Tuesday, August 19, 2008

WPTT follows the money

Come September 1, Pittsburgh radio listeners will be without anything resembling liberal talk.

WPTT (1360AM), which carries a wide mix of talk programming, including local talker Lynn Cullen and syndicated offerings from liberal hosts such as Thom Hartmann and Alan Colmes, and conservatives Laura Ingraham and Mike Gallagher, will drop their present format and flip to business talk with the WMMY call letters.

Cullen, who has been with the station for a decade, will end her WPTT show on August 29, but she is open to picking up another local talk radio gig. She has already received feelers from other stations.

WPTT management cites the heavy competition from talkers KDKA and WPGB-FM. "It was slicing the talk pie pretty thin, and we just found that, quite honestly, it was like trying to push a boulder uphill," said Alan Serena, vice president and marketing manager for the station's owner, Renda Broadcasting. The format change has nothing to do with the content of any of WPTT's current programming.

Cullen, 60, had been told by management that she had the only program on WPTT that was bringing in significant ad revenue, much of it from such bedrock sponsors as Little's Shoes and Castle Windows. "The station is on for 24 hours, but my three hours were the only revenue-producing hours," she said.

Serena acknowledged her drawing power and said that when the station dropped talk-show host Doug Hoerth in December, it was partly because it hoped to cut costs enough to allow Cullen's program to survive.


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