Monday, April 14, 2008

A Decision To Make

In what would have been much bigger news around the Buckeye State a couple of years ago...

Even if you're no longer within earshot of a liberal talk station, you've probably heard of all the hot water syndicated host Randi Rhodes got into recently...after what's been called a "profanity-laced" tirade about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and others, at what amounted to a stand up comedy/personal appearance on behalf of her San Francisco affiliate, KKGN/960 "Green 960".

The controversy eventually resulted with Randi walking from Air America Radio, and pretty much the next day signing up with upstart syndicator Nova M Radio. Her show returned Monday afternoon via Nova M on many of its former affiliates.

In recent weeks, Randi has had only one affiliate in Ohio: Bernard Radio/Cowtown Communications talker WVKO/1580 Columbus...the station which picked up the format a few months after Clear Channel's now-WYTS/1230 "Your Talk Station" dumped left leaning talk for a mix of general market (conservative, sports) talk.

And even that station has been slicing the last hour out of Randi's show for a one hour daily local talk show hosted by previous station host Mike Cole (5-6 PM).

Well, now, WVKO has a decision to make.

They can basically do three things:

1) Air whatever Air America Radio programs in Randi's former slot - so far, a "celebrity guest host" rotation starts with actor/comedian Richard Belzer. Since no decision is made yet, we presume that's what's airing this so far (no satellite feed change, and WVKO's online schedule lists "Air America Host" in that time slot).

2) Pick up Randi's new show via Phoenix-based Nova M Radio. It wouldn't be difficult for the station, technically, since they already carry Nova M's only other national host, Mike Malloy. A number of stations - including most, if not all, of Clear Channel's remaining liberal talk outlets, chose this option for her Nova M debut.

3) Choose neither, and expand Cole or some other sort of local talk show programming into the entire afternoon drive slot.

The station has clearly gotten an earful from listeners, and posted a statement to that effect on the WVKO website:

As many of you know, Randi Rhodes resigned from Air America this week. She has since signed on with Nova M Radio, another syndicator of Progressive Talk radio shows. We at WVKO-AM understand the passion of those who would like to continue to hear Randi, as well as the passion of those who side with Air America on this issue.

We at WVKO strive to provide high-quality programming for our Central Ohio listeners. At this time we ask you to please bear with us as we explore many possible scheduling opportunities.

From here, we don't see staying with Air America as a strong possibility...unless some sort of host who would appeal to listeners emerges.

Some in the liberal talk community suggest that AAR move evening host Rachel Maddow into the slot, but we figure they'd have done that instead of the "Celebrity Guest Host" thing if they could (or if she could). Perpetual AAR fill-in Sam Seder occupied the slot in Randi's absence while she was still an employee, but that move doesn't seem likely, either.

So, we'll see...

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