The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

04 May 2005

Zorn: Liberal Network Needs Stronger Arguments

Air America's Critics Wrong?

Columnist: If Radio Equalizer's Off Base, Let's Hear Response!


Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn has issued a challenge to Air America: if the Radio Equalizer's contentions about Air America's performance and future are wrong, then let's hear stronger, more convincing arguments!

What Zorn's getting is flak for his column in today's Tribune, taking Air America to task for their clumsy moves in the Chicagoland market. His perspective is potentially supportive (and certainly leftist), he thinks "progressive" talk radio could work, but that this outfit is using the wrong personalities and marketing strategies. Here's an excerpt:


An Air America spokeswoman in New York said that listenership among the target audience of 25- to 54-year-olds has been "consistently encouraging," particularly for hosts Al Franken and Randi Rhodes. She had no national numbers to back up that assertion.

The format starts with a built-in disadvantage--most liberals got out of the habit of listening to commercial talk radio during its right-wing renaissance in the late 1980s. Now it's attempting a daytime-only Chicago revival in a political off year.

It looks to me like a recipe for failure. Inevitably weak ratings will tell advertisers and programmers that there's no market for left-wing talk, dooming us to decades of smug, hectoring conservatives.

"I don't believe that," said network co-founder and major investor Sheldon Drobny of Highland Park. I asked him if 850 AM is the proper station at the proper time for Air America in Chicago. "We'll do fine. The socioeconomic profile of our target audience is excellent. And it's either this or no broadcast at all."

Drobny sounded a little frustrated with me. I've been bugging him since last year about the curious lack of an Air America outlet in the hometown of not only its wealthy co-founder, but also the hometown of Eychaner, who is a Democratic Party mega-donor along with being a broadcast impresario.

Then came a false alarm in mid-March when Al Franken announced on the air that Chicago would be back on the air March 31 to mark the network's first anniversary.

Newsweb Corp. station's vice president Harvey Wells and officials at Air America hedged far more than Eychaner did Monday about if and when a formal announcement will come.

This leaves open the slim possibility--or is it a hope?--that the news about WCPT-AM is just another false alarm.


Instead of taking on his contentions, it appears Zorn's getting the same whining and name calling that greet my inbox daily, rather than sound refutations of arguments.

Worse, subjects of my criticism would rather unleash Arbitron's attack dogs, rather than address the issues. It's a kill-the-messenger strategy that won't work, because the cows are already out of the barn!

Since the Radio Equalizer first began to chronicle Air America's performance in a January piece for WorldNetDaily, my monthly follow-up posts have been linked to hundreds of blogs and websites, far more than I can track.

They've been referenced and/or quoted in the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Raleigh News & Observer and at Powerline. Michelle Malkin has carefully tracked each Air America development as it occurs.

Zorn sounds like a liberal who isn't afraid to tackle internal mismanagement on his own side of the fence. To that end, I'm doing the same thing, with an Op-Ed in tomorrow's WorldNetDaily edition that will spell out major challenges ahead for conservative talk radio, if it doesn't get its act together, very soon.


Welcome
Orbusmax readers! Click here for my brand new WorldNetDaily piece on conservative talk radio. To RadioEqualizer home page for the latest coverage.

This story has been updated, Wednesday evening, here. It just gets funnier!

13 Comments:

  • Mr. Maloney, you've spawned a cottage industry of people pretending that 12+ matters in talk ratings, and you've propelled the right to renew its AAR deathwatch. Congrats. But let's take a look at your latest target, KPOJ in Portland. You lament it's decline in 12+. Woa is KPOJ. But KEX, the conservative talker that is #1 in 12+ in Portland, is only two tenths of a point away from KPOJ in 25-54. For people who don't already know, the reason you can see 12+ ratings for free is because nobody would ever pay for them. The real knowledge is in the demos.

    I should point out that KPOJ has no local news, no established name in the market, no promos on TV, no event sponsorships, and had no local programming for the ratings period, none of which is AAR's decision. Yet it's virtually tied with the 50kW conservative blowtorch heritage station with very heavy promotion. And in most other markets, not only does the progressive talker have all of these things against it, but it also has a much weaker signal. In the only other market I have demo info for, New York, the much-maligned WLIB beats WOR in 25-54 total day despite the considerably worse signal, and is not far behind WABC. WLIB has all of the above disadvantages, yet it manages to do much better than 1/5 the numbers with 1/5 the signal.

    Your arguments are as baloney as your pretending you were fired for not liking Dan Rather. AAR continues to add local stations and local stations continue to invest in new local programming. It ain't dyin'.

