Thursday, December 07, 2006

The 'Revolution' is over

Days after midday host Jerry Springer announced the end of his radio show, his flagship affilliate, WSAI (1360AM) in Cincinnati, has announced plans to drop their liberal talk format altogether.

Tony Bender, program director of WSAI, claimed it just wasn't working, in addition to the current Clear Channel excuse du jour, Air America Radio's bankruptcy.

The "revolution of talk radio" was launched in January 2005 with Springer and Al Franken’s Air America show on 50,000-watt WCKY (1530AM). It swapped stations with the sports format previously on WSAI-AM in July.

So, what's going to replace "The Revolution of Talk Radio"? Why how-to shows, of course!

On Monday, the station will unveil a lineup of consumer, relationship, home, car, garden and financial advice shows. Most will be tape-delayed or reruns, including old WKRC-AM broadcasts by fix-in expert Gary Sullivan, gardener Ron Wilson and auto mechanic Steve Overbeck.

Dr. Laura Schlessinger and Dr. Joy Browne also return on tape-delay after several years off local airwaves. As a matter of fact, the majority of the station's shows will be delayed. Even the local business newspaper thinks this thing will fare worse than liberal talk.

The station will be marketed as "1360thesource.com."

“Our big push is the Internet. Instead of a radio station promoting a Web site, it will be a Web site promoting the radio station,” he says.

Atlanta consumer expert Clark Howard (http://clarkhoward.com/) will air in afternoon drive (4-7PM), and repeat 7-10AM the next morning. Now THERE'S a powerhouse morning drive show! Here's the rest:

5-7AM: Wall Street Journal (live feed)
7-10AM: Clark Howard (previous weekday afternoon show)
10AM-1PM: Dr. Laura Schlessinger (tape-delay)
1-2PM: At Home with Gary Sullivan (old WKRC show)
2-3PM: In The Garden with Ron Wilson (old WKRC show)
3-4PM: Steve Overbeck’s Autoline (old WKRC show)
4-7PM: Clark Howard (new show, taped 1-4 pm in Atlanta)
7-10PM: Neal Boortz (tape-delay)
10PM-1AM: Dr. Joy Browne (tape-delay)
1-5AM: Joey Reynolds (live from WOR in NY)

Funny, I didn't know Neal Boortz did an advice show. Maybe he's teaching listeners to be a racist fake libertarian.

Progressive stations have thrived in other cities, most notably on Clear Channel stations in Portland, Ore., Miami, Fla., and San Diego, Calif., says Tom Taylor, editor of the “Inside Radio” newsletter.

In conservative Southwestern Ohio and Northern Kentucky, it attracted only about 1 percent of the audience. WSAI-AM ranked No. 18 in the most recent Arbitron ratings.

The advice format should be easier to sell at Clear Channel, which offers package deals for WKRC-AM and WSAI-AM, Bender says. WKRC-AM airs Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and conservative political talk on weekends, and Sullivan, Overbeck and other how-to shows on weekends.

“We wanted a complement to WKRC-AM, instead of selling left and right (political) talk. It was kind of hard to get (WKRC-AM advertisers) to take a look at WSAI-AM,” Bender says. Or, in other words, their salesmen were too inept to be able to sell it.

WSAI was never a strong affiliate. And local Clear Channel management really didn't help matters either. It's on-air roster was uninspiring. When they were on WCKY, overnight hours were occupied by paid-for religious programming, which obviously clashed with the liberal talk aired the rest of the day. They signed the station on with the debut of Springer's show, and even tried to pass "Springer On The Radio" as a local show. Never mind that he hasn't set foot in the WSAI studio since August. And did I mention the many technical problems?

Back in August, Ed Schultz ripped the station, which carries his show, and stations manager Darryl Parks over the many technical glitches that marred the station's on-air presentation. "You can't develop revenue and ratings with dead air, double programming, programming playing on top of each other," said Schultz, in response to listener complaints about how WSAI has been operating. "I just want to know if there's as much dead air over on the conservative station. I just want to know if there's someone who can answer that question."

