Thursday, September 15, 2005

Investors seek to bring AAR to smaller communities

The co-founders of Air America are forming a company to buy rural radio stations to spread the reach of the liberal-oriented radio network. Northbrook (IL) venture capitalists Anita and Shelley Drobny, who retain a minority interest in Air America, are seeking to raise an initial $5 million to buy eight or nine stations in communities with fewer than 100,000 residents.


Anonymous said...

Could someone suggest 1400 AM in Erie Pa? Or maybe a more powerful London, Ontario (Canada) station?

Anonymous said...

AAR has to go to smaller markets. They are getting killed in the big city markets. Maybe if they show some ratings in smaller areas, they can get big backers later. Even here in San Fransico, AAR is barely in the top 10, and sliding.

ltr said...

Not being in the top 10 in a market like San Francisco is not, I repeat not failure (for the record, they're tied with sister conservative talker KNEW at #22 overall in the most recent ratings). And overall rankings mean nothing to a station except for bragging rights. It all boils down to how a station is doing in demographic breakdowns (which Arbitron, unfortunately, rarely releases to the public).

Overall, KQKE is doing fairly decent. At least as decent as can be expected for an upstart AM station. They're not a world-beater, and they'll likely never topple KGO in the ratings. But they have shown an upward trend in the ratings.

Keep in mind, syndicated bartered talk (which describes all the shows on KQKE) is a very cheap format to run. There are no salaries to pay any of the talk talent. Very low overhead. All that is asked is that the network keeps ad time to sell themselves. The rest is just gravy, after contributing a little toward the light bill. Being a part of a huge market cluster like Clear Channel San Francisco makes it very easy to be successful (as in make money).

Also keep in mind that this is a slow-growth format. Most success will not happen overnight. After all, it took Rush Limbaugh years to migrate from tiny stations to the big 50KW flamethrowers he's on today.

Personally, I think the whole liberal talk format is doing very well across the country. Definitely better than anyone could have predicted. And I think critics of the format should take a look at the whole picture instead of poo-pooing it because KQKE isn't pulling the same ratings as KMEL or KGO.

Anonymous said...

I must agree with you about the low overhead. Not having a host and salaries can help the bottom line.
I'm currently not a fan of the people they have on the air for AAR. Most of the time I hear way too much complaining without offering a way to fix it.

Dino said...

Well, I think a good location would be Columbia, MO. There would be absolutely no like format in the entire state, which would make them unique. Plus, the town is home to the University of Missouri, Columbia College and Stephens College (liberal arts college). In the last election, Bush beat Kerry by 178 votes out of more than 75,000 votes cast.

Columbia has about 100,000 people with surround Boone County has a total of a quarter million residents. With a large enough transmitter, it could reach Jefferson City (capital of MO) which is only 30 miles away.

There is a very large and organized progressive movement within Columbia and Boone County that would serve well as a listener base for AAR. That is there is some sort of initial marketing plan to make folks aware of their new radio choice (right now, there is none).

Anonymous said...

In MN the AAR station just barely gets a 1.2 rating with almost zero competition for the Progressive Audiance. Half a dozen stations battle for the Conservatives and even competing with the big gun, Limbaugh, they all manage to have respectable to good ratings. I just don't think the audience is there for AAR. I also think this could have something to do with attempting to raise some money to pay off earlier debts - say the Gloria Wise Foundation for a starter!

Dino said...

Most stations don't have either much power or much marketing budget, so growth has to come mostly from word-of-mouth. There's an audience for it, but if no one knows you're on, it's hard to get ratings. Plus, how long did it take for Rush Limbaugh with an unlimited budget to get respectable ratings. Remember, AAR has existed for barely over a year.

Anonymous said...

"Remember, AAR has existed for barely over a year."

Har har har!

How much longer is THAT excuse going to hold up! They have been around for over 20 months and Ed Schultz has been on longer than that! Between the TWO of them they don't even come close to the radio stations just a new guy named Bill Bennett is on after less than a year on the air.

I can hear it now in 2015: AAR has ONLY been around for a decade while Rush has been around for three decades and you cannot expect them to catch up with a 20 year head start!

Dino said...

Why don't you answer my question if it's so silly? What were Rush's ratings after 1 year on the air? How many stations was he on?

Anonymous said...

In 1984, Limbaugh replaced Morton Downey Jr. at KFBK in Sacramento, where he had almost free reign of the airwaves from 9:00am until noon. He refused guests on his show, firmly believing he should forge ahead only on his own merits and the interaction between himself and callers. KFBK defended him to critics - and Rush demonstrated his appreciation by accepting another contract from WABC, and moving to New York. Within months, his program was carried nationally by 155 radio stations.

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