The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

13 December 2006

Liberal Talk Radio, Madison Cancellation Protest, The Mic


Despite Lack Of Sponsors, Protestors Fight For Libtalk

Even when advertisers have failed to support it, do so- called "progressives" see their talk radio format as something companies should be compelled to carry?

That sure seems to be the message coming from a protest held in Madison yesterday, where demonstrators are fighting a decision by Clear Channel Communications to dump libtalk in one of the nation's most extreme lefty markets. Though The Mic FM generated fairly decent ratings, company executives pointed to a lack of advertiser support, both nationally and even locally.

With several hundred protestors, including groups such as the Madison Pagan Unity Council said to have gathered outside the company's local offices, the event even made national news, with this AP coverage:

Clear Channel's format change draws backlash in Madison

(Published Wednesday, December 13, 2006 10:22:41 AM CST)

By Ryan J. Foley
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. - Hundreds of liberals rallied to protest Clear Channel Radio's decision to ax a popular progressive radio station Tuesday night, urging the company to back away from a planned format change to sports Jan. 1.

Local activists, politicians and business owners said the Texas-based radio giant's decision to replace its highly rated progressive talk station with Fox Sports Radio simply doesn't make sense. They said the station, known as The Mic, provided a voice for progressive causes and helped inform the public in a city long known for its liberal views.

"This can't happen. The airwaves belong to us and we will take them back," said Valerie Walasek, a 28-year-old listener who organized the rally that filled the High Noon Saloon in downtown Madison to its capacity of 400 people. She said more than 5,000 people had signed an online petition asking Clear Channel to reconsider.

Former Madison Mayor Paul Soglin threatened to file numerous complaints with the Federal Communications Commission against Clear Channel's local stations in the coming years if the company didn't "tear up its contract with Fox Sports."

"For every ounce of energy we put into it, we can create a pound of aggravation for them," he said. "The secret is convincing them that's not the way to go. That's what we got to do today."

But so far, the company shows no signs of backing down from the planned format change.

The com- pany's market manager in Madison, Jeff Tyler, said too many advertisers stayed away from 92.1 FM because of opposition to the 2-year-old format, which mixed nationally known liberal talkers such as Al Franken with local hosts who discussed everything from city politics to animal rights.

The station is making money but has consistently ranked dead last out of 14 Madison stations who report earnings, Tyler said, noting that liberal talk has faced similar problems nationwide. Air America Radio, the progressive talk and news network that provided some programming to the Madison station, filed for bankruptcy protection in October.

Isn't it interesting how left wing activists threaten to go to the FCC not just to fight against conservative programming, but also when their own shows aren't airing?

In a similar instance from last year, a California- based station owner complained of the same lack of local advertiser support for his libtalk station:

KOMY radio station finds it hard to sell ads
While listeners like what they hear, businesses aren’t buying air space

Santa Cruz Sentinel staff writer

SANTA CRUZ — Even in the nuclear-free zone of Santa Cruz, left-wing talk radio doesn’t sell well.

Since programming content for local AM sister stations 1080 KSCO and 1430 KOMY made the great political split July 18, the liberal arm has been slow to hook advertisers.

It’s so slow, station owner Michael Zwerling went on the air recently with an ad of his own threatening the future of progressive shows on KOMY.

"For liberal programming to continue ... you need to support it," his ad said.

Zwerling said his ad was designed to "get in people’s face" and remind listeners that radio is a commercial business, and if ad space is available, they need to know about it.

"You can’t be coy in this business," said Zwerling, who shifted his personal politics right of center in the 1970s when faced with the burdens of government bureaucracy while building a house in Santa Cruz. "You have to spell it out, especially in Santa Cruz where everybody thinks they deserve everything."

KOMY, the new home to the Air America network featuring Al Franken and Randi Rhodes, lags in advertising appeal, Zwerling said, especially compared with Rush Limbaugh, who has ruled the KSCO airwaves for more than a decade blasting conservative tirades.

As far as we know, libtalk is still running on KOMY, at least based on this website schedule.