WSAI, and WCKY prior to that, are operated as 'latchkey' operations using automation software. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Provided, of course that the software acutally works. "The Revolution's" automation program would do all kinds of crazy things, such as air two programs at a time, broadcast satellite-delivered news or actuality feeds as they came in (over whatever was currently on the air). Liners would air for several minutes back-to-back. Shows abruptly cut off. The wrong shows aired. For example, the live feed of "Majority Report" would run instead of the scheduled delayed airing of Randi Rhodes one evening. Another incident featured an unplanned 'battle of the late-night talk hosts', featuring the scheduled Lionel up against Air America's Mike Malloy. At the same time.

Of course, Parks always denied that there was anything wrong with what was going out over the air. And to prove his point, as Schultz lashed out at the station, Parks immediately ran in the studio and pulled Schultz' show off the air for the rest of his shift. Well, I guess somebody in the building was monitoring the station then.

The Revolution was an absolute neglected mess of a station. For a company like Clear Channel to allow this to happen in one of their most important markets, they should be ashamed of themselves. They have nobody to blame but themselves.

8 comments:

Frasier said...

Irish, mostly I agree with you.
But you crossed the line on two points:
(1) On what basis do you allege that Boortz is a racist? You may disagree with him. Many in the Black community may disagree with him. But that doesn't make him a bigot.
(2) Just because something doesn't sell does not mean the sales force is "inept." Have you ever done sales (radio or other)? Selling liberal talk in Cincinnati would mean the local sales team develop a whole new client base just for liberal talk. These are people working on commission. They can spend their time selling and making money or they can try to start over from scratch and find new clients who may (or may not) buy lib talk. The problem is Clear Channel having a cluster sales force. Not only does progressive talk need its own format - it needs its own sales force.

ltr said...

1. I allege Boortz is a racist on this basis:

http://mediamatters.org/items/search/200610180005
http://mediamatters.org/items/search/200608100012
http://mediamatters.org/items/search/200607200012
http://mediamatters.org/items/search/200606200012
http://mediamatters.org/items/search/200606070003
http://mediamatters.org/items/search/200604030010
http://mediamatters.org/items/search/200604010003
http://mediamatters.org/items/search/200603310005
http://mediamatters.org/items/search/200603290004
http://mediamatters.org/items/search/200512150007
http://mediamatters.org/items/search/200512140007
http://mediamatters.org/items/search/200510240014
http://mediamatters.org/items/search/200501100006
http://mediamatters.org/items/search/200408170006

And I'll stop there.

2. To answer your other question, yes, I have done sales. For about 15 years. Everything from cars to home design and even a brief dallience with door-to-door in my misguided youth (and I've lived to tell about it). I've also done radio.

And I don't pity account executives because they have to actually get out and work for a living. And salespeople for large corporate radio clusters don't have to 'start all over again'. Even the half-assed ones have a pretty decent-sized client roster. Why not start there? Especially if they've got either talk stations or even FM stations with the same demographic figures as liberal talk.

KKZN in Denver is a good example of this. They run ads for nightclubs, just like on their younger-leaning FM music stations. Good move, and this is in a large Clear Channel cluster. The addition of a new format like liberal talk just gives them another outlet to sell in addition to their current ones. It's no different than when they add another format, like rock or sports. Account execs can sell spot time across the entire station cluster.

In addition to their current client base (which most AE's are probably too reliant on), they can bring in businesses that haven't even done radio before. And it's not just a question of the political nature of the format. Businesses aren't buying the ideology. They're buying the people listening to it. And these people, as has been shown, are very loyal to businesses who help support their station.

Ed Schultz talks about this often. And he's given examples of businesses who have benefitted from exposure on his affiliates. Not to mention that Schultz is very gung-ho about bringing more advertising business to the format.

As for bringing in a seperate sales force, it could work. Small mom-and-pop operations like KPHX and KRXA have tons of local advertising on their stations, even more than many Clear Channel operations. WKOX in Boston, which is flipping to Spanish-language tropical music, is running an ad for a separate sales manager, who will build a team of three or so salespeople just to sell that format. Why didn't they do that with liberal talk? The problem lies in that these bigger companies often just slap the format on one of their weak AM stations and expect things to just magically happen. That's what happened in places like Cincinnati. It just doesn't work that way, and these companies seem to have had better luck with stations that they actually invested some effort into.

