The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

17 March 2009

Curious Shift In Coverage Of Conservative Talk Radio


On Talk Radio's Impact, Dems, Media Suddenly Shift Gears


In a remarkable coincidence, a temporary shift away from the White House's anti-Rush Limbaugh attack strategy has been closely followed by a Los Angeles Times piece declaring "conservative talk radio on the wane" in the nation's most populous state.

Amazing, isn't it: just two weeks ago, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of talk radio were a national menace, out to destroy Barack Obama's presidency and with it, America's chance for "hope and change".

Democrats were so focused on Limbaugh that they cooked up an anti-Rush billboard advertising campaign designed to convert West Palm Beach's liberals into ... (wait, what exactly was that about again?) For weeks, in fact, they could hardly talk about anything other than their disdain for El Rushbo.

Apparently, all of that was a false alarm. Talk radio, it turns out, really doesn't matter at all, according to the Times. But in taking a look beyond the headline, one sees the sheer dishonesty in their approach:

But for all the anti-tax swagger and the occasional stunts by personalities like KFI's John and Ken, the reality is that conservative talk radio in California is on the wane. The economy's downturn has depressed ad revenue at stations across the state, thinning the ranks of conservative broadcasters.

For that and other reasons, stations have dropped the shows of at least half a dozen radio personalities and scaled back others, in some cases replacing them with cheaper nationally syndicated programs.

Casualties include Mark Larson in San Diego, Larry Elder and John Ziegler in Los Angeles, Melanie Morgan in San Francisco, and Phil Cowen and Mark Williams in Sacramento.

Two of the biggest in the business, Roger Hedgecock in San Diego and Tom Sullivan in Sacramento, have switched to national shows, elevating President Obama above Schwarzenegger on their target lists.

Another influential Sacramento host, Eric Hogue, has lost the morning rush-hour show that served as a prime forum to gin up support for the recall of Gov. Gray Davis. Now he airs just an hour a day at lunchtime on KTKZ-AM (1380).

"It's lonely, it's quiet, and it's a shame," Hogue said of California's shrinking conservative radio world. "I think this state has lost a lot of benefit. I don't know if we can grow it back any time soon."

The immediate question facing the state's conservative radio hosts is whether they can wield enough clout to block Schwarzenegger's ballot measures in May. They portray them as reckless proposals that would hasten California's economic decline. The worst, they say, is Proposition 1A, which would extend billions of dollars in tax increases for an extra two years, even while it imposes a spending cap long sought by conservatives.

In a special election likely to draw a dismal turnout, they hope that those most upset by the $12.5 billion in new taxes will be the ones most strongly motivated to cast ballots. Their inspiration is Proposition 13, the 1978 ballot measure that capped property-tax increases.

Yes, local talk radio is on the decline, because nearly-bankrupt broadcast operators can no longer afford them. But the paper never explains what those reasons might be, even though they are unrelated to talk's own performance.

As we've been chronicling for several years here at the Radio Equalizer, talk radio is performing as well as ever, if not better, but is suffering from deteriorating overall industry conditions. Station owners are struggling under huge debt loads caused by overpaying for purchases at the peak of the market several years ago.

In addition, music formats have been abandoned by many young people and some corporate suits remain hostile to talk radio, despite its unparalleled success.

Yes, that has thinned talk radio's local ranks, particularly in hard-hit California. But is it really on the wane? Not exactly.

Also omitted from the story is any mention of the almost complete collapse of liberal talk radio in the Golden State. Not only have that format's local hosts been sacked, several of its outlets have been shut down entirely.

While there's no question that conservatives would be better suited with more local hosts covering area topics, the attempt by the Times to mislead readers comes across as a bit on the shady side, especially given a headline that suggests talk radio is down across the board.

To avoid inevitable public confusion, the left ought to get its story straight: is talk radio a threat to America, or no longer relevant? When they've come to a decision, it would be a good idea to inform the voting public.

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

Amazon orders originating with clicks here benefit The Radio Equalizer's ongoing operations.

Your PayPal contributions keep this site humming along. Thanks!


  • Well this didn't take long. Now that Obama's administration thinks they've 'silenced Rush Limbaugh,' it looks like Squealer is at it again:

    President Obama's "propaganda minister" ridicules Cheney after criticism that the White House is trying to take advantage of the economic crisis to expand government. "Well, I guess Rush Limbaugh was busy," Gibbs said to laughter during his daily briefing with reporters. "So they trotted out the next most popular member of the Republican cabal."

    By Blogger A 1-In-100 Blogger, at 17 March, 2009 05:03  

  • If you ask me BOTH parties have cabals. They are the global elites, politicians and CEOs, who meet every year in the Bilderberg group...a secretive super cabal whose one goal is the end of American sovereignty and the creation of a Utopian one-world government.

    To those who think I am behaving like some anti-government nut, I have two words for you...ALEX JONES!

    His media outlet has been THE ONLY ONE to attempt to expose Bilderberg, something even Limbaugh has yet to discuss on his program...and not because of the media blackout. Last year, in Chantilly, VA, Bilderberg met and among the guests...


    By the way, there was also a report out stating according to a Missouri law enforcement group, showing support for the flag, concern over the NWO and supporting 3rd party candidates like Ron Paul and Chuck Baldwin...IN THEIR EYES MAKES YOU A TERRORIST!

    Matter of fact, Baldwin responded to this outrageous charge at a posting at News With Views.

    By Blogger The Real Bob Anthony, at 17 March, 2009 08:38  

  • How dishonest can The soon-to-be-bankrupt Times be?

    Eric Hogue was replaced from the KTKZ morning drive by Salem Management 3 YEARS AGO.....before the economic meltdown and drastic ad revenue drop.....I should know: I was one of his last "Board Ops/Producers"...and I also worked at Clear Channel Sacramento before Phil Cowen chose to leave his programs....I was a news anchor on Mark Williams' nighttime conservative show and quit before he was fired {you cannot believe how little pay & no benefits came with such responsibility!}...that one is still up in the air, be it could have been personality-driven as much as politically-driven.

    Conservative talk works and is keeping some stations afloat at a time when liberal print media is "going online" because ideology-morphing-into-news-content is driving away readers.

    By Blogger Nick Dragos, at 17 March, 2009 10:47  

  • President Obama will be on the Ed Schultz show this Thursday.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 17 March, 2009 16:35  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Page Rank Checker

Powered by Blogger