The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

26 January 2007

Liberal Talk Radio, Monterey Bay Area, KOMY

SANTA CRUZ SAYONARA

Lacking Advertisers, Libtalk Signs Off In Monterey Bay Area






*** Big updates at SaveWRKO ***

Following the lead of stations in a number of cities across the country, Santa Cruz station KOMY- AM has given up on liberal talk radio for good, citing a total lack of financial support from the Monterey Bay Area's "progressive" community.

Broadcasting from one of the country's most liberal regions, KOMY didn't exactly find much in the way of ratings strength, either: in the most recent Monterey / Salinas / Santa Cruz figures, the station failed to even register.

Meanwhile, distant conservative talk signals from San Francisco (KSFO, which isn't easy to pick up there) and Fresno (Limbaugh powerhouse KMJ- AM) did show up in the ratings survey. Another Monterey- area libtalker, KRXA- AM, also appeared near the bottom, with a 0.6 overall share.


And with KOMY's sister station KSCO (where your Radio Equalizer worked as a host in the early to mid- nineties) now once again carrying Rush Limbaugh, its conservative future is assured, while the former will now switch to an oldies format.

From today's Santa Cruz Sentinel:


Liberal AM radio fails to pay its own way in Santa Cruz

By Shanna McCord
Sentinel staff writer

SANTA CRUZ — Al Franken, Randi Rhodes and Sam Seeder — articulate liberal pundits — don't sell well, even in Santa Cruz.

The trio are part of the nationally syndicated Air America, which was dropped from Santa Cruz radio station KOMY 1340 AM on Thursday and replaced with music from the 1950s, '60s and '70s.

The left-leaning radio network, aimed at taking on Rush Limbaugh and other conservative talk shows, debuted on Central Coast airwaves in July 2005, but local advertisers never bought in, station owner Michael Zwerling said.

"We didn't sell a single ad in a year and a half," Zwerling said Thursday. "I thought liberal radio would work as a viable advertising business in the most liberal town in America. I was wrong"

Santa Cruz isn't the only place Air America has problems. The network is struggling nationwide and filed for bankruptcy four months ago.

Zwerling put Air America on the air as an alternative to the Limbaugh program, which plays on KOMY's sister station KSCO 1080 AM every morning.

Limbaugh is a major moneymaker for the station, Zwerling said, and his show pulls the highest ratings of any program on KSCO or KOMY.

However, in Santa Cruz, where the vast majority of registered voters are Democrats and voted for Sen. John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election, Zwerling wanted to give listeners a program that better plays to their political beliefs.

Some Santa Cruzans loved Air America, Zwerling said.

But advertisers either didn't want to be associated with a station long known for a conservative stance or they simply didn't believe the show was a good place to spend their money, Zwerling said, speculating why ad sales never got off the ground despite decent ratings.

"It's an angry, nasty, pissing and moaning format where the only thing they say is 'Bush stinks' or 'Bush is bad'," he said. "No commercial advertiser wants to be associated with that"


If libtalk can't make it in Santa Cruz, what hope does it have anywhere else?

Now, of course, it's again time for that stale round of excuses: it wasn't promoted properly, not enough of a signal, it's a right- wing conspiracy to make Air America fail, you know the drill!


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22 Comments:

  • I think it would be a fun exercise to parse this story.

    ...."We didn't sell a single ad in a year and a half," Zwerling said Thursday.....

    How is that possible? Not even a walk-in? A call-in? Not even a political ad in election season? Yikes. The only commercial station I know of that hasn't sold an ad in that long is WJIB in Cambridge, and that's because Bittner won't sell them.

    ....I thought liberal radio would work as a viable advertising business in the most liberal town in America. ....

    Just because Air America tanked, doesn't mean that liberal radio isn't a viable advertising medium in the most liberal town in America, it just means that Air America isn't a viable advertising medium in the most liberal town in America.

    ... I was wrong"....

    Msybe you were, maybe you weren't. If you couldn't scrape together a listenable liberal talk lineup in Santa Cruz, either using or developing local talent or cherry picking the available, non-Air America, national talent, you have nobody to blame but yourself. You took the lazy way out and bought into the liberal turn-key talk operation thinking it was a no-brainer. It was, but not in the way you expected.