In Madison, however, it seems unlikely that protestors are going to undo Clear Channel's decision, unless they are willing to find some major sponsors for the station. And from the company's standpoint, wouldn't it be reasonable to ask why local businesses weren't willing to advertise on The Mic during the lengthy period of time it was on the air?

Losing Money, Mic images: David A Lunde

Looking for gift ideas? Your Amazon orders that begin with clicks here, regardless of what you ultimately select for purchase, greatly help to support this site's efforts. Thanks again!

Note: just THREE days remain for free Super Saver Shipping and EIGHT for Two-Day Shipping.

Technorati tags:


  • I genuinely don't understand the radio business - if the statio had ratings why did they have trouble getting advertisers? I understand that many companies wouldn't advertise, because of the content (probably not a great place for discount retailers, big pharma etc.) but books on how to get rich quick, ovaltine and the like - the usual radio advertisers - shouldn't have a problem. Or even local retailers or businesses.

    On the other hand, it's Clear Channel's station and they get to do whatever they want with it, consistent with the's kind of odd that a Clear Channel station was playing libtalk in the first place.

    By Blogger thinkcon, at 13 December, 2006 16:18  

  • Clear Channel's whole participation in Air America could very well have been a dirty trick since they are career sponsors of Bush and far right pasty pudges. At the time business commentators said it was to hedge their bets against the return of the Dem's to power, but that doesn't explain Madison.

    Their stations are horribly run as anyone who has experienced their automation going haywire to play two shows at once, run commercials over shows, etc.(frequently in the South where Bufords don't notice). So perhaps that is the simple explanation for why advertisers trying to sponsor on the Madison station were never called back, or forced to place ads with receptionists, etc., as reported on Ed Shultz show.

    Or maybe it is part of the plan. However if it is a dirty trick then Ed needs to be even more concerned since it was the Clear Channel President who quit to form the company P1 that bought the Ed Schultz show.

    By Blogger gregrocker, at 13 December, 2006 17:22  

  • I'll ask on the tech side, what automation system do most Clear Channel stations use? Scott Systems, Prophet, ENCO, Audio Vault? When I worked at WSTC/WNLK, they had Prophet at the time. I think they may have gone to Scott Systems or Maestro. I can tell you also WICC, A Cumulus station, has ENCO.

    By Blogger The Real Bob Anthony, at 13 December, 2006 19:59  

  • Hasbro.

    By Blogger gregrocker, at 13 December, 2006 23:57  

  • Patriot,

    Is that WICC in Bridgport, CT? Just curious because I used to listen to that station when Tiny Markel was on, God Rest His Soul.

    For you hate mongers, Tiny was an unabashed Liberal who took on Liberals when they were wrong.

    By Blogger PCD, at 14 December, 2006 08:44  

  • Clear Channel removed Air America from their Cincinnati outlet and replaced it with this fantastic lineup:

    5-7 a.m.: Wall Street Journal (live feed)
    7-10 a.m.: Clark Howard (previous weekday afternoon show)
    10 a.m.-1 p.m.: Dr. Laura Schlessinger (tape-delay)
    1-2 p.m.: At Home with Gary Sullivan (old WKRC show)
    2-3 p.m.: In The Garden with Ron Wilson (old WKRC show)
    3-4 p.m.: Steve Overbeck’s Autoline (old WKRC show)
    4-7 p.m.: Clark Howard (new show, taped 1-4 pm in Atlanta)
    7-10 p.m.: Neal Boortz (tape-delay)
    10 p.m.-1 a.m.: Dr. Joy Browne (tape-delay)
    1-5 a.m.: Joey Reynolds (live from WOR in NY)

    Now thats great radio listening!

    I miss not having an opposing viewpoint available on the AM dial. While AA did have some pretty lousy programs, it was nice to have an option to the party-line conservative programs out there.

    By Blogger ohio, at 14 December, 2006 09:21  

  • PCD, the concept of anyone actually thinking independently and opposing anyone else in your "party" is so alien to the neocon outlook, that you have the temerity to actually EXPLAIN it to us!

