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.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Top Lib Talk Hosts in Photo Finish for Leader in Q2 Rankings

Originally posted on August 2, 2007

The top four syndicated hosts, jockeyed for position in the Talking Radio Ranking of Liberal Talk Show Hosts and as they crossed the finish line it was once again a close race with less than two points separating the winner from the fourth place finisher.

Thom Hartmann and Ed Schultz maintained their advantage in total number of affiliates, Stephanie Miller secured her post position with the best time slots, but in the end it was the veteran Randi Rhodes, who held on to first place with a strong showing in the Spring survey.

For the second time this year, the “goddess” has secured the number one slot in the TR Ranking, beating out a surging Miller (who was fourth in the last survey), by a neck at the finish line. Schultz dropped to third position and Hartmann to fourth.

The TR survey* rates the performance of 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 25-54. 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 June 30, 2007:

While the distance between the top four was more than 4 points after the first quarter, it was only 1.4 points this time. It was a classic photo finish.

Rhodes secured her number one spot by continuing to improve her time periods. (Her coverage remained about the same.) and doing well in the Spring survey. The big news was Miller’s surge from fourth to second place. Stephanie did it by taking advantage of her ideal time periods, (i.e. 6am – 9am on several important west coast stations.) The slip by Schultz and Hartmann, was not due to their loses, but rather to Rhodes’ strong finish and Miller’s late surge.

However, the big news regarding the 2nd quarter “Ranking” was not the top four, but of the stunning changes in the rest of the field. Most notably, the dismal showing of the new Air America Radio talk shows.

While Rachel Maddow held her fifth place position and actually improved her standing by more than 2 points, veteran AAR talker Mark Riley, host of The Air Americans, fell from 10th to 12th place. Also new AAR talker Lionel barely got out of the starting gate falling from 7th to 8th. The Young Turks sunk from 8th to 10th.

More significantly, all three shows saw an extreme drop in their affiliations. Riley, from 40 to 13, Lionel from 55 to 15 and the “Turks” from 28 to 15. (AAR announced last week that it was canceling the Air Americans and replacing the four-hour mid-day show with two two-hour talk shows.) Lionel’s problem appears to be the fact that his new show is up against Miller, who is not giving up any ground.

Bill Press held on to his ninth position, but he lost 32% in point positioning falling from 3.4 top 2.3.

Late night talkers continue to struggle for position as their time slots do not attract many listeners.

Alan Colmes, who is actually carried on more stations than any other liberal talk show host, because of his role as the token lib on dozens of conservative talk stations, finished in 7th place beaten out by another late night talker, Mike Malloy, who secured his position by getting better time slots on several stations. While Jon Elliott improved his position by beating both Riley and the “Turks” for the first time, Elliott remained under two points in second quarter Ranking.

West coast talker, Peter B. Collins remained in last place.

For the first time since the launch of AAR, three and one-half years ago, talk hosts not affiliated with the liberal talk radio network account for the majority of lib talk listnership -- 50.2%. This is up from 34.4% at end of 2006.

The field of lib talkers, also declined in the second quarter. While there were 15 talkers on the first quarter survey, the second quarter survey only contained 13. The number of talkers will probably increase for the third quarter survey (9/30/07) with AAR introducing two new talk hosts – Richard Greene and Bree Walker – and independent talkers like Mario Solis-Marich and Leslie Marshall now starting to be syndicated.

There are 160 stations that carry at least one syndicated lib talker on weekdays. Of these 94 stations carry only one host, 11 stations carry two hosts, and 55 stations carry three or more hosts.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Right Wing Talk Radio Echo Machine Comes to Rush's Aid

Updated, Saturday, October 13, 12:20 pm. Update set in Bold Face Italics

Since conservative talk accounts for over 90% of the programming on talk radio stations it is not surprising that the radio trade press sucks up to right wing talk hosts, their syndicators and the hundreds of radio stations that are dominated by the format.

After all, these publications derive much of their ad revenue from the big syndicators like Premiere Radio, Westwood One, ABC Radio Networks, and Talk Radio Network and talk radio, while flat in the ratings for the past ten years, still is the most listened to radio format.

In order to get an idea of how biased the radio trade press is to conservative talk radio, just consider the coverage of the events following Rush Limbaugh’s remark ten days ago when he apparently referred to soldiers opposed to the Iraq War as "phony soldiers."

The incident has been thoroughly chronicled in the mainstream media (or as Limbaugh calls it the drive-by media.) To be completely balanced we will link to articles in the "liberal" Washington Post and the "conservative" Washington Times. Also, Talking Radio has covered the flap and you can read our coverage by scrolling down.

