The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

09 December 2008

Joe Scarborough Debuts On WABC Radio


Joe & Mika Debut Panned, Syndication Planned

What kind of media company would attempt to force listeners of a top-rated conservative talk station to endure inexperienced "hosts" from a low rated, leftist cable network? One that will be lucky to avoid bankruptcy.

In fact, the decision to insert MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski into WABC's midmorning slot is exactly how Citadel - ABC Radio got into this mess in the first place.

Since the ill-fated merger of the two companies, Citadel's upper management has struggled to grasp news-talk and what drives listenership. Instead of learning more about this highly-successful medium's audience characteristics, CEO Farid Suleman has compelled stations to comply with a series of increasingly-bizarre programming edicts, of which this is merely the latest.

In March, we joined others in calling for Suleman's termination, but he seems bound and determined to take Citadel - ABC straight into bankruptcy.

His latest fiasco debuted yesterday, made possible by the recent removal of longtime WABC honcho Phil Boyce. One longtime major market radio programmer who monitored the broadcast told your Radio Equalizer that it "sounds like a train wreck on the air. Maybe this is the making of a new horror movie: When CEOs Program." He further called it "just MSNBC on the radio."

Without a skilled programming coach to guide Joe and Mika, both rank amateurs when it comes to talk radio, the program lacked focus. It skipped around haphazardly between topics and guests, which included MSNBC insiders such as David Gregory and Tom Brokaw.

Another bad sign: the show airs for only one hour and forty-five minutes daily, an indication that someone inside the company doesn't feel these two are ready for prime time.

Despite this disappointing (but not at surprising) debut, Citadel has already announced that it will be syndicated (meaning likely force-fed to other ABC Radio talk stations) in the coming months.

Never mind the fact that most listeners to these stations despise MSNBC and its programming lineup, Suleman's edicts are all that counts at Citadel.

Between the debt and these ill-considered on-air moves, it's no wonder Wall Street has given up on Citadel: its shares (NYSE:CDL) currently trade for 20 cents. The New York Stock Exchange is expected to de-list the company in the coming months.

The one silver lining in all of this is that Citadel's likely bankruptcy will probably render null and void any contracts signed by Joe and Mika, meaning Suleman's latest disaster could be thankfully short-lived.

FOR New England regional talk radio updates, see our other site.

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  • I gave it a listen to
    yesterday...... I total waste
    of my time.
    What has been done to WABC
    770 is a sin.

    By Anonymous phllip, at 09 December, 2008 09:15  

  • Joe is one of the few folks on MSNBC that's not left wing. Mika is not 100% predictable either.

    I don't think everyone that listens to radio demands a Sean Hannity. They just demand information and opinions that entertain. I think Mika and Joe will provide that after they get going for a while.

    By Blogger fanofgrendel, at 09 December, 2008 13:45  

  • Well coming from a person who seems to me is in the tank for Fixed News I take no credence in what you say. Joe and Mika will in the near future start to beat The Stooges on Fox News in the AM, and their radio show will do the same. This is the only bad review I have read adout them, but considering all you Conservative websites links, it starts to make sense to me.

    By Anonymous Patrick, at 09 December, 2008 15:01  

  • I listened for about a minute before sending off a missive through the WABC website's contact us page. The only choice on the contact page was "Ask the Program Director". I told them I have stopped listening to WABCs entire morning lineup and now only tune in at noon when Rush Limbaugh's show starts. I used to listen from the minute I got up at 6am. They have completely lost me for 6 hours because of horrible programming choices.

    By Anonymous verbAtim, at 09 December, 2008 16:21  

  • Joe and Mike..nice people..who need to learn how to do a RADIO show!

    Who the heck is running that place anyway?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 09 December, 2008 20:00  

  • Citadel should have just put Laura Ingraham in mid-mornings. These two are amateurs at best. At least Laura Ingraham is an already successful program!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 09 December, 2008 20:11  

  • Every move since Boyce has left has been questionable, if not down right dumb. Sad to see a once great station being destroyed one "brilliant" idea at a time. From noon on WABC is still good..till they get around to "fixing" that.

    Wonder what is next from the brain trust at WABC? WOR must be thrilled at what the so called programmer at WABC is doing(G)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 09 December, 2008 22:07  

  • hey patrick, it was the most boring radio show I have ever heard, you bash sean hannity and fox but joe will never be as big as sean and rush, and msnbc, we all know where their ratings are, at the bottom, read what joe said in the newsday article, he does not want to do any ranting or talking points of any party, well good luck joe, you will never make it like this, rush talks the party line and he's the best out there as sean is second, look at the deals they just signed, so joe is going to just extend his newly liberal bias and have guest on like brokaw and gregory, how boring is that, sounds more like his morning show, have no more desire to listen to two people act like idiots and talk about how wonderful obama is, no thanks, its more like air america which will never beat conservative talk. joe would have done better to do it by himself and be like he use to be when he was a congressman, thats when I liked him, now he has caved to msnbc and the libs, NO THANKS!!!!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10 December, 2008 03:25  

  • Is there anyone out there who thinks WABC, as a business, has a right to attract a younger demographic for a change?

    Monday morning, was a train wreck. That was SHOW NUMBER be expected.

    Yesterday was noticeably better, and, this morning, they are properly skewing Barky, Axelrod, etc. for the Barkster's non-answers regarding is this not in keeping with the current neocon narrative?

    Give them a CHANCE!

    And Ingraham should be the FIRST to go. She's had a chance to pull her show together and it just gets worse and worse...she had to threaten legal action just to make them keep her program till the contract expires, so....

    For the first time, WABC is not the only game in town....WOR is pulling a solid lineup together, and there's more and more that is new to NYC on 970...WABC has to respond.

    By Anonymous hashfanatic, at 10 December, 2008 10:50  

  • Does anyone remember the Scarborough trainwreck at Westwood One? Joe thought you just open the mic and take calls...when he found out if was more work than that, he went running.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10 December, 2008 14:22  

  • Trying for young demos with talk on
    AM is like changing bait and casting into a pond with no fish. If you have a local news staff and 1/2 your shows are have a chance. Otherwise be happy with a large TSL number and learn to sell older demos, or you will end up with no numbers at all. Current WABC management does not have a clue. Watch the numbers slowly sink into the swamp.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10 December, 2008 18:03  

  • "..when he found out if was more work than that, he went running..."

    Now THAT is a valid concern, and the two of them will be out on their asses, if they don't put the requisite level of effort into it...

    By Anonymous hashfanatic, at 10 December, 2008 18:51  

  • Worse that these two is that Citadel has syndicated a degenerate liar, Curtis Sliwa! This addmitted liar, is a functional illiterate who has faked his own kidnaping, faked crime reports, illegally sold a building given to hime free by Guiliani as a payoff for supporting him for mayor, lied about "taking on the mob", and has never made a "citizen's arrest"! Do they think that people want to hear his phony stories about New York, and his "crimefighting"? How can they put is idiot on the air? He on stations that have no wattage, but since he'll do anything to be heard, he doesn't care! He crows about being syndicated, a sure sign of a moron who has achieved what he considers his dream. When he mentions the Guardian Angels, he is violating his tax exemption. He can't use a non profit group to use in commercials. If this is what Citadel thinks people want, then they really, really don't know radio! Get someone with at least half a brain, not 54year old third rate comic book character!

    By Anonymous frankvanqueens, at 11 December, 2008 19:09  

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