Friday, November 02, 2007

Rumors, soundbytes and whatnot

Seems like forever since I actually wrote about liberal talk radio. As news was a bit slow in that department, and with so many other things going on, I got a little sidetracked.

So, after a week devoted to a 1938 radio drama, the pending Hollywood writers strike, Don Imus' semi-triumphant return and a Clear Channel/Bruce Springsteen boycott story that wasn't, it's time once again to return to what we do best. So, here goes.

First up is WCPT (850AM) in Chicago. And this one is not even up to rumor class yet. So far it's mere speculation, but Robert Feder of the Sun-Times is pondering it, so I will too. Anyway, WCPT is still chugging along and doing quite well, thank you. They are owned by Newsweb Corporation, headed by Fred Eyechaner, a well-known activist and fundraiser for the Democratic Party. The company also owns several other small stations in the area, including four FM outlets, three of which air an eclectic format called "Nine FM." They also own several AM stations, all but WCPT are leased out to Starboard Broadcasting, which runs a Catholic-oriented religious format called "Relevant Radio." Relevant Radio recently picked up another Chicago outlet, WNTD (which some of you may remember as the original Air America Radio affiliate in the Windy City for about a minute or two).

Well, the new signal came at just the right time for Starboard, as Newsweb informed them that they would not renew the lease on one of their stations, WAIT (820AM). The frequency will be vacated on November 25. Evidently, they're taking it back for their own purposes. Does this point to a possible move of their relatively successful progressive talk format to the much-stronger 820AM? An early Christmas gift, perhaps? At a robust 5000 watts, the 820AM signal does pack twice the punch of 850AM, with a centrally-located signal that covers the entire Chicago market and other nearby areas such as northwest Indiana (as far out as South Bend), Joliet, Rockford, Bloomington and even up into Wisconsin, as far north as Milwaukee. The 820AM frequency has had some success in years past, particularly when they were the original home of sports talker WSCR back in the 90s.

The hitch? While WAIT does have a much stronger signal, like 850 it's still a daytimer. While WCPT shuts down after dark for KOA in Denver, WAIT shuts down at sunset for the strong signal of WBAP in Dallas. That's part of the peculiar nature of AM radio and FCC regulations. Newsweb has been trying to get FCC approval for a 1500 watt nighttime signal for a while now, but so far have been rebuffed. Still, that daytime signal looks quite nice, and would allow WCPT to cover the entire market and then some. Milwaukee could actually get that progressive talk station they've wanted for so long.

Again, don't even think of quoting me on this, as if it were gospel or anything. I need to make this clear. It is still officially unclear what will become of WAIT, and if anyone does know, they aren't saying anything. But it sure looks like they have plans for it, and WCPT's progressive talk format, which has been doing decent in local ratings considering how weak their current signal is, must obviously be a consideration. It's either that or leasing it out to another entity, ala Relevant Radio. This situation merits keeping an eye on, and if I hear anything else about it, I'll let you know. Again, this is not even a rumor yet.

In other WCPT news, belated congrats and best of luck to Scott Foval, a blogger and writer who took matters into his own hands a few months back and is currently employed as a sales rep for WCPT and Nine FM. So if you're in the Chicagoland area, own a business and want to reach out to like-minded folks, let him or anyone else there know.

Elsewhere, I've been working on yet another entry about KLSD (1360AM) in San Diego. Yes, they're still doing progressive talk, in what has become perhaps the most drawn-out format flip in radio history. Rumors began to swirl back in August about a possible flip to sports. Station personnel even acknowledged it. And the most recent rumors pointed to a flip date of November 1. Well, it's November 2 now, and nothing's changed. This could be due to the chaos of last week's devastating wildfires, which seems to have upset many things around the area. Now the flip is rumored to be November 15. Adding fuel to the fire is morning host Stacy Taylor moonlighting on sister station KOGO (600AM) weeknights from 6-7PM. Whether this fits into his future plans is unknown at this time.

For the past couple weeks, I've had parts of a future KLSD entry in the can, but the fires of last week, the other events of this week and uncertainty about the fate of the station has kept it under wraps. In it, I'll fill you all in on the latest in regard to that HD Radio signal they've threatened to dump the programming on, plus a profile of other area stations, some that could possibly pick up the deposed format. I'll probably put it up over the weekend. I tend to keep many fragments of entries stashed away (ScribeFire for Firefox is a wonderful thing!) for future use, and in this case, I'll actually try to unleash it.

Finally, the fine folks at KUDO in Anchorage, AK have dropped a line to inform me of their revamped website, and what appears to be a revamped on-air lineup that consists of three local shows. Filling out the roster is the standard syndicated fare, including Stephanie Miller, Ed Shultz, Air America and "Democracy Now." And they've even added a webstream, too, so we can all get some of that 'northern exposure.' I'll add their local shows to the listings on the left, once I figure out the difference between Alaska time and Eastern time. Of course, with Daylight Savings Time coming to a close this weekend, and some states not recognizing it, such as Arizona, I'll also have to figure out what KPHX and other stations plan to do with their lineups.

Be patient, and set your clocks back an hour Saturday night.


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