Now if you didn’t read either newspaper, or don't follow this blog and your sole source of news coverage came from the radio trade press here’s what you would have learned:

On October 2 in the News-Talk-Sports Air Check, Al Peterson reported on the incident under the headline "Senate All Fired Up Over Rush"

"Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) took to the Senate floor yesterday to condemn talk host Rush Limbaugh for a recent remark Reid characterized as "an outrage." Last Friday (9/28), Limbaugh referred to Jesse MacBeth, who falsely claimed to be an Army Ranger and veteran of the Iraq war while testifying on behalf of the anti-war movement, as a "phony soldier."

Please Al. You know that’s not what happened. A complete transcript of Limbaugh’s remarks was posted on Media Matters for almost a week when you wrote this bs. You know that he said "phony soldiers" in response to the following comment made by a caller.

LIMBAUGH: I -- it's not possible, intellectually, to follow these people.

CALLER 2: No, it's not, and what's really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.

LIMBAUGH: The phony soldiers.
Jesse MacBeth’s name didn’t come up until over two minutes after this exchange. And at that time, El Rushbo didn’t even identify Macbeth as a ‘phony soldier!"

But it gets better. NTS Aircheck’s report continues:

Reid is now asking senators to sign a letter requesting Clear Channel CEO Mark Mays to "publicly repudiate" the comment and ask Limbaugh to apologize. Responding to Reid on his Premiere Radio Networks program yesterday, Limbaugh said, "You want to come on this program and call me unpatriotic, come on this program and call me unpatriotic. You want to call me a liar, you want to tell me that I did not say what I said, you come on this program and you tell me to my face that I said what I did not say. Stop hiding behind your special protections as a senator and spewing the talking points of an embarrassing, partisan hack media group called Media Matters for America. If anybody owes the military of this country an apology, Senator Reid, it is you and any and all who have joined your effort to secure defeat of the United States and the United States military in not only Iraq, but the war on terror."

Why doesn’t Peterson include any parts of Reid’s letter in his report or quote any of the other Senators who commented on the matter. How about a Republican like Norm Coleman of Minnesota who said.

"Limbaugh's suggestion that those who have served their country and express their opinions are 'phony soldiers' is wrong. There needs to be a level of civility and honest debate in this country about issues as important as this."If you were misinformed by the NTS Aircheck report, you wouldn’t have gotten any better understanding by reading the Radio Insider (an on-line newsletter provided by Inside Radio.) Under the headline "Rush Flap Linked to Fairness Doctrine," the Insider issued the following report of October 4.

"There's a genuine feeling in talk radio the current congressional attack on Rush Limbaugh is part of a larger effort to revive the Fairness Doctrine. ABC Radio's Sean Hannity says "They pick on people one by one, and the person they want most is Rush because he has the biggest audience." Hannity thinks he's on the hit list too, along with other conservative talkers like Neal Boortz and Mark Levin."
I guess that Randi Rhodes andEd Schultz never got back to the "Insider". Their syndicators also advertise in this publication.

Also, on October 12, the Insider published the following item under the headline
Limbaugh Auctions "Smear Letter"

Rush Limbaugh has put up for auction the letter Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent to Clear Channel CEO Mark Mays demanding an apology for comments Limbaugh made on his radio show. The winning bidder also gets the Halliburton briefcase in which the letter is secured 24 hours a day and a personal letter of thanks from Rush. All the money raised goes to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, which helps the kids of fallen Marines and federal law enforcement officers

So I guess, the Insider agrees that the letter "smeared" his holiness Rush Limbaugh. Of course the item didn't mention that 40 other U.S. Senators signed the letter. Also, we're curious how Limbaugh got the original letter since it was sent to Mark Mays, CEO of Clear Channel.

What really disappointed us was the final paragraph in report that published in is our favorite radio trade journal and generally does a good job when covering political talk radio. On October 2 they concluded a fairly balanced report of the ‘phony soldiers" flap with the following statement:

"The controversy is being promoted by MEDIA MATTERS FOR AMERICA, the same liberal media organization that fueled the DON IMUS controversy."

So its Media Matters that’s "promoting the controversy." Not Limbaugh who will not concede an ounce of regret over the comment, who subsequently called Congressman Jack Murtha (D-PA) -- a decorated Vietnam veteran another "phony soldier," has compared Brian McGough, of to a suicide bomber, and is now working with Republican Party to use the "phony soldiers" flap as a fund raising vehicle.

