With mainstream media expectations so high, Mike Huckabee's new radio talk show was probably bound to disappoint. But newly-available hard data reveals a gaping donut hole where the audience should be.
It's an ominous sign for Cumulus Media (NASDAQ:CMLS), Huck syndicator and new owner of ABC Radio's largest AM legacy news-talk radio stations.
Widely touted as the "civil" answer to Rush Limbaugh's regime-threatening political effectiveness, the former Arkansas governor became an establishment darling earlier this year when the talk titan got caught up in the Sandra Fluke controversy.
In addition to hundreds of other media outlets, The Wall Street Journal played up his chances of tackling Limbaugh with this fawning coverage:
"Mike Huckabee will pose the most formidable challenge to Limbaugh that I can remember from a conservative hosting in the same time slot and being backed by a major company," said Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers Magazine, a talk-radio trade journal.
But the strategy behind Huckabee's new positioning has been flawed from the start: though "civil", his delivery is generally regarded as stiff and dry. Weak performance has opened him up to ridicule from both left and right, including libtalker Randi Rhodes, as seen below:
Equally important: Huck's conservative credentials have become increasingly suspect. If he's really destined to replace Limbaugh on WABC, WLS / Chicago, WBAP / Dallas and many others, how does defending Michelle Obama build that case?
In 2007, the late Robert Novak nailed Huck's real agenda here:
Huckabee is campaigning as a conservative, but serious Republicans know that he is a high-tax, protectionist advocate of big government and a strong hand in the Oval Office directing the lives of Americans.
Until now, they did not bother to expose the former governor of Arkansas as a false conservative because he seemed an underfunded, unknown nuisance candidate. Now that he has pulled even with Mitt Romney for the Iowa caucuses and might make more progress, the beleaguered Republican Party has a frightening problem.
But enough with perceptions: let's look at the facts. According to newly-released Arbitron audience data, the Huckster is off to the kind of start that makes Air America Radio appear downright successful.
That's despite enjoying an avalanche of free publicity upon his debut.
And that's even before we compare him to Rush, as Huck doesn't stand on his own, either:
In New York City, where he currently airs evenings on WOR-AM, Huck ranked just 20th overall in the broadest audience demographic, listeners six and older.
Houston's KSEV registered a tiny 0.1 overall audience share during his timeslot, good for 43th place in what should be a friendly environment.
In Seattle, heard from 4-6pm local time, Mike drew a 0.2 on KCIS-AM, for a 36th place finish.
A similar story in Cincinnati: 0.2 overall and 31st place on WQRT-AM.
Hartford: 0.0 at WDRC-AM
Adding markets where Huckabee goes head-to-head with Limbaugh only underscores the futile nature of this battle:
In San Francisco, where Mike's heard on KSFO, Rush has a 143.4% larger overall audience.
In Dallas, where Cumulus seeks to remove Limbaugh from his longtime home at WBAP, El Rushbo is CRUSHING the Huckster with eleven listeners for every one fried squirrel fan. Mike ranks 40th in the Metroplex.
Portland Oregon: Rush's ratings are 1444% higher. Huck ranks 27th there, heard on KUFO-AM.
Salt Lake City: Rush beating Mike by 13900%. The latter ranks 40th at KKAT.
Providence / New Bedford / Fall River: Huck stuck in 44th, Rush with 766% higher ratings.
Jacksonville: Rush beats by 8500%, Huck takes 27th place.
We used 6+ data here, though advertisers usually favor Adults 25-54. But the picture isn't brighter there, either.
Moreover, in most of these metro regions, the trend is actually moving further against Huckabee.
We could only find one place where the former GOP presidential candidate fared relatively well: in Nashville, from noon-1pm at WWTN-FM, resulting in 12th place and a respectable 4.1 overall share. Perhaps he could become a local host there.
The bottom line: we know why the establishment media loves Huck, but we can't figure out why Cumulus would willingly undermine itself with this truly doomed effort, unless they're looking for a giant tax write-off.
Radio execs cannot force listeners to tune into a bad program, no matter how hard they try. It's a lesson they NEVER, ever seem to learn.
BILL PRESS (12:28): This is what’s so BS about that right? We can’t criticize her [Ann Romney] for having this elitist sport because she has MS right, so he ties it right to that, yeah as if everybody whose got MS this is the answer to it.
This is what doctors prescribe. Oh you have MS ah well I have an easy cure, just go out and buy a dressage horse and you’ll be just fine.
