The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

26 April 2006

Air America Radio, WLIB, Randi Rhodes, Al Franken

DRUDGE: AAR MELTDOWN

On Temporary NYC Station, Leaked Ratings Show Huge Drop





After someone with access to early Winter 2006 Arbitron radio ratings results leaked them to Matt Drudge, Air America Radio can't possibly be happy. **Update below: Drudge understated losses**

While basic, overall audience figures will be released at 5pm today, Matt was slipped a copy of specific breakdowns this morning, bringing bad news for Franken & Co. For setting advertising rates, these quarterly numbers are especially important.

Normally, much of this information isn't disclosed to the public.

Almost immediately after the Drudge flash was posted, the Radio Equalizer's in-box was stuffed with readers wondering if we had the rest of the story.

For WLIB-AM, Air America's temporary New York City home, Drudge reports this:


the just released radio Winter Book [Jan-Mar 2006] from ARBITRON shows AIR AMERICA in New York City losing more than a third of its audience -- in the past year!

Among all listeners 12+, it was a race to the bottom for AIR AMERICA and WLIB as mid-days went from a 1.6 share during winter 2005 to a 1.0 share winter 2006.

During PM drive, host Randi Rhodes plunged to 27,900 listeners every quarter hour, finishing 25th place in her time slot, down from 60,900 listeners every quarter hour in the fall.

A network source says the radio ratings released today do not reflect the overall growth of the broadcast.

"The demos are better, and listerners trust AIR AMERICA to give them the real truth on issues and the Bush presidency," says the insider.


Just who is the crazy "insider" who won't put a name to these outlandish claims?


Later, another leaker posted this on the New York City radio board, where broadcast professionals chat about the business:


The numbers I am hearing for Air America are worse than that.

The figure I have for 12+ is that they dropped to a 0.8, from a 1.4 in the last book.

They lost almost half their audience in every daypart.

The 25-54 numbers are just as bad, with huge drops around the clock.

As far as Rhodes, here are the 25-54 numbers for afternoon drive:

WABC - Hannity -- 2.6

WLIB - Rhodes -- 1.0

WOR -Hennican/White -- 0.7


What Drudge didn't mention: Air America's temporary lease extension for WLIB-AM runs only through August, while options for a new Big Apple home range from bleak to hopeless.

Still being considered: Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen's failed Sporting News Radio outlet, with a signal far weaker than WLIB's.

Please return for a great deal more on this still-developing story.

Update: Confirmed -- WLIB falls to an overall 0.8 from 1.4. This is ugly.

Slight gains for Air America in Los Angeles, but still just a 1.0 share. Flat in Chicago with a miniscule 0.7. These are tiny, tiny numbers for a network that's now had plenty of time to catch on.

Small piece of good news for Air America: the 1.0 Los Angeles finish slightly cuts the amount it has to pay Clear Channel to have its programming carried on KTLK.

New York radio poster takes on the pro-AAR spin here. Plus more at BoreAmerica.

Some bloggers such as Viking Pundit and others are wondering why Drudge actually understated Air America's New York City losses.

John in Carolina adds his take here.

Your Amazon orders that begin with clicks here, regardless of what you ultimately purchase, help to support this site's efforts. Thanks again!

Lefty Lemon, AAR Spin: David A Lunde for the Radio Equalizer

42 Comments:

  • its good WOR goes down. the new afternoon show SUCKS!!!!!

    By Blogger joe, at 26 April, 2006 16:57  

  • If I'm Percy Sutton, right now I'm demanding "all bills get squared up before and then you bastards get outta my house."

    By Blogger TC, at 26 April, 2006 17:03  

  • No surprise - progressive radio has been existing - and failing - in New York City and elsewhere for decades. The difference is that, as few people are aware, progressive radio outside of Air America is and has for years been heavily subsidized by tax dollars through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.(yes, the Feds pay for commie radio!)

    AAR doesn't have access to those dollars, not yet anyway (wait until a Democrat gets in the White House, maybe AAR will get a grant to reduce smoking, which is how Clinton bought silence from NOW during the Lewinsky scandal).

    In any event, hopefully AAR will limp along, further highlighting the illogic and just plain awfulness of so called "progressives." For conservatives, AAR is the gift that keeps giving
    B.Samuel Davis

    By Blogger Alex, at 26 April, 2006 17:26  

  • It's official!

    WLIB in NYC went from a 1.4 to an all-time low .8


    Toot toot. Here comes the liberal excuse train.

    AAR has been crowing about Bush's ratings, when theirs have gone down by 40% since the last book.

