Back To The Past

In its ongoing quest to be all things to all people, KSTP is bringing in Pat Reusse to try to jumpstart the station’s long-dormant (as in “forever-dormant”) morning drive:

“Somewhere between wacky and MPR, there’s a morning radio show to be done, and that’s what I hope to be part of Monday through Friday on KSTP,’ Reusse said. “The goal is for us to put together a morning show that I would listen to.’

Which should be an interesting bit of work, considering Reusse’s on-air persona; how do you make a morning show that an omnivorous dyspeptic like Reusse will like?

I digress:

One of the Twin Cities’ most well-known media personalities, Reusse has written four-to-five columns per week for the Star Tribune over the past two decades. He will continue in his role as a sports columnist, writing two columns per week after his new morning show is unveiled.

Hiring Reusse is not a dumb move, in and of itself.  Reusse has almost three decades of track record with KSTP’s audience.  He can do radio (although I can certainly see a Reusse show ending up as “all of the curmudgeonly dyspepsia of the Soucheray show, with none of the humor”).  And KSTP’s management isn’t completely tone deaf; while conservative talk is among the only formats making any money anywhere in radio, sports seems to be doing adequately as well.  KFAN has eked out a decent niche in Twin Cities radio; it’s not a dumb idea for KSTP to try to stake out  piece of that turf, especially given the huge investment they made in the Twins.

In the longer term, though, KSTP-AM’s ongoing drive to be the new WCCO – to be “broadcasters” in the marketing as well as technological sense of the term – seems grossly misguided.  The audence – heck, all audiences has been splintering for decades.  Narrowcasting – in particular, providing a destination, even a sense of “community” (shaddap, Soucheray) for a fairly tightly-focused group of listeners – is where the money is, provided the focus isn’t music (the IPod has been flensing music radio).

For all of its mistakes, Clear Channel in the Twin Cities has done a good job of marketing KFAN to a community of sports nuts-who-dabble-in-news. 

KSTP’s problem isn’t that Reusse won’t do a decent job on the mornings, especially given help from the listenable Jay Kolls and Kenny Olson – although I’m tempted to ponder that having Jeremy “Kodiak” Kienitz would be a huge help (presuming Kodiak hadn’t fallen on the outs with Reusse over the previous decade or so).  The problem (yes, I’m monday-morning quarterbacking, here) is that a single personality isn’t going to turn back a huge systemic problem.

KSTP could rebuild its entire format around Reusse and Soucheray, going mostly/all sports like KFAN and using its 50 kilowatts of raw power to build a regional sports/news-o-tainment/goombah community powerhouse.  They could hire a brace of firebrand conservatives to recapture their glory days.  They could re-hire Mischke and scour the country for more stream-of-consciousness humorists.

But KSTP is trying to broadcast in a world that’s becoming narrowcast.

Brad Carlson also addresses the change.

11 thoughts on “Back To The Past

  1. Right, listening to a grumpy old man bitch about the world in the morning! THAT is what the public wants! How can I get a job as a radio station programming consultant? I swear I can be at least as incompetent as the one KSTP is using!

  2. Reusse is pretty funny, but I’d wager that he’ll try to be political at first. That won’t fly and eventually he’ll probably be on the sports beat most of the time. What I don’t understand is what Jay Kolls brings to the table. He seems totally vanilla to me and too deferential to the idiot guests they have on the show, like that irritating lawyer guy they brought in to replace Ron Rosenbaum and the cavalcade of ABC national reporters who come on to offer banalities in 2-minute increments.

    Your larger point is correct, Mitch — broadcasting in a narrowcast world is getting to be pretty tough.

  3. KSTP could rebuild its entire format around Reusse and Soucheray, going mostly/all sports like KFAN

    On their show Saturday Sports Talk, they rarely talk sports these days. I don’t know that even Sooch and Reusse would be all that wild about a “mostly/all sports” station.

    Another issue is that Reusse seems to have that desire to go the way of Keith Olbermann, Mike Lupica, etc. That is, make your name in sports but then delve into social/political punditry. While Reusse leans left like Olby and Lupica, he doesn’t appear to be as insufferably arrogant.

  4. He does have a face for radio, but unfortunately for him, his voice is reminiscent of a 15 year old kid grinding his way through a 5 speed in one of those cars with a fart-can muffler. Oh, yeah & he’s about as exciting as watching grass grow.

  5. I think this another attempt by 1500 to leverage the Twins deal. I think they want Twins fans turning on the radio and knowing they will hear knowledgeable Twins talk. In the Brauer exit interview, I think Mische touched on the fact that the Twins deal is not that great and I think this tries to save/rally/whatever the deal.

    I think Reusse is more of a contrarian than anything else and his lurches to the left are an attempt to needle Souch and when working on his own the listeners.

    I am concerned about how the routine will wear for three plus hours versus 10-15 minute segments.

    re: Another issue is that Reusse seems to have that desire to go the way of Keith Olbermann, Mike Lupica, etc. I think he might be worried that he won’t have a job in the sports sheet.

  6. Paddy,

    First graf: I agree. Viewed that way, not a dumb idea (provided Reusse is ready for morning-drive prime time).

  7. Two or three hours of hearing his voice is a nightmare.
    Interspersed with his high-pitched, girlish giggle it could be a new Gitmo interrogation tool.

  8. Pingback: Shot in the Dark » Blog Archive » Unintended Consequences

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