We provided extensive coverage when Talk Radio Networks midday host Laura Ingraham was away from her microphone earlier this year - when the host and syndicator had a contract dispute.
Another such dispute could mean the end of Ingraham's show on nearly a dozen-and-a-half stations, including her Cleveland affliate, talk WHK/1420.
Chicago Sun-Times radio/TV guru Robert Feder reports that WHK owner Salem is dumping Ingraham's show from its Chicago station, WIND/560, among others:
Starting Monday, she will be replaced from noon to 2 p.m. weekdays by Mike Gallagher.
Ingraham's syndicated show has been dropped by Salem in 17 of its markets. The move follows a dispute with her distributor.
Gallagher's show aired in mid-mornings on WHK for a few days in the earlier dispute, which at that time was between the host and her syndicator. This time, the problem appears to be between that syndicator and Salem.
Gallagher's show is currently buried in late nights on WHK and many other Salem conservative talk stations, despite the fact that it's owned and syndicated by the company itself. Gallagher did get a big boost from Salem recently, acting basically as quasi-local host on the company's new talk WNYM/970 in his hometown New York City market.
Last time around, TRN was readying weekend host Monica Crowley as a potential Ingraham replacement. This time, it's Salem having to do its own shuffling to replace Ingraham.
Salem has been here before, as the radio group lost self-syndicated financial advice host Dave Ramsey in 2006. As reported right here on OMW, Ramsey pulled his show from all Salem stations because the company started asking the show to pay for its clearances ("not what we do", fired back Ramsey's staff).
We find it hard to fathom that Salem would be asking TRN to pay for Ingraham's clearances on key stations, but...who knows?
We'll assume that like in Chicago, WHK listeners in Cleveland will hear Mike Gallagher from 9 AM to noon weekdays starting Monday, at least in the short term.
Ingraham is well aware of the changes.
Just now on her program, she implored listeners to check her website for new affiliates if they don't hear the show on Monday. Her on-air message - recorded today, as her show is otherwise a repeat this morning - bragged about new clearances and "upgrades".
Ingraham's show has already announced its move in Southern California, from Salem's talk KRLA in the Los Angeles market and KCBQ in San Diego to Mount Wilson FM Broadcasters talk KGIL in L.A. and its sister simulcaster XESURF, hitting San Diego from Tijuana, Mexico. We're not sure that's an upgrade...more of a lateral move.
As of this morning, her website affiliate list still shows WHK carrying the show, along with other Northern Ohio stations WGFT/1330 in Youngstown and WTOD/1560 Toledo. The dispute doesn't affect those outlets, since they aren't owned by Salem.
We presumably don't have to remind listeners that an affiliate "upgrade" for Ingraham in Cleveland is basically impossible, as there is no other full-market talk radio station which would carry her program...