The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

14 March 2006

Rush Limbaugh, Baltimore, Maryland, WBAL


Longtime Baltimore Limbaugh Affiliate Drops Show

To news Rush Limbaugh has been dropped by longtime Baltimore affiliate WBAL-AM, liberals are reacting with predictable glee.

With conflicting accounts of what caused the change, however, is it possible to cut through the spin? And was it a good move for the station?

From the Baltimore Business Journal:

WBAL Radio will drop Rush Limbaugh as part of an effort to revamp its programming lineup.

The nationally syndicated conservative commentator will air his last show on WBAL Radio May 31.

Thereafter, "The Rush Limbaugh show" will air on another station in Baltimore, officials at Limbaugh's radio syndicate Premiere Radio Networks Inc. said Monday. Premiere Radio officials said they will make an official announcement in the "near future" about that station's identity.

"WBAL has been a great partner to Rush Limbaugh for many years," said Julie Talbott, executive vice president at Premiere Radio Networks, in a statement. "However, at this time, we're excited about a new direction the show will take in Baltimore."

WBAL Radio, a conservative AM radio station, issued a statement on its Web site on the programming changes, saying that they made the changes after putting "considerable time and effort" into researching what Maryland radio listeners want to hear.

The research showed that listeners like the station's local radio hosts -- Dave Durian, Chip Franklin and Ron Smith. "Listeners believe radio in Baltimore has become less local, has fewer personalities, and is too homogenized / vanilla," the statement read.

A visit to WBAL's website further explains their reasoning:

As experienced broadcasters, with over 50-years of collective experience, our instincts have been moving us to change. But, rather than just make such an important decision on “a gut feeling,” we recently commissioned a major research project. Considerable time and effort went into researching what radio listeners in our area want.

If increasing local programming was the real goal, why wasn't a new host hired for the noon-3pm time period?

Instead, WBAL's Chip Franklin and Ron Smith must now extend their broadcasts. While Smith's show increases to four full hours, worse, Franklin will now have an astounding four and one-half to fill.

That's where the new programming grid quickly solves this mystery: it's an obvious cost-cutting move for Hearst Radio.

To carry Rush Limbaugh, it's no secret the show doesn't come cheap. Because his loyal audience shows no signs of fading, however, a good sales department knows how to make it pay off.

For dropping Rush, in how many ways will WBAL suffer? Let's take a look:

--- It will give a new competitor the ability to cut heavily into WBAL's longstanding market ratings domination.

--- WBAL's current local hosts will be overtaxed by shows that are too long.

--- Revenue will decrease, as advertisers shy away from the noon-3pm slot. Worse, they may take their business to the new Rush station.

--- WBAL loses Limbaugh's legendary election-year ratings bump, which always hits during the critical fall Arbitron ratings period.

To determine audience sentiment, research is great, but if the results insisted you jump off a cliff, would that be wise?

Of any results that recommended removing Rush Limbaugh from a major news-talk radio station, we'd be suspect.

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  • you say that dumping limbaugh will cost them revenue and decrease their ratings that he boosts in the election years, but you failed to produce any stats or numbers at all when referring to these things. disappointing, but expected.

    By Blogger liberal outlaw, at 14 March, 2006 17:37  

  • ..... facts will follow - and can actually be found here if you choose to READ and not just REACT to this article; unlike your fellow comrades, facts DO matter to most, and very quickly separate the nonsense-hitting-the-fan-groups from the well-that-is-a-fact-crowd.... something Liberals,.. or Outlaws I guess, prefer to stay away from....

    By Blogger wise_n_texas, at 14 March, 2006 18:48  

  • I can see how carrying Rush Limbaugh and making a profit can be a challenge. The better part of his target audience is at work while he's on the air.

    By Blogger Dave, at 15 March, 2006 00:23  

  • With conflicting accounts of what caused the change, however, is it possible to cut through the spin? And was it a good move for the station?

    "Cutting through the spin" means not dancing around the central cause for an event.

    "Cutting through the spin" means being intellectually honest & not leaving out this central cause.

    "Cutting through the spin" means providing the SIMPLEST explanation - not a vaccuous maze of excuses.

    Because Brian Maloney is obviously allergic to "Cutting through the spin", allow me:

    WBAL Radio cancels Rush Limbaugh

    "According to Arbitron, which rates radio stations, Limbaugh's audience share on WBAL dropped 27 percent last fall compared to fall 2004."

    Again, thats 27% (not a tiny dip)

    By Blogger Nate, at 15 March, 2006 01:49  

  • Nate:

    ""According to Arbitron, which rates radio stations, Limbaugh's audience share on WBAL dropped 27 percent last fall compared to fall 2004."

    Again, thats 27% (not a tiny dip)"


    "--- WBAL loses Limbaugh's legendary election-year ratings bump, which always hits during the critical fall Arbitron ratings period."

    Wouldn't a "legendary election-year ratings bump" indicate a steep drop outside of election years?

    And what happened in the fall of 2004?

    I would even question (from a fiscal point of view) whether a slumping Rush could be replaced by something that could still draw more people? Who have WBAL supposedly lost these people to?

    By Blogger OttO, at 15 March, 2006 02:42  

  • Baltimore has always been a contrarian market. It held onto the conventions of "old fashioned" talk radio (pre-Rush) longer than most markets. Witness the long reign of stylistic dinosaura Les Kinsolving and Tom Marr.

