The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

02 May 2005

How Much More Time Do They Need?

Still No Growth

Air America Stuck In The Mud

(With Monday Evening Portland Update)

Get ready for another round of excuses, as a fresh batch of radio ratings have been released tonight and things still don't look pretty for Air America/liberal talk radio.

These are important, too, they represent Arbitron's Winter 2005 survey period, a three-month "book", in industry jargon.

I'm of course prepared for another slew of insults from liberals, who seem to take it personally, when the messenger reports the facts.

I began this debate in January with an article in WorldNetDaily. Now, as the news gets worse, they're resorting to nastiness and misinformation.

They insist more time is required for Air America to catch on, but each month brings more dismal performances, nearly everywhere. Or, they'll claim I'm misleading the public, with "inaccurate and distorted" information.

Yet the data I've provided to you, is factual, with links back to industry publications.

What's available to the public, is the broadest, most complete account of a station's overall performance. Leftists maintain that specific demographic breakdowns will show better figures but they've yet to deliver the goods.

In the few places where Air America has done reasonably well, we've reported it here honestly. And if better numbers are released later in the week for other cities, the Radio Equalizer will say so.

It's been a full year for Air America's flagship station, WLIB, in New York City. Month after month, it has gone nowhere in the ratings.

This month is no exception, as the full Winter 2005 ratings book is released tonight for New York City.

WLIB's tiny 1.2 audience share, for all listeners 12 and older, is the same as for Fall 2004. The audience is actually smaller now than when the station first flipped to the liberal talk format from Caribbean programming.

And the station ranks a whopping 24th place overall.

On Long Island, a distinct radio market, Air America's WLIB dropped again, to take 31st place overall.

Don't believe any of the leftist spin, there's no way to dispute this factual information. If I seem irritated here, it's because the dishonesty from the Air America supporters has just become tiresome.

KTLK's general manager wrote to the LA Times, insisting more time was needed to see where his station was headed. But so far, still no growth for the station: it held a flat, miniscule 0.3 share of all listeners 12 and older in the Los Angeles market.

Drop any lower than that and a station becomes too small to show up in the ratings at all.

With no sign of growth, KTLK ranked, are you ready for this, 44th overall in Los Angeles.

That was tied for last place in the Southland. In the initial months, with all of the publicity, KTLK should have had a huge tune-in factor, as people check out the new station in town because they're curious about it.

Keep in mind, New York City and Los Angeles should be hotbeds for liberal talk radio, yet nothing is happening.

These are confirmed facts, with sources to back them up. Use them in debates with your liberal friends. See what they come up with to refute your data.

As additional numbers are released, with Boston tomorrow, up to Seattle on Friday, count on your Radio Equalizer to once again deliver the goods.

As always, your feedback is expected in the comments section. Fire away.

Update: let the spin begin! Follow this discussion for excuses about signal strength and assorted conspiracies for what's holding back Air America.

Tuesday evening update: Boston ratings are in: Air America's WKOX is in last place again with a tiny 0.4 audience share, for 34th place. Conservative WRKO sees an increase, to seventh overall, while WTKK-FM drops to 10th.

Here comes Philly: liberal talker WHAT-AM stuck in 27th place with a flat 0.7 audience share for all listeners 12 and older. Conservative WPHT-AM drops somewhat, but ranks 11th.

Big News in San Diego! Air America/liberal talker KLSD takes a big drop, from 2.3 to 1.6 (good for 25th place overall). This is the station AA execs have been touting as an important example of their "success". Conservative talker KOGO-AM strong as ever, tied for first place (in case there is any doubt about San Diego's leanings). Right-leaning competitor KFMB-AM hurt by KOGO, however, taking a huge dump from 4.8 to 3.2, good for seventh place.

In Detroit, AA's WDTW-AM still fails to rank anywhere, while WJR-AM turns in an impressive first place performance, with huge gains across the board. Canadian talk radio on CKLW-AM again beats Air America in Detroit!

More tomorrow, Seattle on Friday.

Update: liberal Air America supporters gang up on conservatives at Sean Hannity's web forum!

Major Wednesday Update: Providence's WHJJ-AM continues its dramatic slide after switching from a successful conservative format to a badly failing Air America lineup. Before liberal talk, station had a 3.5 share, now has a 2.2 and falls to 13th place.

This is the most significant station to monitor nationally, because WHJJ is one of the few to abandon successful conservative programming for the faltering liberal alternative. The damage to WHJJ is so severe, it may never be able to recover its standing in Rhode Island, ever.

