Friday, November 30, 2007

All you need to know about WVKO

If everything goes as planned, Columbus, OH's new progressive talk station, WVKO (1580AM) should be up and running come Monday morning (12/3) at 6AM with The Bill Press Show. That is, barring any complications, such as satellite uplink issues.

Progress Ohio made the official announcement yesterday, and I posted an advance rumor about it earlier in the day. The grassroots effort to return the format to local airwaves comes after a dedicated year-long effort and a petition drive that yielded over a thousand signatures.

So far, the only issues standing in the way of the launch are logistical ones, mostly dealing with engineering and the satellite uplink, since most of the programming will consist of nationally-syndicated shows. The station already has a web domain reserved, and will also stream its programming. The fully-functional website will also have a message board.

At this time, the on-air lineup has been partially set. Press will air mornings 6-9, followed by two other shows from Jones Radio Networks - Stephanie Miller and Ed Schultz. Air America Radio's Randi Rhodes and Rachel Maddow will follow, creating a schedule consisting solely of live programming from 6A-8P. What follows after Maddow has yet to be determined, but it is expected that Lionel will be carried on delay. Overnights and weekends have yet to be determined.

"We're also doing a lot of local sports, although I'm not at liberty as yet to say what we'll have," WVKO General Manager and veteran radio executive Gary Richards told the Columbus Dispatch. "We're going to do a lot of news and local talk, too. Our studios are a block from the Statehouse. I'm always surprised there isn't more political talk on the radio locally."

Richards hopes listeners will tune in the new WVKO. "Especially with AM stations, you're kind of limited in what you can do," he said. "Music is a losing proposition on AM, and we had to find a niche, and we think there is one in political talk -- especially with 'something big' (the 2008 election) going on next year."

The station is currently owned by Dallas-based Bernard Ohio, LLC, which also purchased a few stations in Youngstown, OH earlier this year. Bernard purchased the broadcast license and resurrected the station earlier this year after the previous owner, who programmed various African-American-oriented formats over the years, took it off the air in May 2006 due to financial difficulties. Since it returned to the airwaves this past summer, WVKO has been testing its transmitter and most recently programmed a Spanish-language format. There were rumors that Bernard would air brokered programming on the signal.

The signal, at 3200 watts day/290 watts night, is not a very powerful one, but its centrally-located tower will cover the city of Columbus and most of Franklin County adequately (see graphic on right).

WVKO brings back a format previously carried by WTPG, a Clear Channel-owned station that sruprisingly dropped the format last December in the company's 'Ohio liberal talk purge' that also claimed company-owned stations in Cincinnati and Akron. WTPG became WYTS, carrying mostly conservative talk, and has since been struggling to match its predecessor's ratings. In the latest Arbitron unofficial trend report, they have completely dropped off the list and lost roughly 40% of its listening audience over the past few months (for those who put much faith in Arbitron's ratings methodology).

In short, wouldn't it be funny if the small, independently-owned WVKO punked WYTS in the ratings books? Past history would indicate that this is a strong possibility.


RussKC said...

Thanks for posting this, ltr.

There were actually over 6,000 signers on the petition. Each one has received an email informing them of the date and time of the flip (Monday 12/3 @ 6 AM ET). Instant audience.

Regarding beating Ingraham, Savage, and O'Reilly on WYTS ... Any amount of marketing will do that. ANY.

And we at Ohio Majority Radio already have a list of advertisers eager to see the Progressive Talk format back on the air. The list has been shared with the Sales/Marketing Manager at WVKO-AM. Instant advertisers.

Russ Childers
Ohio Majority Radio Chair

scurrvydog said...

Great Job Ohio Majority Radio! Now if we could get a progressive station in the only blue county in southwest ohio, Montgomery, home of Dayton, we would be well on the way to highlighting progressive thinking here in this part of ohio.

Brady Bonk said...

This post gives me an idea.

I think Air America Radio should seize upon this particular affiliate get as an opportunity to set a goal and to drive a campaign.

They've just sealed an affiliate in one state capital. How about the other 49?

Would it not be a good campaign to strive for an affiliate in every state capital? Doesn't such a goal lend clarity and purpose to an affiliate drive, not to mention a tremendous vision for national coverage and a mission statement you can utter in a few seconds?

I know it might not square for folks who know more about the radio bidness than I do, but then again, that's a conversation I think happens too much in the industry generally and at AAR: We can't do that because it won't work; THIS is what works in radio, so take your wacky ideas and on your bike. Who thought "The Air Americans" was such a great friggin' idea? Who thought canceling the Sedition was such a great friggin' idea?

AAR is an entire radio network dedicated to discussing public policy. It only makes sense for it to set a nationwide goal of a presence in every state capital in the nation (and a more powerful presence here in the Nation's Capital wouldn't be a bad idea either).

Just a thought.

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