Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Rumor: Air America adding 6-7 new affiliates

Geez, it's been so long since I did one of these types of posts that I damn near forgot how.

All kidding aside, the hot rumor in liberal talk appears to be the rumored pending arrival of new stations to the format. Last night on his show, Jon Elliott claimed that his employer, Air America Radio is adding 6-7 new affiliates in the next few weeks.

Now, we don't know where these stations are located, but Elliott did throw us a bone, claiming that one would be in Atlantic City, NJ. As far as affiliate possibilities go, the most logical station would seem to be WTAA (1490AM), which is owned by Access.1 Communications (owner of Air America's New York affiliate WWRL). Currently, this little 400 watt wonder is simulcasting the oldies sounds of its sister FM station, WTKU ("Kool 98.3"). Sure, 400 watts ain't much, but local AM stations in the Atlantic City market are pretty weak. They don't have to cover much ground, and they blast half their signal out into the ocean anyway. Incidentally, the WTAA call sign was just picked up in the last week or so.

As for the other rumored markets, nothing is known. One that could be the subject of speculation (namely my own) could be WVKO (1580AM) in Columbus, OH, which is close to returning to the air, after building a new broadcast transmission facility. Obviously, the station needs a format (their preference is brokered programming, but that stuff doesn't happen overnight), and the owner knows that local interest is there for progressive talk, after the format was dropped by WTPG in December. Again, this isn't even close to rumor status, just mere speculation on my part. So keep that in mind before you all go around spreading this stuff.

There's no word on what any of these stations will run outside of Air America programming, if anything, whether it be local shows or stuff from other syndicators.

Nonetheless, keep checking back here for more info. And if anyone reading this owns or works for one of the aforementioned rumored stations (and I know you're reading this), drop me a line and fill me in.


radiofan14 said...

Maybe one of these new stations is in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. A few weeks ago, the Dallas Air America newsletter mentioned that Nova M Radio was looking to purchase a radio station in the DFW area.

Anonymous said...

AAR has announced new affiliates before, even posted them on their website, before the deal was even close to done.
If these are more weak stick, Class D, turn-keys, then who cares? They have chopped down another tree in another empty forest. These stations will continue to lie at the bottom of the Arbitron tables giving ammunition to those who say liberal talk can't work.
And if these new affiliates (or are they repeaters?) don't take Steph, Big Ed and Malloy (and possibly Hendrie), and find something decent in AM drive*, they will sink like the Titanic.
We keep seeing evidence that the Greenies aren't any smarter than any of their predecessors.

*Note: I am surprised lib talkers haven't picked up Doug Stephan rather than the Turks or Bill Press. Local would be best but failing that, Stephan (former i.e. America morning host) has a much stronger show.

gregrocker said...

Hendrie is still on the air? I thought he was dropped nationally after most of his listeners dropped him due to his nasty bullying in favor of the Shrub's dirty war.

Air America needs to stand affiliates back up in Ohio at WHATEVER cost. Those 3 stations there swung the last election acoording to Howard Dean.

RussKC said...

Hey emacee,

The reason previous stations laid "at the bottom of the Arbitron tables" is because the owners did not market the stations.

With new affiliates coming online, hopefully the management is more invested in making the stations work.

I'm sure these new affiliates are well aware of non-Air America progressive talkers. Plus, local talkers, sports, and music programming can be added to broaden the listener base.

I do agree that an Air America-only "repeater" is not the best way to go. However, if marketed correctly, it can be moderately successful.

Anonymous said...

Marketing is part of the equation but not the only part. Yes, most lib talk stations have not been marketed and promoted (either to listeners or advertisers).

Promotion costs money that station operations were not willing to spend.
Many of the Class D* AM stations AAR has signed up have never been successful, not before AAR. And those that have dropped AAR have not been successful since.

The problem for lib talk as a format and for AAR is almost all of the good AM stations were taken before they showed up. On FM, all stations in a market are more or less equal but that's never been the case on AM. And AM itself is part of the problem. People born toward the end of the baby boom and any one younger doesn't listen to AM; never did listen to AM. FM consistently draws 80% of the audience, including liberals who are listening to music formats or public radio. Lib talk radio is mostly on AM and their big challenge is to get potential listeners to listen to AM. The current talk radio audience is mostly right-wingers listening to right-wing talk. Lib talk has to bring new listeners to talk radio and to AM radio.

As "Radio Realist" has pointed out: If you want to know what liberals listen to, look where liberal candidates buy time before elections. For some reason, lib talk stations don't even seem to get a sales boost when an election is coming.

A lot of these station owners want to "set it and forget it" and make a profit. I'm sure the people running the Portland, ME station knew about non-AAR hosts. They just couldn't be bothered to change satellite channels (let alone do local programs, news or sports). With ESPN Radio or Fox Sports, a turnkey can show profit but apparently lib-talk needs some work in programming, in sales and in promotion.

* (Please note Class D is an FCC technical classification and not a value judgement on my part.)

ltr said...

Keep in mind that Emacee is the resident voice of negativity on this blog. Anything I write, he'll poo-poo it.

Yet he still posts here. I wonder why.

Anonymous said...

What points, specifically, do you disagree with? And why?

Jim said...

Atlantic City? I cannot imagine a less hospitable audience for AAR.

ltr said...

A note to phoreten-

I know who you are. No trolls allowed! Don't bother posting here again. I'll simply keep deleting.

Anonymous said...

Almost a week has gone by, and no legitimate news outlet or trade publication has had any kind of report on this "rumor."
Maybe that's all it is.
Did anybody actually hear the Jon Elliott broadcast? If so, what did he actually say?
Even if he did say what he is supposed to have said, talk show hosts are prone to "exaggeration." And Elliot is 3,000 miles from Air America; he's not exactly plugged into the loop.
Let's hope the rumor is false. Let's hope the Green's are not out trying to sign up more flea bite stations, when they should be busy trying to improve the current product and making the stations that already take their programs successful.

I have been skeptical of AAR's turnkey business model in the past. Now I have to wonder. If a turnkey network can't make money, how come the only part of ABC Radio Disney has held onto are the two turnkey networks (ESPN Radio and Radio Disney)? Maybe the problem isn't the business model after all; maybe it's incompetent execution.

Chad Lupkes said...

I'm starting to do research on the various radio markets, and I found something interesting in Dallas. Every single FCC license in Dallas has an expiration date of August 1, 2013. Is this normal? Shouldn't some of these frequency licenses turn over every few years to encourage variety?

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