    ...But advertisers either didn't want to be associated with a station long known for a conservative stance...

    Huh? This ought to be a case study in radio school. Advertisers didn't want to be associated with a station known for conservative stances, so when you came around and went liberal they decided to punish you for prior sins? Curiously, you say your sister station turns big numbers and collects big cash with Limbaugh, so evidently a lot of folks writing checks don't mind being associated with 'conservative' radio.In truth some of those check writers may be liberal as all get-out (and in Santa Cruz you can bet on it), but they need an audience to hear those ads, and Limbaugh delivers. Today's lesson: business trumps ideology every time (at least in successful businesses.)

    Usually, this is where these stories end, with a litany of lame excuses as to why Air America failed through no fault of its own. I'll give Zwerling credit; after all the smoke screen gobblygook, he actually gets to the real point, the point which everyone knows but almost nobody has the nerve to say.....

    "It's an angry, nasty, pissing and moaning format where the only thing they say is 'Bush stinks' or 'Bush is bad'," he said. "No commercial advertiser wants to be associated with that"

    Yep, Air America sucks. Nobody listens, and advertisers are reluctant to even be associated with it. Zwerling gets it. A little late to the party, but he does get it. As does just about everyone else.

    For an arch conservative like me, Air America is the best thing that ever happened to radio. Air America launched a pre-emptive strike on liberal radio, and helped make it the third-rail of radio programming. If they had actually done it right, it could have become a problem. But as long as liberal radio is synonymous with "Air America" we've dodged a bullet.

    Regards.

    By Blogger Thomas Bench, at 26 January, 2007 13:17  

  • C'mon, Brian - be consistent!

    You completely left-out that working at AAR stressed a woman out so much, that it drove her to take a job which ultimately ended in her losing her life.

    Where's the persistence of method, man?

    http://radioequalizer.blogspot.com/2007/01/andrea-andi-parhamovich-iraq-air.html

    By Blogger TJ, at 26 January, 2007 14:27  

  • Bonjour, mes amis!

    Let's see. Air America is off the air in Santa Cruz.

    Rush "this-is-entertainment-not-news-so-I-can-say-anything-I-want" Limbaugh, a drug-addled, draft-dodging hypocrite who spews lies and misinformation to the four winds is on the air!

    Now that's a triumph for the American Way, n'est-ce pas?

    Zut alors! Où est mon passeport?

    By Blogger metrodorus, at 27 January, 2007 10:59  

  • If Air America had such a strong audience, and a strong message(besides just being a Dem press machine), would it not have succeeded?

    By Blogger Stacy, at 28 January, 2007 02:48  

  • Stacy, what part of "the neocons brought it down, by infiltrating management" don't you understand?

    If "its message" wasn't strong, why then does it happen to correspond to the message that over eighty percent of Americans are sending out?

    For the most part, AAR's hosts ranged anywhere from excellent to pretty good, with the possible exception of Franken, who really isn't inspired on radio. But host after host after host was either fired or driven out (ex. Maron, Winnstead, Garofalo, etc.) and those
    decisions were NOT made by those who shared AAR's vision, but the moneychangers and finance capitalists whose only mission (as you well know) was to derail the network.

    Conservative talk is bad radio, not because it isn't entertaining, but because it is based on a flawed, failed ideology. It has become a caricature of itself.

    If the American fascist "MSM" hadn't assumed total control of the airwaves during the decline of America that began under Reagan, would such a network as Air America even have been necessary, much less viable?

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 28 January, 2007 13:30  

  • KSCO went down to a 1.3, after dropping Savage for Alan Colms.

    By Blogger joe, at 28 January, 2007 21:05  

  • Gee Hash, if you don't make a SINGLE SALE after 18 months I don't think I'd blame the network... Maybe the message of those "excellent" hosts just didn't sell in Santa Cruz?

    By Blogger Lynnwood Rooster, at 28 January, 2007 21:54  

  • Why is it so hard to see? Hot air America Sucks. Most intelligent Americans do not want to listen to hours and hours of Democratic talking points (Bush sucks) and lies (The economy sucks) everyday all day long.

    If you want to blame it on the owners for wanting to actually make money then go ahead, but why should the host make money and not the owners?

