New 1510 talk format to launch next Monday

Rob Landry
Tue Jun 3 16:47:08 EDT 2014

On Tue, 3 Jun 2014, Scott Fybush wrote:

> The class of stations that became initially successful on the back of Rush 
> Limbaugh started with a massive head start: they were stations that enjoyed 
> both the signal and heritage advantages that came from 60 or 70 years of name 
> recognition in their communities. WGAN, WGIR, WTAG, WPRO, WHYN, WELI, WTIC, 
> WGY...and the list goes on from coast to coast.

I can't disagree with that. Heritage stations bring with them heritage 
audiences, making the programmer's task easier; he or she doesn't need to 
build a new audience, just keep people tuning into a dial position most of 
them have known since childhood.

It's also significant that Rush Limbaugh is a career radio personality; 
most of his would-be rivals are actors, comedians, politicians... anything 
but career radio entertainers.

> With decades of heritage to work from, many of those stations (like my 
> local WHAM here in Rochester) have managed to maintain the illusion of 
> being "THE voice of...wherever" even as they've slashed those local 
> staffs to shreds. (I believe the WHAM newsroom is down to two 
> fulltimers, a handful of part-timers, news audio from former sister 
> WHAM-TV and a bunch of anchors from WSYR and WGY).

Technology allows a smaller staff to be more productive; my NH client, for 
instance, can reord news, weather, etc. off site on an iPhone and upload 
them straight into the station's autoomation system.

> Nobody in the industry is eager to do the research that would prove it, 
> for obvious reasons, but I'm reasonably convinced at this point that the 
> WHAMs and WOWOs and KFBKs of the world succeed these days as much in 
> spite of Rush and Hannity and Savage, as because of them.

I would tend to doubt that (particularly in the case of KFBK, which, if 
memory serves, was the station that pioneered the Rush Limbaugh show). No 
sane broadcaster would put something on the air that didn't keep people 
tuning in.

That said, the trend among talk stations these days seems to be toward 
sports talk and away from politics -- likely because sports appeals to 
younger listeners, I think.

> Now here's the challenge: name even one "progressive" talk station that's 
> been able to launch with that same advantage. You can't, because nobody has 
> ever tried one, in large part because conservative talk showed up first and 
> took hold at the vast majority of those heritage AMs.

Rush's talent, rather than his conservatism, drove the talk radio 
"revolution" of the 1990's, I think. There was no one with comparable 
talent on the left.

> It bears noting that it's not just "progressive" talk that has uniformly 
> failed when put on second- and third-tier stations with no heritage or 
> stationality. Look at the failure of Rush Radio/Talk 1200 in Boston, or WWIQ 
> in Philadelphia, or at the sub-1.0 numbers that Salem's talkers pull in most 
> major markets (in some cases despite a fairly robust local effort and a 
> heritage set of calls, such as WIND in Chicago.)

Religious talk is a lot like classical music; both formats largely preach 
to their respective choirs. Salem could drive up ratings considerably if 
it gave the devil equal time, but its mission won't allow that.

Progressive talk might work, but it needs a voice. That voice hasn't yet 


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