And yet here's what the National Library of Medicine recommends for MS patients:
The following may also be helpful for people with MS:
Physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and support groups
Assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, bed lifts, shower chairs, walkers, and wall bars
A planned exercise program early in the course of the disorder
A healthy lifestyle, with good nutrition and enough rest and relaxation
Avoiding fatigue, stress, temperature extremes, and illness
Isn't this low-stress activity exactly what Ann Romney should be doing?
The bigger question: do our "progressive" friends really feel this is a winning strategy for November?
With a breathtakingly-obnoxious presentation,floundering libtalker Geraldo Rivera has found a way to chase off any remaining listeners. If he could bottle this on-air audience repellent, it could prove especially useful for summer campers.
Coming just months after he implored Romney to "admit he's Mexican", WABC's Designated Station-Killer was at it again yesterday with a ridiculous Mitt The Racist smear.
Giddy Radio Suits Take Geraldo National Despite Horrible Ratings
Geraldo's Ratings Claims Collide With The Facts
Question one: why are the new owners of some of America's largest talk stations so eager to kill radio's most successful format?
Question two: why are these corporate suits so adamant about shoving unpopular air talent into cities where they aren't wanted?
After conservative talk's incredible success over the past two decades, one might think those now overseeing ABC Radio's AM stations would build upon that legacy. Instead, they're actively destroying it from within.
Today's Exhibit A: libtalker Geraldo "Hoodie" Rivera, aka Gerald Riviera, he of the swinging chairs, broken noses and empty vaults. What compelled Cumulus broadcast execs to give this notorious huckster a radio show at nearly 69 mystifies many. But what we do know is that the facts don't match his employer's wild claims.
The truth: Geraldo repels radio listeners better than DEET could ever deter mosquitoes.
Yesterday, Cumulus (NASDAQ:CMLS) suits continued their recent public tradition of bashing conservative talk radio in a press release touting Geraldo as a "solution" to the "problem":
CUMULUS MEDIA NETWORKS ANNOUNCES NEW GERALDO RIVERA NATIONAL RADIO SHOW
New York (June 11, 2012) – Cumulus Media Networks, with more than 4,000 affiliate radio stations reaching 121 million listeners, will offer stations nationwide a live 9 am-noon radio show hosted by award-winning journalist and commentator Geraldo Rivera beginning August 13.
Rivera began hosting live and local radio shows titled “GERALDO” in the New York City and Los Angeles markets earlier this year. Following the success of those shows, GERALDO will become a single live national show launching in advance of this summer’s political conventions. The tagline of GERALDO is, “Not Red. Not Blue. But Red, White & Blue.”
“Despite the nation’s partisan divide, the success of the show on WABC and KABC is a clear indication that there is room in radio for someone who is not associated with a particular ideology.
"I’m a patriot and a pragmatic idealist, who believes both the political left and the right have contributions to make. I’ve also developed a comfortable enough relationship with the audience over the last four plus decades in television news for listeners in a spirited way to tell me when they think I’m full of beans. Like I say, ‘I’m not always right.’
"I’m grateful to Cumulus for giving me the shot at the national show, and look forward to broadcasting live from the presidential nominating conventions.”
“When Geraldo agreed to host shows for Cumulus stations in New York and L.A. we had a hunch there’d be national substantial listener interest in his incisive and insightful style, and now we’re thrilled that with GERALDO such a success in those two markets the show will now be available across the country,” said John Dickey, co-chief operating officer of Cumulus.
As an iconic personality best known by his first name, GERALDO focuses on the day’s biggest and most talked-about topics — ranging from national politics to shocking crimes to social issues. His WABC/KABC shows led the coverage during the early stages of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman murder case. And his comments of the role apparently played by the young victim’s clothing, his ‘hoodie’, became the basis for an international debate.
He has broadcast live from Afghanistan during an enemy attack, and from Quantico, Virginia, “The Crossroads of the United States Marines.” Further his campaign to put a father’s name on every birth certificate is an example of how talk radio can lead a substantive conversation aimed at resolving a national problem. The show includes listener calls, with emphasis on the kind of intelligent, energetic and controversial talk that he is known for worldwide.
Rivera will continue hosting his Sunday prime time show on Fox News, where he is a frequent contributor to weekday programming throughout the day and during prime time.
Born in New York City, Rivera started his broadcast career on WABC-TV’s Eyewitness News in 1970. He also contributed a radio commentary on WPLJ and the ABC-FM radio network from 1973 to 1976. As the Big Apple’s most visible street reporter of the era, Rivera broke numerous award-winning investigations, including the historic expose of the wretched conditions at the Willowbrook State School on Staten Island that resulted in the institution closing and the start of more humane care of the developmentally disabled nationwide.
