Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The end of Radio Free Ohio?

NOTE: The following article has been updated on March 29. Toward the end, I even take apart Clear Channel's spin on the whole matter.

Ohio Media Watch is reporting that WARF in Akron, aka "Radio Free Ohio" is about to flip to the new AM radio format du jour, sports. And station management has confirmed it.

Clear Channel has already reserved the domain SportsRadio1350.com, and the flip will occur Friday morning.

Since there is already a glut of sports stations in the market, by way of ESPN-affiliated WKNR in Cleveland and low-powered FOX Sports-affiliated WJMP in nearby Kent, the only option left open for the station is Sporting News Radio. That will be combined with Westwood One live sports programming, including the NFL, NCAA basketball and whatever else. They also carry local lower-tiered sports teams.

Why the flip? As I mentioned, all-sports is the format du jour. And it's highly concentrated male demographic is highly desirable to advertisers who want to target male listeners. And sports talk doesn't even need substantial ratings to do this, which fits perfectly with the many neglected AM stations that dot the landscape. In the past year or two, radio station owners have come to realize this, hence the sports radio boom.

WARF is notable in that they served as Bill Press' very first affiliate. The station also carried other Jones Radio Networks offerings, such as Stephanie Miller and Ed Schultz, sprinkled with a little bit of Air America Radio.

The station never became a ratings powerhouse in its almost two-year run, but they did have a devoted following, and ratings for the progressive talk format even eclipsed the station's previous incarnation as a FOX Sports-affiliated sports talker. Station management claims that ratings were higher prior to switching to progressive talk, but as I wrote in May 2005, sports-formatted WTOU consistently had mediocre showings in the Arbitron ratings From 2001 until the switch to progressive talk, overall ratings shares for the station were between 0.3 and 0.6. Following the switch, WARF launched with a 1.0 share for the summer 2005 book. Ratings for the station were often between 0.6 and 1.0, eclipsing the overall ratings for the previous sports format. In the most recent ratings book, the station dipped to a 0.6 share. It's doubtful the new 1350 will get those same ratings, but that's not why they're doing it.

6 comments:

raccoonradio said...

Sports is indeed the format du jour, or one of them.

Rumors in Boston have another, "guy talk" (with some sports-related content) possibly coming to heritage rocker WBCN. They may swipe the morning team from leading sports station WEEI; they already have the Patriots and who knows, could add the Bruins to make a sports/"guy talk"
lineup.

WARF had been Fox Sports for awhile. Clear Channel at it again,
and once again sports is the
result.

raccoonradio said...

on the RadioFreeOhio site:

>>The end of the progressive format on 1350 is coming on Friday March 30th at 8:59am. Watch this space for more information.

Emacee said...

Akron is a blue collar town. I suppose liberals have to do business with corrupt unions and try to get votes from mouth breathers with dirty finger nails to win elections. But these uneducated Archie Bunkers are disposed to authoritarian politics and to the demogogs of the right. They are Rush's audience. You need brains to be a liberal and a high level of emotional development. You won't find much of that in places like Akron. That's why progressive talk tends to be better in places like Portland, Seattle and San Francisco (although not all that great, even there).
The lord much love ignorant people because He made so many of them.

It may be time to consider the following possibilities:

In general, people who vote for liberals...
Don't listen to progressive talk radio.
Don't listen to AM radio.
And maybe don't even listen to radio much at all.

Maybe people who support liberal candidates and principles prefer the style and presentation of public radio.

In all likelihood, they even read.

People who don't identify themselves as either liberals or conservatives don't care about politics and don't listen to talk radio - any talk radio - at all.

Talk radio does not - will not - can not - change anybody's mind about anything. Not now. Not ever.

Air America Radio was a knee jerk reaction from some rich liberal activists who wanted to hit back at Rush. And this is the kind of non-thinking that has influenced it's management.

Maybe radio is the natural home for right-wingers and right wing talk. Most people who work in radio tend to authoritarian, right-wing thinking. And they are self-righteous enough to believe that (1) Their opinions are THE TRUTH and (2) Most everybody in the audience agrees with them.

raccoonradio said...

I don't know if the Right has a monopoly on authoritarian thinking. The Left are the ones that wants to ban Legos in Seattle schools, ban the use of "St Patrick's Day" in schools
(religion? horrors!--call it Green Day), impose politically correct
thinking, put unnecessary restrictions on business, thus leading them to move out of state...

...have teachers and professors
instill liberal opinions in our
schools (ask David Horowitz)

...

gregrocker said...

what a coincidence that all 3 Ohio Air America affiliates are taken down just months after an election which Howard Dean says they helped win. We need Congressional hearings on the whole right wing dirty disinformation radio operation to unmask even more GOP scheming LIARS.

Emacee said...

Teachers are drones. If it's in the book, they believe it.
The only teacher I had with more than half brain (not tied behind his back) ended up doing life for three murders.


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