Thursday, November 29, 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Press, 6-9 AM

Stephanie Miller, 9 AM-12 NOON

Ed Schultz, 12 NOON-3 PM

Randi Rhodes, 3-6 PM

Rachel Maddow, 6-8 PM

Thom Hartmann, 8-11 PM and

Jon Elliott, 11 PM-2 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Paul Ackerman said...

Brian Rothenberg is NOT part of Ohio Majority Radio. He is the executive director of Progress Ohio who has been a partner with us at OMR in this process.

Thanks for the report!

Paul Ackerman
Linwood Campaign Services
Ohio Majority Radio
Candidate For State Representative - Ohio's 21st District

Anonymous said...

Political activists who know nothing about radio. Small station with a poor signal. I think I've already seen this movie and I know how it turns out.

Anonymous said...

Political activists had nothing to do with it. Richards is leasing the station, has over 20 years of radio experience, and has run several stations in Columbus and elsewhere. Wrong movie.

Anonymous said...

Conservatives like to put anything down that isn't lily white and as bland as oatmeal. Go suck a cheeto nazi fruitcakes.