Thursday, August 07, 2008

Weekly update: Pigskin, primadonnas, parting ways and popularity

And here it is, once again, this week's catch-all entry, for all the stuff I haven't already mentioned.

First off, a venture off topic to do a little ranting. And I'll start with a question: Am I the only person in Wisconsin who isn't kissing Brett Favre's ass?

In case you've been living under a rock recently, the Packers finally parted ways with their primadonna pain-in-the-ass quarterback, dumping him on the hapless New York Jets late last night for a conditional draft pick. Of course, Packers fans in the Badger State are mixed, with way too many misguided souls actually condemning team management for cutting him loose. The way I see it, they had no other choice.

Here's the background: Last spring, amongst a heavy amount of hoopla, Favre finally announced his retirement after three previous seasons of hemming and hawing. At the time I thought it was an effective way to make a classy exit from the game, just as Troy Aikman, John Elway and Jerome Bettis had done in recent years. The Packers made plans to retire his number during the opening game of the season against their heated rival the Minnesota Vikings. And they moved on with Favre's understudy Aaron Rogers behind center, as had been their plan for the past three years. It was all supposed to be so seamless, and it appeared that way.

Then, about a month ago, the oft-indecisive Favre created a P.R. shitstorm when he changed his mind. He toyed with the idea of coming back. Now, of course, the Packers look like the bad guy when they don't coddle the guy, even though Favre should know by now that the team has to move on, and already had. If he didn't realize that this is what happens in the NFL (or any other team sport), then he's been sniffing too many fumes from his tractor. So what happens next? A long drawn-out ordeal where Favre issues an ultimatum: Either he gets his starting position back from the Packers, or he gets released or traded. To add insult to injury, the Vikings were reportedly at the top of his list. Finally, Packers GM Ted Thompson drew a line in the sand, saying that the team had moved on, and Favre was not part of the game plan. Hey, welcome to the NFL. Yesterday, they turned him back from training camp as soon as he arrived. And later that night, they struck a deal with the Jets.

What do I think? Thompson and company made the right decision. They had to. Sure, the suck-up media in Wisconsin will pillory them for having the audacity to trade The Messiah for a conditional draft pick, but Favre and his minions have to realize that the world does not revolve around him. The team will likely still be around long after he's dead. And the naïve souls who claim they will no longer support the team without Favre are delusional. Favre went back on his word.

For the past decade and a half, Favre has been living in a bubble. The Wisconsin sports press has constantly kissed his ass over that period of time. But Wisconsinites have long put Packers quarterbacks on a pedestal. Hey, wasn't Don Majkowski supposed to be the second coming? Now that Favre is headed for a rather vicious media market (then again, all of the media markets outside of Wisconsin are rather blunt toward professional athletes), perhaps he will finally experience a good healthy dose of reality. He's no longer living in a protective bubble.

Paris burns

Okay, now that that's all done and you have all indulged my little sports rant, it's time to get down to the business at hand. Let's start with another primadonna, this one named named Paris Hilton. Now, a few weeks ago, the increasingly desperate presidential campaign of John McCain went all-out in the name of pure insanity. Now, we all know that since Republicans typically don't have any good ideas, the only other alternatives are pseudo-patriotic jingoism and, if that doesn't work, childish name-calling matches. And that's about the best they can do against challenger Barack Obama. One of their most recent ads, approved by the McCain camp, tries to draw an association between Obama's popularity and that of overexposed media tarts like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. Now, the ad is stupid even among typical GOP ads. Just moronic. So much that even the Obama campaign is laughing at them. Hilton's people even demanded depictions of her be removed from the ad, citing unauthorized use.

And on Tuesday, Paris bit back. Granted, most people could likely care less what the hell Paris Hilton thinks about anything (hopefully). But hey, she was dissed by a presidential candidate, so I guess she has every right to release her own YouTube rebuttal. Fair enough.

In the past day or so, over four million people saw this:

"Hey, America, I am Paris Hilton and I am a celebrity, too," says Hilton, dressed in an over-the-top, skimpy leopard-print swimsuit. "Only I am not from the olden days and I am not promising change like that other guy. I am just hot."


It begins with a narrator intoning that McCain is "like, super old. Old enough to remember when dancing was a sin and beer was served in a bucket." Images of Larry King, "Star Wars" Yoda and the "Golden Girls" flash on screen.

"But is he ready to lead?" asked the narrator, stealing a line from McCain's own hit on Obama.

Hilton, reclining poolside while reading a copy of Conde Nast traveler, then appears on screen and slams McCain "as that wrinkly white haired guy (who) used me in his campaign ad."

"Which I guess means I am running for president - so thanks for the endorsement, white-haired dude," chirps Paris. "And I want America to know that I am, like, totally ready to lead."

In case you're interested, she already has an energy policy, though space restrictions (and general disinterest) obviously keeps me from going into detail about it here. As much as I could care less about Paris Hilton (trust fund babies-turned amateur porn stars bore me), it was a pretty funny response, and one just deserved. The perfect response to the idiotic state of attack politics nowadays.

