Friday, April 06, 2007

Hot talk: Ed vs. Air America in L.A.

The recent on-air shuffling by KTLK in Los Angeles has been both praised and derided. And one group angered by the moves is Ed Schultz and his local fans. And he's crying foul.

Following the departure of Al Franken from Air America Radio, KTLK took the opportunity to do a complete makeover of its on-air roster. Marc Germain, a well-known Los Angeles radio personality, was available, so the station promptly signed him for a new afternoon drive show. In addition, they opted for Thom Hartmann as Franken's replacement. With Randi Rhodes filling the slot between the two shows, well, that leaves Eddie as the odd man out.

Over the past few weeks, Schultz has accused Air America of paying money to the station to secure a six-hour midday block for their shows and bump him into a nighttime slot. In today's Los Angeles Times Calendar section, Schultz, long at odds with several of Air America's hosts, takes it even further.

"It's not a radio decision," Schultz said by phone. "It has nothing to do with ratings or sales. To say I'm upset about it is an understatement. Air America is screwing things up."

KTLK General Manager John Quinlan denies this is the case. He said no special financial arrangements have been made between KTLK and Air America as was alleged by Schultz. He also said that the station has been trying to downplay its 'Air America' identity. And recent schedule changes were KTLK's doing, not Clear Channel's.

In January, Schultz announced that he would move his show into an earlier time slot, going head-to-head with Franken and Hartmann. He also assumed that KTLK would be one of the stations to give him a live clearance. "Then Air America wrote them a check," Schultz claims.

Quinlan himself claims that his station's listeners merely preferred Hartmann over Schultz. "The response we got was convincing," he said.

He also said Schultz's show, "was the lowest-rated show on the radio station" between 6A-7P, though he acknowledged that the statistical difference in ratings between Shultz and Franken and Miller and Rhodes was insignificant. The Arbitron ratings for fall 2006 showed a growth in Schultz's weekly listenership among adults ages 25 to 54 from 44,600 to 66,100 — an increase in audience of more than 40%.

But let's be real here. Progressive talk will have a tough time growing with all of these turf gang wars that really do nothing but tear each other apart. The conservotalkers have learned to get along, for the most part. But this whole Ed vs. Air America thing will never solve anything. Between the two parties, both of them share most of the stations they're on. And no good will ever come out of this sniping. As asked back in February, "Can't we all just get along?"

6 comments:

Emacee said...

LT says can't we get along. But the thrust of his article is Big Ed is the one not playing nice.
The article shows a pro-AAR slant.
AAR has denied doing pay to play in the past. Now they pay to bump the number one libtalk host into evenings on the most listened-to libtalk station in the country.
Nothing much has changed at AAR with the Greenies at the helm.
Conservotalkers may not bash each other on the air (just like GOP candidates don't attack each other). But they do compete behind the scenes for clearances. Just look at how the sharks are circling Michael Savage and biting off stations.
Now AAR is adopting the Enron-style business ethics of conservative syndicators.

Emacee said...

PS: LA Times makes an interesting point. Has AAR started a bidding war for clearances? Will other stations expect to get paid, too? Is this a short-sighted move that could keep liberal syndicators in the red?

toc001 said...

I'm not surprised that the fans in LA like Hartmann better. I'm here in Phx and I've heard both. Hartmann is far more intelligent than Schultz, as well as informative. He debates the right wing think tanks daily and holds his own quite well.

Our station here was bought out by a christian radio company, and when the local people tried to keep it alive, Ed Schultz bad mouthed the effort mightily. When he was on here at noon after Franken, I would shut him off. he never really had grasp of the issues and he totally lost me when he was backing LIE-bermann.

I think the LA audience is a little too sophisticated for the Ed Schultz brand of radio.

I haven't been that happy with AAR either to be honest. the best thing they did was hire Hartmann. I don't like that they fired Malloy and Seder and keep trying to give Mark maron a spot. Maron is HOOOORIble!

Franken had his purpose and the only reason I listened was he had the best guests and kept current.