A member of the original casts of ‘Good Morning America’ and ABC’s ‘20/20’, Rivera is a veteran correspondent who also worked on NBC News ‘Dateline’, hosted the syndicated ‘Geraldo Rivera Show’ for eleven years, and hosted CNBC’s top-rated program ‘Rivera Live’, which led the nation’s coverage of the O.J. Simpson murder trials and the Clinton Impeachment.
The winner of the prestigious Peabody, DuPont-Columbia, Scripps-Howard, several Robert F. Kennedy journalism awards, ten local and national Emmys, and many others, Rivera has raised and donated millions for charity. An unfailing supporter of the military, he is the Fox News Channel’s senior war correspondent, and has reported from all the world’s battlefields including Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Lebanon, the civil wars in South and Central America, the Philippines, the entire Middle-East and the Persian Gulf. He is also senior columnist for Fox News Latino. Married to the former Erica Levy, Rivera is the father of five he is an attorney and the author of seven books.
Aside from the absurd touting of Geraldo's ridiculous, one-man anti-hoodie movement, there's a BIG problem: his radio program has NOT been a success by any measurement. It's widely regarded as a boring, listless disaster.
And ratings? In Los Angeles, where he's heard on company-owned KABC, newly-released figures show a donut hole where Geraldo's audience should be.
According to Arbitron, KABC's morning programming averages 14,800 listeners six and older per quarter-hour from 9-10am. When Rivera takes over at 10am, that figure immediately drops to 6600 and remains stuck there until the conclusion of his show at noon.
In the especially important 25-54 demographic, the numbers are bleak, averaging about 2600 listeners per quarter-hour.
When Sean Hannity airs at noon, listenership shoots straight back up to an 18,300 average per quarter-hour. By the end of his show, Hannity's number has increased to 22,200. Larry Elder fares even better at 3pm, with 26,500.
Ratings then remain solidly above Geraldo's through the end of afternoon drive. Before Rivera joined KABC, ratings were said to be at least 50% higher in that time slot.
Meanwhile, in New York City, where Geraldo has been hosting a separate program unique to that market, the story is the same. On WABC, he's again the lowest-rated host on that station's daytime lineup, with a 1.2 share in the 25-54 demo.
Worse, he's actually played a key role in sinking WABC'soverall figures since joining, from a 3.6 share of the audience last December to 2.7 today.
Those figures were also released by the ratings firm yesterday.
But don't take Arbitron's word for it, judge for yourself: how compelling could a talk show be with embarrassing moments like these? Take a look at just a few we've documented this year:
Geraldo calls for government licensing of all parents:
Race-card antics that could make Sharpton and Jackson blush:
Rivera implores Mitt Romney to admit he's "Mexican":
The bottom line: the Dickey Brothers, who rule over Cumulus with an iron fist, can't POSSIBLY claim Geraldo is a radio success story. They have been in the business long enough to understand ratings, so why the love for unsuccessful libtalk and hostility toward audience-friendly conservative programming?
First things first: is Bill Press a fading Beltway yakker desperate for a rare helping of publicity?
OF COURSE, we know that, but how is it different from just about anyone else in the crowded world of punditry? By that standard, we could ignore just about everything and miss a lot of underlying meaning.
What matters more: he's saying what other "progressives" have long been thinking, that it's time to dismantle American nationalism, culture and tradition. Already this week, Michelle Malkin, Sean Hannity and others have hammered home these points. Disregard the messenger, as "the language of the left" underscores an agenda of destruction that can't be ignored.
During today's Bill Press Show, the former CNN Crossfire host re-upped, taunting critics with Roseanne Barr's infamous ballpark rendition and disparaged conservative activist Michelle Malkin:
BILL PRESS (9:00): Everybody stand, please stand for the Star Spangled Banner this morning okay, let’s go let’s hear it. [infamous Roseanne ballgame version airs] Shut up Roseanne Barr. Thank you for making my point about the Star Spangled Banner, that’s the problem with it. All right.
We gotta do it we started this week of shows Monday on the Star-Spangled Banner, and boy I never expected it, but boy it has blown up all week, so let’s just end it this show by putting this whole thing in perspective. You’ve probably have caught up. Everywhere I’ve gone in the last few days somebody has come up to me and said ‘you going to sing the Star Spangled Banner’ because it’s been all over out there. The right wing blogs picked up my comments that we need a new National Anthem and they ran with it.
