Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Clear Channel Poised to Flip Lib Talk in San Diego

Updated in bold face italic on September 28, 3:15 pm pdt

For over a month rumors have swirled around the beaches and mountain foothills in San Diego that the three year reign of liberal talk radio, on KLSD/1360, will soon be coming to end.

While other blogs have confirmed that KLSD will be dropping its lib talk format, (see here and here) we have avoided making this call, hoping that the station's owner, Clear Channel, would be influenced by the overwhelming display of popular support and preserve the station’s format.

In the past month there have been two well attended rally’s at CC's San Diego office and studios, the station has encouraged listeners to send supportive emails, an on-line petition has attracted over 3,000 signatures, and potential advertisers have come forward.

At one point it started looking like KLSD had manufactured the format switch story as a promotional gimmick to hike ratings and find advertisers.

However, we are now of the opinion that KLSD will be changing formats (probably to sports) in the middle of October.

We attribute this to "off the record" comments that we have received from reliable sources associated with KLSD, statements by CC’s San Diego Programming Director, Cliff Albert, and CC’s bid to take the company private.

One source told us that the switch to sports is "done deal." Another said, "you can put a fork in KLSD, it’s finished." Both sources declined to be mentioned by name.

The San Diego Union Tribune reported on Sept. 28 while there was "still no decision on whether Clear Channel will flip KLSD-AM (1360) to an all-sports format, every rumor mill in town says it will happen beginning Oct. 15."

On Monday morning, Albert appeared on the Stacy Taylor Show, the only locally produced talk show on KLSD. Three weekend shows have been dropped over the past few months. The latest firing involved popular local talker Scot Tempesta (AKA Scooter) who was also Taylor’s co-host.

Albert told the station's listeners that "no decision has been made about KLSD", but that he expected one would be made within the next week.

Then Albert started using the familiar CC argument against lib talk.

"Traditional radio advertisers, like real estate and financial management companies, are run by conservatives so they don’t want advertise on progressive talk," Albert said.

He went on to say that several formats have been discussed and even if CC goes in different direction, he has a plan to keep the format alive in the market. (Is Albert talking about HD radio or WI FI?)

Donna Halpert, a broadcast consultant from Boston, posted the following comment about the current trend to drop lib talk in several markets around the country on a Yahoo Message Group started by lib talk supports in San Diego.

"CC is dumping the format in city after city, using the same talking points yet refusing togive the progressive format a chance to succeed," Halpert blogged. "Why is progresive talk relegated to stations with poor signals and no promotion, where owners feel free to dump it at a moment's notice, no matter how many eager fans listen to it?"

If CC dumps lib talk in San Diego, this would be a serious blow to the format. KLSD has three times as many listeners as the largest station to flip lib in the past year –WSAI in Cincinnati. Also this would break the chain of lib talk stations on the West Coast from Mexico to Canada. (Currently you can drive from border to border on Interstate 5 and always stay tuned to a lib talk station.)

But most importantly, if CC goes ahead and flips KLSD from lib talk to sports, there will be a massive protest directed against the San Antonio based company by a very organized and angry group of listeners.

By deciding to let this situation linger for several weeks, CC has allowed lib talk fans in San Diego to express their opposition to the programming change and to organize.

With the exception of WXXM in Madison (where an announced flip was stopped) CC usually doesn’t back down when they announce their intention to make a programming change. Now, that the huge radio station owner has successfully converted from a publicly to a privately owned company, they are even more likely to turn a deaf ear to the angry listeners and just do what they want to do.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Talk Radio Flexes it's Black Power

With over 90% of the political talk stations spewing right-wing opinions, it is not surprising that the talkers on these stations often have an impact on influencing public policy and news events.

In 1994 when the Republicans won a landslide victory in the U.S. Congress, taking over both the House of Representatives and the Senate for the first time in over 40 years, much of the credit for this feat was attributed to conservative talk radio. In fact, at a victory dinner after the historic election, the new Speaker of the House, Newt Ginrich, made Rush Limbaugh an honorary member of the House of Representatives in recognition of Limbaugh’s contribution to the Republican victory.

