Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Disenfranchised radio listeners increase grassroots efforts

A grassroots swelling of Clear Channel-owned WXXM/Madison listeners succeeded last week when station management reversed a decision to flip the station's format to all-sports. This has obviously inspired other groups in similar situations to start up their own efforts to save their favorite stations.

After a few weeks of speculation, Boston's Clear Channel-owned liberal talk simulcast of WKOX and WXKS changed formats last Thursday to a Spanish-language tropical music format as "Rumba 1200". A group of livid listeners to "Boston's Progressive Talk" took action, setting up a Yahoo! group and a website, with the goal of returning the talk programming to local airwaves.

And in Columbus, where another Clear Channel-owned station, WTPG, plans to drop liberal talk in favor of shows from Michael Savage, Laura Ingraham, Dave Ramsey and others, listeners have begun taking action as well, with a website, petition and Yahoo! group already established.

Grassroots support for the format is nothing new. A group of listeners in Portland, ME banded together two years ago to help save WLVP, which was planning a flip to ESPN Radio. The station's owners, Nassau Broadcasting, changed their minds and kept the format, which carried mostly shows from Air America Radio. Since then, other listener efforts helped bring the format to markets such as St. Louis, Iowa City (albeit briefly), and New Orleans. A dedicated effort helped bring the format back to Phoenix, a mere few weeks after being dropped following the sale of KXXT, and following the demise of liberal talk stations in Dallas, Missoula and Atlanta, listener-supported movements sprung up to help bring liberal talk back to the local airwaves. A petition with over 18,000 names on it obviously helped get Mike Malloy's show back on the air after its much-criticized cancellation by Air America.

Fans of liberal talk obviously took a cue from television fans who rallied in years past to help save shows such as "Star Trek", "Beauty and the Beast", "Due South", "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", "Arrested Development", "Stargate: SG1", and even the current "Studio 60", among others.

Will it all succeed? Who knows? But doing nothing certainly won't work. LTR wishes all the supporters the best of luck in their efforts, and of you can keep up with developments on their sites and, of course, here.


Anonymous said...

This assumes the fix was not in and this was not a stunt. It also assumes the petition was a factor (rather than potential advertisers expressing support).
Star Trek was saved for the third season only (given the quality of the shows in the third season, maybe this wasn't such a good thing). The show was canceled - and not saved the following year.
It doesn't look these other "drives" are going to accomplish much in their markets.
And probably out-of-market petition signers - like some from this board - probably did more harm than good and served only to discredit bona fide local efforts.

ltr said...

1. These weren't stunts.

2. When I referred to TV shows, I didn't say the grassroots support worked, just that it was there. Actually, there were a few instances of it working. There was also a campaign to get Shatner to fool around with more blue-skinned women, but that thankfully failed.

3. 'Drives' can work. If enough people and advertisers get involved, I could see some struggling station taking a chance on it. It's worked in the past (or don't you read the articles?)

4. Petitions are filtered by zip code, leaving out non-residents and cranks. The Madison one was, as is the Boston one. One of the Columbus organizers confirmed this on Ed Schultz's show today.

Anonymous said...

1. How do you KNOW it was not a stunt. Somebody at Clear Channel said so? Everybody lies - most of all, people in radio. Radio people take almost infantile pleasure in deceit.

2. I believe you are referring to Orion females, who actually had green skin - not blue. Blue skins were Andorians (the ones with two cranial antennae). Andorians have four sexes so no one was ever sure which Kirk could fool around with.

3. Drives can work. They seldom do. Last one I heard about that worked was a standards station in Atlantic City with a geezer protest (heck no, we won't go) a couple of years ago. CBS' former Oldies stations remain former Oldies stations. The only lib-talker to get a reprieve due to protests was Saga's small market turn-key in Portland, ME. Protests in none of the other markets being dropped appear to be getting much traction.

As I said, if Madison was not a stunt, it was ADVERTISER support that did the job - not listeners signing petitions.

4. Interesting. You were one of those urging out-of-towners to "sign" the Madison petition via this site.

ltr said...

Here ya go, Frasier:

1. Stunts normally don't include making deals with syndicated networks running on a rival station. Also don't include making deals with the U of Wisconsin and other area schools.

2. You watch too much Star Trek. As William Shatner said in that SNL skit, get a life.

3. Might as well give up on life anyway, since no matter how hard you try, you'll always fail. Gee, nice outlook. BTW: Saga doesn't own the station in Maine, Nassau does.

4. When did I expressly 'urge' out-of-towners to sign the petition? I didn't sign it myself because I live outside the listening area.

Next time, read the damned articles so you know what the hell you're talking about.

Anonymous said...

We have proof that it wasn't a stunt. I went to, owned by Clear Channel, and in a list of stations that Dine Madison runs its ads on, at the bottom, it already had the new "Fox Sports Madison 92.1 FM" Logo amongst the other five Clear Channel Madison station emblazons, and The Mic 92.1's logo was gone.

That and Fox Sports will confirm that they had a contract. They are actually fairly upset- they wanted to take on ESPN Sports Radio in Madison head-on.

Also, out of towners are relevant to these petitions, as the ads run over the streams as well, so there's not much harm to wider support.

The Madison effort worked. Others have also worked. If all you can do is bitch, flintstone, then get the hell out of the way. We have serious work to do.

raccoonradio said...

Boston Herald
about the attempt to bring back Air
America/Prog. talk to Boston

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