In San Francisco: Still no sign of gains for liberal talker KQKE-AM. With KGO already so well established in the market, why was it even attempted? Stuck at a 1.0 for listeners 12 and older, the station didn't gain any of the listeners who have recently left conservative KSFO-AM. Even with the latter's losses, it still has three times the audience of KQKE.

Watch for more updates Thursday and a big one Friday, with the Seattle ratings. That's one city where I do expect Air America will show some gains. We'll see what happens.

Thursday: Finally, Air America's first gain of the ratings period! I was starting to feel sorry for these guys. It's in Franken's home turf in Minneapolis, where KTNF-AM showed up in the ratings for the first time, with a 0.9, good for second-to-last place.

In Denver, no improvement so far for KKZN, despite the addition of a local morning show. Station had a flat overall 1.6 share for adults 12 and older, to take 22nd place overall.

No ratings yet in Dallas-Fort Worth, but it's too soon to make a fair assessment.

: In Seattle, Air America records the second gain we've been able to locate, but the circumstances are specific to the market.

KPTK-AM, running Air America and other liberal programming, rose from a 1.0 share 12+ to a 1.5, for 23rd place. The previous station on this frequency, running classic country, generally hovered in this range. In middays, reports are that numbers were flat or slightly down. I'll check into this further in coming days.

What's unique to Seattle? That KIRO-AM, longtime market leader (and my former employer, for disclosure purposes), has taken a nosedive with an airheaded "leftist" format (save Dori Monson, whatever he is) and a major abandonment of news coverage.

KIRO had for years been the choice for radio news in Seattle, that's no longer true with the cutbacks. It was known for a good mix of talk shows as well.

I would expect any Seattle liberal actually aware of the AM dial and not interested in NPR (there aren't many in this category) to choose Air America over the dopier version found on KIRO.

For all listeners 12 and older, KIRO fell to 6th place, its lowest showing in ages, and dropped from a 5.0 to a 4.2 share of the audience. For the important 25-54 age group, the station sank from eighth to 13th.

Morning news, traditionally a top performer for KIRO (meaning first place), has fallen from fourth to ninth place, while the Alan Prell/ Dori Monson daypart checks in with a dismal 16th ranking, a drop from 13th previously. There was a slight gain for Dave Ross in his new afternoon slot, but it's below where he was previously, in mid-mornings.

Particularly grim were the evening performances by former sportscaster and liberal Tony Ventrella plus fringe leftist Mike Webb (he of the Bush execution demand last year).

With "One-Topic" Webb up to four full hours and Ventrella parroting what he thinks a liberal is supposed to say, the result is a 15th rank, versus ninth in Fall 2004.

Saturday Update: Seattle P-I's Bill Virgin has his own rundown of the ratings here. Why are his numbers different? His breakdowns are for all listeners 12 and older, mine are for 25-54. What it means is that KIRO's remaining audience is mostly 55 and older. Virgin reported a 12+ surge for Air America during middays, likely to mean that former KIRO listeners migrated to KPTK.

With KOMO's M's coverage now fired up, expect more losses next month for KIRO and huge gains for the former.

---Check BlatherWatch for a liberal perspective on the situation. He promises updates tonight.

---Watch for a major piece, coming this weekend, on the nationwide state of conservative talk radio.

---Another critical update on Monday, when Portland ratings are released. How will AA's KPOJ-AM fare after early success? Don't miss it.

Monday: Portland numbers are in, there's no link, because of an error at Radio & Records which left KPOJ off the ratings list.

However, All Access says that KPOJ-AM fell from a 3.7 in the fall, to a 3.3 for the winter period. Last summer, it checked in with a 4.0, so the drop is becoming significant.

Remember, this station's early success is what justified placing Air America on dozens of other stations, but the novelty must have worn off and given way to listener boredom. Conservative Portland stations had mixed results.


  • Great post, thanks for sharing.

    As they say, don't let the bastards get you down. You're doing a great job.

    If you didn't already know, you were just mentioned on Power Line by Brian Anderson, the "South Park Conservative" guy.

    By Blogger TallDave, at 25 April, 2005 22:50  


    By Blogger sCruuw, at 26 April, 2005 00:57  

  • Same old story, only further down the spiral.
    The prejudice most liberals have against talk radio ala Rush Limbaugh, &c probably factors into this, as most of the braindead vegetables would prefer to suck on the idioTVision instead.
    I remember when they dominated the format back in the 1970s, if you liked UFO/consiracy-theory driven bilge, it was your dish!