    Just listening to endangered-list street thug Curtis Sliwa verbally fellating Sean Hannity on a daily basis is a perfect example of neocon groupthink and the robotic rhetoric of the right wing. radio dominated by conservative radio, 24/7, is poor talk radio, in any market...

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 14 December, 2006 09:28  

  • Hash,

    In the old days (before talk-show hosts had to tow the party line) a decent talk show host could make his show interesting by allowing REAL input from 'both sides'.

    I suppose that if a host goes national/syndicated they get the idea in their head that they have to appear to know more than the caller without any need of a discussion or input from the caller, so they simply adopt the 'party line' 100%. Therefore, the caller is either a "Great American", or an uninformed idiot.

    As insane as he appears at times, the only major host that still seems capable of appreciating a real discourse with an informed caller is Savage.

    By Blogger ohio, at 14 December, 2006 09:44  

  • hash and ohio,

    you both sound like disillusioned Soviet broadcast programmers. If your shows aren't on, there's no hope. You two most definitely have your tinfoil hats on too tight.

    Hash, you have severe anger problems. Please, get help from a licensed therapist, not your local buyer's club.

    MADison can use opinions from the other side as in NON-PC. Madison is an embarassment to the rest of the state.

    By Blogger PCD, at 14 December, 2006 14:11  

  • pcd,

    No, I think its rather a case of being able to think and therefore are interested in hearing both sides of an issue, knowing that just listening to one side pretty much makes you clueless.

    By thinking that is a Soviet tendency your providing a prime example of the results of an age old tactic used by shifty leaders.

    Quoted here:

    The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."

    -- Herman Goering

    By Blogger ohio, at 14 December, 2006 14:24  

  • ohio,

    You think that condescending is making you any points?

    First, commercial radio is a business. You don't have listeners, you don't get advertising revenue.

    You and hash are demanding that YOU get your programming eventhough it is not selling. That is the Soviet model.

    If you two want to air programming that doesn't sell, buy your own radio station and let's see how long you stay in business.

    Maybe the two of you should have your own show, "Goosestepping to the Oldies".

    By Blogger PCD, at 14 December, 2006 15:07  

  • "Is that WICC in Bridgport, CT? Just curious because I used to listen to that station when Tiny Markel was on, God Rest His Soul.

    For you hate mongers, Tiny was an unabashed Liberal who took on Liberals when they were wrong."

    To answer your question PCD:

    You would indeed be talking about WICC AM 600--80 years on the air as Fairfield County's first radio station and one of CT's oldest.

    Many nicknames for WICC--'ICC, The Big One (though it's a 1,000 watt day, 500 watt night station), Service 6 (my personal favorite). I've visited WICC a few times for employment.

    Wonder if you remember Tim Quinn, the News Director--HE'S STILL THERE and let me tell you he's NUTS! He has a unique style of writing news and his banter with John LaBarca--well let me say you'll be asking whose the straightman and who's going for the punchlime?

    Al Warren is also a longtime DJ, doing only weekends, but a lot of fun. John LaBarca has been morning man on WICC as well hosting Italian House Party. All since 1989.

    By the way, you mentioned Tiny Markle--check this out:

    I hope this brings back memories. By the way, did you live in or near Bridgeport and where do you live now?

    WICC is a dream radio station for me to work at--the history behind it, news and personalities.

    I pick up WICC on my radio reciever nicely most of the morning, at night, well it can be tough.

    By Blogger The Real Bob Anthony, at 14 December, 2006 18:24  

  • PW, you'll get better reception by just dispensing with the radio and listening directly to the voices in your head....

    PCD, don't you think that your tiresome references to Soviet-era dictatorships and dated, flat-top hairstyle fear-mongering might not be the most effective way to communicate whatever message you may possess? Isn't that more suited for the knuckle-draggers?

    I love your references to "making money" and "buying your own station"...just because you are a whore for the oligarchs doesn't mean the truth doesn't deserve its fair share....

    You've been given a free ride for far too long, but your despicable little cabal is about to be broken, wide open...

    Your suppressive tactics and whining remain unsuccessful.

    And as long as you continue to spread your noxious, evilian offal, rest assured, I will be here to rub your nose in it....

