The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

10 December 2007

Libtalkers Brace For KOPT / Eugene Loss


'Progressive' Talk Could Vanish In Lefty Hotbed

Long ago, writing about the latest station to lose liberal talk radio programming had become redundant for your Radio Equalizer.

One in particular, however, demands to be noted here: the likely end of "progressive" talk in Eugene, Oregon. As a hotbed of extreme- left radicalism, it just seems stunning to think the format couldn't work there.

Yet, Oregon lefties are bracing for the planned takeover of KOPT-AM by Oregon Public Broadcasting, which plans a music format for the station. It's been home to Stephanie Miller (right photo), Randi Rhodes, Ed Schultz and many other "progressive" hosts.

You read that correctly: far from a right- wing plot to remove lefty views from the local airwaves, it's the NPR folks who are putting it out of business.

Not that it was doing much of that, as the Eugene Register- Guard reports:

Churchill Media believed it had a winner with the progressive radio format in liberal Eugene, broadcasting Air America’s slate of talk shows that included comedian Al Franken, Stephanie Miller and Randi Rhodes, beginning in 2004. A few months later, the station added local news and talk programs allowing people to debate a range of issues from the war in Iraq to the West Eugene Parkway.

While it did lure a devoted audience, said Churchill General Manager Paul Danitz, the advertising required to support the expenses never quite materialized.

Local staff cost about $500,000 annually in salary and benefits, and monthly expenses at the station were in the $40,000 range, Danitz said. To break even would have required $1 million in annual revenue, and KOPT never quite got there, he said.

While sales staff could make the initial sales, advertisers didn’t see a return on their investment in the form of listeners doing business with them, Danitz said.

Last summer, KOPT cut all the local programming, laying off experienced broadcasters such as news director Rick Little and talk show host Brian Shaw.

The Salem Statesman- Journal has more here.

Actually, ratings were small as well, according to the most recent data available: KOPT generated a mere 2.1 overall share, while Limbaugh affiliate KPNW pulled a 4.9.

Though the format may yet find a new home, the fact that Eugene's politically- extreme local environment didn't save libtalk from sinking just seems shocking.

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  • Don't worry, Hash or MOP will come by soon enough to talk about the neo-con "poisoning" of Err America, and forcing the station off the air... Economic reality doesn't apply to the Left side of the political spectrum!

    By Blogger Da, at 10 December, 2007 13:54  

  • The General Manager said: "While sales staff could make the initial sales, advertisers didn’t see a return on their investment in the form of listeners doing business with them."

    Welcome to Economics 101.

    This story gets repeated over and over again when it comes to Progressives' weak attempts to run a radio station.

    If you don't have anything worth talking about, you won't have any listeners.

    By Blogger The Benson Report, at 10 December, 2007 15:48  

  • Da, his name is MoPoop, not MOP. Say it with an exaggerated ebonics accent.

    By Blogger PCD, at 10 December, 2007 16:04  

  • I remember walking through the University of Oregon campus a few decades back, and one thing stood out - a posting for an upcoming meeting by the Youth Communist Brigade, right next to a flyer for an upcoming kegger. Says it all about Eugene, don't you think?

    And Air America couln't even flourish in that kind of environment.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11 December, 2007 00:25  

  • Dec 22 will mark one full year without a prog. talk station in
    Boston. A hotbed of liberalism
    but they couldn't make libtalk work.
    While libtalk (New England-wise)
    is still in western MA and Brattleboro VT, it has exited in
    Boston, Providence, New Haven,
    Burlington VT, and Portland ME.

    Of course we all know there's a
    "advertiser blacklist" which is
    the real reason AAR crashed and
    burned. Right...? :)

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 11 December, 2007 03:30  

  • Ahhh...finally. Some news about my home!

    Churchill Media started out as a company that wanted to put Progressive Talk on all of it's properties, but after the experiment in Eugene went wrong, they now have had to change their operation style.

    They now make money by doing ethnic programming, specifically that of the Tejano or Rancheria variety.

    I do wonder, however, if NPR is going to throw a format like that of the Current (89.3 in Northfield, MN) onto KOPT. It'd be great if they did.

    By Blogger Yomi Mizuhara, at 12 December, 2007 15:33  

  • The station has now been totally replaced with NPR. My husband and I miss the Progressive Talk. There is nothing else to listen to in our area. We live in...gasp...Springfield

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 26 February, 2008 21:04  

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