Archive for May 25th, 2006

Talk Radio Shenanigans

May 25, 2006

The local talk radio station (which shall remain unnamed, obviously) has been through some interesting incarnations over the years.

Right now the general manager/owner/program director is running a spot wherein he says that up until now, the station has run mostly syndicated programming, with a few local shows mixed in. But now they are going to change directions, and become a mostly local programming station with a few syndicated programs thrown in. So if you want to have your own local talk show, call him for “rates and information.” An updated spot heard just today indicates that you too can do a one-hour weekly show for only $450 per week.

Okay, that’s all well and good, I suppose… but I wonder how many local listeners remember the brou-ha-ha 8 years ago? Back then, the very same station owner declared that local programming was dead, and he was going to switch over to all-syndicated. To prove his point, he declared one particular week “first time callers only week” just to see how many people were listening other than the half dozen or so regular gadflys who called in regularly.

At the time, a good friend of mine had the highest rated locally-produced program in the history of our radio market. The financial arrangement was that local hosts were not paid, nor did they have to pay for their airtime; but if they managed to sell any advertising for their show, they were allowed to keep the revenue therefrom. My friend, because he was delivering consistently high ratings to the station, told the owner that based on his performance, he wanted a new deal–he wanted to be paid for his show. We speculated at the time that “first time caller week” was aimed at him, to prove nobody was really listening other than his 5 or 6 most rabid fans.

Well… when all was said and done, each of the other local shows got perhaps under a dozen first-time calls in the course of the 5-day week. My friend, however, got something like 75 or 80 first-time calls–and he was off the air one of the days because of a prior commitment. So he had an average of close to 20 first-time calls per day to his 2-hour daily show.

The owner idiot in charge actually announced, on the air, in answer to a direct question from a caller, that he had not bothered to actually LISTEN to his own station during first-time caller week, but was relying on reports from other sources to tell him what was going on. This told me that he had already drawn his own conclusions, and was using the entire exercise to get rid of my friend–who drew much higher ratings than anyone else on the station, including the owner on his own weekly show.

So now, 8 years later, he’s pulling a switcheroo–but this time he’s selling his airwaves. This tells me he can’t attract any talent who is worth being paid for his or her airtime; rather, he’s turning the airwaves over to anybody who can cough up $450 a week.

There goes the neighborhood.

Why am I listening to this station, you may ask? It’s a legitimate question. I listen ONLY because it happens to be the local Rush Limbaugh station. As soon as Rush is done, I turn it off. So there.