Friday, December 07, 2007

Ogdensburg ain't happenin' and other station news

Back in October, Air America Radio announced the signing of 11 new affiliates, in places such as Tampa Bay, Washington, DC, Tuscon, Astoria, OR and other places. So far, only one station has since backed out.

WBDB (92.7FM) in Ogdensburg, NY was one of the stations slated to pick up at least some Air America programming. Since then, they changed their plans and while they flipped to talk last week, the on-air lineup is as un-Air America as one gets, with names such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage and Don Imus now part of the new WQTK.

Basically, the station took on the talk format of sister station WSLB, as that station flipped to 24/7 sports.

So, scratch this one off the list.

Of the other stations mentioned, all but three have already added Air America programming. New station KXLJ (1330AM) in Juneau, AK has yet to sign on the air, but will carry the network's programming. Not much is known as of yet about WVPO (840AM) and WPLY (960AM) in the Pennsylvania Poconos. And a previously unannounced station, WVKO (1580AM) in Columbus, OH launched a progressive talk format earlier this week. The most recent change at WVKO was the addition of Thom Hartmann's show from 8-11PM, instead of the previously announced Lionel.

In other station news, as previously announced, KRFT (1190AM) in St. Louis, which carries a mix of liberal and conservative talk, including Randi Rhodes, will officially flip to sports on January 1, 2008.

Baton Rouge lost its progressive talk station earlier this week, as little daytimer WPYR (1380AM) flipped to gospel music. Owner Clear Channel evidently remembered that they actually owned this station, as they failed in their attempts to sell it earlier this year. No surprise here. This was one of the most neglected progressive talk stations in the country. How neglected? According to their website, you can still hear Jerry Springer and Al Franken weekdays. Yeah, the website's still up (surprise, surprise).

WTAA (1490AM) in Atlantic City is still an Air America affiliate, but the station has added the newly re-syndicated Don Imus in mornings, becoming the latest in the roster of the usual peashooter stations that typically carry his show.

And the deal to sell KOPT (1600AM) in Eugene, OR to Oregon Public Broadcasting for $500,000 should close within four weeks. Reportedly, talker Ed Schultz has been working with Oregon investors to put together a group to purchase the station, which became a financial drain when owner Churchill Media overextended themselves and spent a large sum of money in establishing a heavily local on-air presence. There is still hope for saving progressive talk in Eugene, as the group may bid for one of Churchill's two other AM stations in the market.


FSL said...

Eugene should be an ideal market for progressive talk. It's a shame to lose it. At the same time, I wonder why more public radio stations instead of dropping fine arts didn't pick up an AM station and keep fine arts on FM and put full time news and information on AM. Except for heritage public broadcasters that have been around since the 20s (WNYC and stations at land grant universities) this is the first time I've heard of a public broadcaster picking up an AM. If public radio had moved a few years ago, they might have the stations Salem now owns.

ltr said...

KOPT was as very ambitious operation. They had a full news department and several local airshifts. Unfortunately, running that kind of startup operation in a market like Eugene is an expensive proposition, and logistically, it would take a long time to break even on the investment. I commend Churchill and KOPT for what they did. Unfortunately, they probably could have yielded the same ratings results by running all syndicated talk (which BTW is an insanely cheap format to run).

As for public radio, many noncom outlets own multiple signals, usually on FM (not as much demand for the noncom band). In this market, I would assume that there either were no available FM signals or it was just cheaper to buy KOPT. I assume most public broadcasters would prefer to be on FM, and in some cases can merely apply for a translator frequency. These factors make it in some ways more desirable or easier to set up an FM station. In this case, buying an AM in Eugene was probably the best situation for them.

Public radio on AM is not widespread, but it exists. WHA in Madison is an example. And Minnesota Public Radio ran their news/talk programming on an AM signal in Minneapolis before they were able to acquire an FM in the market. They later sold the AM.

FSL said...

"Unfortunately, they probably could have yielded the same ratings results by running all syndicated talk (which BTW is an insanely cheap format to run)."

Any idea why they didn't do that rather than selling? Half a loaf is better than none.

Is public radio going to do an AM/FM simulcast or do separate programming on AM?

gregrocker said...

Losing St. Louis is a major blow in a crucial swing state. Regaining Columbus is equally important because it is in one of three key swing Ohio markets where progtalk was yanked right after Howard Dean credited them with helping to swing the election.

I am concerned about Los Angeles KTLK. They are increasingly replacing weekend programming with the infomercials that Clear Channel typically runs on its trashiest Southern stations. Last night I noticed for the first time that(Nazi blowtorch) sister station KFI was sharing its newscaster with them. Ed Schultz is completely buried in a sports preempt slot evenings by sports - they're even moving games from their other stations onto his slot. That he was their biggest ratings getter tells you how committed they are to the format.

When they try to lie again and say that advertisers wouldn't support the station, we need to hit them hard with the fact that they have a noticeable GLUT of advertisers, including United Airlines and Bank of America who WILL NOT advertise on right wing hate talk programming.

Where are the hearings by the Dem Congress to press ownership to begin bringing balance back to the AM dial? None of this would be happening if they were under siege by Congressional investigators wielding subpoenas to testify when they easily lie and say no advertisers while car dealers are calling into Stephanie Miller to say the ad dept. wouldn't return their calls (Madison).

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