The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

12 August 2008

DC Hybrid Talk Station 3WT Shutting Down


Dreadful Lib/Conservative Talk Outlet Fails

Hey, here's an idea: let's create a new FM music station that plays country in morning drive, followed by hip-hop in the afternoon and classical after dark!

Would you want to be a manager stuck implementing that crazy idea? Luckily, because it is so preposterous, the concept would probably never get off of the drawing board. Somewhere in the chain of command, a corporate suit would know better, right?

When it comes to talk radio, however, even the most experienced executives seem baffled by the basics of programming. That's certainly the only way to explain Washington's 3WT.

Featuring a bizarre mix of liberal and conservative talk programming, its slogan was even harder to comprehend: "Left, Right and Whatever We Want". Huh?

Yesterday, station owner Bonneville announced that 3WT would soon disappear, less than a year after its initial kickoff.

Utilizing three Beltway frequencies, 3WT has featured libtalker Stephanie Miller in the morning, followed by Bill O'Reilly, Neal Boortz, Glenn Beck, fellow "progressive" Randi Rhodes in the afternoon and conservative talker Jerry Doyle. In addition, Washington Nationals baseball has often pre-empted 3WT's evening lineup.

Isn't that a lot like mixing country, hip-hop and classical on the same station?

Not only was the mix of syndicated programming bizarre, but there was a complete absence of local hosts in a region that could sure use a few more. Is it any wonder this concept failed?

And this isn't the only format idea that has flopped using these signals. From the Washington Business Journal:

“We didn’t get the kind of ratings that we were looking for and therefore didn’t have the revenue or the profit,” said Joel Oxley, senior vice president of Bonneville. “This lets us move our distribution to WFED, which has a tremendous growth opportunity.”

The latest moves also make WTOP a trimulcast station, broadcasting on three FM frequencies, further increasing its regional coverage.

This is the third incarnation for the trio of stations since March 2006 when Bonneville partnered with The Washington Post to launch Washington Post Radio. Bonneville and the Post ended that relationship last August, citing low ratings.

Now, they're simply giving up.

Here we are, a full twenty years after Rush Limbaugh took radio by storm, blazing a trail that helped to build radio's most important format. More recently, FM music has rapidly been abandoned by young people, meaning that talk represents land-based radio's only real future.

And yet, judging by the incompetence, you'd think the medium had been created yesterday.

With so much on the line, why have talk radio programming decisions been placed in the hands of executives who lack even a basic understanding of the audience and its interests?

Because radio is the one industry that never seems to learn from its mistakes, expect to see 3WT's hopeless format tried again elsewhere. Bet on it.

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  • Brian,

    I live in a market that had an ignorant liberal owner (Embrescia of Media One Group) create an AM Talk channel in 2005 consisting of Imus, Beck, Limbaugh, and then Ed Schultz (WKSN Jamestown, NY fyi).

    They switched to Bennett after Imus left, but for some reason (I wonder what that could be), they could never be bothered to market the channel.

    So, July 4th, they switched it to oldies. Now we are Rushless in a market of about 30k-50k.

    Know what kind of resources it takes to start up a talk radio channel? Can you lease tower space for new spectrum, etc?

    By Blogger Dan, at 12 August, 2008 20:59  

  • 20 years ago, you could understand a move like this. Talk radio stations were still mixing up their political spectrum until they finally saw the writing on the wall. Talk about being behind the times.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12 August, 2008 22:55  

  • WABC in NYC for many, many years was a conservative, liberal hybrid, up until 1996. It worked just fine. In the long run the all right wing stations and all left wing station will be proven to be a FAILURE. This is a trend, it is showing signs of decrease already. In 10 years, you will see I'm correct, and Brian is 100% wrong.
    There is only so much "lib lib lib" rhetoric you can handle. Same for all liberal stations, only so much "shut up and vote Democrat" talk you can stand....
    The life and creativity has been sucked out of talk radio. Brian condones it, because his sick ideology dominates talk radio right now. If "lib talk" was the dominant format, Brian would be crying for hybrid stations....

    Dan craps out of his mouth "ignorant liberal owner"..... no so... the format of just TALK has worked for years on end. It is actualy harder to sell advertising on an all conservative staion. The demographics lean over 60 year olds for the most part. All right wing stations score big 12+ ratings (as 80% of the listenrship is over 60 years old) yet do not attract the more important demographics.... WABC does not bill so great considering the large 12+ number they receive.

    Stop crying about being "rushless", pull yourself up by the bootstraps and buy your own radio station or pay for the pigman's podcasts. "libs" have very few radio outlets, so stop whining.
    That was what wing nuts were saying when "libs" complained about no "liberal talk". Same treatment for you. You are not special, because you listen to the pigman. No Rush in your market Dan, buy your own damm radio station, the market did not desiere Limbaugh in your market, accept the market and if you wish to defy the market in your ares, buy your own radio station or pay for the podcasts of the Nazi.

    By Anonymous Conservativehypocrites, at 13 August, 2008 10:40  

  • Dan,

    You should be able to receive Rush on WBEN, AM 930 out of Buffalo:

    By Blogger Chromium, at 13 August, 2008 19:14  

  • Nice to see that the ignorant libtard isn't completely eye-full of rage or anything.

    As Brian talked about before, conservative talk radio is easy to sell, provided you have someone who knows how to sell it. When you encounter a business that says they don't want to advertise on controversial radio, explain the benefits of the conservative talk listener... we have jobs, are more wealthy, more pro-corporate, more pro-business than our libtard counterparts, as well as the inherent tendency to connect with a host and trust their offerings.

