The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

10 September 2005

Talk Station Dropping Air America

Booted In Providence

Ratings Losses Clobbering Air America Station

The plug's finally been pulled at Air America affiliate WHJJ-AM, where enormous ratings losses have nearly killed a once-successful Providence conservative talk station.

While at least two tiny stations have already dropped Air America, this is significant because the Rhode Island talker has been one of the network's largest outlets.

According to the Providence Journal, Jerry Springer's show is the first to be yanked and will be followed by Al Franken's imminent cancellation:

Bill George, program director for WHJJ, said the Air America experiment is essentially over.

"We tried to do something big and different," he said.

"Needless to say, we were not pleased with the results . . . we are now committed to live and local talk."

WHJJ is still broadcasting The Al Franken Show, Air America's showcase, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., but George said changes in that time slot will be announced within a few weeks.

According to Arbitron ratings published in Radio & Records, an industry trade publication, WHJJ took a miserable tumble since converting to Air America's liberal programming. With a healthy 3.5 audience share among listeners 12 and older before the switch, it now has a dismal 1.8.

Especially embarrassing: Boston news/talk station WBZ, 70 miles away, actually beat WHJJ in the spring 2005 Providence ratings.

Station management obviously had all they could take and pulled the plug. Could they really afford to let the situation worsen?

Since Clear Channel owns WHJJ, it's especially interesting, given the former's significant role in providing numerous outlets for the network's programming.

One of the station's new hires is Helen Glover, a former "Survivor" contestant who apparently "leans right".

Here's Glover's publicity photo from the TV program.

Meanwhile, Raccoon Radio's Bob Nelson alerts the Radio Equalizer to a discussion of the situation here.

Your Amazon orders help to support this site's efforts. Thanks! Graphic from Marchand Chronicles.


  • Watch the rest of the stations that are suffering take WHJJ's lead. As I've said before there's room on the airwaves for quality liberal talk, AAR just isn't it.

    By Blogger Lidsville, at 10 September, 2005 17:48  

  • What! They pulled it with a 1.8 share?!

    According to Air America apologists - 1.8 is an UNQUALIFIED SUCCESS!!!!

    ha ha ha ha

    By Blogger Tom C, at 10 September, 2005 21:56  

  • Following up lidsville's comment....

    AAR does have some very competent competition on the left side of the dial - the programming produced by Democracy Radio (current and former) come immediately to mind in this regard.

    What I find remarkable is that AAR's affiliates are, in effect, forcing the network into the business strategy its management should have already adopted for its own survival.

    My guess as to why they have not is that they're busy getting ready for a move to bankruptcy, where they might be able to have a greater ability to break their contracts with affiliates.

    If that's not the case, I think the next shoe to drop will be in Memphis, as AAR affiliate WWTQ has dropped from 1.2 to 0.5 in year-over-year ratings.

    By Blogger Ironman, at 11 September, 2005 00:04  

  • tom c: yes, WHJJ was getting ratings three times as high as the two Boston stations combined! (0.4,
    0.2 IIRC) :)

    ironman: when I took my first-ever
    trip to Memphis in June I did some dial-scanning and was surprised to find an Air America station on what seemed like a pretty powerful frequency, AM 680. But I guess it isn't working out there, either.

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 11 September, 2005 03:28  

  • as of now the WHJJ site still lists
    Springer, Franken, Rhodes, and Malloy but that should change eventually. They also carry RFK Jr.'s show as well as something called "Left Brained"
    (the blog linked to that hasn't been updated since May)

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 11 September, 2005 03:32  

  • I don't know if a lack of ratings can be considered a scandal, but Air America's ratings are clearly more important than the missing $875,000. The missing money can be found again, or even donated by Al Franken, but the missing listeners mean that the whole network is heading down the toilet.

    And if Air America can't make it in a place as liberal as Rhode Island . . .

    By Blogger Vermillion & Pico: Our Political Website, at 11 September, 2005 09:38  

  • There are many problems with AAR:
    1. They spew the same anti-Bush tirades day after day, no variety.
    2. Their hosts suck, especially Randi Rhodes. 'Bounce your boobies' as bumper music? Who's going to take you seriously? And it's apparent she does absolutely ZERO preshow prep and is clueless when it comes to discussing politics with any depth.
    3. The hippy demo they seem to be successful in would sooner boycott a corporation than support it. I'm sure AAR has received quite a few calls from it's (small) listening audience saying "Why do you allow so and so to advertise on Air America? Don't you know they clear cut forests, do animal testing on spotted owlsand are affliated with Halliburton and Enron?"

    By Blogger Lidsville, at 11 September, 2005 10:43  

  • >>The hippy demo they seem to be successful in would sooner boycott a corporation than support it

    The book South Park Conservatives mentions an episode of "South Park"
    where "the 'Harbucks' coffee chain arrives in South Park to initial
    resistance but eventual acclaim". It's up to little Kyle to point out that "Big corporations are good. Because without big corporations we wouldn't have things like cars and computers and canned soup. Even Harbucks Coffee started out as a small, little business. But because they made such great coffee, and because they ran their business so well, they managed to grow until they became the corporate powerhouse they are today. And that is why we should all let Harbucks stay."

    I remember years ago longtime DJ Charles Laquidara of WBCN/Boston
    (hippie to the max) blasted Honeywell (after one of their ads ran on the station) because they made weaponry used in Vietnam.
    Great, blast the sponsor because of your politics.

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 11 September, 2005 11:25  

  • It might be noted that in very liberal Providence, and even more liberal Boston, the Air America affiliates have ratings in the toilets (WXKS-AM in Boston has a 0.4 share), while the stations which carry Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage are doing very well. (WRKO-AM in Boston draws a 4.2 share.)

    By Blogger Vermillion & Pico: Our Political Website, at 11 September, 2005 13:43  

  • it was mentioned on the Providence board that Clear Channel (associated with Premiere)
    owns WHJJ and maybe they could take
    Rush off WPRO and put him on WHJJ.
    I believe Hannity is not on in Prov. He'd be ideal either live (put Arlene
    Violet on after him) or keep Violet
    (local show) on at 3 and run Hannity
    tape delayed.

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 11 September, 2005 16:03  

  • A former 'Survivor' contestant can get a radio show and Baloney can't!?!! ROTFLMAO! You wing-nuts better start ponying up those donations before they call in the repo man.

    By Blogger HeadHunter, at 12 September, 2005 08:56  

  • As a Providence Listener - I think is sad that they are going off the air there. After listening to Rush for a couple years, The Al Franken show was usually a breath of fresh air. yes, Springer sucked, and sucks badly, but the Franken Show did have some good guests and interesting and almost honest commentary. Not the you need your head in the sand of Limbaugh... Springer - disaster... Rhodes and Malloy are a little whacked but no more so than OReily (well, he's incompetent) on the other side. IMO, Savage is an idiot that has occasional glimpses of brilliance, just more of the idiot part.

    Now I need to see if I can pull in the Boston AAR station for lunch.

    By Blogger John R, at 27 September, 2005 10:41  

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