Thursday, March 29, 2007

Taking A Short Breather

Just a note: This is not one of our much-ballyhooed "hiatuses", but we'll be mostly be taking the rest of the week off from the beast that has become the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm).

We're recharging the batteries, as it were. Expect us back by Monday, or before if we get bored. Just don't expect multiple daily updates until early next week.

To hold you over until then...some stuff we're clearing out of the "inbox" from this week, along with stuff from various sites. We won't go into much detail about the non-original material, some of which has been out there for a day or three...

RADIO FREE FALL: In an unusual move for a station about to change format, Clear Channel's WARF/1350 Akron has brought out some numbers - to the public - to explain the flip Friday from liberal talk to sports.

Quoting from the very same "Radio Free Ohio" page we linked earlier, now updated:

While Progessive Radio is surviving in parts of the country, it has not in Akron. In two years ratings have not improved, and revenue has declined, despite the remainder of the market seeing an increase in revenue.

Before the format switch to Progressive Talk, 1350am was an all sports station. In the Winter of 2005, (the last ratings period for the station as sports) 1350am had 17,000 weekly listeners. In the latest release of ratings, for the Fall of 06, WARF had 11,600 weekly listeners, and was on the decline.* (Source: Arbitron Fall 05 and Winter 06 Akron Metro Persons 12+ Monday-Sunday 6am - Midnight)

Now, we know you can slice and dice Arbitron numbers in any way, and the 12-plus numbers are, as anyone in the business knows, "vanity" numbers.

But the facts remain as we pointed out earlier. Simply put: even with similar (lower) ratings, sports outsells liberal talk, at least at this juncture. It "sells above its numbers".

The phrase "revenue has declined" says it all here, about why the current format at Akron's 1350 is going away Friday morning...

Y-TOWN PD SHUFFLE: Two Clear Channel Youngstown properties are getting new program directors, according to AllAccess.

And one of those new programmers is an existing one, as rock WNCD/93.3 PD Steve Granato takes over the same duties sister hot AC WMXY/98.9 "Mix 98.9".

That job is open because of a departure - sister top 40 WAKZ/95.9 "Kiss FM" PD Jerry Mac, who's been there for some time and also programmed "Mix", is headed for new duties as operations manager of the NextMedia cluster in coastal North Carolina (Wilmington, et al.).

The move has left PD openings at WNCD and WAKZ. Can one person fill both? We're just asking a question, not dropping any hints...

THE DENNIS MILLER WATCH: This one is an original, thanks to a tip by regular OMW reader Nathan Obral.

Nathan tells us that Westwood One's newly launched syndicated talker, Dennis Miller, has landed in Columbus on North American Broadcasting FM talker WTDA/103.9 "Talk FM".

And his presence on the WTDA schedule pushes aside, umm, someone who's used to being dumped for other hosts - Take On The Day syndicated advice talker Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

First, pushed off one station by Glenn Beck. Then, dumped to make way for Dennis Miller. What's next for Dr. Laura, losing a clearance to Jerry Doyle?

We're still surprised she hasn't shown up on more of Salem's conservative talk stations - though as reported here, they've hooked up with WW1 for Miller in a number of markets.

Or for that matter, on Salem's teaching/talk outlets like Cleveland's WHKW/1220 "The Word" - or to replace her lost Columbus station, WRFD/880 "The Word" in the Columbus market.

By the way, your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) has not heard one pip out of Mr. Miller's new show. Though it's only carried in Northeast Ohio on NextMedia's WHBC/1480, it's widely available online...we just haven't caught up with it yet.

We'll give the erudite comedian/host a few days or weeks to get his show together...

CINCINNATI CALLING: Keith Mitchell has been programming Cumulus oldies WGRR/103.5 in Cincinnati. We don't know how long he's been doing so, or who hired him, since that massive swap in calls, frequencies, owners and formats down in the Queen City has us all confused.

WGRR has now installed Mitchell in the afternoon drive time slot...saying the former WMOJ "Mojo 94.9" morning host was needed on the air. (And yes, that was the former "Jammin' Oldies" incarnation of Mojo, before Radio One bought the name and the calls for the incoming 100.3 FM, and then tweaked the format.)

We hear the move displaces Jim LaBarbara from afternoon drive. The name didn't ring any bells for us, but we're probably too young - he had a stint as one of the WIXY/1260 "Supermen" in Cleveland.

We don't know where LaBarbara lands - perhaps elsewhere on the WGRR schedule? He's still listed in afternoon drive on the station's website...which says he's been on the airwaves in Southwest Ohio since 1969...


Anonymous said...

Dear OMW young whippersnapper: Bumping Labarbara from any time slot or station is a huge mistake. He isn't called The Music Professor for nothing. gives more info on Jim, probably still one of the best in the biz.