    By Anonymous PDX, at 03 May, 2005 17:38  

  • http://www.airamericaplace.com/boards/index.php?showtopic=8585

    these are the types of responses you get

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 03 May, 2005 17:39  

  • PDX > Again, no proof.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 03 May, 2005 18:00  

  • PDX -- You seem to have access to the Arbtrions that show WLIB is succeeding in NYC. Why don't you post them here? For that matter post any Arbitrons you have.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 03 May, 2005 18:05  

  • PDX:

    Complain all you want. On the flip side, I've seen the endless, relentless promotion of Air America and excuse-making on the Radio-Info talk radio board and Portland Radio Discussion Board, plus a dozen other places.

    On the Portland board, which I assume you're aware of with your "PDX" identity, the response to my work was a slew of personal attacks.

    If 12+ didn't matter, they wouldn't be posted at the trade sites, because nobody would care. But people do care and look at 25-54 as well.

    In New York, WOR runs non-political specialty shows during major portions of the day, so any comparison to WLIB doesn't work well.

    Otherwise, this is lame excuse-making about KPOJ. Why? Because it had good ratings, but is losing them quickly. It did well before without local news, promos, sponsorships and everything else you cite.

    This was supposed to be the station that could lead the way for lib talk nationwide, but it is stumbling, too.

    As for the Rather situation, the University Of Oregon Department of Journalism and Communication nominated me for a 2005 Ancil Payne Award For Ethics In Journalism after the incident. I didn't win, but it was an honor to be recognized.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 03 May, 2005 18:46  

  • I'm still waiting for PDX to post a link to the 25-54 Arbitrons he keeps talking about. Personally I think AAR needs to keep the charade going in order to secure more financing. They must be getting close to burning through the last ~$13,000,000 the investors gave them.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 03 May, 2005 21:24  

  • At this point of the game, AAR is officially a money pit. It is in the same position as a kept woman living in Trump tower. She'll be there as long as sugar daddy keeps paying the rent.

    I have to laugh at the idea that AAR needs more time in NYC. With the high concentration of liberals, you would've thought that AAR was going to success right out of the box. I didn't happen. In addition, AAR was so heavily hyped and promoted that anyone who had any interest the product would have already heard of AAR and is listening by now. The ratings in NYC are going nowhere.

    One more thing, I live on the upper east side of Manhattan, AAR has begun and ad campaign. On many payphones there is a poster with a picture of an AAR personality, with a caption that says "Bushed." Is this really wise? Aren't they trying to develop radio personalities, as opposed to basing an entire radio station on hatred of the President?

    Brett

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 03 May, 2005 21:49  

  • Scott Allen Miller ("Scotto"), morning co-host at WRKO, says "Enough Already About Air America" in his blog

    http://iamscotto.blogspot.com

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 04 May, 2005 03:59  

  • "encouraging" = grasping at straws

    By Blogger Maggie, at 04 May, 2005 08:06  

  • 12+ are for entertainment purposes only. They have no connection to a station's success, viability, saleability, etc. To do "analysis" based on 12+ is ridiculous.

    Now, Arbitron gets all tort-happy with people who post actual numbers, but here are the 25-54 rankings for NY and PDX:

    NY:
    1 WLTW
    2 WSKQ
    3 WRKS
    4 WAXQ
    5 WXRK
    6 WBLS
    7 WKTU
    8 WQHT
    9 WINS
    10 WHTZ
    11 WPAT
    12 WWPR
    13 WPLJ
    14 WCBS-FM
    15 WCAA
    16 WQCD
    17 WFAN
    18 WABC
    19 WNEW
    20 WQXR
    21 WCBS-AM
    22 WADO
    23 WLIB
    24 WKXW
    25 WALK
    26 WOR
    27 WBAB
    28 WBLI
    29 WEPN

    WLIB and WCBS are very close, WLIB and WOR not so much.

    PDX:
    1 KGON
    2 KKCW
    3 KINK
    4 KWJJ
    5 KRSK
    6 KKSN
    7 KUPL
    8 KEX
    9 KNRK
    10 KPOJ

    KEX is the top conservative talker. KXL and KPAM are other conservative talkers in the market and are further down.

    By Anonymous pdx, at 04 May, 2005 08:38  

  • BTW, Brian, you wrote about KPOJ, "It did well before without local news, promos, sponsorships and everything else you cite." No, it didn't. It scored less than half a point. And KPOJ is doing quite well now without all that stuff. I'd imagine if KPOJ were actually on equal footing with KEX in those departments, it would solidly outperform it.

    By Anonymous pdx, at 04 May, 2005 08:58  

  • KPOJ Trending Down:
    Summer '04: 4.0
    Fall '04: 3.7
    Winter '05: 3.3

    http://www.radioandrecords.com/RRRatings

    where's a link to your numbers?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 04 May, 2005 21:22  

  • Anon, there was no link to the Portland numbers because of an error at the Radio & Records site which left KPOJ off the list entirely.

    I had to get the data from All Access.com, which is not available to the public, therefore I could not provide a link.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 05 May, 2005 01:27  

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