results in the Buckeye State –sweeping all statewide elections including a U.S. Senate seat, the governorship and most state and federal legislative positions.

Shortly, thereafter Clear Channel Communication started switching out lib talk stations. The first station to go was WSAI-AM, 1360 in Cincinnati, which flipped to non-political talk on December 7. A month later, WTPG (now called WYTS) flipped to conservative talk
even though CC was already operating a right wing talk station in the Democratic leaning Central Ohio town . Now just over two months later CC has completed the trifecta, by flipping from lib talk to sports in Akron.

Is it possible that a broadcasting company that gives more money to the GOP than any other broadcasting company (about 95% of CC’s political donations go to Republican candidates) is trying to influence future elections in the important swing state of Ohio. They use to say "as Ohio goes, so goes the nation." This was definitely the case in 2006. Democrats swept all the key statewide races and went on to big a national victory.

CC’s Cincinnati Operation Manager, Darryl Parks, told the Cincinnati Post in December that lib talk needed to be dropped in the Queen City because it was "agenda driven."

"It was a format that was set up not to entertain, but it seemed set up to get people elected, for a lack of a better way to put it," Parks said. " "There were some good (liberal) shows, but they need to start looking to more broad-based subjects than just harping on politics."

Now that there are no lib talk stations in Ohio, Parks is probably less worried about losing elections.

Tom Thon, CC’s Market Manager in Columbus, was a bit more politically correct when he told Columbus Dispatch why they thought two conservative stations was a better idea than having one liberal and one conservative station.

"Unfortunately, central Ohio listeners did not respond to the progressive format," Thon said. "It’s been very underperforming in ratings and revenue."

Actually the ratings for WTPG were not that bad. Ratings had improved by 80% since the station was flipped from oldies to lib talk on September 7, 2004.

A group called Ohio Majority Radio was formed to protest the WTPG flip and to try to get another central Ohio radio station to pick up lib talk. They were able to get almost 3,000 people to sign a petition in support of their efforts. Some of the people involved in the successful effort to save lib talk on WXXM-FM, 92.1 in Madison are involved with Ohio Majority Radio.

The anticipated flip of WARF in Akron from lib talk to sports is the very strange. The station used to carry sports and never did very well. Ratings have been up about 25% since the switch. It is odd that they would go back to sports, especially since there are already three sports stations serving the market – Fox Sports affiliates WJMP-AM, 1520 and WHBC-AM 1480 and ESPN affiliate WKNR-AM, 750.

They even offered a daily local show with veteran Cleveland talk radio host Joe Finan. Joe left WARF several months ago and sadly passed away in December.

CC made a feeble attempt to explain why they were dropping lib talk in Akron by posting the following notice on the WARF website two days before the format flip.

It's Over. Radio Free Ohio will cease operations on Friday March 30 at 8:58 am
While Progessive(sic) Radio is surviving in parts of the country, it has not in Akron. In two years ratings have not improved, and revenue has declined, despite the remainder of the market seeing an increase in revenue.Before the format switch to Progressive Talk, 1350am was an all sports station. In the Winter of 2005,(the last ratings period for the station as sports) 1350am had 17,000 weekly listeners. In the latest release of ratings, for the Fall of 06, WARF had 11,600 weekly listeners, and was on the decline.

There’s an old expression in the ratings business that if you torture numbers enough they will tell you anything. It is clear that whoever wrote this pathetic message on the WARF website was doing just that. What the message fails to point out is that WARF had pretty decent ratings over the past year. (As noted above they were up 80%) The Fall book was the first poor ratings performance since switching from sports to lib talk a year and a half ago. Anyone in the radio business will tell you that you never make a programming decision on one bad book.

To say that lib talk is in free fall would be an understatement. In a little over a year, 24 stations that reached a potential audience of over 15 million radio listeners, have dropped the format. (See "the right column".) Nine of these stations are owned by CC. However, in fairness to the San Antonio based radio station owner, they also own and operate 14 of the remaining 56 full time lib talk stations.

Syndicators of sports of programming are no doubt hovering over the remaining universe of lib talk stations like vultures over dying carcass. Eight of the 24 stations that have dropped lib talk over the past the year have flipped to sports.