Anonymous said...

Methinks Cumulus bumps LaBarbara to add Mitchell as a cost cutting move.

Cumulus is big on PDs being on air. More bang for the buck.

I seriously doubt Mitchell is better than LaBarbara, who is BIG in Cinci. LaBarbara and WGRR are synonymous.

IMO swapping LaBarabra for Mitchell is a bad move.

If Jim is indeed gone from WGRR I bet he's on oldies WDJO/1160 when his non-compete is up.

Anonymous said...

Rather than dump Dr Laura, they should have moved her to later in the day and dropped some of that Fox Sports satellite feed instead.

While I'm no Dr Laura fan(a show I always avoid), at least it beats satellite sports talk.

From a survey taken around here(Akron), WKNR is well-liked since they talk about the Tribe,Cavs,Browns, etc...but the people I asked don't really wanna listen to a station talking about the Diamondbacks, Pistons, Jets, etc, most of the time.

Anonymous said...

Jim LaBarbara at WDJQ---sounds like a GRRRRREAT idea(nice to see WDJO using the old "great" liner,heh), as the station does have a few open time slots they can fill.

Besides, he could then play music from the era he wants to play it from instead of the stuff WGRR is now playing.

Hard to believe WGRR used to have an occasional "songs you never hear on radio anymore" they'd never do hat now.

Old School said...

Jim LaBarbara was a very popular DJ in Cleveland, mostly on WKYC/1100.
I believe he started on the all-night show, replacing Jim Gallant, in the mid-'60's.
In 1968 or so, Jim moved to WIXY/1260 until he went to WLW in Cincinnati, where he was a mainstay for many years.
I met him several times, and he is a real gentleman and a class act.

Anonymous said...

About more changes at Akron Clear Channel, I guess that we shouldn’t be surprised! With that mind trust of great programmers…Kennedy, Mullins, Hamilton…need I say more!

Anonymous said...

Jim LaBarbara moved from WKYC to WIXY in early 1967...just as Jack Armstrong was leaving WIXY for...WKYC.

Anonymous said...

I love how CC mentions the declining ratings for WARF. I wonder why there were no yeah, that's have to PROMOTE THE STATION to let people know you're there. With all of the boards CC owns in the area, surly they could have replaced just a couple of Matt and Angela boards with some Radio Free Ohio boards.

Anonymous said...

I thought Chris Patrick was the Program Director at WNCD. When was she replaced?

Anonymous said...

You could have promoted WARF all day long, but if most of the shows are horrible, people wouldn't listen for long.

Stephanie Miller was OK and Eddie Schultz was decent enough, but Bill Press, Randi Rhodes, Al Franken, and Jeanene Garafolo are/were God awful.

It just wasn't working.

1360 in Cincy, 1230 in Columbus, and now 1350 in Akron were all faltering ratings and revenue wise under the lib-talk format.

Whether or not they improve ratings wise is debatable (1230 might, don't know about the other 2) but if they improve revenue wise, then the move to flip them would have been successful.

Anonymous said...

Re the 5PM comments of anonymous: exactly gotta promote. At least CC was an equal-opportunity low-promoter. In Cinci, whether it was oldies on 1530 or lib talk, no promotion at all. No wonder both formats got no ratings.

Anonymous said...

you have to laugh at clear channel coming back saying the reason for replacing the liberal talk with sports talk was ratings. That's as phony as a three dollar bill. Anyone in the industry knows that strictly talking sports reaches a very limited audience. The real reason is that the ultra right wing owners of clear channel who are best buddies with Murdoch at Fox & hence the "news" affiliation are pushing this. They are getting ready for the 2008 elections. Try to silence the resistance to the republication right wing agenda.

Anonymous said...

Which brings us to My 101.7. I feel like Jack Nicholson in "A Few Good Men". Now is this really a way to launch a station? Rick Astley and Robby Dupree? Please tell me you've got something more, Keith. Please tell me there's an ace up your sleeve. This station is in a battle for its marketing life. Please tell me their PD hasn't pinned their hopes to Gary Rivers.

Anonymous said...

There were PLENTY of 1350 'boards around town, especially when Finan was on 1350. All over Akron and Canton.
People knew of the station, I agree, it's the quality of the hosts (minus Miller and Schultz)

Anonymous said...

I agree - there was more promotion of 1350 than there has been so far of 101.7!

Anonymous said...

I guess with that said Hannity is really the only host on 640 WHLO that is being promoted and he has about the worst ratings on the station. He must be a terrible host (which is true.) I say dump his sorry backside.

Marvin Durant said...

Are they looking for a program director?

Anonymous said...


Johnny Morgan said...