Over the past decade there have been several other examples of how conservative talk radio influenced political events. Like in 2003 when local right wing talkers in California led a successful campaign to recall Democratic Governor Gray Davis and more recently when non-stop immigrant bashing resulted in the defeat of bi-partisan immigration reform legislation.

Even Republican politicians were outraged by this move. Usually conservative Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) complained that "talk radio is running America and we have to deal with that.

Well, it happened again last week, but this time it wasn’t conservative talk radio, but rather black (AKA Urban) talk radio that influenced a political event.

It is generally agreed that talk radio and internet blogs were responsible for the huge turnout in Jena, La to support the so-called Jena 6. More than 10,000 people showed up in Jena to protest the alleged double standard employed by a District Attorney who charged six black students with attempted murder for school yard fight that sent a white student to the hospital. On the other hand law enforcement and school officials were lenient when white students hung nooses from a tree at the high school and when another white student confronted a group of black students with rifle.

Black talk radio hosts such as Tom Joyner, Steve Harvey, and Michael Baisden played a key role in the cause of Jena 6 and in generating the turn-out at the associated protest action.

The Washington Post attributed the success of the Jena protest to these hosts.

Yesterday morning, as the throng descended on Jena, both the Joyner and Harvey shows featured live updates from the scene. Baisden and Sharpton were in Jena, helping lead the demonstrations. It's fair to say that without black radio, the case of the Jena 6 probably never would have become a significant national story -- and certainly never would have sparked one of the biggest civil rights protests in decades.

The Orlando Sentinel credited talk radio and the internet not black leaders and the mainstream media.

Those standing in line Wednesday to board a bus from Orlando to Jena, La., heard about the racially charged arrests of six black high-school students called the "Jena 6" from the Internet and talk radio -- not civil-rights leaders or the mass media.

We are not surprised by the powerful role of urban radio in general and black talk radio in particular. While general market radio has shown no growth over the past ten years, urban radio has grown by 23% over this period.

Some black leaders have got the message. Jesse Jackson has hosted a weekly talk show syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks for the past three years. Jackson's show is carried on over three dozen stations. Also, about a year ago Al Sharpton threw his hat in the talk radio ring, with a daily show syndicated by Syndication One, which is now carried on over two dozen stations.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A Tale of Two Bloggers

Updated, Sept. 21 at 2:20 PM pdt

Two bloggers, who follow the talk radio business, have flipped, flopped, and then flipped again as they’ve attempted to determine the fate of Bill O’Reilly’s daily radio show.

The story broke two days ago when Steve Young, who blogs on the liberal Huffington Post, claimed that O’Reilly’s show, which is syndicated nationally to hundreds of radio stations by Westwood One would soon be cancelled.

Like a former leader of the pride, the beaten old lion is losing his power -- and his sexual appeal to the under-65 year old lionesses -- to a younger, more virile young leader. But that's not what is driving the Nospinster bat-crazy. It's more. ..The buzz around the watering hole is that the Big Cat may be losing his radio gig and it's got to be driving him off the deep end.

Young's blog was posted at 10:42 AM on Monday.

Fourteen hours later, right-wing blogger, Brian Maloney, AKA the Radio Equalizer, called Young the "anti-Fox pit bull on the HuffPo" and went on to say that a source at Fox told him that Young’s claim was "complete disinformation."

And while Bill O'Reilly's radio performance has been mixed in some locations and stronger in other cities, there hasn't been any known industry buzz about his radio show being cancelled. In fact, he's picked up several new cities in the past few weeks.

Fast forward to 8:39 AM on Wednesday and Young blogged a complete mea-culpa stating that O’Reilly show was going to be renewed – not cancelled.

There comes a time in all good journalists' lives when they must confront an agonizing truth. Be it that I am neither a good journalist, nor even a journalist, the pill, a mixed metaphor the size of Fox News' success, doesn't go down the throat any easier.
(That’s right Steve…you’re a blogger which is lower than a re-write editor for The National Enquirer.)

This week I chased a rumor-laced story that had holy grail of Bill O'Reilly-contrarians written all over it. Holy grail with whipped cream and a cherry on top. Bill O'Reilly was soon to lose his radio gig… In fact, he is close to signing a contract renewal. So says a well-placed, inside source who is paid to know.