    People might "disapprove" of Bush, but they can't stand Air America.

    By Blogger Brett, at 26 April, 2006 17:34  

  • AAR sucks. How anyone can stand to listen to any of their programming for more that 10 minutes is beyond me.

    By Blogger Lidsville, at 26 April, 2006 17:41  

  • Alex?
    If the books were actually ever cracked open, I'd bet Air Idiot did, per annum, a hella lot better than any NPR station has ever did, finance-wise.

    By Blogger TC, at 26 April, 2006 17:54  

  • The question I have is: How much longer can these jokers limp along? Brian, you've been following this sordid mess from the get-go and no matter how bad the radio line-up or the financials get they manage to stay on the air. There's obviously no market for them, yet they defy the laws of economics!

    The SEC should be all over AAR; ah, but they'd have to be publicly owned. The IRS then. Seems they'd have to be cooking the books to stay afloat, unless Soros and donors are constantly infusing them with cash.

    By Blogger Robosquirrel, at 26 April, 2006 18:23  

  • The question I have is: How much longer can these jokers limp along? Brian, you've been following this sordid mess from the get-go and no matter how bad the radio line-up or the financials get they manage to stay on the air. There's obviously no market for them, yet they defy the laws of economics!


    By Robosquirrel, at 26 April, 2006 18:23

    AAR will keep limping along as long as the sugar daddies keep footing the bill.

    There's no way that AAR is covering its overhead strictly from advertising dollars.

    The story of AAR is not a unique one: A person or group with a grand concept raises a bunch of money to start a business. When that concept doesn't translate into dollars, the investors get skeptical and eventually pull the plug. It often happens at about the two year mark. However, I believe AAR will hang around until after the elections.

    By Blogger Brett, at 26 April, 2006 18:42  

  • Lemme do my best Dick Tuck impersonation:

    "But ... But ... But ... Chicago went up a tenth of a point! That means they're a success!!!"

    By Blogger BF, at 26 April, 2006 19:32  

  • Lemme do my best Dick Tuck impersonation:

    "But ... But ... But ... Chicago went up a tenth of a point! That means they're a success!!!"

    By BF, at 26 April, 2006 19:32

    He'll probably brag about the station going from .7 to 1.0.

    Of course, that's the equivalent of a baseball player whose batting average goes from .070 to .100.

    By Blogger Brett, at 26 April, 2006 19:48  

  • There can be quite a bit of bouncing around in Arbitron ratings - I prefer to average a station's share over the four most recent reporting periods to help separate the noise from the signal. The three previous rating shares for WLIB in NYC are 1.0, 1.2, and 1.4.

    That said, with the Winter '06 book now closed, AAR's share of the 12+ audience for WLIB in NYC only averages out to be 1.1 with the recorded 0.8 share. For NYC's 15,330,000 member strong 12+ audience, that means 168,630 listeners per average quarter hour (AQH).

    If the Winter '06 rating had come in at 1.4, that would mean an average 1.25 rating over the four most recent rating periods, or 191,625 listeners per AQH. Since it came in at 0.8, that indicates AAR lost about 23,000 listeners, or 2.2% of my estimate of their total national audience through all their local broadcast affiliates.

    For reference a 0.8 rating is equivalent to 122,640 listeners per AQH in the NYC market.

    I wonder how much of their drop in listenership is tied to their troubles in securing WLIB as a long-term broadcast base in NYC? It might be that a good number of listeners might have moved on to stations with less possibility of a format change.

    By Blogger Ironman, at 26 April, 2006 20:00  

  • Like brett, I'm waiting for the spin from their diehard fans.

    "But wait! Al Franken beat Bill O'Reilly in the key demographic of 'Single, unemployed, bike-riding, female cat owners who live in an apartment, ages 24-25'!"

    By Blogger frankenlies, at 26 April, 2006 22:07  

  • What no leftie turnds posting and calling Brina Baloney or something equally as juvenile. Wonders never cease.

    By Blogger Seriouslyunserious, at 26 April, 2006 22:42  

  • I wonder how many of these posters are Mr. Maloney himself? They are all posted within 5 minutes of each other then suddenly stop....

    By Blogger waaah123, at 27 April, 2006 07:46  

  • Only a liberal would stoop that low...

    By Blogger BF, at 27 April, 2006 08:55  

  • "The demos are better, and listerners trust AIR AMERICA to give them the real truth on issues and the Bush presidency," says the insider.
    That's the line all these leftwing publications and stations use these days: 'We may be losing audience, but our audience is smarter, higher income, trendier, more influential, more relevant, etc.'

