Sunday, October 14, 2007

The San Diego snowjob

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

Hunter S. Thompson said that famous quote about the recording industry. If he were still among us, he could have easily used it to describe the world of broadcasting. Radio is a very dirty business. It's full of sleazy money-hungry backstabbers, who think nothing of teasing and leading on, only to give the big "fuck you" when they're all done and gotten their jollies.

Well, at least that's the way it seems at Clear Channel headquarters in San Diego.

For almost two months now, the management of progressive talker KLSD have been coy about a proposed change in format to sports talk. Rumors began leaking in August, and since then, there has been a massive groundswell of support, three rallies, the website, a petition and vague reassurances from program director Cliff Albert that they are indeed trying to save the format.

Sorry, but this kind of tease shouldn't drag on for two months. Especially with a company as big as Clear Channel. Because when all is said and done, it looks like they're going to flip anyways, and AM1360 will become the third sports station in San Diego come November 1. reported the rumor Friday. I didn't believe it, since they have already cried 'wolf' too many times. But then the San Diego Union-Tribune pretty much confirmed a talent raid of local sports outlet XEPRS 1090 ("XX Sports Radio"). Bob Bolinger, vice president and market manager of Clear Channel San Diego, confirmed that longtime XX host Chris Ello had been signed to a contract, but declined further comment.

Let's face it, Ello, Hacksaw Hamilton, Dave Palet and whoever else they've tapped aren't being hired for the FM music stations the company owns. And they aren't being hired for the cluster's conservotalk stations either. All fingers point to AM1360. Sorry KLSD fans - you've been had. You've been chewed up and spit out, treated like a Tijuana hooker.

Keep in mind, this same company couldn't make the sports format work when they programmed it on XETRA (690), at 77,000 watts one of the most powerful AM signals in North America. For over ten years. And now they think it will work on the little peashooter that is 1360.

Now, this isn't all about the flip to sports. Formats change all the time in radio, especially on underpowered AM stations owned by mammoth corporations with low patience and itchy trigger fingers. It's the way they're doing it that's just plain shitty.

Here's the latest scribe from Program Director Cliff Albert, via the KLSD website:

Thanks for your support to keep the progressive talk voice alive. As I told our listeners at the Friday morning rally where I tried to directly address their concerns, their feedback has had an impact, even if sports talk were to move onto 1360.

In fact, the strong support from our listeners over the last several weeks prompted us to look into several alternative ways to keep the progressive talk format alive in San Diego. While various options are under consideration, final decisions are still being made.

However, we do expect a decision and an announcement very soon about the future of our Progressive Talk format in San Diego.

Thanks again for your support. We will keep you informed.

So, if one were to read between the lines of this directive, they would derive that Albert already knows what's going on, and probably has for some time. And the "several alternative ways" and "future of our Progressive Talk format" basically means that, as rumored, that stuff's going to HD Radio, on the subchannel of one of their FM stations. At least that's what I get out of it, and what some, including Ed Schultz are already saying.

Keep in mind that a move to HD means that anyone desiring to listen to it will have to shell out $200 for a radio that may or may not work. Want to listen in the car? Better be prepared to install an aftermarket deck. Regular radios won't get it. And Stacy Taylor? An HD station won't have local talent. Likely, it will be a straight feed of Air America, with maybe Schultz's show thrown in. And for all of this, Clear Channel San Diego has pulled off the tease of the century. A big middle finger thrown out to their devoted listeners. Gee, how nice.

In the world of radio, stations usually just up and switch formats with little to no warning. Sometimes, they give a little time to say farewell. But I don't ever recall a long drawn-out period where they tease a 'will they or won't they' move, publicize support rallies on their own websites, put supporters of the format on the air, and even asking inane poll questions on the site asking, "are rallies helping?" Especially if they already know the answer. Stacy Taylor and others at the station have denied time and time again that this was all just a cynical ploy. I even gave them the benefit of the doubt. But all of this smacks of the biggest, sleaziest, cruelest tease that I have ever seen committed by a radio entity. And believe me, I've seen some pretty nasty stuff done in the name of our nation's airwaves.

Keep in mind, I don't blame Taylor for this. He's done a lot to help save the format, at the possible risk of his job. I don't blame the rank and file working at the station. It seems that the format has had a lot of support inside the building. As for Albert, I don't know. He's claimed time and time again that he's fighting to save the format. But this big long tease has been a major slap in the face to the many that fought so hard for them, and gotten nothing out of the deal but a crappy HD channel few can conceivably listen to. And even as he claimed as recently as Friday that no decision had yet been made. That means he lied. And that's sleazy.

So a middle finger right back at 'ya, courtesy of yours truly, and likely many of your devoted listeners. Thanks for nothing.


gregrocker said...

I keep wondering what the situation had been if Dem committee chairs like Kucinich had kept their promises to Ed, Randi and Al and started pressuring ownership immediately after the 06 election - with high profile hearings that exposed the right's takeover of the AM dial, questioning of the hosts like Rush where his biggest lies were put on display for all to weigh, even examining in real-time the dumping of progressive formats on phony premises like they couldn't sell ads, when in fact advertisers couldn't get their calls returned and most shut CC affiliates never tried selling ads.

Instead we have Kucinich coming back on Ed's show to showcase his vanity Presidential campaign, and no calls allowed to challenge his lethargy on the issue. The Dems are so witless on this that I have come to the conclusion they don't even know what hit them, and what will steamroll them once again in the 08 election.

This is a dirty disinformation operation that makes Goebbels look small time. They stole this country and no one seems to care. And they're flipping us off with San Diego, all of the format switches after the 06 Dem "victory," even the rollout of clunker Dennis Miller on 150 stations right after Nov 06, while ratings getter Ed was being dumped all over.


Craig C Clarke said...

Why would a city need THREE sports radio stations? A city with no NFL franchise?

ltr said...

No NFL franchise?

Never heard of the Chargers? Even after LaDanian Tomlinson's 4 TD's today? Wearing that ugly-ass powder blue uniform?

Uhh... sorry for the sports talk, gang. Just testing out a possible flip to sports. I figure I might be able to increase my own revenue here.

BTW: Just kidding.

raccoonradio said...

>> A city with no NFL franchise?

That would be L.A.

Dennis Miller a clunker? He's on
WOR now in NYC. We'll have to
see how Steph (starting in Jan.)
and Randi do on the new WWWT in
D.C., btw.

Broken promises? Like how the Dems
were going to bring troops home?
Even if/when Hillary gets elected
would they all be home by...2013?

Admittedly CC didn't do its job
on selling advertisers or programming some of its stations
(Boston, for example) with daily
local talkers, though KLSD had Stacy, etc. (Stacy btw was briefly heard in Boston when 96.9 FM
Talk, WTKK, launched 9/99).

One could always try to bring back the unconstitutional Fairness
Doctrine (basically a restriction
of Freedom of the press). I'd be
for the FD if it meant Coulter
gets to co-host with Olbermann,
Rush and Katie bring you the
CBS Evening News, and just as many conservative documentaries hit the screen as liberal ones. That's fair.

ltr said...

An October 16th update for all of you:

The Union-Tribune is claiming that KLSD's new sports format will debut October 28, according to an internal memo sent out last night by a Clear Channel San Diego vice president. The station will become "XTRA Sports 1360" and feature live and local programming each weekday from 6AM. to 7PM.

Air America Radio will be moved to HD Radio at 105.3-3.

I'll have more later on, possibly late tonight or early tomorrow.

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