    By Blogger pf1, at 29 January, 2007 00:35  

  • "Maybe the message of those "excellent" hosts just didn't sell in Santa Cruz?"

    Roo, I'm willing to consider that possibility, although Brian and his minions seem flabbergasted to think that Limbaugh could crash and burn on ONE station....

    But, given Santa Cruz's demographics (particularly the growth of young, multilingual potential listeners who, trust me, are more likely then most to be enrolled at college), which scenario seems more likely to you, from a business standpoint?

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 29 January, 2007 00:59  

  • "Hot air America Sucks."

    In your opinion, perhaps. There are other individuals in America. Like eighty percent of them, who may disagree.

    "Most intelligent Americans do not want to listen to hours and hours of Democratic talking points (Bush sucks) and lies (The economy sucks) everyday all day long."

    Well, Bush DOES suck, and the economy DOES suck, and most intelligent Americans DO understand that. You may have a point in that the truth is sometimes hard to bear, and traditionally, many Americans HAVE turned to vacant, bizarre, diversionary fluff in order to escape and get through the day.

    Hence, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin,
    Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Andrew Wilkow, Sean Hannity, etc.

    PF1, we on the left understand that the truth hurts. Yet, it would be good for you, nonetheless....

    "If you want to blame it on the owners for wanting to actually make money then go ahead, but why should the host make money and not the owners?"

    It has nothing to do with whether or not they make money. It is not even their own money, but the American taxpayer's money, via lobbyists, that they lose. They are out to destroy ANY liberal or left-leaning organization, person, and ideal, and couldn't care less who subsidizes their little schemes, as long as they get paid.

    And that's where I come in, you see. That's where I take issue with how the extremist right operates, and how it has NOTHING whatsoever to do with "free markets", as they were once known.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 29 January, 2007 01:12  

  • If "80% of Americans agree why couldn't they get an audience? I've never read such an intellectually lazy rant in some time.

    By Blogger Capitalist Infidel, at 29 January, 2007 01:39  

  • Cap, you asked that question at EXACTLY the right time!

    Brian didn't (gasp!) tell us the whole story. Check out what I found on http://ltradio.blogspot.com...

    "It appears Air America has not left the Monterey Bay area. KRXA has picked up more programming from the network, including the overnight refeed of Al Franken and Randi Rhodes at 11PM, as well as the Mark Riley show live from 2-3AM. Rhodes also gets a best-of replay on Sunday afternoon and evening. Laura Flanders' RadioNation has been picked up for Saturday and Sunday nights. Previously, the station had already been carrying Ring of Fire. So, don't believe the wingnut blogs with all of ten readers. AAR is still on in the Santa Cruz area."

    Actually, I don't think I could have explained it better myself.

    (Imagine, a talk radio blog with relevant information....)

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 29 January, 2007 02:02  

  • Besides, I never claimed to be an "intellectual". You'll quickly find that being able to critically think or having a curious mind, which is synonomous with liberals and liberal thought, doesn't prequalify many posters here....

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 29 January, 2007 02:10  

  • Hash,

    I'd say the hosts probably aren't as good as you think. They clearly didn't attract enough listeners to help the station sell ads. Without listeners, no ads, no station.

    It's not about the management - they RAN all of the Air America shows. It's that there wasn't enough listenership to draw in advertisers. And like it or not, radio stations are private companies, and need revenue to succeed.

    This is fundamentally the truth that has to be acknowledged about Air America. The product just wasn't attractive enough to draw enough audience. Not enough audience, not enough ad sales. Means stations either go bankrupt running that lineup, or change.

    In the end, Air America died because, I would argue, most of the listening population did NOT listen to it. It didn't have enough draw to stay alive, financially.

    That would be the most logical conclusion. Ed Schultz is doing OK, but Air America is dead. Maybe the message is what's wrong, maybe it's the way the message is delivered. But the conclusion is inexcapable - Air America simply did not draw enough listeners to be a commercially viable entity.

    By Blogger Lynnwood Rooster, at 29 January, 2007 02:18  

  • The Economy sucks lets look at the facts.

    Unemployment is very low. What does that cause? Salaries to increase. Why do salaries increase? Less workers to fill jobs causes employers to increase wages to attract workers. Increase in wages equals increase in spending. Increase in wages also causes increase in tax revenue. “Cause and effect” just basic economics. Like I said they lie.