Also, allaccess's reporters know that Media Matters had little to do with Imus' meltdown. When Imus called the Rutgers women’s basketball team "nappy headed hos," it made it to the front page of most major American newspapers the next day and dominated the print and electronic media for several weeks leading up to the Imus' termination by MSNBC and CBS Radio.

Finally, we can’t let the Talkers Magazine of the hook even though it will be a couple weeks before they release their next issue.
On their website Talkers published also suspected that phony soldiers was just a way to bring back the Fairness Doctrine.

"Some Americans wonder why Congress, with all the important things it could be doing, is wasting time on the comments of a talk host. On the talk radio side, some, including ABC Radio Networks and Fox News Channel superstar Sean Hannity, are concerned this is just another step toward reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine."

Friday, October 05, 2007

Limbaugh Flips, CC Station Flops

Defenders of Rush Limbaugh from radio station and groups executives, and radio trade press writers to politcians and right wing bloggers have been on a mission this week trying to spin the conservative talk show host’s "phony soldiers" remark. At the same time, Limbaugh along with his fawning supporters, are claiming that the conservative talker, not the offended anti-Iraq war veterans, is the real victim.

If you are not familiar with flap that was started when Limbaugh responded to a caller’s complaint about soldiers who speak out against the war as phony soldiers. You can read previous Talking Radio posts here and here or better yet go to Media Matters, which has published "word for word" transcripts and audio clips.

Since making the statement Limbaugh has been hardly transparent in his efforts to dispute the intent of what he meant when he made the "phony soldiers" remark. Here’s what, the Vietnam error draft dodger, said and did about the controversy:

*That he was not referring all anti-war soldiers but to one soldier, -- a former soldier named Jesse Merced who was convicted of making false statements about war atrocities in Iraq.

*He put together an edited recording of the segment on his September 24 show when he made the statement. The segment excluded about four minutes of his conversation with callers before and after the comment and added his reference to Merced, which was made two minutes afterwards. You can listen to the unedited recording here.

*He said on several occasions that he was only referring to McBeth when he referred to "phony soldiers." However, when forced to consider why he used the plural (soldier[s]) he changed his story and said "we have discussed many of these phony soldiers over the course of the past few months."

*He denied calling Congressman Jack Murtha, a decorated Vietnam veteran, a "phony solder" when the transcript of his September 28 show clearly reveals that he did. Here’s what he said:

"How about this guy Scott Thomas [Beauchamp] who was writing fraudulent, phony things in The New Republic about atrocities he saw that never happened? How about Jack Murtha blanketly accepting the notion that Marines at Haditha engaged in wanton murder of innocent children and civilians?"

*But probably the most egregious flip-flop of them all was when he denied comparing anti-Iraq war vet Brian McGough to a suicide bomber. McGough, who received a traumatic brain injury during his Iraq service, cut a spot on behalf of (more on this below) The spot blasts Limbaugh for making the "phony soldiers" remark and challenges El Rushbo to "say it to [McGough’s] face."

Limbaugh was enraged about the spot and McGough’s participation.

Here’s what he said:

"You know, this is such a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said, then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media in a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into."

Well, enough for Limbaugh. To use an expression popularized by morning lib talker Stephanie Miller. He’s "a lyin' sack of crap." Limbaugh uses his three-hour daily to pipe dis-information into the ears of his adoring radio audience of ditto-heads, seemingly unware that other people may be listening to what he is saying!

Meanwhile about the actions of some his supporters and apologists in the radio industry.
We talked about the ad challenging Limbaugh about the "phony soldiers" remark. Well, it seems that WJNO-AM, one of the 600 plus radio stations that carry his show, has refused to run the ad.

After turning down the ad, here’s how John Hunt, vp market manager for Clear Channel's, West Palm Beach properties, attempted to defend this gutless action:

"In light of the audience composition and the tone of the commercial presented by "Vote for Vets", we cannot air the three spots requested for broadcast on WJNO AM during the Rush Limbaugh Show. Airing anti-Rush Limbaugh commercials during the Rush Limbaugh show on WJNO AM would only conflict with the listeners who have chosen to listen to Rush Limbaugh. As an alternative, we would propose airing the commercials during other dayparts on WJNO or on some of our other appropriate stations in the market, and would be happy to make advertising recommendations based on format and demographics to aid you in your station selection."

In other words, we don’t want to offend the ditto-heads here in West Palm Beach and we certainly don’t want to offend to Limbaugh who broadcasts his show from his mansion in Palm Beach.

It could be damaging to Rush's oxyCotin scared ear drums. got a much warmer reception from Jim Farley, gm of WTOP-AM, the Bonneville all news station in Washington.