    By Blogger modifiedcontent, at 27 April, 2006 10:17  

  • Best news, you mentally sick right wing mama's boys have had in a year. Fine attack Air America, it will not stop the Democratic sweep in November. See cons, need talk radio to make themselves feel that they are the "mainstream". Liberals, have JOBS, conservatives live with mommy and listen to talk radio

    By Blogger rightwingwhiner, at 27 April, 2006 11:18  

  • "The demos are better, and listerners trust AIR AMERICA to give them the real truth on issues and the Bush presidency," says the insider.
    That's the line all these leftwing publications and stations use these days: 'We may be losing audience, but our audience is smarter, higher income, trendier, more influential, more relevant, etc.'

    By modifiedcontent, at 27 April, 2006 10:17


    It reminds me of the movie "This is Spinal Tap."

    The manager says that the band's playing smaller venues means that its audience is getting "more selective."

    By Blogger Brett, at 27 April, 2006 11:23  

  • Some actual numbers from a reliable source would help (not drudge) here.

    Can someone point us to the numbers?

    By Blogger waaah123, at 27 April, 2006 11:41  

  • waaah123,

    Yes, although you should consider Andrew Olmstead's advice before making any similar request in the future.

    By Blogger Ironman, at 27 April, 2006 13:32  

  • ironman,
    I consistently see blabbering on here with no one pointing to numbers. I'm trying to get someone to do it for once.

    By Blogger waaah123, at 27 April, 2006 14:16  

  • Demicratic sweep in November. Care to define exactly what you are so boldly predicting? House? Senate control too? Net plus on Governors of ?

    Did you read Susan Estrich yesterday? She seemed to say you were going to be sadly dispondent again. But she no doubt is just another "metally sick right wing momma's boys". Let me know if you need a link to the article. Happy to oblige.

    By Blogger Seriouslyunserious, at 27 April, 2006 14:18  

  • if she is a right wing hack, don't bother. If she is a real reporter, go ahead. Who cares if A.A ratings suck anyway? The G.O.P is going to lose major seats in the senate. Even your favorite right wing Rasmussen predicts it. So how about facing reality already? I coulden't care if A.A had a .2 share, it is still locked on my computer 24/7. Maybe their ratings suck because more people listen online.

    By Blogger rightwingwhiner, at 27 April, 2006 17:38  

  • Actually streaming is probably Air America Moneypit's best option. They aren't exactly on the 50,000 watt blowtorches across the country.

    By Blogger eLarson, at 27 April, 2006 17:53  

  • "It might be that a good number of listeners might have moved on to stations with less possibility of a format change."

    Ironman - I'm not a radio guy, so this thought requires a little more explanation for me as a reason for a drop.


    To me it decodes as saying:

    This radio station might go away later, so I'm going to stop listening to it now...."


    Huh? Sort of like breaking up with a girlfriend because she might break up with you?

    By Blogger Lokki, at 27 April, 2006 18:56  

  • elarson,

    I believe AAR's Internet broadcasting is one of the brighter spots in their business model, thanks in large part to Rob Glaser, CEO of RealNetworks and chairman of AAR's parent company, Piquant, LLC.

    That said, the Internet stream very likely doesn't provide anywhere near enough revenue to cover the costs of AAR's operations. Now that AAR will be losing WLIB as an outlet in the NYC market at the end of August, which represents upwards of 20% of the network's total audience (and revenue) if it's not replaced, one wonders if AAR's senior management will finally get around to getting their costs in line.

    Then again, AAR has always depended upon the kindness of strangers (billionaires)....

    By Blogger Ironman, at 27 April, 2006 18:59  

  • lokki commented and asked:

    "Ironman - I'm not a radio guy, so this thought requires a little more explanation for me as a reason for a drop.

    To me it decodes as saying:

    This radio station might go away later, so I'm going to stop listening to it now...."

    Huh? Sort of like breaking up with a girlfriend because she might break up with you?


    Good question - and your take on it is just about exactly right!

    This is something that happens not just in the radio business, but in business in general. Let's say we have a struggling business and its customers catch wind of it.

    Some customers (in this case, WLIB's listening audience) will begin a process of shopping for a potential replacement (another station) since they cannot count on the business staying in business to supply their needs.

    Non-radio example: HomeQuarters. Here you had a home improvement store that kept running worse and worse numbers each quarter. They began losing the business of contractors, since these particular customers need a sure supply of building materials. So, they went to Home Depot or Lowes, even if it wasn't their preferred option.