Frasier said...

Thanks for posting the links.

Several of them deal with reported attacks on Muslims. They deal with religion, not race.

Several of them deal with reported criticisms of the behavior of the underclass and of welfare recipients. No race is specified in these articles. If you assume that these comments must be about Black people, that says more about your racial attitudes than Boortz'.

Some deal with comments about Cynthia McKinney, which were political insults. Apparently, you believe it's OK for talk show hosts to ridicule or insult White politicians but not Black politicians. Again, that says something about your racial attitudes.

I don't agree these comments demonstrate a pattern of "racism," but racism - like beauty - is in the eye of the beholder.

Regarding sales, you make some good points. However, people in sales often do take the quick and easy way. Being on commission, they have every reason and every incentive to do so. Under the current commission system, a sales rep doing as you suggest is taking a risk (prospecting for new business is not a sure thing) and will almost certainly make less than a rep working established accounts. What needs to happen is for cluster owners to set up the system to reward reps for brining new business to a new format.

I notice some of the same arguments and criticisms are heard when stations claim they can't sell Oldies or Standards. I may not be the sales people's fault that certain formats don't sell well.

ltr said...

Funny, I've never heard any white politician referred to as a 'ghetto slut'.

As for ripping on Muslims because of their religion, doesn't sound much different than when Mel Gibson attacked Jews, and look at all the flack he caught. Big difference is, Boortz is saying this stuff while sober. Or so we are led to believe.

As for prospecting for new business, Account Executives are supposed to do that. Otherwise, they should be called 'order takers'. And any salesperson with at least half a brain knows how to prospect. In every sales job I've ever had, prospecting was not an option, it was part of the job description. There's no risk with opening a phone book or the local street sheet and saying 'hello'. Or even mentioning the little libtalk station to their current clients, or even offering a package deal, to give them a taste. The only real risk is getting turned down, and if salespeople can't take that, they're in the wrong business. If they don't prospect, they'll never make money. Simple as that.

And nobody's forcing salespeople to prospect and sell that little liberal talk station operating out of the station's broom closet. But any real salesperson would be stupid not to.

Frasier said...

Doesn't sound much different than some on the left "ripping" Catholics, fundamentalists and the so-called "religious right." Of course, the arbiters of political correctness have decreed that while is OK to rip Christians but not Muslims or Jews. Go figure.

White politicians get insulted all the time. Insults are tailored to the individual. You don't use the same insult on Ted Kennedy, for example, as on McKinney. And trash is trash whether ghetto trash or trailer park trash. It's not the "look" one would expect of a member of congress.

Anonymous said...

It would be very hard for a sales person to sell any commercials for the 18th ranked station. Selling radio is hard enough let alone for a last place platform.

You seem to want to blame the failure of this station on everyone else instead of looking at the real problem. The format and the shows suck. It is that simple. Look at Air America as a whole and ask yourself why it is a miserable failure. The problems are not just with the Cincinnati station they are nation wide. Air America is a failure because liberal talk for the most part is a failure.

Anonymous said...

Well, here we go again. Weeping and crying over the absolute failure of liberal talk radio. It just does not sell to anyone with just a bit of common sense. I honestly tried to listen to it, and the only person who was anywhere near a true radio man was Ed Schultz. Did not always agree with him but he presented in an intelligent manner. The bottom line rules in corporate america and Donald Trump or Bill Gates would have a hard time selling ads on your network.

I wish it to stay on the air, but you you crow about a 1.0 rating........Good Night and good luck folks.

P.S. Everyone is a racist in some form or fashon. Look it up. The definion is in a large book called a dicionary. Merry Chistmas Y'all!

ltr said...

Sure, once I ripped on Brian Baloney, on of the 28% comes out in force.

Still pretty pissed about that election thing, huh?


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