>> reason for replacing the liberal talk with sports talk was ratings. That's as phony as a three dollar bill. Anyone in the industry knows that strictly talking sports reaches a very limited audience.<<

So, "strictly talking liberal politics" DOESN'T reach a very limited audience?

Ratings are but one component of the overall picture. Ratings may lead to more billing, but not always. Mind you, a DECLINE in ratings (especially in the thousands) in almost ALWAYS leads to less billing.

Money coming in is the key determinant--ratings are a means to that end.

The partisan political conspiracy-imagination-fantasy portion "anonymous 9.57pm"'s post merits no response.

VODood said...

I can attest that ratings aren't everything. A station I was programming was #1 in it's core and #2 in target demo - but was not making enough $$$. So it was flipped. This was a heritage 15 year station. Needless to say I pay close attention to how sales is doing.

Anonymous said...

By putting the "liberal" or "progressive" talk format on marginal signals and not promoting them, Clear Channel can pre-empt others considering such a move, claim the format can't draw ratings and then get on with their principal talk radio objective... which is providing the right wing blowhards with blowtorch signals. Of course, CC is a money-making business. It says as much: We're not in the programming business, we're in the advertising business. But it's no secret that the Mays family is tight with the Bush family.

As for WARF specifically, its natural target-audience competition was not WHLO or WTAM, but WKSU.

Anonymous said...

3:57PM anonymous--you hit the nail on the head exactly. Make a phony effort to program lib talk and make sure it fails(bad signals compared to those 50kw clears--and the already-mentioned lack of promotion of the scale the give their conservative talkers)'ll note how Clear Channel has dropped nearly all their lib talk formats. (Tho I wonder what kind of "deal" got worked out in Madison).

Anonymous said...

Is WMJI having transmitter problems? I have not been able to pick them up as of late here in Tuscarawas County.

Anonymous said...

"By putting the "liberal" or "progressive" talk format on marginal signals and not promoting them, Clear Channel can pre-empt others considering such a move,"

Need I remind you that WJMP 1520 in Kent was already DOING Lib talk when 1350 flipped?
Now THERE is a marginal signal!
Of course 1520 presently runs Fox Sports. Who wants to place bets on how long it is until they are running Air America??

Anonymous said...

Johnny Morgan: Keep drinking the kool-aid.

Lee Harvey said...

Look out! it's Lowry and Mark on the grassy knoll!!!

For anybody to think for one second that CC or any company would hemorrhage cash in several major markets just for the sake of as you say "Make a phony effort to program lib talk and make sure it fails" to put it plain and simple, you are out of your friggin mind.
"They did it to please the democrats" you mean the same Democrats who won the elections and now have the power to do something about it? Seems to me, since they are the party in power you'd want to pander to them, not drop their formats.

I'd like to pose this question. Provide a solid example & I'll give you a lollipop to suckle instead of running your big yapper about subjects you know nothing about, but feel you do because you own the Mel Gibson Conspiracy movie on VHS:

Please name for me the "local" non CC owners who picked up the liberal programming in the markets where it has been dumped, not only by CC but other owners as well and have generated bigger revenues and ratings?

yeah, me neither.

Face it, it was bad radio. Bad radio never gets ratings.
People who bitch about small low power AM stations are the same ones who used to adjust their radios to listen to hear WIXY and made it a powerhouse, or Hello 64 WHLO in Akron, or thousands of other examples of smaller AM's that when programmed with compelling, ENTERTAINING content get ratings. Another example is WHBC-Am in canton. Crappy signal, huge ratings.

I'm a democrat. I can't stand NPR. I thought Radio Free Ohio was nothing more than screaming and yelling. Bill Press and Stephanie Miller were okay, the rest made me want to vomit on my doc martins.

Anonymous said...

Re Lee Harvey's comments: won't get into a political debate since neither us is gonna "convert" the other on Air America, conspiracies, and the quality of lib talkers.

However, the WHBC signal is not "crappy". It's the best AM signal in the market by far and covers the metro Canton area just fine. No, it doesn't go 40+ miles in every direction all the time like the FMs do, but it's very adequate as an AM. If Air America had been put on it and failed, one could definitely NOT argue "marginal signal" in the case of WHBC

Anonymous said...

I guess you're right, crappy was the wrong word. The signal does not reach Akron very well, while several AM's in Akron reach Canton with better signal.

WHBC has been an excellent station, i did not intend to take anything away from them.

raccoonradio said...

A logo has appeared on the
sportsradio1350 site
with promises of a full site by Monday

Anonymous said...

Akron U's colors

Anonymous said...

1350 does carry Akron U football and basketball so it's a nice touch if they are trying to play off that.

Jeff / Cleveland said...

Hi OMW, hope you are enjoying your break.