Megamedia paring down

Following the recent consummation of the Clear Channel sale to a pair of venture capital firms, the company's new owners are looking to trim a little fat. So far, 55 radio stations will be spun off into a transitional group called “Aloha Trust,” to satisfy federal regulations and to trim a little fat. So far, markets such as San Jose, Cleveland, Austin, Long Island and various small markets will bid 'aloha' and are on the selling block. There are no progressive talk stations on the list of stations (the KABQ in Albuquerque that is listed is the FM sister of the popular AM progressive talk station).

Meanwhile, CBS, the second biggest radio owner, is also looking to scale down. President/CEO Leslie Moonves announced last week that the company is looking at selling off roughly 50 stations in various mid-sized markets, in order to concentrate on their bigger market clusters and most reliable cash cows. There is no specific list of stations to be cast off, but markets such as Baltimore, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and others could be affected. One company rumored to be a buyer is Saga Communications, who's CEO, Ed Christian is interested. "There is some tremendous inventory going on the market," he said. For those of you keeping score at home, Saga is a fairly loyal backer of the progressive talk format, and carries it on seven of their stations. Earlier this year, they flipped KBAI in Oregon to the format, and are satisfied with the format's performance on their other stations. However, not a whole lot should be read into any of this, as there are only rumors about Saga's possible interest in some of the stations, and CBS hasn't even released an official list.

Among the small struggling AM stations reported to soon be cast off include WJFK in Baltimore, WFNZ in Charlotte, KXNT in Las Vegas, KCMD in Portland, KHTK in Sacramento (a good market for progressive talk). Shockingly, there are some big signals that may make the list, such as KDKA in Pittsburgh and KMOX in St. Louis. Again, it's all speculation at this point, and a lot of grasping at straws, but it deserves to be put out there.

Ratings roundup

As has been the case for awhile, there really isn't a whole lot of movement in local ratings for progressive talk stations. No dramatic ups-and-downs, and for some of the more recent converts, such as KMNY in Dallas, it's too soon to tell. One of the most notable results so far is in Columbus, where WVKO slightly topped the former progressive talker in the market, WYTS (formerly WTPG) by a mere tenth of a share. Considering that WVKO is a pretty small-time operation, while WYTS is part of the Clear Channel empire, it's still somewhat of an accomplishment.

And I received this from a reader, who also happens to work for WINZ in Miami:

...In the newly issued Miami ARB, Nicole's morning show has topped sister conservative talk WIOD's morning drive in the core talk demo of 25-54 men, and was just behind them 25-54-WINZ scored a 1.3 in that demo, while WIOD, which has traditionally been Miami's leading English language news-talker, scored a 1.4.

As one who contributes to the show, and who has filled in for Nicole when she's been away, I can assure you that this is an especially noteworthy achievement because Nicole does it all herself--hosts, produces, everything. She has a call screener for help and that's it. This ratings win also came with virtually no outside promotion. Meanwhile, WIOD has a heavily staffed morning show with a ton of news and services.
Not bad. Congrats to Nicole, Jim and the rest of the gang at WINZ for what looks like a really good ratings book.

And finally...

Air America mid-morning host Lionel has his first book being published this week: "Everyone's Crazy Except You and Me ... and I'm Not So Sure About You."

And how about closing with a football-related item? Liberal talker WLBY, located in Ann Arbor, hotbed of University of Michigan Wolverines, will carry football games from their heated rival, the Michigan state University Spartans. The station will carry all 12 games from the Spartan Radio Network.


Bob Kincaid said...

As a buddy of mine noted, Brett Favre went to sleep thinking he'd wake up to the visage of smiling Chucky on TV welcoming him to Tampa. Instead, he woke up to find himself in a real horror movie involving a move to NYC and the hapless, hopeless J-E-T-S, JetsJetsJets.

The whole affair is both annoying and sorta mid-life crisis sad. It's annoying for the light it's shed on the inner business of the NFL and sad because I can only imagine Brett decided to come back after spending a couple of months being "normal." Poor feller probably ran screaming from the farm.

In the main, I hope (though that's all I have) that Favre will be OK; "OK" as in doesn't-get-crippled-for-life in the first three games. There's nothing to suggest that he has any sort of infrastructure with which to work in NY. By "infrastructure" I mean "line," and by "with which to work" I mean "to keep him from getting mauled."

Meanwhile, come September 27, there won't be a bigger Badger fan in America than me. "Fuck 'em, Bucky" has special meaning for me in light of former WVU Coach DickRod's having run off to Ann Arbor. Rodriguez proved himself an especially sleazy piece of work and a nice Badger drubbing for Rodriguez in his inaugural season is in order, at least where us diehard Mounties are concerned.

I'll be hoping the gang from Camp Randall can do their part to be one of the "L"'s in what I hope will be no more than a two-win season for Ol' Blue.

raccoonradio said...

Radio and Records says WWWT 1500/107.7 ("3WT") in Washington DC
is dropping talk (no more Steph Miller, Randi Rhodes; Beck, O'Reilly,
Boortz also now homeless in the nation's capital)

ltr said...

Obviously raccoonradio thinks he's the only person in the world who reads the radio trade journal sites.

rp1973 said...

I heard Jon Elliott mention last week that he is paring his show back to two hours so he can concentrate on efforts to return progressive radio to San Diego.

Both his AAR page and his program's home page haven't been updated for a couple of weeks.

Any other information available on that development?

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