    In the end, it became something of a death spiral. The more contractors they would lose, the worse their business became, the less likely that the contractors could rely on them remaining in business, so they would lose more contractors all over again. Eventually the whole thing collapsed into bankruptcy and liquidation.

    Not to say something similar will happen with AAR, but that's why its senior leadership is under the gun right now to deliver really good news.

    By Blogger Ironman, at 27 April, 2006 19:22  

  • By Blogger kmg4, at 27 April, 2006 20:46  

  • Some customers (in this case, WLIB's listening audience) will begin a process of shopping for a potential replacement (another station) since they cannot count on the business staying in business to supply their needs.

    By Ironman, at 27 April, 2006 19:22

    This makes sense, but there's one flaw in your reasoning: most of the listeners don't know that aar is losing its lease because the major media outlets didn't cover the story.

    It was confined to conservative media outlets (Brian & NY Post) that liberals don't read, or, if they do, don't believe.

    By Blogger Brett, at 27 April, 2006 20:54  

  • brett,

    Maybe so, but I think you're underestimating how may of AAR's listeners may have read the articles in the NY Sun and the NY Post.

    In the modern age of media, you *really* have to work hard to filter out news you don't want to hear! Three words: Tom Cruise's baby....

    By Blogger Ironman, at 27 April, 2006 21:25  

  • But the question is whether it was in the New York Times. If not, then you can't expect the AAR listeners in NYC to have noticed.

    By Blogger Bruce Hayden, at 27 April, 2006 22:21  

  • I imagine most of AAR's listeners are streaming it on the web and not listening to it from the cab of an 18-wheeler like Rush's listeners.

    By Blogger WalterNeff, at 27 April, 2006 23:40  

  • >>Air America's temporary lease extension for WLIB-AM runs only through August, while options for a new Big Apple home range from bleak to hopeless.

    Radio Business Report and All Access are reporting AAR will be off WLIB as of 8/31, but programmer Randy Michaels will replace it with _locally originated_ liberal talk. More info on the News/Talk board at radioinsight.com and the General Talk board at Free Republic

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 28 April, 2006 03:41  

  • WLIB ownership are clueless. They get what they deserve. They got rid of Mike Malloy at night for something called the Satellite Sisters. They paved the way to get rid of Morning Sedition and Unfiltered, the two best and arguably most gritty and urban shows on the air. Morning Sedition was legendary for doing local remote broadcasts. That was pretty ill-timed as well since they could have increased listenership as Howard Stern left the airwaves.

    So I guess it is going to be talk about stadium issues, gun control, school vouchers, unicameral legislation, and taxes on WLIB. The people that are fans of AAR in NYC will have to follow Stern's lead and switch to XM. I did last year and it is a great deal.

    It will be entertaining to watch B.M . dance his little happy dance.

    By Blogger WHT, at 28 April, 2006 08:08  

  • If they were following Stern's lead, they'd go to Sirius.

    And the hits just keep on coming for AAR. AAR's defenders can no longer point to KLSD in San Diego and label it a success. Not after dropping nearly 50% in the last quarter (3.1 to a 1.6).

    Looks like Mr. Franken will be announcing his Senate candidacy any day now...

    By Blogger BF, at 28 April, 2006 08:51  

  • If they were following Stern's lead, they'd go to Sirius.

    Stern lost 90% of his audience going to Sirius. If the same thing happened to AirheadAmerica, their listenership'd basically be down to Alec Baldwin and that guy in Portland, Oregon.

    Part of AAR's problem... most of their listenership has difficulty distinguishing between their hosts and the other voices in their heads.

    By Blogger V the K, at 28 April, 2006 09:28  

  • I imagine most of AAR's listeners are streaming it on the web


    Yeah thats it! Fully explains the non listeners! They are hiding! Hahaha

    Come on call him Baloney again. You know you want to.

    By Blogger Seriouslyunserious, at 28 April, 2006 10:45  

  • Estrich speaks some sense to the Senseless

    Here is your link to the world. You need to get out more Estrich is the former National campaign manager for Michael Dukakis' Presidential campaign. Now a USC law professor and talking herad pundit.

    Now again rightwingwhiner tell us your bold prediction based on your reading of some generic poll or tea leaves or ???. Put locks on any 2nd story and up windows before Nov 2nd so you dont hurt yourself. You are going to be very very depressed. And in 08 the Pubs take the Presidency again, with either Guiliani or McCain. And when Stevens croaks that means we get another conservatives on the Supremes. That will be number 5.