    Balimer was home to the American Radio Network in the late 80's, which offered some of the most boring issues-talk radio ever syndicated in our lifetimes. ARN's only lasting legacy is the bland-enough-for-morning-in-small-markets Doug Stephan show. Balimer is not a trendsetter. What happens in Balimer radio-wise usually stays in Balimer. For that we can all be grateful.

    It sounds as if Rush's parent company may flip a station to talk and use Rush as its drawing point.
    If that scenario plays out, what happens to WCBM? If it doesn't win Rush, can it survive against WBAL, WITH, and the new
    conservative talker. Might it have to consider alternatives such as sports and (gasp!) liberal talk?
    Naahh. Baltimore is a heavily Democratic town, so we know libtalk won't work. ;-)

    By Blogger smedge, at 15 March, 2006 03:24  

  • Otto:

    I guess we'll all just have to wait and see - if Rush moves to another Baltimore station & gets a big ratings bump during the next election cycle, then this "slump" is nonexistant.

    On the other hand, if this is part of a overall slump in nation-wide syndicated talk-radio (just look at talk-radio in Seattle), then it was a good move to drop some dead weight (pun intended).

    By Blogger Nate, at 15 March, 2006 04:56  

  • Nate:

    Trying to be funny? NOT WORKING! As I said in a previous posting, WBAL and Hearst Argyle, their owner, is taking a huge risk getting rid of Limbaugh. Of course you liberals are blind to the fact that there's something called SUBURBIA in major cities. There you find Limbaugh's core audience--rich, affluent, conservative and in most cases white!

    And Maryland itself has been converting to the right by selecting Bob Ehrlich as governor and they have a popular black Lieutenant Governor in Mike Steele. Of course since he doesn't tow the racist uber left party line like Jesse Jackson and "Screwy" Louie Farrakhan, he's being labeled an uncle tom!

    Then again, Baltimore has Martin O'Malley as Mayor--he being a Democrat! But Baltimore is not the capitol--Annapolis is. Annapolis is the home of the Naval Academy--there you have a possible audience with Limbaugh--one of our Armed Forces.

    And Annapolis has a local radio station, 1430 WNAV, which airs O'Reilly, but the for the most part is a music station with local news and Navy sports. The intersting thing about this station is the man who owns it--Pat Sajak--that's right--the host of Wheel of Fortune.

    Sajak is one of the rare conservatives in Hollywood but doesn't flaunt it unlike those on the left who make outrageous money! When he had his failed talk show in 1989 for CBS, one of his guests--El Rushbo himself.

    Sure you can talk about WCBM, CBS's FM Talker or say a Clear Channel station, but don't forget about little WNAV. Sajak makes a few bucks hosting "Wheel", why not bring his pal to Annapolis? Sajak by the way has two homes--one in L-A when he tapes Wheel and one in Maryland where his wife and kids live and when he's not taping the show.

    Just thought I'd throw one more name out--one you'd never expect. A curve ball if you will.

    By Blogger The Real Bob Anthony, at 15 March, 2006 07:28  

  • wise n texas - you're obviously not that bright, so i'm going to try to use small words so you understand them all. i asked for facts, stats, any kind of figures from brian, and you go off on a rant about how facts don't matter to liberals? show me how that makes sense. brian is the one who left out the facts, and i (the liberal) asked for them. so i think that your argument is a little backwards. "facts will follow"? that's a typical conservative line. as soon as you manipulate the facts so they say something that supports your position, i'm sure they will follow.

    By Blogger liberal outlaw, at 15 March, 2006 09:19  

  • Sorry outlaw, just not going to get into a pissing contest with you - too boring, and frankly too easy. Open your eyes and try READING (that is a simple enough word for you, isn't it??) the article and the follow-up. Not sure if liberals are capable of doing anything further than just reacting anymore - certainly it is obvious through your moronic postings that free thought has left your soul. Perhaps if you put just a smidgen of that passion (and look for your logic as well) towards our nations real enemies rather than seeing an enemy in every Conservative/Republican you meet life might make more sense. The kool-aide marks on your face have got to be embarrassing by this point I would think.

    By Blogger wise_n_texas, at 15 March, 2006 10:36  

  • wise n texas - you don't get it, do you? i didn't ask for one of you low life jackasses to post the facts. it's not your blog. it's maloney's blog, and as the publisher it is HIS duty to provide the facts. and i've read the other posts on here, and i'm not seeing all the answers to the questions that i asked.

    so, texas, why don't you just have another drink and drive yourself home.....i hope there's ice on all the roads.......

    By Blogger liberal outlaw, at 15 March, 2006 10:48  

  • hey wise n texas - arguing on the internet is like competing in the special olympics - even if you win, you're still retarded!

    By Blogger hardcore conservative genious, at 15 March, 2006 10:55  

  • I would suggest waiting to see what the numbers say for KSTP AM 1500 in Minneapolis.

    Why? Because Rush moved from there to 100.3 FM, kinda similarly to the move here.

    So, Lib Outlaw, I'd suggest you just hold on to those horses.

    By Blogger Sailor Republica, at 15 March, 2006 20:58  

  • I wonder if this is retribution for Rush taking the lead in pushing Podcasting. This might be the leading edge of stations reverting to local programming, since in the age of ipods and time-shifting, national syndication begins to make a lot less sense.

    By Blogger FindAnISP, at 30 March, 2006 16:45  

  • I got it! Limbaugh was dumped because people are tired of the hatred that this he along with Hannity, Morris, and Bockman preach. This continuing propaganda is outdated. His only listeners now are either racists, facists, or simply wallowing in their collective tears!

    By Blogger ginzo, at 11 November, 2008 12:26  

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