"Since we have accepted ads from veterans groups supporting the war, we could hardly turn down the other side. An all-news station becomes a marketplace of ideas, even when it comes to commercials."

We have more to say about "phony soldiers" flap, but this post has already gone on far enough. Over the weekend we will have more about Limbaugh apologists including CC executives, fawning radio trade media writers, bloggers, and politicians.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Limbaugh Can't Dodge "Phony Soldiers" Flap

As we reported on October 1, comedian Rush Limbaugh is the gift that keeps on giving. It is now been a week, since Limbaugh uttered those two infamous words during the second hour of his daily radio show – "phony soldiers" -- and the controversy appears to growing exponentially.

At that time we blogged about controversy, which erupted when a caller to Limbaugh’s show complained about an alleged anti-war bias in the media, complaining that [they] "never talk to real soldiers." Limbaugh responded "the phony soldiers. "

Quickly, Limbaugh resorted to damage control. He made a aircheck of this segment of his show selectively deleting some 80% of the audio leading up to his comment. He also added a separate commentary that was made later about a soldier convicted of making false war atrocities charges.

He never explained why he used used the plural "soldier[s]" if he was just talking about one soldier.

Well, in the past 24 hours there have been some stunning developments.

The Hill writes this morning about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's letter to Limbaugh's bosses at Clear Channel Communications, in which the Nevada Democrat calls on the owner of Limbaugh's syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks, to make their number one talker "publicly repudiate these comments that call into question their service and sacrifice and to ask Mr. Limbaugh to apologize for his comments."

The Senate overwhelming approved a Republican backed resoluton two weeks ago, condemning the liberal political action group when moveon ran a full page ad in the New York Times critical of General David Petraeus testimony before Congress. The headline of ad was "General Patraeua or General Betry Us." No Republicans in the Senate had any unkind words for Limbaugh., which describes itself as an organization comprised of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns who oppose the current policy in Iraq, has released a TV ad that takes aim at the number one right wing talker.

The group says it will spend $60,000 to run the ad nationally Wednesday and Thursday on Fox News and CNN. A radio version will air during Limbaugh's show on WMAL-AM Washington, D.C., and in his home market on WJNO-AM Palm Beach, Fla.

In the ad, founder Brian McGough discusses his service in Iraq and the wounds he suffered there. He says to Limbaugh, "until you have the guts to call me a 'phony soldier' to my face, stop telling lies about my service."

Patrick Murphy, a Democratic Congressmen from Eastern Pennsylvania, who is an Iraq War veteran, blogging on the Huff Po said "when someone like Rush Limbaugh says that soldiers who disagree with the failed strategies of President Bush …are 'phony soldiers,' you have to consider the source."

"Someone should tell chicken hawk Rush Limbaugh that the only phonies are those who choose not to serve and then criticize those who do. I served proudly, so did two of my fellow paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne who spoke out and died just weeks ago. Generations of American veterans have worn the uniform with pride and we know it is no contradiction to serve your country and still disagree with the Bush-civilian leadership that mismanaged this war."

And Senator Tom Harkin, (D-IA) commented on Limbaugh’s erratic and confrontational behavior by saying the following on the floor of the Senate:

"Well, I don’t know. Maybe he was just high on his drugs again. I don’t know whether he was or not. If so, he ought to let us know. But that shouldn’t be an excuse."

Yes Limbaugh and his minions of right wing supporters like Brian Maloney and Michelle Malkin have been spinning the controversy like crazy over the past few days.

During the first hour of his October 1 show, Limbaugh said: "I want to apologize to all of the members of the United States military, both in uniform and out, active duty and retired, for Media Matters for America."

Remember it was Media Matters, which published a word for word transcript and sound clip, capturing the exact words that Limbaugh uttered on his September 24 show.

Limbaugh then went after Reid, challenging the Nevada Democrat to debate.

"What I want to do now is demand that Harry Reid come on this program and confront me like a man. Live, unedited, come on this show and let's go at it. I'm not going to allow hack politicians to lie about what I said, to cover up what they have said and done."

That’s interesting. As you know, Limbaugh never debates with any of his opponents and hasn’t even responded to challenges put forth by several lib talk hosts including Randi Rhodes. In fact, his TV appearances are limited to a handfull carefully choreographed puff pieces.

Conservative talk radio blogger Brian Maloney used most of his posts today (here and here) to attack the politicians and veterans who are asking Limbaugh to apologize for his remark.

Here’s what Maloney said about Sen. Reid.

