Friday, January 19, 2007

Want to support liberal talk on the radio? Here's a place to start

Much has been made as of late about the lack of advertiser support on liberal talk radio stations. This has been a reason cited by some owners when they decided to change their formats.

We've also seen the power of sponsorship in other places. When WXXM in Madison was on the chopping block, loyal listeners rallied to persuade Clear Channel management to keep it on the air. They signed petitions, spread the story to media outlets across the country, and even enlisted the efforts of nationally-syndicated talk show hosts. Most importantly, they enlisted advertising support. This is key. Even a low-rated station will stay on the air if enough sponsors support it. This is why all-sports formats are so desirable to broadcasters. Often, sports performs poorly in the ratings, but its narrow demographic of mostly male listeners is an audience that is in high demand for advertisers.

Advertiser support is very important for radio stations to succeed. Bob Agnew, program director of KQKE in San Francisco points this out in a call-to-arms posted on the station's website. No, The Quake is not in danger of getting the axe. Ratings have been fairly decent, and are on the rise. But in order to stay alive, they need sponsors. Here's what Agnew has to say:


I’m Bob Agnew, the Program Director of 960 the Quake. I wanted to take a moment and tell you how much we appreciate your loyalty. We appreciate the input we get from you: we responded TO that feedback by creating a lineup of strong progressive talkers like Stephanie Miller, Thom Hartmann, Mike Malloy, Ed Schultz and John Scott’s Progressive News Hour. We have partnerships with many local businesses that believe in this mission as you and I do. For 2007 this is our challenge: Without local advertiser support, we will be unable to provide you WITH the shows you want. And if you’re a local business, know this: Quake listeners are loyal, passionate, and THEY WILL support YOU. We have big plans for the Quake, on air and online. With your support, we will remain viable today, tomorrow, and beyond.

If you have any questions about how we can be a partner to your business, or if you'd be interested in advertising with 960 the Quake,call us and ask for Megan: 415-538-5120

If you have questions about Quake programming or promotions we might work on together, please email me anytime:

We will soon be announcing some new listener initiatives, designed to increase our
awareness..and how you can HELP SPREAD THE WORD..Come back to this page for details!

But wait a minute! Didn't I blast stations in the past for not getting out and finding advertisers? And didn't I rip on the owners of KOMY in Santa Cruz for holding their format hostage? Yes, I did. The purpose of Agnew's memo is to reach out to businesses their salespeople haven't reached. Unlike the Zwerlings of KOMY and other stations (including Clear Channel clusters in other markets), KQKE has been very aggressive in tailoring the station to its listeners. Though they run mostly syndicated shows from Air America Radio and Jones Radio Networks, they have also maintained a local presense with John Scott's local "Progressive News Hour", Harry O's "The Green Hour" and "Queer Channel Radio". While many other stations seem to run their progressive talk stations out of a computer in a broom closet, The Quake has been one of the most aggressive at doing something with it. On the other hand, the management of stations like KOMY, WTPG, WKOX, and WSAI, among others, made little effort besides merely putting it on the air.

Of course, this doesn't pertain solely to The Quake. If you have a liberal talk station in your town (or any station you're passionate about), make your preference known. If you support a sponsor of your favorite station, let them know you heard their ad on that station, and that's why you walked in the door. This means so much to sponsors. And if you own a business and you love hearing Air America or Mike Malloy or Ed Schultz on your local airwaves, why aren't you advertising on that station?

Ever wonder why your local station airs hockey or college basketball games in the evenings? Sportscasts bring in money. Or those obnoxious bowel movement infomercials on Sunday mornings (ewwww... gross!)? Same thing. And conservotalk stations air even more of that stuff, so don't feel alienated. Simply put, they've gotta make money.

As for you radio Account Executives out there, this doesn't get you off the hook. Get off your butts, stop cherry-picking the ad agencies and bring in some business! Hell, you get paid off it, right?


Sean M. Gilbow said...

Well said, ltr.

Here's a starting ground for liberal talk fans. Switch your cleaning products.

Now, before anyone gets into a huff about this type of promotion, let me caution you not to fall into the trap of "expecting a handout" which neocons are adept at sniffing out. I've heard this criticism from lefties already, and now many find themselves without a station to listen to.

Here are the facts:

1. I have committed to advertising the remainder of 2007 on the live stream of Radio Free Ohio. A commercial will air EVERY TWO HOURS.

2. If JUST ONE PRODUCT is purchased for every commercial that airs, my business makes a profit.

3. The products do work. I use them.

4. Clear Channel Akron/Canton is committed to progressive talk. WARF has also given this blog some good publicity.

And most importantly...

5. Clear Channel Columbus is keeping a close eye on me to see how successful this campaign is. I can say without hesitation the programming and sales departments were not in harmony with each other when the decision was made to flip WTPG. I was the first advertiser to jump ship, and the Columbus Dispatch publicized my move.

You now have a chance to prove to the righties that lefties can play the same game. And after reading this, if you still end up buying your cleaning products at the store (or worse, a right-wing company like Amway/Quixtar, my most direct competitor), we all lose from the negative effects on our environment and the talk radio landscape.

If it sounds harsh, it's because the readers of this blog have a much greater interest in the success of progressive talk than those who don't. I'm committed to the success of progressive talk radio, and I've put my money where my mouth is. Now, it's your turn.

Anonymous said...

The guy buying Air America runs mostly infomercials on his TV/cable channel.
Maybe we will start to hear the bowel cleanse infomercials on Air America.
Maybe Randi Rhodes, Frenchie's own show, Mark Maron's back from the dead show and the rest is infomercials.
The new schedule.

ltr said...

I got an email from John Scott of KQKE. It's worth sharing:

Hey there...

You summed up our mission, our motives and our passion precisely, exactly, correctly. THANK YOU.

It would appear that the challenges are insurmountable: craptacular signal, microscopic staff, America's most listened to public station as a competitor (KQED) and a couple of 50,000 watt heritage AMs against us, with unlimited money and staff.

And those godamn infomercials.

We say NO to failure. Our local efforts/shows will expand, our outreach will continue, our company supports us. Finding local support is critical. We want to be a little profitable, of course, but we're not bent on selling out. We want to not be beholden to mega corporations that will censor our message with their dollars. We can be true to our mission and keep it going; if and ONLY if we can rally support from the community.

You'd think San Francisco is a default winner for lib talk. Yeah, right. The shares for Limbaugh and Savage and their ilk are MASSIVE in the bay area. We're no different than many other markets. This is a boutique format, yes. But it CAN be a winner.

Link us! Send myspace bulletins! if you believe as we do that this format deserves a place on the dial and online like the righties ...

We will do our best to be worthy of your attention.


John Scott
Assistant Program Director
960 The Quake
San Francisco

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