Their weekend line up is great though.

Emacee said...

> I'm not surprised that the fans in
> LA like Hartmann better.

Huh? What hat did you pull that out of? The whole point of the LA Times story is this is about money, not about whom the fans like better.

I like Hartmann. But Big Ed is the biggest draw in libtalk.

ltr said...

Emacee, this is your final warning. Stop getting confrontational toward the others who post here.

toc001's comment was wholly welcome. And it was on topic. And, unlike you, toc doesn't repeatedly spam my blog with incessant whines and condescending insults toward others. toc has just as much right to be here as you.

Yeah, yeah - we know you don't like Air America. We know you hate Seder, Maron, Newcomb, NPR, etc. Heck, we know you don't really like anyone here. Hell, you probably don't even like this blog! So why are you here? I obviously don't write about anything you like.

I got pretty damn pissed off when you decided to shit all over my recent post about the future of webcasting, Especially since it is something that I feel very passionate about. And yes, it has everything to do with the purpose of this blog, as laid out here. At that time, I suggested that perhaps you should go rant elsewhere. But of course, you likely didn't read that, since you often just post and run. I was personally offended and, while I don't like deleting comments and such, I finally realized that, in your case, I really wasn't going to shed a tear in the future when it comes to excising your rants (as you may have noticed). More often, I merely leave your comments up so people can poke fun at you. Unfortunately, most people are a bit more polite and just ridicule you in private emails to me.

You crow and crow about how great Maloney is, but you've never spammed his blog. Why not? I think you'd be welcome there.

To sum it all up, this not a place for you to vent your frustrations because the people at the message boards don't like you. I am not your therapist. I am not your babysitter, and this is not your personal toilet.

I noticed that you have a blog of your own set up, yet nothing is posted there. Why not? I think you should make use of it. Hell, use it as an attack blog directed at me. I'd love it. And being the nice guy that I am, I'll even link to it. Compete against me if you want (though I don't necessarily view others as competition).

Granted, I understand that we all need a place to express our opinions. And I encourage a wide variety of opinions. Hell, I'll even let people insult me if they see fit (and yes, they have). But there comes a point when enough is enough. I may have come off as a bit hostile here, but I gotta put my foot down. You're distracting from the whole point of this blog. I didn't work my ass off to create this thing just so you could come over and trash it and the people who actually do like to make use of this thing. If you fail to realize this, then I think you should just go away, since this blog is not serving your purposes. I'm not banning you, I just think its time for you to take a hike or at least rethink why the blazes you post here.

Emacee said...

LT,

I visit your site because I appreciate it and enjoy it. I often agree with your positions; sometimes I disagree. I hope you are not saying what what you want here is an "amen chorus."

I consider Maloney a vile, reprehensible human being. I am willing, however, to give the devil his due. His motives aside, some of his reporting on AAR has turned out to be accurate. If AAR gives their enemies fodder, it's their fault - not his (or mine).

I did not imply toc was not welcome. I did say his assertion that "fans in LA like Hartmann better" is not supported by the LA Times article. The whole thrust of their article (and your's) was that this is not a programming decision - it was a money a decision.

He also says the LA audience is "too sophisticated" for Big Ed. I don't think it is inappropriate to say I find that an overly broad stereotype, and one not well-grounded in fact. The history of LA area talk radio (among other factors) suggests the opposite. Southern California is not just "swimming pools ... movie stars."

If you have issues with me, and apparently you do, you could have emailed me. I don't think it shows a lot of class to attack me publicly. If anyone is being attacked here, it is I. I have disagreed with some of your conclusions but I have never questioned your motives or your character.

I criticized AAR early on. You have come to join me in most of those criticisms. I stand by what I have said about them, their various managements, their corporate culture, their business practices and the quality of their on-air product. I consider them an embarrassment to the concept of the progressive talk format. They are dragging down the format. If it were not for the success of Ed and Steph - and Hartmann's local show - the format might be dead already. You are welcome to disagree with my assessment.


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