Well right away I checked out Maloney’s blog expecting him to say that another liberal smear job has been thwarted. Instead, he was blogging, under a banner "Exclusive to the Radio Equalizer" that Young had it right the first time – O’Reilly’s show was going off the air before the end of year.

Though not yet confirmed by the man himself, top- level industry sources tell the Radio Equalizer that Bill O'Reilly is giving up his nationally syndicated radio show. We're hearing his last broadcast will occur sometime in December.

Why do bloggers feel like they have to attribute their prognostications to "top-level industry sources," "well-placed inside sources" and the "buzz around the watering hole." Why can’t they just pull it out of the asses like many major talk radio hosts.

In any case, we are not going to weigh in on the O’Reilly watch. Instead we’ll call it a tie. Two bloggers say he’s out and the same two say he’s in. Sounds like a draw to us.
Inside Radio, a leading radio industry trade publication has weighed in the question of O'Reilly's fate. On Friday their on line newsletter claimed that "insiders say O'Reilly has signed a one year contract extension that will keep him on radio."
OK. Their "insiders" are more reliable than Young's and Maloney's "insiders."
Then they went on to make this bizarre statement:
Chat room rooms of his exit were far-fetched, heading into the talk radio frenzy of election year and the recent pick-up of major market clearances in San Francisco, Denver and Washington, DC.
I assume that they meant to say "rumors" not "rooms. Also, don't they know the difference between a chat room and a blog? And what are they trying to say about "talk radio frenzy of election year."
Are these guys too cheap to hire a copy editor?

Air America Host Sues Stephen Colbert

If the New York Times, the Associated Press, and hundreds of other media outlets around the world are going to pick up this story, we certainly aren’t going to ignore it.

By now you’ve probably heard about Cenk Uygur’s (pronounced Jenk YOO-gurr) $65 million law suit against comedian Stephen Colbert.

Uygur is the host of a lightly distributed morning show on the Air America Radio Network called the Young Turks. The show should be called the "Young Turk", because over the past few months the two other "Turks" have left – Ben Mankiewicz to pursue a hosting assignment on the AMC cable channel and Jill Pike, who realized that she was just too good looking for a career in radio.

Uygur, who has been doing the show solo for past few weeks, probably got bored and thought of doing something outrageous. So he decided to sue Colbert, who hosts the popular Colbert Report on Comedy Central, for allegedly stealing one of his jokes. Here’s how Uygur described the caper in a press release on Wednesday.

Cenk Uygur, host of Air America’s morning show "The Young Turks" is suing Stephen Colbert of "The Colbert Report" for $65 million. Mr. Uygur charges that Mr. Colbert has stolen his jokes on many occasions, but he can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that his "Klingon joke" of September 7th was directly pilfered by Mr. Colbert and recycled on his September 11th program on Comedy Central. Mr. Uygur is considering adding Comedy Central, MTV Networks, Viacom, Bus Boy Productions, the head of Bus Boy Productions, Jon Stewart, to his lawsuit. Anyone and everyone related to stealing the aforementioned joke should "lawyer up" according to Mr. Uygur.

Uygur also posted a video containing the joke, which was first told by him on the Young Turks radio show and later performed by Colbert on his TV show.

Monday, September 17, 2007

ABC Radio Networks Cuts Back on News/Talk

Since Citadel took over ABC Radio Networks earlier this year, the once dominant syndication operation has cancelled about half of their news/talk radio shows and now it appears they have bailed out of the satellite radio business.

XM announced today that they are closing down their ABC News and Talk Channel and are folding three surviving ABC properties – The Sean Hannity Show, The Mark Levin Show and Money Talk with Bob Brinker – into their America Right Channel. (Tom from Albuquerque will not be happy with this move since he considers Brinker to be a liberal.)
In a separate announcement, the radio syndicator announced that they were dropping the Satellite Sisters -- probably the second most successful women’s talk show. (Dr. Laura’s daily "guilt fest" is the number one show directed to women.)

Also, within the last month ABC Radio has pulled talk shows hosted by Larry Elder and Mark Davis from their syndication line-up. Those two shows continue on their flagship stations – Elder on KABC/790 in Los Angeles and Davis WBAP/820 in Dallas.