    By Blogger Galt-In-Da-Box, at 26 April, 2005 01:33  

  • Well, you're not innaccurate or distorted if you just flat out lie.

    By Blogger brainhell, at 26 April, 2005 01:44  

  • Brian-

    You may call the signal strength thing spin, but it's a reality here in boston. You simply lose the signal all over the place in the city, which makes it difficult to listen to. maybe you should drive an hour north to see for yourself.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 April, 2005 07:11  

  • heres why no liberals listen to talk radio, its actually very easy to figure out-

    talk radio is listened to people who are driving on their way to and from work
    liberals dont work, therefore dont drive to work

    done and done

    By Blogger freakagriep, at 26 April, 2005 09:00  

  • How long with they let this charity case keep burning cash? Not too much longer is my guess...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 April, 2005 10:51  

  • Air America is, essentially, a startup business. It also is less tan two years old.

    If you know anything about startups (in almost any industry), they will burn cash for the first few years before generating profit (that's why we have things like bank loans and venture capitalists).

    The plug will stay firmly in place for a while, because that is how business is done (whether you are conservative or liberal).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 April, 2005 11:52  

  • How long will Venture Capitalists and inverstors allow AAR to piss their money away? One? Two? Three years? Especially given the fact that AAR's ratings are trending down.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 April, 2005 15:35  

  • The signal strength thing is real. AM -660 here in the Dallas TX area (actually broadcasting from the little village of Balch Springs, pronounced, of course, Box Springs) uncomfortably shares a channel with some Mexican AM station, so depending on where you are with regard to local power lines, sky scrapers, and other metal reflectors, you may be listening and suddenly have talk radio interrupted by ooomp pah pah Mexican music. Worse at night.

    Signal weakness doesn't really deter all the listeners who really want to get their daily dose of outrage from Michael Savage on 660, but it perhaps keeps his ratings lower than they would otherwise be.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 April, 2005 15:36  

  • Boston radio ratings out ( Of the AAR stations, WKOX steady at 0.4

    WXKS still too low to measure

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 April, 2005 17:05  

  • I'm not sure flat is such a good thing. During the fall period there may have been more interest in Air America because their "choir" was listening due to the ELECTION. Flat may actually mean an increase in true believer listenership.

    By Blogger Blahggraider, at 26 April, 2005 18:36  

  • Regarding the defense of Air America's performance due to it being a startup business, there are several problems with this reasoning. I run startups and have taken two from zero to profitable exit, plus I've built internal startup divisions and product lines at more established companies.

    While the previous poster is correct that many startups do not produce positive net income for several years, they must quickly get to positive cashflow, and at a minimum, must demonstrate immediate milestone achievement. For AA, the only useful measurement is ratings, as this measures both the success of programming and drives advertising dollars they can capture.

    Having shown a negative trend in market after market, management should have terminated all on-air talent and promotional staff within twelve months. Having failed to do that, owners should have terminated management. A VC, bank or any other investor will immediately restructure their investment if milestones are missed.

    The fact that none of this has been done unfortunately reinforces the reason AA has not resonated with listeners: the "progressive" viewpoint is held by people not stable enough to run businesses. Liberalism, being an orthodoxy of dependent persons seeking to enslave the independent, has never shown itself to capture the interest of mentally healthy persons except when enforced by the presence of force.

    That modern progressives are so misled that they would believe their disorders would actually be of interest to normal people is an amusing indication of the extent of their confusion.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 April, 2005 20:54  

  • Signal strength and inadequate promotion are definitely major factors. I frequently drive between Boston and Washington. Both the Boston stations have patchy reception, very poor in the city. The New Haven station doesn't get as far as Hartford. Flagship WLIB in New York is generally audible only between about Bedford, NY (maybe 60 miles north of New York City?) and Exit 9 on the New Jersey Turnpike. WHAT in Philadelphia only occasionally gets as far as the NJ Turnpike where it passes Philadelphia. And the DC station doesn't make it as far as Baltimore, where there is another station on the same frequency. The signal's usually gone past 15 miles outside the Washington Beltway.

    In contrast,

    By Anonymous Ed, at 26 April, 2005 22:24  

  • As freakagriep might be paraphrased, "there is no paradox here, who is on the road, listening to talk radio during the day: PEOPLE WITH JOBS!" These are not people interested in Air America diatribes, they want to know how much of their paycheck is going to make it into their bank account.

    Clearly, the Zonker types defending the AAR business model are the same losers who brought us the bill-clinton-dot-com years. 'Nuf said.

