1510 talk format & programming AM & FM

M.Casey map@mapinternet.com
Thu Jun 5 12:48:10 EDT 2014

Really well thought out essay by Scott.
There's some truth to the "parasite" comment.

Political talk radio, while successful when placed on a successful Heritage 
station, as a format by itself, is mostly a failed venture. So, I doubt any 
fully talk formatted station whether it be liberal or conservative, will 
ever be really successful. Maybe 5% of the population is really interested 
in politics, or listening to political debate on a regular basis. Some of 
the 95% will listen to political comments for very short periods of time, 
then back to music or sports, or for short periods of time, to news.

Most of the Heritage stations have their own very successful morning and 
evening drive talent. Talk does OK in the mid-day period, when most folks 
are at work.   So, the heritage stations have a talented talker like Rush or 
Hannity to pull in some listeners during those non-drive times when most 
folks are listening to music on the radio, or not listening to radio at all. 
I'd say there's a case to be made that some of the more Extreme talkers, 
like Savage, might even hurt a Heritage station in general-even when they 
only run them in the evening or on the weekend.  I'm surprised that more 
stations don't pick up a program like Clark Howard to run when they don't 
have a talented local during the day before or after Rush, or to run in the 
evening instead of a Savage or Beck type. But, there doesn't seem to be many 
(or any) well done syndicated programs that are not political, like Clark 
Howard's, or even just less politically acidic, available. So, maybe that's 
why some stations get stuck with the extreme talkers. WTIC-AM runs Howard 
8-10pm when sports aren't on.  And they have a talented local 
conservative-liberatarian, Jim Vicevich, on from 9am to noon. I'd like to 
see if Jim's number of listeners aren't , maybe, even better than Rush's on 
WTIC.  But, I'll bet that either of those mid-day slots pale, in numbers of 
listeners to the morning and evening drive periods.

WHYN, WHAM or WOWO would probably succeed as much or better with shows like 
Clark Howard, the local talk guy,  Swap Shop, and the Mayor's show, from 
10am to 4pm, than with Rush/Hannity/Beck, etc. And they'd probably do just 
as well with 2 talented liberal talkers as with 2 talented conservative 
talkers. Thom Hartman, though not too well known,  comes to mind as a 
talented liberal talker comparing with Rush & Hannity.

I've always been surprised that radio station programmers pay little 
attention to weekends. TV has started to learn that folks want their wake-up 
show on Sat & Sun. also. But radio has gotten much worse--many more pay for 
play ad shows on than in the past.  Until a few years ago WHYN-AM had a live 
(or even taped) morning show host on Sat & Sun mornings, but they dropped 
that, so I stopped listening to WHYN-AM at all and switched to the morning 
host & music that's on 7 days a week on several of the FM stations.  WTIC-AM 
has a live Sat morning show which is great, but Sun morning is Ric Edelman 
that, while not too bad for a commercial program, causes listeners like me 
to change the channel after a few minutes.

What will radio be like 20 yrs. from now?  I think many of the music 
stations will still be around. And, most of the Heritage stations, large and 
small, that maintain a degree local programming and news will be around. The 
rest will be similcasts, or specialty ethnic, religious, or formats that 
barely sell enough to stay on the air, selling spots that almost no one will 
hear. The value of radio stations in general will decrease. We may have 
another round of AM stations going off the air altogether and the $23,000 a 
month tower site rental comment comes to mind as a real reason for that. 
But, radio will continue for many years. I can't imagine that the (sort of 
frail) cell-phone system, tablets and memory cards will completely replace 
broadcast radio.

Mark Casey

-----Original Message----- 
From: Scott Fybush
Sent: Tuesday, June 03, 2014 2:42 PM
To: boston-radio-interest@lists.BostonRadio.org
Subject: Re: New 1510 talk format to launch next Monday

Unlike Bob, I'm only going to say this once... <g>

We have yet to see - and will likely never see - a truly fair fight
between a "progressive" talker and a "conservative" talker.

The unifying thread that links nearly every successful "conservative"
talk station - and that is almost uniformly missing from every
unsuccessful talker, on any side of the political spectrum - is

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. Every
last one of those stations does fairly well (even with an aging
audience) not just because of the syndicated conservative talkers they
carry in middays and evenings, but because of the local news and talk
and sports that they wrap around those syndicated shows. 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).

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.

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.

Probably the closest we've come in a quarter-century of the modern talk
format has been WTDY in Madison, which had some degree of full-service
heritage and formatics when it went leftward, and KPOJ in Portland,
which revived a long-dead callsign and tried to inject some localism.
But those are weak-tea comparisons - WTDY never had the name recognition
in town that the heritage AM, WIBA, enjoyed, and it fell victim to
in-format competition from WIBA's Clear Channel sister, WXXM. For its
part, KPOJ always played second fiddle to the real local heritage AM,
KEX, even within the Clear Channel cluster there.

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.)

We know that even now, conservative talk is a successful, money-making
venture...IF it is able to benefit from attaching itself to the "host"
of a well-established local heritage radio station. And we know that
neither conservative nor progressive talk does well on its own without
that "host." Did I just accidentally compare political talk radio to a

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