Better than other Americans, Nevadans know that the Harry Reid of 2007 is remarkably like the Harry Reid of 1997, just more petty, spiteful and vindictive, even against schoolchildren and the blind… While he claims to value the American ideal of free speech, the truth is that he's much more at home with the likes of Putin, Ahmedinejad, Chavez and Mugabe. The Silver State has many reasons of which to be proud, but Harry Reid certainly doesn't provide one of them.

Maloney also called, which is headed up by Purple Heart winner McGough, as a "partisan group." He published a link to their WebPage and added, "get a load of the lefties [their] board"

Right wing blogger Michelle Malkin also went after the politicos and vets, rather than to explain why Limbaugh used the offensive characterization.

She referred to as "moonbats" and "phony vets for truth" and to other people who have spoken out on this issue as the "Rush hating left."

One right wing talk show host, who is probably happy about the controversy surrounding Limbaugh, is Bill O’Reilly.

Less than two weeks ago the media was all over Bill-O for his comment about Sylvia’s a popular black owned and operated restaurant in Harlem.

"If you recall Bill-O said that he "couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship…there wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.' "

If this controversy continues Limbaugh might start asking for more OxyCotin.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Is General Betray Us a Phony Soldier?

Rush Limbaugh is the gift that keeps on giving. If he had just let his "phony soldier" remark rest on the Media Matters website it probably wouldn't have survived the 24 hour news cycle.

But the number one conservative talk show host wouldn’t let the controversy go away. On his September 28th show, Limbaugh told his ditto-head listeners that his reference to "phony soldiers" had nothing to do with Iraq war opponents but rather to one soldier who had recently been convicted of falsifying his military record. He accused Media Matters of taking his comments out of "context" to undermine his creditability.

Now here’s where it gets interesting.

Everyone knows that Media Matters does not publish material out of context. In fact, when they post an objectionable comment on their website they almost always post a word for word transcript of what the commentator or reporter said along with an unedited audio or video clip.

If the Media Matters website gets anything right – it’s context!

Here is what Limbaugh said: (go to Media Matters if you want more context.)

LIMBAUGH: I -- it's not possible, intellectually, to follow these people.
CALLER 2: No, it's not, and what's really funny is, they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.
LIMBAUGH: The phony soldiers.
CALLER 2: The phony soldiers. If you talk to a real soldier, they are proud to serve. They want to be over in Iraq. They understand their sacrifice, and they're willing to sacrifice for their country.
LIMBAUGH: They joined to be in Iraq. They joined --
CALLER 2: A lot of them -- the new kids, yeah.

So Limbaugh decides to bring the matter up on his September 28th show. He accuses Media Matters of "selectively choosing" parts of a transcript, and then tells his listeners that he going to play all three minutes and 13 seconds of the "entire transcript" to set the record straight.
Instead, Limbaugh plays an edited audio file containing a small part of the one minute and 35 second discussion containing his "phony soldier" and subsequent comment about the former soldier who had falsely claimed to witness anti-war attrocities. (He never identified this guy as a phony soldier.)

Limbaugh apologist and right-wing talk radio blogger Brian Maloney’s definition of context is even more inclusive. Maloney suggests Limbaugh’s "phony soldiers" remark was actually prompted by an ABC News report on September 24th.

So let’s understand:

According to Limbaugh to appreciate his context you have to cut out most of the comments made right before his "phony soldiers" remark and include a separate comment that was made about an hour later.

According to Maloney to appreciate context you have to go back two days to a TV report on ABC News (which Limbaugh refers to as the drive-by media.)

Of course, Media Matters posted a verbatim transcript and unedited audio clip of Limbaugh’s feeble attempt to establish the "true context" of his offensive remark. So instead of ending in the middle of last week, the controversy continued over the weekend and now appears to heading for halls of Congress.

The Carpetbagger Report claims that Rep Mark Udall (D-CO) will be introducing a resolution today in the House Representatives condemning Limbaugh for his "phony soldier" remark.

As the "phony soldier" controversy continued Democratic and Republican politicians have weighed in.

Campaigning in New Hampshire, Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards called on Republicans to denounce Limbaugh in the same way they came down on Democrats after the MoveOn ad.

"All these Republicans went running to the mic and the TV cameras when MoveOn ran their ad about General Petraeus. Now let's see if they really mean it," Edwards said. "Let's see if they'll speak out against Rush Limbaugh. Let's see if they'll challenge him about men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States."

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has released the following statement:

"Governor Romney would disagree with the negative characterization of those men and women who serve with honor and distinction in the United States Military. There may be disagreements with individual opinions, but no one would ever dispute the fact that those members of the military who disagree with the war have earned the right to express that opinion."

Politicians don't know a lot about context, but they do know a hot political issue when they see one.