    And chromium, thanks, and I am able to get limited WBEN coverage, minus a few spotty sections of town. The best part of listening to Rush on WBEN now is that I don't have to get in my car after a day's work and hear Ed Schultz' ignorant mouth damning our country.

    By Blogger Dan, at 13 August, 2008 22:49  

  • I think it speaks volumes of Brian's totalitarian mindset that he doesn't even approve of the concept of offering alternating voices. What a monolithic bore!

    By Anonymous Jaxebart, at 14 August, 2008 10:14  

  • Dan
    The conservastive talk radio audience is mostly over 60 years old. Fanatical, loonatics for the most part listen to talk radio in general, especially conservattalk. How many more of your people are going to commit acts of terrorism? You are now averaging 1 a week.
    Ever go to an event sponsered by a wing nut host? My friend owns a bookstore in Long Island and was host to Mark Levin and Hannity, the audience looked like a bunch of mental patients, dirty, unwashed, and most lookeed like they rolled out of bed 10 minutes ago, to catch their hero Levin. The crowd, was definatly not high-brow in the slightest, some would call it White trash. Dirty, unwashed, sloppy, the SSI crowd, the welfare crowd, not the blue collar crowd not the white collar crowd, dirty, trash, unemployed trash.

    Conservative talk radio attracts the lowest of the low. That crowd at the Levin event, looked like the free cheese line. Lazy, dirty, white trash.

    Dan, you live in a fantasy world. The demographics in reality are different than what is "sold". The crowd was laughable, I witnessed it, I was there, snickering in the background.

    The people at the event, had a glazed, psychotic look in their eyes. An army of unemployeed, talk radio zombies. Not exactly the 6 figure demographic that NPR attracts. More like the $15,000 a year, adult, living in his mother's house. The people I have encountered in my life who are conservatalk listeners, are indeed the social misfits that I know. My friend Dennis, a die hard conservatalk loser, listens to WABC 15 hours a day, in his mother's house, jobless and on SSI, for mental disability. That is the talk radio audience on the right.
    Funny, i attended 1 Air America event, the audience all looked like they got off a high paying job at 5PM. Most in business clothing, all had money, all bought things, all clean and respectable.

    stop pretending that conservatalk radio is high-brow, it is the lowest form of entertainment in America (next to gangsta rap). DOn't believe me, attend an even from the left and right, and you tell me... based on appearance which crowd, has more affluent people....

    You people are dangerous, psychotic and broke. I'm tired of you degenerate conservatalk radio creeps.

    Indeed I was partially responsibe for getting sponsers off the Savage show. THe new campaign is to draw the recent conservative murders to talk radio. I'm designing a campaign to divert as much money away from talk radio as possible.

    Who wants to advertise to a bunch of glazed eyed, ticking time bombs?

    By Anonymous STOPCONSERVATIVETERRORISTS, at 14 August, 2008 10:17  

  • Liberal talk radio is a proven failure. Therefore, the reasoning goes, the government must step in and make it mandatory via the Fairness Doctrine.

    What kind of country would we be if we actually let people make up their own minds about what opinion to listen to? Not the kind of country Michelle Obama could be proud of, I'll tell you that.

    By Blogger V the K, at 14 August, 2008 10:23  

  • The crowd, was definatly not high-brow in the slightest, some would call it White trash. Dirty, unwashed, sloppy, the SSI crowd, the welfare crowd...

    ... but enough about your family reunion.

    By Blogger V the K, at 14 August, 2008 12:42  

  • Brian,

    What you don't get is what launched Rush initially was personality. What thinkers like you have done in the past 20 years is forsake the personality for three or four hours a day of talking points. To use your musical analogy your idea of a good music station is to rotate three our four artists all playing the same song with the same lyrics. And we wonder why audiences under the age of 40 are looking for alternatives to terrestrial radio?

    By Anonymous Paul, at 14 August, 2008 13:36  

  • What you don't get is what launched Rush initially was personality.

    Big deal, Randi Rhodes has at least four of them.

    By Blogger V the K, at 14 August, 2008 13:58  

  • Scumbag idiots like "terrorist" is exactly why a vote for Bob Barr is a vote for Barack Hussein Obama.

    Liberals are fun to watch, so long as they're kept far away from power. Reading his comment was like going to a museum of ignorance with a 20-IQ maximum. It gave me a mild chuckle before the tremor that beset me, realizing that there actually are individuals so misled, so ignorant, and so vile that live here in America.

    By Blogger Dan, at 14 August, 2008 14:51  

  • Brian,
    Quick note. Randi was on 820 AM in Fredrick. The 3WT line up on 1500 AM and 107.7 FM from Noon to 10 p.m. was, Bill O'Reilly,
    Glenn Beck and Neal Boortz. Did you ever actually know what was on the station? Did you ever listen?
    Or do you hate it when facts get in the way of your story?

    By Anonymous Paul, at 14 August, 2008 20:32  

  • For those of us who have a clue about the world that we live in. Rush is truly the ignorance personifier. After having served and lived around the world for several years and now back in the U.S., it is sad that someone hunkered down in his S. Florida home for years has so much influence, spouting ignorance with pride. Not being able to hear intelligible discussion on both sides is a defeat for the independent-center non-right, non-left. I'll miss 3WT on 820 AM. Instead, there is only right, righter & rightest in talkradio. That's scary!

    By Anonymous Bill, at 18 September, 2008 20:23  

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