Then of course it was picked up somebody told me by Drudge, I didn’t see it on Drudge, Fishbowl D.C. ran an article, Mediaite ran an article, yesterday morning it just went nuts, well the night before Sean Hannity talked about it, I think Bill O’Reilly talked about it. All attacking me of course and yesterday morning I was on CNN with Carol Costello talking about it.
Before I was even on CNN ran a poll asking people to call in if they agreed with me or not. Then Fox and Friend, Fox and Friends brings in Michelle Malkin. She’s talking with Gretchen Carlson about what a terrible terrible person I am because I dared suggest that the Star Spangle Banner is un-singable and we’d be better off with something like God Bless America. Here’s Michelle Malkin and Gretchen. [Audio of Malkin and Carlson plays]
This is so over the top. [As the audio plays] Bla bla bla bla. It’s so over the top. Yeah I said of course I was on Current TV with Cenk Uygur last night on the Young Turks and I said being attacked by Michelle Malkin is like being attacked by an ant or like a gnat or like a flea. I mean come on give me a break and you know first of all I I I the main point I made about being un-singable about being militaristic, but on the bravery thing, does she really thing that Americans are the only brave that’s the point I made, are we the only brave people on the face of the earth?
I mean I don’t want to make too much of this, but don’t you think maybe the Brits were pretty brave during World War II when they were getting the hell bombed out of them, we weren’t. Don’t you think the French, not all of them of course, some of them caved in to the Nazi occupation, but the French resistance, don’t you think they’re being pretty brave? Don’t you think the people that defied Saddam Hussein in Iraq were being pretty brave? You can go on and on.
Don’t you think that Nelson Mandela was pretty brave? That’s that I mean you know come on. Let’s just admit it. We’re a great country I love this county. We’re not the only brave people on the planet.
Note how Press makes clear he's opposed to the song's meaning and not just its musical complexity. It's an attack on America, not just the National Anthem. He's not alone, millions of "progressives" are right there with him.
Rev Al: WI Vote A Trial Run For November Election Theft
Issuing a call to arms, an angry Reverend Al Sharpton today claimed Republicans utilized fraudulent tactics to win yesterday's gubernatorial recall vote in Wisconsin.
Claiming the results "emboldened the right-wing", the MSNBC host told radio listeners it was a mere trial run for widespread vote theft designed to steal November's presidential election outright.
Comparing their loss to a boxing match, Sharpton told supporters they could either remain "groggy" after a hit on the head or "double-down and get ready to fight"
From today'sKeeping It Real With The Reverend Al Sharpton:
AL SHARPTON: This Wisconsin recall election, I think I did my commentary from the Washington DC office this morning. It really is a wake-up call because despite that fact that clearly money was one of the main factors, it’s not going anywhere by November.
If anything, I think that it has emboldened the right wing, it has emboldened these billionaires. There was all kinds of voter-suppression schemes from ID [card required to vote], to not letting students vote and registration. It almost was a test run for what they’re going to do in November.
The question is what are we going to do about it? We can either act like it means nothing and it’s like in a fight and you got your head hit and you're groggy and you’re going to be in denial, or you’re going to admit that someone hit you hard, clear your head and let’s double-down and get ready to fight.
So, Reverend, what kind of response should we expect? Will it stay within the bounds of the law?
For his part, Press begins by picking apart the song's musical complexities, then attacks its lyrics for daring to suggest America is "the home of the brave".
From today's syndicated Bill Press Show:
BILL PRESS (10:24): It is a major crusade of mine a major cause of mine and that is to get rid of the Star-Spangled Banner. Now I know you’re going to say I am not a true American I’m not patriotic. I don’t think patriotism has anything to do with it. The National Anthem is just absolutely monumentally un-singable. I mean there’s so much wrong with it. I don’t know where to start.
[... Press adds historical background information, then ... ]
PRESS (11:31): ...But it’s an abomination. First it ranges two octaves most people can only do kind of one octave. I mean when you think about it, it’s bombs bursting in air rocket’s red glare it all kinds of, you know a lot of national anthems are that way, all kinds of military jargon and the land there’s only one phrase ‘the land of the free’ which is kind of nice and ‘the home of the brave?’ I don’t know.
OGBURN: I mean I get that part.
PRESS: Are we [Americans] the only ones who are brave on the planet? I mean all the brave people live here. I mean it’s just stupid I think. I’m embarrassed, I’m embarrassed every time I hear it.
Get ready, Americans, this is only the beginning. Their entire agenda will most certainly be kept under wraps until after election day.
Where talk radio and politics collide: influencing the debate since 2004. From longtime host / analyst / rabble-rouser Brian Maloney, seen on FOX (including a number of O'Reilly Factor appearances), CNN, Court TV and elsewhere.