I don’t follow talk radio around the country quite as much as I used to; it’s not like I’m about to go move across the country to take a talk show gig or anything.
Fifteen or twenty years ago, when I still followed talk radio obsessively – almost like I was trying to make it a career or something – I’d have known that a DC-area station had christened itself “Obama 1260”. The station was a liberal talk operation, featuring the likes of Bill Press, Stephanie Miller and Fast Eddie Schultz.
I said “was”:
President Obama may be riding high in Washington, but OBAMA 1260 is not.
The area’s only progressive talk station is changing formats…The move by Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who purchased the station, WWRC, and others in Washington last summer, leaves the city without a liberal radio outlet. Program Director Greg Tantum says he thought the station could work because of enthusiasm over Obama, but that ratings collapsed to a level that could not be measured after the election.
“Of course, it’s because all talk radio is tanking”, you might hear someone say.
But ratings nearly doubled, he says, at Snyder’s conservative station, WTNT, which features Laura Ingraham and Bill Bennett. Tantum said he will move Schultz to WTNT to give him another shot.
Which isn’t so much a nod to the efficacy of liberal talk radio as to the fact that Schultz – dumb as a bag of hammers as he is notwithstanding – understands the basics of making a talk show entertaining, unlike just about every other liberal host in the nation.
This brings up an interesting question, though; one of the purported justifications for the “Fairness” Doctrine is to make sure there’s “competition” between ideologies, and a variety of them, on the airwaves. And yet in Washington DC – the ultimate “buyer’s market” for political talk, and a place with the most favorable demographics for liberal talk anywhere this side of Berkeley, and in a perfectly free market, let me repeat, “ratings collapsed to a level that could not be measured”.
The pattern holds true everywhere. After a poor start, Air America is barely clinging to existence. Locally, AM950 – after making a play of it for a few ratings books back in 2006 – is well behind AM1280 in ratings, even though it has a vastly more powerful signal than The Patriot (disclosure for those who are new to this blog; I do a show on the weekends at AM1280) and revenue (where it’s not even close).
How exaggerated were rumors of conservative talk’s death? Leaving aside Rush Limbaugh’s titanic eight year contract, conservative talk is the only format in radio that’s even making a pretense of holding its numbers and revenues during the current recession.
Locally? Of the six commercial talk stations in the Twin Cities (WCCO, KSTP-AM, KTLK-FM, Chicktalk 107, Air America Minnesota 950 and the Patriot), the Patriot has by far the weakest signal – and yet the Patriot crushes AM950 in all time slots. On the vitally-important Saturday time slot, the Northern Alliance is not only demolishing AM950, but from 1-3PM is even beating KSTP and WCCO, to say nothing of KTLK and 107.
Conservative talk is not only alive; it’s moving silently through the woods and taking aim at the left’s packed masses of rhetorical redcoats marching in step down the road…
Damn, this is fun!
At any rate, best of luck to all you Obama 1260 people. You might wanna think about leaving the ideology at home, swallowing your pride, and looking for a gig in a format that can survive…