Friday, October 12, 2007

The last KLSD rallying cry

Will they or won't they?

That's been the mantra from KLSD and Clear Channel San Diego for almost two months now, as they've been keeping their devoted listeners dangling as they have bickered internally about whether to ditch the whole liberal talk thing and just do the FOX Sports thing instead. Rumor has it, we should know for certain what will happen by next Monday, October 15.

But do they really know yet whether or not Air America et. al., stays?

In one last hurrah, KLSD listeners are organizing one "last big rally" in support of the format. Like the previous two rallies, which packed the parking lot of the station, this one will start at 6:30 this morning, San Diego time, with a bagpiper-led march to the station's studios. Most of it should get under way by 8:30.

Didn't know about it? KLSD's web site is promoting it too. Now wait a minute! Why are they hawking a protest rally against their station management? This question has left me puzzled too, and even made me question the whole 'flip to sports' thing as a rather crass publicity stunt. But that's Clear Channel for ya, and while the company is pretty damn large, they're also at times pretty damn weird. But hey, there's a rally this morning. And if nothing else, attendees can at least get some fresh air (if that's to be found in San Diego) and make some new friends.

But the underlying question, the elephant in the room, is this: Will they or won't they?

Syndicated talker Ed Schultz, who's show airs on KLSD weekdays, is not very optimistic about the whole situation. He hosted an online chat last weekend, and said point blank that the flip would happen. But that many inside the Murphy Canyon building, including program director Cliff Albert, are against dumping progressive talk.

In the chat, conducted via his official message board on Sunday night, Schultz says that his people are hearing that the flip will indeed happen.

"(T)he word we have here at the ESS, it's over... we'll be offered on an HD channel which is bullshit. Air America is trying to write a check but that's not going to work in the long run," he claimed.

As stated before, KLSD management is keeping mum about the station's fate. They still say that a decision has yet to be made, though many outside the station are claiming that a change in format could occur as soon as next Monday, October 15.

All in all, everything is vague. What could possibly be happening is that there are different factions involved, each with their own ideas of what to put on KLSD. Morning host Stacy Taylor claims that program director Cliff Albert is strongly in favor of keeping the format. Some say that some regional Clear Channel management types, and even the head office in San Antonio, want sports. But nobody really knows for sure. And if they do, they're not saying anything.

But it was a pretty good chat. And like Schultz's show, it was pretty straight-forward. He criticized the way many of his affiliates are and were run, essentially reduced to computers in a closet shuffling on-air programming and nobody paying attention to the many gaffes that often occur. He also singled out the Clear Channel operation in Cincinnati as the worst offender.

"Flipping the switch when you walk in the room is not how to run a radio station," Schultz said in his chat. "Most of the progressive talk stations are run like that. It's sad...I've seen it all over the country. Most stations are grossly under resourced and get little attention. The industry has lost alot of good people and with down sizing all over the country the low hanging fruit gets picked and we lose stations. It has nothing to do with ratings. It's the money. It takes attention to detail to make money in radio. We need to own stations and run them (like) we own them."

And with that, Schultz unveiled his own plan. It's time to take control and operate the stations themselves. "We are working on it. I want to put a group together and buy a station. I know we can do it. Who wants to sell, that's the question." Far from a pipe dream, he claims that he already has a lawyer looking in to it.

But that question, as asked several times here, remains: What the heck is going on at KLSD? Quite honestly, I have no idea. And I'm not so convinced that the station does either. Needless to say, they need to announce a decision soon. Dragging it out will do nothing but irritate their obviously devoted listeners.


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