    By Blogger Seriouslyunserious, at 28 April, 2006 11:22  

  • my predictions are not based on one poll, they are based on 12 or so polls, including your treasured Rasmussen polling. I read conservative magazines, Kristol knows of the impending defeat of the GOP. You are clearly a political hack, withg very little knowledge of politics, a CHEERLEADER. You do not even understand what "conservatives" stand for. Real conservtives abondoned the Bush administration, cheerleader hacks, still back it. You know not what your political stance is, you just cheerlead the letter "R". Real conservatives get it, moderste dems get it, independents get it. Hack cheerleaders, such as yourself DO NOT GET IT, and NEVER WILL. you woulden't know what a conservative is, if one was standing right in frtont of you, criticising Bush. You would say like a robot "lib lib lib". The same way "far far leftists" damaged the Democrart party, ignorant Bush cheerleaders wrecked your party. See you in November. On November 3rd i will come on this goofy right wing cheerleader blog, and expect a "yes sir, you are correct" from you.
    and the link, does not work.

    By Blogger rightwingwhiner, at 28 April, 2006 12:23  

  • Considering A.M radio reception sucks indoors in NYC, especially in large buildings, I would go out on a limb and say YES, many A.A. listeners in NYC, listen online, which I myself do. I very rarely listen to 1190AM. Of corse, a non-objective party line sheep who thinks public policy is a football game (such as seriouslystupid) would never consider these factors. Consider this the first right wing "we win we win" for you all year. A.A ratings suck in New York. Now you can ignore the gas prices, billions wasted in Iraq, wire tapping, defecit, nuclear war threats on Iran, outing of a covert CIA agent. You can now block it all out of your head. You can run around town screaming "libs lost libs lost Air America has a .8 12+". Have fun.
    Do yourself a favor, grow up. You are a child, with a myopic political brain. You ignore all the signs of impending doom in November, based on polls, other conservatives writings and the G.O.P's recent desperate attempts to make it seem like they are changing things (such as the Tony Snow appointment and Bush's first veto threat). Things were a lot different in November of 2004, Bush had a 48-50% approval rating, every conservative was marching to the same drum beat, and Delay and Libby were not indicted. You fail to see the drastic difference between 2004 and 2006. A lot has changed. It's time you start thinking like an adult. This is not a football game. People such as yourself make me resort to name calling on message boards.
    Are you starting to get it yet?

    By Blogger rightwingwhiner, at 28 April, 2006 13:37  

  • Ok aftewr wading thru the bluster I will put you down that you are not going to define in anyway, let alone a meaningful way, what you meant by a Democratic sweep. Lots of ad homs and more than a little projection but nothing of substance. I'll put you down as I intend to define the victory after the fact, like us morally superior lib did with Paul Hackett. A loss is a win. With rules and logic like that and refusing to define your comment, why wait? Go ahead you may already have won! start the victory lap! And you call Brian, Baloney?

    By Blogger Seriouslyunserious, at 28 April, 2006 17:13  

  • RIP AAR
    Just as Paris Hilton is living proof that money can't by class or brains, Air America Radio is living proof that money can't buy a broadcast audience. Audiences have to be earned, not bought . Building a solid, reliable (loyal) listener base takes allot of time, and to stay around in radio for an extended period of time you need to be POPULAR. Revenue generating popular. The strategic geniuses that created AAR have been espousing the myth that conservative programming is bought and broadcast with Big Money for so long, that they actually started believing it enough to try and make the myth work. Through arrogance, ignorance or convenience they have completely overlooked the reality that more radio programs fail than succeed. Sadly, the financial backers and broadcast programmers at Air America are going to experience the same reality check as did the socialist revolutionary wannabes of the sixties. They thought that the world would beat a path to their door once they began to shine the light of truth out upon the eager masses. They had mistakenly assumed that their philosophy and reasoning would be just as popular outside of their idealistic campus environment as within. Now the graying ponytails at AAR are rediscovering how the real world acts -and reacts- outside of the political idealism bubble. Sadder still, as they desperately cling to the deck railing of the Titanic of the Airwaves, Franken & Co steadfastly refuse to accept the fact that “Hate George Bush At All Cost” wins about as many audience shares as it does elections. That “At All Cost” part gets really steep, really fast when the bulk of your ad space consists of Public Service Announcements. At least the National Liberal Media still has someone to point to maintain it's own centrist illusion, that is until Scare America Radio joins Al Gore TV as the latest discard on the nation’s pop culture rejection heap. Then they’ll finally be at the top of something.

    By Blogger Mark in Denver, at 01 May, 2006 00:51  

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