Saturday, June 30, 2007

Well, that was a big success

A mere six months after the beginning of Clear Channel's purge of liberal talk from their Ohio stations, it looks like the move has more or less backfired.

And in Cincinnati, the much-ballyhooed replacement for progressive talk is already out the door.

WSAI, which dumped liberal talk in December for what appeared to be a rather half-assed 'advice talk' format, evidently realized that the move was a spectacular failure. In essence, nobody really gave a shit about the new format, especially advertisers. What's next? Come Monday, say hello to ESPN1360. Yes, you read that right. WSAI, which actually found a little stability, though far from spectacular ratings with progressive talk, will now shift to the 'AM radio band-aid,' namely sports off the satellite. They've already got WCKY ("The Homer"), which has a mostly local presentation, lots of play-by-play and overnight brokered religious shows. And they had to steal the ESPN affiliation from a little AM station outside Cincy. The new ESPN1360 gives WCKY a complimentary signal and gives would-be competitors less of a reason to compete with their own sports formats (after all, cluster-based radio ownership has more or less evolved into some sort of chess game).

The outgoing format, dubbed "The Source" was a disaster in the making. After Clark Howard, Dr. Laura, Dr. Joy Brown and a few local gardening/car repair shows, there just wasn't enough stuff to put on the air. The solution? Rerun Clark Howard's show the next day. In morning drive. Ugh. And add that famed how-to guy Neal Boortz at night. Needless to say, there were likely more birds hovering around the tower than there were listeners hearing this boring train wreck. Needless to say, The Source was a dud.

Up I-71 in Columbus, the replacement for the old WTPG was third-tier conservotalk as WYTS. After progressive talk actually put the 1230 frequency on the map for the first time since their Top 40 heyday as WCOL and got somewhat decent ratings (relatively speaking), WYTS is languishing at the bottom of the ratings heap. That is, when it actually does show up on the list.

WARF in Akron was the third Ohio Clear Channel to ditch the format. Overall ratings are down by half, but it's too soon to really tell what's going on there. Besides, sports talk is one of those formats that are ratings-proof, since they superserve a narrow demographic. Which makes it attractive to near-invisible AM stations. They don't have to show up in the ratings.

Perhaps they should all just turn off their transmitters and save the electricity.


Missy said...

>Perhaps they should all just turn off their transmitters and save the electricity

Better yet, Clear Channel should sell these placeholder stations to some mom and pop owners who will provide competent management and promote the product.

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