Monday, October 22, 2007

Air America inks 11 new affiliates

NOTE: This entry will be updated as necessary.

They say it wouldn't happen. Evidently, all those affirmations and violated voodoo dolls must have convinced them that Air America Radio was dead.

Ehhh... not so fast.

Sure, it's been an uphill climb for Air America. It still is. Helping to build a new talk radio format practically from scratch is not a task for the timid. But rumors of the network's demise are currently unfounded. In fact, they issued a press release today announcing eleven new affiliates, in areas such as Washington, DC, Tampa, Tuscon, the Pennsylvania Poconos and even the capital of Alaska.

Granted, they're not all flamethrowers. Some of these stations are located in the middle of nowhere or broadcast with less power than a vacuum cleaner. But let's be real here - most of the big 50,000 watt big city torches are already doing well, and have no incentive to change their programming. It's likely that some of these new affiliates may only carry one or two shows. But the signing of these new affiliates does get their product on more stations, and that's never a bad thing. And after losing one station (KOKE in Austin was sold to a Spanish-language broadcaster who installed his own format) and soon to lose two more (KLSD in San Diego and KRFT in St. Louis, a mixed-bag talk station that will flip to sports in January), they could use a few in the plus column.

A few of the listed stations are already airing programming from the network. KJLL (1330AM) in Tucson, Arizona has carried Stephanie Miller for awhile, recently added Ed Schultz and are now airing Randi Rhodes at night. They also carry Dr. Laura, Tammy Bruce, Alan Colmes and infomercials.

The new 3WT is a three-station simulcast in the Washington, DC area. The station broadcasts via three signals, in Washington (1500AM), Warrentown, Virginia (107.7FM) and Frederick, Maryland (820AM). The new talk format launched late last month, and the programming covers the whole ideological spectrum. Rhodes holds down afternoon drive, and Bill O'Reilly and Neal Boortz are on as well. 3WT will soon grab Jones MediaAmerica's Stephanie Miller from weak-powered rival WWRC, which as of late has been more keen on adding brokered financial-related shows to the roster.

The other new additions include:

WTAN (1340AM), located in Clearwater, Florida and WDCF (1350AM), located northeast of Tampa. Both are locally co-owned, and supposedly heavy on paid programming. There is a third signal that was part of the simulcast, WZHR (1400AM), which overlaps with WDCF, but whether they are still part of this arrangement is unknown. On Monday, Tampa native Lionel was added on delay from 9PM to midnight weekdays, and they are negotiating to add Randi Rhodes' show in November. Other Air America programming could be used as filler for time slots that haven't been brokered out. These stations are not highly regarded in the Tampa Bay area, and it almost seems like yet another example of an eccentric local owner who relies mostly on brokered airtime and quick fix formats. The Gulf Coast of Florida is full of stations such as this, and they often tend not to be the most reliable affiliates. They also pull in very little as far as ratings are concerned. We shall see...

Incidentally, one reader claims that the Tampa Bay combo actually airs a fitness show that broadcasts live from a nudist resort. Not sure how that plays on radio, but hey, at least it's different.

KXLJ (1330AM) is a new sign-on in Juneau, Alaska, pumping out 10,000 watts across the tundra. The resident caribou and moose were obviously tired of sports talk. How much Air America figures into the station's programming is unknown.

Ditto for KKEE (1230AM) in Astoria, Oregon, located northwest of Portland. As of today, they are currently running a sports talk format, though this will obviously change.

WBDB (92.7FM) is licensed to Ogdensburg, New York. Air America claims the station serves Watertown, but it really doesn't. As of late, the station has been simulcasting a Top 40 sister that actually is in Watertown. No idea what they plan on doing with the Air America programming.

WVPO (840AM) Stroudsburg and WPLY (960AM) Mount Pocono are both in Pennsylvania. Like many radio concerns, Air America stretched the truth a bit about what market these stations serve. They claim that they're in the Philadelphia market, but that's wishful thinking. Both cover the Poconos, which is roughly 60 miles north of Philly, and these stations have a much greater chance of reaching Allentown, Wilkes-Barre, Scranton and northern New Jersey. Both of these stations, which simulcast and run a syndicated talk format, are owned by Nassau Broadcasting, which dropped progressive talk from WLVP in Portland, Maine in June, switching to sports talk. Incidentally, WLVP could possibly return to something similar to their previous format when their ESPN Radio contract expires next summer, since Nassau plans to switch two other signals in the market to simulcast Boston sports talker WEEI.

Keep in mind that any station that carries any Air America programming is considered an 'affiliate.' This is common practice in the industry. ESPN Radio, FOX Sports and others do this too. Initially, the idea was to persuade affiliates to take the whole lineup. When they realized that very few stations were willing to do that, they began offering shows ala carte, which is the method most syndicators use.

As for what shows these stations will carry, or when they will add Air America programming, that is not known, save for KJLL and 3WT. The stations that do have websites do not seem to update them. If there are any listeners in these areas that know what's going on, drop an email and let us know. I'll pass it along.


No Blood for Hubris said...

Come back to Boston!

rp1973 said...

WTAN is currently using "Music of Your Life" as filler around its paid programming. I don't think management is going to change anything for AAR programming. (For cryin' out loud, they air a weekly fitness show from a nudist resort. That's GREAT RADIO!)

If WTAN sticks to the current schedule posted on the station website, AAR will get an hour in the morning, an hour here and there in the afternoon and 10pm-5am. Good news if you're Jon Elliot, bad news if you're Lionel and Randi. Unless WTAN will tape delay Lionel for playback at 10 pm. Given Tampa is the market where he got his start, something tells me his show factored prominently in this deal.

rp1973 said...

According to St. Pete Times media columnist Eric Deggans' blog, WTAn will be airing Lionel on a 12 hour delay and it negotiating with AAR to clear an hour of Randi beginning in November.

ltr said...

Aside to Emacee - Until you stop using this blog and the rest of the internet in half-assed attempts to trash me, you and your narcissistic whining are not welcome here. Obviously, if you don't like me, then you don't like posting here. Got a problem with it? Take it to email. Or start your own blog and see if you can do better.

And to rp1973, I just want to thank you for the info. I thought I saw that thing about Lionel late last night, but couldn't find the link. I added it to the entry. Muchas gracias!

Incidentally, over the next couple days or so, I'll be adding updates.

Mr. French said...

*blink* AAR in the Poconos?? Wow... 'bout time! Only a few months after the 2004 "mandate" (s)election for the Shrub, we special-elected - by a scant 200 votes - a Democrat for a vacant State House Rep seat (former Repub seat, vacated due to scandal. Big surprise, eh?). That's despite him being outspent 5 to 1 by the replacement Repub, and getting crap for support from the state party. That was the first sign I'd seen that we were starting to outnumber the "gawrsh, I love that Bush guy, I kud have a beer widdim" crowd.
Those two stations, though, qualify for your vacuum-cleaner analogy; forget about Philly, their signal reaching Allentown will require luck and sunspots (I barely receive them in my house, just outside Stroudsburg, where they're based). But IT'S A START.
Now, maybe an under-performing outlet in Allentown is possible; and since the only opinion radio in that market is about two steps right of the KKK, it'd be a breath of fresh air.
I'll update when I can re those Pocono twins.

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