The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

12 June 2012

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":


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's overall 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?


  • The idiots who run Cumulus are "The Dickey Brothers"? Maybe they are staying away from conservative talk because they don't want the left to pile on with the schoolyard nicknames they've given the Koch brothers.

    It's telling that the first thing you see when you go to the Cumulus Radio site is not something regarding their radio empire, but pitches to small business for marketing ideas. IMHO, that's the big diff: Radio stations used to be in the radio business; crafting a quality format that people would flock to, and reaping the rewards that comes with selling commercial time on a popular program. Cumulus (or, as I call it, Hear-u-less) seems to be trying to fill the advertising void left by newspapers, which are shrinking in size and circulation and, in this digital age, dying a slow death.

    If you live in a city that has seen a formerly monolithic newspaper sold to investors at a bargain basement price (such as the San Francisco Examiner), you know the pattern: Absentee ownership, sparse local talent, shorter, more shallow coverage, and ads taking up at least half of each inner page. The masthead stays the same, but that's the outer shell the investors bought; they gutted the interior of anything resembling quality. That's what Cumulus has done to the Citadel stations: Cutting out the heart and lungs in the form of Limbaugh, Levin, and local legends' popular programs, and stuffing them with sawdust in the form of Geraldo, Mike Huckabee, and has-been/never-will-be "talent."

    By Blogger L.N. Smithee, at 12 June, 2012 18:27  

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