    Way to say it Brian! Now, only to HEAR you say it.

    By Blogger P Scott Cummins, at 27 April, 2005 00:01  

  • Oh mercy! The apologists claim that it takes months and years to establish an audience? No way!
    I was hired as Program Director of KOOL in Phoenix -- the new manager asked "what format should we use?" As there were, at that time, four rockers, my reply was "let's do 'oldies" -- no focus groups or consultants, and it only took about "that" long to make the decision. On July 15th of 1961 KOOL Gold was born -- and we jumped from #14 to a strong #4 in the next book 90-days later.
    I was asked to return to KRIZ a year-and-a-half later; it jumped from 5th back to #1 next book....
    Businesswise, where it really matters, more recently I took over management of four stations in "turn-around" situations, to reverse floundering stations which weren't even close to potential.
    Gains of 29, 37, 23 and 23% noted in the first year of each.
    Now, please understand, this is not to glorify my work -- but it IS mentioned to shoot down those silly people who claim that "they just need more time." In other words, No Brag, Just Fact -- and it illustrates that, yeah, the principles of good radio and winning entertainment haven't changed a bit.
    And, given the huge amount of positive publicity the Air America folks have netted from the NY & LA Times (among others), they have no excuse. In fact, less than no excuse!
    But, I was wrong about one thing; predicted that Air America wouldn't last 9 months -- they did. But it took several additional injections of cash (after their sizeable/initial start-up fund)to keep 'em on.

    By Blogger Frost, at 27 April, 2005 13:58  

  • The new deals AAR signed with XM and America Online are more important for their long-term strategies than traditional "terrestrial" (blech - hate that term) radio. My guess is that they are using the small market stations as a cheap way to demonstrate viability while they build themselves as a New Media player. Whether they succeed or go bankrupt, they will likely not broadcast "terrestrially" within three years.

    It might seem like a bizarre strategy, but it's actually quite analogous to what Ted Turner did with WTBS ... run it locally over-the-air, but format it for a national new media format (the then nascent cable-tv). Crazy at the time, but Ted's now a billionaire as a result

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 29 April, 2005 10:26  

  • Boring clarification to my above post ... AAR did not sign a deal with AOL, but of course they will be a part of the AOL/XM Online Radio Network as a result of their deal with XM. That is all...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 29 April, 2005 12:50  

  • Looks like AirAm gained in Seattle, as expected(1.0 -> 1.5), but also in Columbus, Ohio (1.1 -> 1.5). Post election snafu fallout, perhaps?

    Keep on drawing attention to Air're doing a great job. I'm sure this campaign has brought them more than a handful of new listeners.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 29 April, 2005 18:32  

  • Anon, will check Columbus.

    Am I helping them gain listeners? Maybe. Happy to help any way I can!

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 29 April, 2005 18:45  

  • Although the following article from the Cincinnati Post puts the focus on Jerry Springer, the overall message is liberal talk "did not take the city by storm."


    By Anonymous ira, at 29 April, 2005 19:26  

  • I just finished watching the HBO Documentary on Air America called 'Left of the Dial'.

    It shows how they are clueless in their operating methods.

    It reveals how they lie about their cash situation.

    Most enjoying about the documentary is the election night coverage. The best line of the entire film is when Randi Rhodes claims that (paraphrasing)"the country is red because no one lives there. People only live where there is food and water." Tell that to thr folks living in the breadbasket of America. How about the potatoes from Idaho she hoovers? Maybe she will take a look at Lake Mead, which would render southern California useless is it wasn't there.

    The network is crashing because white liberals who stew in their own misery spend more time complaining than raising a family of two or more kids. They are born. They complain. They die off without replacing themselves.

    They've aborted their voter base away.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 30 April, 2005 15:37  

  • Thank you Brian for your post. It is very informative.

    My opinion on liberal radio and its' failure to succeed is simple. Conservative Talk filled a void in the media and in many Americans lives. Air America is like a sugar coated turd. Liberalsim stinks. It is dying a slow death. Dressing it up with a radio format will not make it palatable. Much like a sugar coated turd.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 30 April, 2005 15:48  

  • I would like to add my note of appreciation for the removal of the MSM spin that has been so desperately trying to prop up the entire Air-America concept.

    I'm a structured finance consultant who works on start-ups and bankruptcy workouts, so I know a bit about the way the capital markets respond to new investment proposals and would like to add my voice to that of the writer who spoke to the efficacy of the Air-America capital investment opportunity - such as it is (and was).