I know this is off-topic, but was wondering if you or readers have any idea as to what Bob Frantz's very special "coming out" tomorrow is about.

I heard several commercials on WTAM.


Anonymous said...

April Fools, Jeff. April Fools.

Jeff / Cleveland said...

April Fools...ahhh! Thanks, anon! I remember last year WTAM ran commercials about Trivisonno calling it quits and it was incredibly farce.

By the way, there is supposed to be pro-wrestling talk on at 3pm on WTAM all this week. I wonder if that is a prank, too.

Anonymous said...

I think the mistake the programmers have been making with progressive talk is that they assumed the audience wanted to listen to wall-to-wall political talk 24/7. Had they mixed up the format a little with other talk, the stations would have probably done better.

I was an avid listener of 1350. Mostly Ed Schultz, Stephanie Miller, and sometimes Bill Press.

However, it would have been nice to hear some talk that wasn't political at all-- maybe find a non-political version of Dr. Laura (actually one exists: Dr. Joy Brown), a health talk show, a money talk show, or better yet, let the local affiliates throw in some LOCAL talk.

I'm not a programmer, but I am a listener and I know what I want: Some decent political talk, but not ALL political talk. What the 1350 lineup ended up as was 4 talk show hosts doing the same political news over and over again but with their own personalities injected.

I say the problem is has to do with corporate ownership than anything: it takes too much time to try to hit the sweet spot with your programming mix, the stockholders only care about quarterly earnings, so that takes precedent.

Anonymous said...

Anyone listen to 1480 WHBC last week? Dennis Miller was mediocre at best with the same BS talking points as Ruch and Hannity. His delivery is a little different but same political right-wing crap.

But my goodness is Brady Russell bad. He isn't funny or engaging. He sounds like an FM jock doing talk...oh wait he is. I know he is knew and we should cut him some slack, but he is terrible. I had to force myself to listen and by Wednesday I couldn't take anymore. I won't be back for some time either.

And what the hell s up with Fox Sports on the weekends? I used to tune into 1480 quite a bit on weekends but not with that stuff. I tuned in once on Saturday and they were talking about the Lakers. WHO CARES HERE? They will most certainly tank in the Spring book. An 11 share station will become a 4 share. Mark my words.

Anonymous said...

WHBC-FM 94.1 Sunday evening.

7:59 Truly, Madly, Deeply Savage Garden

8:04 The Sweet Escape Gwen Stefani (w/ Akon)

8:08 Let's Stay Together Al Green

8:11 Jenny From The Block Jennifer Lopez (w/ Styles and Jadakiss)


Trefdawg said...

"Short Breathers" are better then "Little Breathers" ala Herev Velachez in the movie Airplane!
Back to topic...sad to hear the Music Professor out in Ciny, It would be good if can land on 1160!

Johnny Morgan said...

Keep drinking the Kool-Aid?

Can someone please explain (or come up with some excuse, more likely) why liberal talk failed on WSAI 1530?

I mean, if you want a 50kw clear, have one. How about KPOJ in Portland? KTLK, in LA?

WSAI went away favor of sports talk. So, there goes the small signals talking point.

You can complain and apologize for the failure of liberal talk all you want by accusing those who explain why such things happen as Kool-Aid drinkers, but casting aspersions on me isn't going to bring Bill Press back to Akron. Face it--liberal activists listening to what they WANT to hear isn't going to provide enough audience to sell. You need to EXPAND the audience.

Activists aren't going to do that. Neither are swamping media insider message boards.

But, if it makes you all feel better...

By the way, exactly what Kool-Aid am I drinking? Am I a Republican? A Bushie? A Clear Channel director? A Mays? Am I neo-con?

If so, please provide some evidence of same.

Otherwise, I'd appreciate it if you keep your conspiracy theories to yourself. And I'm pretty sure that Kraft Foods would appreciate you NOT infringing on their trademark.


Anonymous said...

>>By the way, exactly what Kool-Aid am I drinking?

And I'm pretty sure that Kraft Foods would appreciate you NOT infringing on their trademark<<

I'm sure you know that "drinking the Kool Aid" has nothing to do with Kraft Foods and everything to due with a certain Mr Jones. And I don't mean Alex Jones. Then again,you might want to check the Alex Jones website.

As for those better-signal stations you mentioned, remember they(620-Portland, 1150-L.A., 1530-Cincinnati) are all Clear Channel stations w/virtually NO promotion. Just like they did when the oldies were on 1530, they didn't promote lib talk either.

Probably explains why WDJO has basically the same ratings w/a much worse signal that 1530 had when they were oldies.

And to further thread creep, did anyone notice the appearance of WDJO's Dusty Rhodes in today's Plain Dealer article regarding double-dipping?