The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

24 May 2007

Free FM New York Shut Down, WFNY-FM


After One Too Many Content Flaps, NY Talker Implodes

Was New York City talker FREE FM's demise brought about by a climate of "post- Imus" censorship? According to one now- former host on the station, it has simply become impossible to do the kind of radio called for by the FM "hot talk" format.

But even "Radio Chick" Leslie Gold realizes there was a lot more to the story, including low ratings, revenue shortfalls and a weak overall lineup. All of that led to FREE FM's signoff just hours ago.

From her website:

Free FM in NY has flipped formats to music. That's how it goes in radio, one day your employed, the next day you aren't.

I was told the decision to flip was a result of low revenues, a series of many poor management decisions made over many months, and a post-Imus environment that doesn't allow talk shows like the ones on FreeFM to do what they need to do to get ratings.. that is talk about race, sex and other potentially offensive and provocative material. I'm not telling you this, this is what I was told.

For us, we loved doing the show with you and for you everyday. Despite whatever annoying and infuriating crap that was happening at the station, our 3 hours with you was a joy.

Yes, if ratings had been stronger (FREE FM pulled a 1.8 share for adults 25-54 in the most recent Arbitron results, behind WABC's 2.1), the station might have had a chance. With the station creating so many headaches for owner CBS Radio, however, it's not surprising the plug would be pulled in favor of rock music.

Interestingly, however, shockmeisters Opie & Anthony are expected to remain with the new format. Though the pair's recent controversy over a disgusting rape fantasy segment involving Secretary of State Condi Rice did get them suspended, they have somehow found a way to survive the turmoil.

Other than their unexpected survival, the "hot talk" FM format is dying right before our eyes. In New York City, there's a wide- open opportunity to instead create an issues- oriented FM talker that features compelling personalities.

In the end, it's clear these shock jocks were forced to create ever- more outrageous stunts in order to compensate for their format's innate shortcomings. It's simply impossible to keep an audience entertained for long periods of time with sex talk and brain- dead banter that avoids what's really going on in the world.

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  • O&A were suspended from XM, not CBS Radio. And they do talk about what's going on in the world... which is exactly why they were suspended.

    By Blogger Jim, at 25 May, 2007 07:28  

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