Thursday, June 19, 2008

XM takes a 'left' turn, KIST takes a fall

In a not-so-surprising move, XM Radio is retooling it's "Air America" channel (XM167). Come July 14, the satellite provider brings back its former name - America Left.

The channel will still carry Bill Press, Ed Schultz, Randi Rhodes, Thom Hartmann and Mike Malloy. They are also adding Stephanie Miller and The Young Turks. Miller will likely take the 9A-noon shift currently held be Lionel. No word on what role the Turks, who left Air America earlier this year to do an internet-based afternoon show, play in this grand scheme. The show initially got its start on rival (and soon to be partner) Sirius. And there is no word on possible time shifts for the channel's current offerings.

Speaking of XM and Sirius, FCC chair Kevin Martin and other commissioners have indicated that they're willing to support the long ongoing planned merger between the two companies, with stipulations. Senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus are angling for concessions, such as allocating 4% of the combined company's broadcast spectrum, or twelve channels, to use for programming run by minorities and women. This proposal has been bandied about for awhile, and is quite vague at this point.

Meanwhile, on the left coast, R & R Radio, LLC is selling KIST (1340AM) in Santa Barbara to California Lutheran University for $1.44 million. The school, which owns local noncommercial NPR affiliate KCLU, will convert the station to noncommercial status, according to AllAccess.

The station was sold by Clear Channel a year and a half ago to Rincon Broadcasting. KIST was then spun off to its current owner. Throughout all the ownership changes, the popular progressive talk format remained, most likely due to its strong ratings. Since debuting in early 2005, the 650 watt KIST has been a mainstay in the top ten among stations in the market.

As for whether a station will pick up KIST's successful soon-to-be abandoned progressive talk programming, there is KBKO (1490AM), which is owned by Rincon and is currently in format limbo, duplicating the format and signal of conservotalker KTMS (990AM). There is also KZSB (1290AM), which airs mostly locally produced, block-programmed talk shows hosted by local residents.


Casey Buck said...

I'm guessing this is what their new schedule will be like:

6 AM-9 AM ET: Bill Press (Jones)
9 AM-noon ET: Stephanie Miller (Jones)
Noon-3 PM ET: Ed Schultz (Jones)
3 PM-6 PM ET: Randi Rhodes (Nova M)
6 PM-9 PM ET: Thom Hartmann (Air America, tape delayed)
9 PM-midnight ET: Mike Malloy (Nova M)

It's a pretty good lineup, resembling the lineup that many local affiliates use, with all the best progressive talkers in one place, plus all of the shows air in their entirety.

Unfortunately, in order to fit Hartmann in, and not trim an hour off his show (or Mike Malloy's show), it sounds like they'll be cutting out Rachel Maddow, or burying her in the middle of the night; they don't mention her on the XM announcement at all.

As for The Young Turks, I don't know where they will fit on the weekday lineup, unless it too will be buried in the middle of the night. Or perhaps, XM will air the TYT on the weekends instead (like they do with Left Jab, a XM-exclusive show).

FSL said...

Even when progressive talk is working, something happens to kill it. It's one thing for a "Grim Reaper" wing-nut PD or a rich sports team owner to kill a liberal talk station, but not public radio trying to expand just for the sake of expanding!

What's the point? California Lutheran is an out of market rim-shot with an FM repeater in Santa Barbara, doing public radio news and information. A local public radio station does a mix of public radio news and jazz. Plus they have to LA public radio outlets (Eclectic KCRW and Fine Arts KUSC) via FM repeaters. Public radio suits are as a prone to building empires as any corporate mogul. Cal Lutheran is non-profit so when they have money left over, they have to do something with it (like buy another station, whether or not the market needs another public radio station).

tmode93 said...

I try to like the current incarnation of Rachel Maddow's show but the 1st hour MSNBC simulcast doesn't do it for me. I hope XM does repeat Hartman's program in full from 6-9pm and begin airing Mike Malloy LIVE !!

Welcome back America Left.

Anonymous said...

Taking away Maddow is just silly. She's the only breakout star in the lefty talk universe. She probably has more fans than Randi (with many of her TV fans attempting to find her on the radio) and now XM takes her off? Silly. They should run her show and push Malloy back into the night.

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