While ABC is still a force in the radio syndication and still offers over two dozen spoken word shows (mostly sports and Spanish language programs) it is rather curious that they are cutting back in the news/talk format.
Citadel, which also acquired a few dozen stations owned by ABC when they purchased the alphabet network's radio assets, is the only station owner in the top five that does not own a liberal talk radio station. ABC Radio Networks syndicated news/talkers include four conservative talkers from the right to the far right -- Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Paul Harvey and Dr. James Dobson, three financial talker, and America's Most Wanted hosted by John Walsh.

According to an article in Media Week, ABC has left its initiative in women’s programming (The Satellite Sisters) "to wane" now that they are under new management.

"You didn’t have to be a weather girl to see which way the wind was blowing," said Liz Dolan, one of "Sisters." Dolan noted that ABC, under Citadel, recently signed Bob Grant and is reportedly wooing Don Imus.

According to Dolan, "The Sisters" are not going away and will be "pursuing other syndication and distribution options, including satellite radio."

This has not been a good month for women’s talk radio. In mid-August GreenStone Media shut down their women’s talk radio network and with the exception of Dr. Laura, radio is, for the most part, a "no-mans land" for women’s talk.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A Tempest in a Teapot

Why anyone would pick a fight with Ed Schultz is beyond me.

I’m guessing Schultz is about 6’3” and weighs about 240 lbs. He’s a former collegiate and professional football player and a self-identified hothead.

Also, expecting big Eddy to remain calm after calling his lovely wife Wendy, a “c--t” is like expecting a lion to purr after pulling its tail.

That’s apparently what happened in Fargo area dinner spot last weekend. For those of you who haven’t heard about the “barroom brawl” (which was more like a tempest in teapot) here’s an account of the incident that appeared in the Fargo Forum on September 5:

Local and national radio talk show host Ed Schultz spent 45 minutes of his local show this morning defending his actions in a weekend altercation at Hotel Shoreham along Lake Sallie near Detroit Lakes, Minn. Schultz said a man approached him inside the hotel bar and wanted to talk about their differing political views and the war in Iraq.

Schultz, who was with his wife, Wendy, said the man (Kevin Nagle, a businessman and Republican party donor from California) and a woman with him would not end the conversation despite Schultz’s attempts to do so. He said everyone involved had been drinking.

“Finally, I put my beer on the bar and put my finger in his face,” Schultz told listeners to KFGO’s “News and Views” morning radio show. “I told the guy, ‘I didn’t come here for this.’”
Schultz said the woman with the man also addressed his wife with profanity. “If someone comes up to you in public and calls your wife (references to expletives), what are you going to do?”

Schultz said he engaged in harmless shoving with the man. He said he knew if he hit the man, he could be arrested, and that could sink his professional career.

Apparently Schultz made reference to incident on nationally syndicated talk show on Wednesday morning and the Forum picked up the story later that day.

Sounds like it wasn’t much of fight. So why do so many right-wingnuts have their panties in a wad?

Here’s what the Brian Maloney the Radio Equalizer had to say:

The fight “ought to give the team of national Democrat Party leaders and syndication suits who initially backed his show pause.”

(I think the Dems are probably chuckling over this episode.)

Captain Ed seems to think that Ed's political philosophy made the "fight" happen.

It's always amusing to see the violence inherent in the anti-war Left. When was the last time a conservative radio host got into a barfight? Do you suppose Rush Limbaugh, Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, or Michael Medved would take a swing at someone in a bar over a political disagreement?

(Not likely to happen since Limbaugh only goes to restaurants that serve $100 steaks and Hewitt, Prager, and Medved would probably not be recognized.)

Meanwhile, this weekend Jack Zaleski, a columnist for the Fargo Forum, who claims to be "no friend of Schultz" wrote the following in column under the headline “In Bar Tiff, Talk Show Host was Right”

While there are at least two versions of what transpired, the evidence suggests that a bar patron from California apparently believed it was open season on Schultz and his wife because Ed is a “progressive” (read, liberal), anti-President Bush talk show host.

Schultz' temper is not only directed to his political opponents. A few months ago we reported on a outburst against lib talk network Air America and some its hosts.