Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Clear Channel shenanigans

I'm trying to get to figure out why Miami radio station 940 AM switched from progressive programming to sports. Clear Channel owns the station. I found this in Wikipedia (emphasis added).

On April 2, 2009, it was reported on radio-info.com that the station would switch to sports the following day, making it the sixth sports station in Miami; this follows Clear Channel's trend of changing liberal talk formats (regardless of success) to its own Fox Sports network.

This doesn't seem right. From an article on Clear Channel:

Liberal talk radio is heard on a few of Clear Channel's stations, primarily secondary to its main news talk stations, and usually feature at least one local host with a combination of Air America Radio and Dial Global programming. Clear Channel has shown a tendency to drop liberal talk affiliations whenever possible and replace it with satellite Fox Sports talk (see, for instance, KLSD and WINZ); this has, in a few rare circumstances, caused protests, such as those involved when Clear Channel wanted to make the same move with WXXM in Madison, Wisconsin. (WXXM was eventually allowed to keep its liberal format.)

Found this on a blog.

We have determined that Clear Channel’s WINZ’s upcoming switch to Fox Sports from Progressive talk is not about ratings as they will assuredly get much lower ratings numbers after the switch. It could be about the money since Fox Sports programming costs considerably less than bringing in the progressive programs. I doubt that it’s about political position even though Clear Channel seems to lean right because most companies will broadcast anything that will bring in tons of money. How else do you explain Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader and So You Think You Can Dance?

The bottom line is listeners of Progressive Talk will soon have no terrestrial radio options in South Florida but sports lovers will have 5 choices in a very limited market.

It’s a sad day for South Florida radio.

The blogger's solution:

WFTL needs to rethink their market. They have 3 stations, none of which are particularly strong in ratings or in financial gain. They should remarket 850 as News / Progressive Talk and broadcast the best Progressive programs available. I would also bring in 1 local program that features state and local politics and how it affects us. This could air on Saturdays and Sundays.

Remember that WINZ currently destroys 850 in the ratings so the move would be a no-brainer. If they were insistent on their intent to continue broadcasting the right-wing loons (Savage, Dennis Miller and Ingraham) they could move them to 640. This would remove 1 sports station from the market and keep us at 4.

Some readers' comments:

There is lots of high-quality progressive stuff out there that could succeed if presented well. 940 has always been really disfunctional technically (who hasn’t listened to 10 minutes of multiple feeds playing on top of each other). I’ve always pictured this station as a lights-out operation run by robotic equipment controlled from someone 1000 miles away that is running 50 stations at the same time.

What marketing study advised them to randomly preempt regular programs (Mike Malloy, Lionel) with sports broadcasts that send listeners scurrying to the competing stations (or their CD player, IPOD). People listing to talk want talk, if they wanted sports, they would be at those stations.

/ / /

I’m really upset about this. It seems to me to be very political. Since last year, they’ve done everything to drive away the Progressive Talk listeners, such as:

*Have prolonged periods of dead air (I’ve timed it a few times - 15-30 minutes)

*Occasionally, they would have repeating messages that the problem is due to sun spots, but then why can the messages get broadcasted, and how come none of their other right-wing stations are affected?

*Often, they would broadcast 2 things at once (ie: local news and national news talking over each other), or some other show would pop in for 10-15 minutes (right-wing talk show, foreign language show, or music).

*They fired the only local host we had, Nicole Sandler

*They would air rebroadcasts of shows that were live at other times, so that we didn’t have as many live shows to call in to.

*Replaced weekend shows with religious shows and infomercials

*Change the weekend line up so you never know when your favorite shows would be on the air.

/ / /

I was listening to WINZ when they switched formats. It was a surprise to me. At first I thought it was a joke: Rush Limbaugh (or a voice actor claiming to be Rush) spoke for a bit saying WINZ was a big reason Obama got elected, so we gotta get rid of it. Miller and Hartmann have to go. He said “I’m the king” and the king has spoken.

What kind of nerve is this? This little bit was followed by a few ads saying “The Sports Monster: No one has more balls than we do.”

Even if that is a joke, it is spitting in the face of the many thinking people who live in South Florida and want to hear intelligent, entertaining programming. Hannity ain’t it!

Comment to another blog post here.

Don't forget the ratings were pretty good for Progressive Talk. Clear Channel got scared by seeing how well Obama did in the election. They had to silence progressive talk. Clear Channel was a big supporter of Bush and his illegal Iraq invasion.

I will once again boycott all things Clear Channel.

So will I. And today I wrote them an email to that effect. (Go here to send email.) I'm glad to see I'm not the only person who's worked up over this. You can file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission here. This is what I wrote to them (with minor improvements):

Clear Channel is doing a disservice to the public by switching from a progressive talk radio format to sports. Our area already has four sports stations, and this is not even a heavy sports market. Perhaps it is cheaper for Clear Channel to broadcast this national "canned" content through their large sports network, but the local public expects and deserves better. It also smacks of politics.

1 comment:

Lorraine said...

CC's strategy for deprogressivizing appears to take the form of death by a thousand cuts: