Tuesday, August 28, 2007

KLSD rally draws hundreds of listeners

Yesterday's early morning rally outside of Clear Channel's San Diego complex was deemed by many to be a success, as a crowd of roughly 500 people showed up to fight for their favorite station.

In addition, almost 1,200 people have signed a petition calling on Clear Channel to keep KLSD’s progressive talk format. Clear Channel executives have also been deluged with thousands of e-mails, virtually all in favor of keeping the format, rumored to be replaced, on the San Diego airwaves. Program director Cliff Albert, just returning from a vacation, came home to 847 emails in his inbox, all supportive of the format.

Morning host Stacy Taylor greeted the protesters on-air (audio here, here and here), and also played host to others, such as Air America Radio/KLSD host Jon Elliott, KTLK's Bree Walker, local politicians and others. The promotions department of the station itself even set up a tent in the parking lot. Albert himself even addressed the crowd, trying to explain what was happening.

“Clear Channel has no agenda to shut down progressive voices,” Albert said at the rally. Albert was the one who brought the format to KLSD in 2004 and even chose the call letters, both of which he said he is proud of. According to station insiders, consideration of a format change is motivated solely by fallen ratings in the recent Arbitron book and concerns over advertising dollars. No decision has been made about the fate of the station.

Other station insiders disagree, as at least one has claimed that its three year old progressive talk format has always met or exceeded its revenue goals. Ratings, save for the last fluke book, have been about as good as can be expected for a small AM station in a heavily radioed market. Taylor claimed on his show last Friday that a recent market survey showed that KLSD's listeners are more affluent than any other station in town.

So, who's behind all these rumors anyways? And where did they come from? That seems to be the million dollar question, and nobody's providing any answers. Taylor, who has devoted a large amount of time to KLSD's fate on the air, claims that many people in the building are supportive of the format, including office personnel, promotions, people at sister stations and even the sales department.

A domain name, xtrasports1360.com, was reserved by a station employee, Mike Costa, who appears as a sideline reporter and sports commentator on sister station KOGO's play-by-play coverage. This is likely where the rumors started. Granted, a domain name can be registered for as little as the amount of a pack of cigarettes. The name also makes no sense, as the "Xtra Sports" moniker, utilized when the format was carried on XETRA (690AM) is no longer used by Clear Channel in Southern California. Why revive it, especially since XETRA (no longer run by Clear Channel) still exists, albeit under a Spanish language news format?

Some fingers are pointing at the building's upper management. The general manager of KLSD and sister station KOGO is reportedly rather conservative, and dislikes KLSD's format. The general sales manager is a bottom-line guy who likes selling sports formats.

And, of course, many fingers are pointing east, to San Antonio, Clear Channel's corporate home. All involved in the situation deny that any directive has been sent from head office to ditch progressive talk. And with Clear Channel struggling to gain government approval of their proposed effort to sell the company to Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners and go private, it is highly unlikely the company would do anything to attract more controversy to their programming practices. In recent format flips from progressive talks, there are no signs whatsoever that the directive came from San Antonio. Those decisions seem to have been made at the local or regional level (Clear Channel's corporate structure is very, very complicated).

So, the bottom line is this: Who is making the decision to axe KLSD? Is the flip going to happen (everyone involved claims that no final decision has been made)? And finally, will the grassroots effort work? So far, things are looking somewhat positive. The outcry so far has rivaled or even exceeded the backlash that WXXM in Madison received when they tried to install a sports talk format. And we all remember what eventually happened there.

So for now, concerned listeners can sign the petition to save the format, visit saveklsd.com, NonStopRadio.com or their Yahoo! group. And most of all, support the station's many advertisers, who are really the voice that station management listens to. After all, money talks.

KLSD has more about the rally, including photos and even video on their website. Also read the excellent article at Brad Blog.


Ashif said...

Yep, Clear Channel is certainly doing it's best to impede progress of Progressive radio. We in Canada cannot even listen anymore to any of the Clear Channel stations online [KLSD, KPOJ, WINZ, etc.] because of so called "Licensed Content". Geez I wonder why this does not apply to KPTK, WCPT, etc.????

ltr said...

I've heard about that. However, I don't believe that to be exclusive to just their progressive talk stations. It could be related to royalty payments to music publishers, etc. or other various legal reasons.

It may be an issue primarily with music stations, but with talk radio, it could be related to the syndicated content that they run. Likely, this is all legal stuff. Perhaps by default, CC just restricts all of their streams to the U.S.

I know that many British radio stations in do not offer their webstreams outside of the U.K. for similar reasons, save for some of the biggies like the BBC and a few others. Some domestic radio stations try to limit their webstreams to local audiences (KLOS in Los Angeles is one example). Progressive talker KTNF in Minneapolis asks for zip code verification. I don't think this has anything to do with the progressive talk format.

In the meantime, you could try a non-Clear Channel station. I don't live in Canada, so I'm not sure what comes in there and what doesn't.

Lu Cifer said...

“Clear Channel has no agenda to shut down progressive voices,” oh cracker please! So, why did CC *refuse* to syndicate Randi Rhodes from 1290 WJNO, even to Miami (she was on WINZ 940, where she is now again ironically, from late 2000 until A WEEK AFTER 9/11, then it flipped to...FOX SPORTS!) or even to Ft. Pierce (she was on WJNX but it's now a "Regional Mexican" format...in a market that hardly has a Hispanic population. (People up here on the Treasure Coast & Okeechobee can get The Goddess & more on WINZ 940 now, thankfully!) Also, remember this story http://www.buzzflash.com/interviews/03/01/03_Rhodes.html where by oxyRU$Hilter Lardbutt blocked her from getting syndicated by blackmailing CC, saying he'd take his show elsewhere if they syndicated Randi?! (Well Blimpo, CC didn't end up syndicating Randi, but she IS on SOME CC stations, so, why don't you follow through and LEAVE CC! How about leave radio all together ya lyin' sack of crap!) I'm just glad to me and the rabid Randi psycho fans did what we could, emailed the shit out of station managers (some stations that she's even on now, like the Quake, so hey, it did seem to work!) and remember people, if there's a local liberal host in your area who's not syndicate, like Neil Rogers, Lynn Cullen, Stacy Taylor, etc., keep trying and NEVER give up! I didn't...

Michael said...

The only thing more inexplicable than people trying to impede liberal talk is people trying to impede the Internet.
Some people seem unwilling to take advantage of an opportunity and to act in their own self-interest. Sometimes you have to lead the horse to water AND make it drink.
Some say "let the market decide." But the people we are talking about here are not responding to the market. There are few customer-focused and satisfaction-driven businesses in this country - and NONE of them are in radio industry.
Eighty percent of adults don't smoke and they don't want to eat dinner in second-hand smoke, but the restaurant industry still fights going smoke-free (and says let the market decide).
Polls and election results suggest the market for liberal talk radio should be about as large as the market for wing-nut talk. Radio won't let the market decide.

Ashif said...

Thanks "ltr" for your response...makes sense to me now...I live in Vancouver, Canada and do listen to progressive radio a lot. The only main progressive stations I could listen online right now are KPTK, WCPT, KPHX and WWRL. I can pick up KPTK 1090 from Seattle on the AM dial and also KGO 810 San Francisco at nights when Bernie Ward comes on.

Michael said...

ashif: You might try listening through a proxy server in the US.

raccoonradio said...

speaking of the rally, this from Tom Taylor's (free) subscription-only column for radio-info.com...I can't give you the whole
quote but Tom says that "Monday's lunchtime rally" drew hundreds of fans and admits that Clear Channel has gotten
some half decent ratings/money from the station but would like to get more. They're dangling the idea of going sports,
but Taylor says things like the lunchtime rally and sales managers wearing out some shoe leather selling ads can
help keep it prog talk.

Taylor: "Various people doing progressive/liberal talk have hinted to me about the difficulty of selling to national advertisers, and have even more darkly hinted that there’s been pressure applied not to advertise with a libtalker."

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