    An example of an economy that sucks would be Europe. Spain has a pretty high unemployment rate, approximately 10.6%, Germany at 11.4% is in the same boat, with France, at nearly 10% unemployed running in third place.

    America unemployment rate 5.4%

    America’s average salary grew 5% above cost of living.

    Like I said AA Sucks.

    By Blogger pf1, at 29 January, 2007 06:14  

  • Hash,

    You may deny doing hard drugs, but your rantins are proof that you do do hard drugs to excess.

    By Blogger PCD, at 29 January, 2007 08:59  

  • Lynnwood, your reasoning is flawed.

    Randi Rhodes actually beats Rush in more than one major market, and this is without the right's vast marketing and finance capital initiatives...

    As AAR's management went neocon, the best and brightest hosts were either mysteriously discharged, hidden from view, suppressed, and replaced with apologist garbage like Armstrong Williams, Ed Schultz, Jerry Springer (!), the Satellite Sisters (!!!-in conjunction with pro-Zionist WABC, home of bright penny Curtis Sliwa)...the original vision of the founders was completely supplanted by that of the governing crime syndicate.

    This is not conjecture....any clown that reads AAR's Wikipedia breakdown or spends five minutes googling can read between the lines.

    There was, literally, a boycott of advertisers, coordinated with the neocons, which made it impossible for anyone to advertise with AAR and everyone else....again, this is no big secret.

    The election results in many swing regions clearly indicate that folks WERE listening, despite the skilled propagandists of the extremist right...if anything, it is the center that lacks the talent and clarity that Americans crave.

    The problem with your "conclusion" is that it takes about, uh, 20% of the facts into account, and conveniently ignores the other 80%
    for strictly partisan purposes.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 29 January, 2007 10:15  

  • Another loss for AAR could be in Dubya's birthplace of New Haven CT.
    Scott Fybush's North East Radio Watch is hearing libtalk may soon be gone, in favor of sports, at Clear Channel's
    WAVZ 1300. Maybe this week, just before the big Bears-Colts showdown.

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 29 January, 2007 10:29  

  • Hash,

    AAR and its affiliates made SO MUCH MONEY that a little boycott shut them down? Their management team was SO SUCCESSFUL that the investors wanted to screw things up and turn it all over?

    Did AAR ever turn a profit? Ever? If not, the reason new management came in wasn't politics - it was called business. If you have a product that doesn't sell (and here we have the word of a station owner), then you need to either close the business or restructure. Which is what happened.

    Make excuses all you want; Rush has been boycotted dozens of times, doesn't seem to hurt his ratings or ability to sell ads!

    Bottom line: AAR's product just wasn't sellable to enough people. Ergo, it collapsed.

    By Blogger Lynnwood Rooster, at 29 January, 2007 17:36  

  • Uh, would you like to compare the list of advertisers on the "Boycott Air America" neocon finance capitalist list to the ones that boycotted Limbaugh?

    If it "collapsed", exactly what are the sounds I hear emanating from my tabletop radio this very minute?

    Perhaps you believe they are telepathically communicating to us?

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 29 January, 2007 21:31  

  • "Randi Rhodes actually beats Rush in more than one major market, and this is without the right's vast marketing and finance capital initiatives..."

    Put up or shut up, hash. Which "major market" would that be? And since you used the plural case, you need to come up with more than one. And how, exactly, was that measured - 18+, 25-45, or left-handed bisexual Asian basketweavers?

    Inquiring minds want to know...

    By Blogger JD, at 30 January, 2007 21:15  

  • Did anyone ever think the reason AAR didn't succeed in the liberal bastion of Santa Cruz is the fact that most of the liberals in Santa Cruz are lazy, no job, no business, no money, no radio, pot smoking zombies that hang out at the beach in there flower painted bus, playing hacky sack and stinkin of patchouli oil. And yes, i lived in Santa Cruz for 20 years so i know. Liberals love to be spoon fed Air America BS, but god forbid they have to pay for. You think the super rich limosine liberals would throw you losers a bone a keep it on the air? hell no, they don't want you leeches sucking off there bank account more than any conservative..

    By Blogger coosblogger, at 01 February, 2007 04:15  

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