    God Bless Jimmy Carter!
    God Bless Randi Rhodes!
    God Bless Lynne Stewart!
    God Bless Cindy Sheehan!

    And Respect To All Who Refuse To Be Mastered!

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 14 December, 2006 18:48  

  • Then I guess Hash, you must also think AhmedineJIHAD or that BLIND SHEIK Omar Abdel Rahman who is soon on his way to screwing with the 73 virgins are someone special!

    You jackasses on the left have nothing better to do with your sorry spoiled lives given to you by your parents, who are perhaps liberals themselves are mine are, though not as virulent, THAN TO HATE ON AMERICA! WELL I HATE PEOPLE WHO HATE ON THIS COUNTRY!


    And just who the devil is talking about voices in their heads hash--apt name--AS THAT IS WHAT YOUR BRAIN MATTER CONSISTS OF!

    By Blogger The Real Bob Anthony, at 14 December, 2006 23:00  

  • Uh, Rain Man, at least I HAVE a functioning mind...

    And a beautiful mind it is, Praise God.

    You're talking about military tribunals for grown men when you weep and cry when your evil "black female supervisor" has the arrogance to ask you to actually DO something??

    You hate America enough to inflict your pathetic carcass on the working people of its society on a daily basis?

    You brag about Cos Cob and Greenwich and accuse LIBERALS about being sp-sp-spoiled? And work at your affirmative action placement?

    Can't Kevin McCullough take you on as best boy, so OUR funds might not be squandered?

    Go to your room, Patriot Boy. Mommy'll administer your spanking in a few minutes....


    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 15 December, 2006 01:26  

  • Someone had called up WXKS/WKOX in Boston and was told that on Dec 22
    the AAR format would end. Now Donna
    Halper has heard from her source
    (and posted on boston-radio-interest)
    that the new format may debut on
    Dec 20 or 21...

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 15 December, 2006 04:03  

  • Patriot,

    I lived in CT during the reign of "Governor Who?". If you listened to Tiny, you'd know who I'm talking about.

    I remember Mr. Quinn. I remember Tiny's producer Greg Cockrell. I don't know what happened to him. I heard he moved to LA. There was a Greg Cockrell at KFI. He produced Tom Leykis' show among others before moving on to MSNBC and producing Joe Scarborough's show.

    What was that pilot's name that did the Eye in the Sky reporting for WICC? He was legendary for landing on the Bridgeport Connector before it was open to the public. It was a stunt to get he DOT to open it, I believe.

    I life in Iowa now, just outside my native Wisconsin.

    Radio here is not as fan friendly as KFI or KRLA (formerly KIEV).

    By Blogger PCD, at 15 December, 2006 08:16  

  • Hash,

    You are pathetic, and probably a parasite who would be master if you don't kill your host first from your leeching.

    By Blogger PCD, at 15 December, 2006 08:17  

  • Yeah, but at least I don't have to live in IOWA (duu-uuhhh)....

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 15 December, 2006 12:38  

  • Tonight on Fox Sports radio, which
    WXXM will be a part of on 1/1 if they don't change their mind, they were
    making fun of the Save the Mic rally.

    "400 people show up at this bar--
    probably every single listener this
    station has. 'Progressive talk',
    which you know really means 'hate
    radio'" That was from the host
    (whomever is on FSR Friday nights
    around 2:30 am...)

    By Blogger raccoonradio, at 16 December, 2006 03:24  

  • Rush, Hannity, et al have created the demand for 'progressive' talk radio by only providing their one sided spin upon the news. Some people like talk radio because information is 'talked about', not to feel good about hating liberals, which seems to now be defined as 'anyone who disagrees with me'.

    I never wanted a progressive network of stations. I just wanted to hear the opposing points of view. Just because the network is having difficulties, it doesn't mean that there is no demand for hearing information that is conveniently overlooked by hosts such as Rush and Hannity.

    By Blogger ohio, at 16 December, 2006 07:42  

  • The Fairness Doctrine handled that problem nicely.

    By Blogger hashfanatic, at 16 December, 2006 23:15  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Page Rank Checker

Powered by Blogger