    The reality seems to be that, as a business model, the concept has failed and if this were any other business, market or industry it would have been terminated sometime in the last few months. That's not to say that management at Air-America hasn't already been informed that their project is headed for the scrap heap, but it does point to the issue of why it continues to operate.

    The only answer I can see from this point is that investors are being subjected to intense pressure to "take one in the shorts for the team", with that "team" being the liberal-progressive cause because if Air-America were allowed to fail it would expose the movement to the larger question of its viability with the American public and that is something a lot of people will go to great lengths to prevent.

    Accordingly, an investor who continues to sustain dramatic (and painful) economic losses would have to "see" some other benefit. This benefit would have to come from those who are pressuring the investors to stay in the game and not pull the plug. Well, Air-America, in and of itself, cannot deliver any tangible benefits to these investors, right?

    So who is providing the investors with the stimulus to stay in the game and what "form" does this stimulus take?

    I'd wager a dime against a Ben Franklin that the answer to that two-part question is deeply mired in the progressive political parties and an investigation would find some pretty interesting facts out that the electorate would love to know, but liberals would go to great pains to prevent the electorate from ever knowing.

    Think about it. Read this again, then start asking questions. The answers are sure to be interesting and downright entertaining to say the least.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 01 May, 2005 12:33  

  • "My opinion on liberal radio and its' failure to succeed is simple. Conservative Talk filled a void in the media and in many Americans lives. Air America is like a sugar coated turd. Liberalsim stinks. It is dying a slow death. Dressing it up with a radio format will not make it palatable. Much like a sugar coated turd."

    By Anonymous, at 3:48 PM

    This is just one among many excellent points made on this thread, but it perfectly captures liberals' flawed reasoning.

    They believe that Rush came along and brainwashed all of us simple minded folk. When, in fact, we were here all along, and found a voice in Rush.

    Having read "South Park Conservatives," I highly recommend it. I believe it is the definitive work on the subject and is already starting to piss off liberals.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 01 May, 2005 21:28  

  • From an interview with Brian C. Anderson. radio-equalizer mentioned:


    >>I use the term, which I didn’t coin, to refer to someone who might not be a traditional, across-the-board conservative, especially when it comes to things like censorship and pop culture, but who finds today’s politically correct Left repugnant and brain dead.

    >>...the Air America people are mad at me for pointing out in the pages of the LA Times what I argue in my chapter on political talk radio: liberal radio is probably doomed to fail (the radioequalizer blog has been relentlessly charting the poor ratings Air America has been getting in major urban centers across the country).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 02 May, 2005 10:14  

  • Brian: Thank you so much for your great work exposing the ratings reality behind the AA hype.

    Suggestion: Could you collect all of the ratings on AA into a single chart and post it online? It would be very helpful to have all of the individual station numbers a single chart.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 02 May, 2005 12:35  

  • Meanwhile: two new Air America affiliate stations begin broadcasting AirAm content today. WKBF 1270 AM in Davenport, IA, and WANR "The Pulse" 1570 AM in Youngstown, OH.

    Darn it, aren't they supposed to be decreasing in number? :D

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 02 May, 2005 13:16  

  • Oops, my bad. The two new stations are WJMP 1250 AM in Akron, OH (serving Cleveland) and WOIC 1230 AM in Columbia, South Carolina. This brings the total number of AirAm stations nationwide to 55. Gotta love those red state affiliates!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 02 May, 2005 19:20  

  • Oops, my bad. The two new stations are WJMP 1250 AM in Akron, OH (serving Cleveland) and WOIC 1230 AM in Columbia, South Carolina. This brings the total number of AirAm stations nationwide to 55. Gotta love those red state affiliates!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 02 May, 2005 21:02  

  • "What's unique to Seattle? That KIRO-AM, longtime market leader (and my former employer, for disclosure purposes), has taken a nosedive with an airheaded "leftist" format"

    "Airheaded"? Very nice. Leave your intellegence by the door, so you can convince yourself, and your dildoheaded, hillbilly heroin lovin, closet case listeners that Air America us going down the tubes.

    How about some of those smaller markets? Rochester NY looks good. AAR is the best thing that happened to the Portland Maine affiliate.

    Where do you think they'll be in 15 years, when they've sharpened their schtick, and grabbed up talent that's rising to the top around the country? How about Clear Channel going into the liberal radio market on their own in San Antonio?

    By Blogger Dick Tuck, at 06 May, 2005 13:11  

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