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?
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.