A few years ago, a talk host at a very “Big” (hint ONE) radio station told me, “I just want another 20 years.” My reply, “20 years? You’ve got 5.”
I’m an optimistic guy by nature. I always think positive, maybe to a fault. I’m also a realist and a competitive son-of-a-bitch who has no other goal other than to be number one. Coming in second is being the first loser. Losing sucks!
But, competitiveness, on the one thing that matters (Rule #1 – Ratings and Revenue), seems to have been forgotten in today’s so-called “(Conservative) Talk Radio.”
Day in and day out I read excuses and quotes in industry trades with fingers of blame being pointed because no one in the radio industry wants to take any responsibility for culturally disconnected talk programs. Or worse, there are the people who have consigned themselves into thinking low ratings are OK because they’re here for the higher cause of guiding the country and saving it from the Kenyan national we have as President or those who have just given up hoping not to be the next victim as corporate radio, struggling to make its next loan interest payment, executes its latest round of air personalities. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!
The June PPM ratings are rolling in and outside of a few stations, the ratings are a disaster. The monthly ratings for many talk stations are in a free fall, displaying a product detached from all but an old, small, shrinking and worthless audience.
Have Low-T, want to buy some gold or need some male enhancement? I’ve got a radio station for you!
I know. It will get better as money rolls in for the mid-term elections this fall. More on that later.
Here are some June 2014 PPM results.
STATION RANK 6+ M, A, M, J (March, April, May, June 2014)
WKRC/Cincinnati #16 2.5, 2.4, 2.2, 1.7
WLS/Chicago #19 2.0, 1.7, 1.6, 1.4
WFLA/Tampa #13 3.6, 3.6, 3.6, 3.3
WIOD/Miami #22 1.2, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1
WABC/New York #20 2.4, 2.2, 1.6, 1.3
WOR/New York #18 1.5, 1.7, 1.6, 1.5
KEIB/Los Angeles #26 0.5, 0.5, 0.6, 0.8
KABC/Los Angeles #28 0.6, 0.5, 0.5, 0.5
To be fair, credit goes to WSB in Atlanta and 700WLW in Cincinnati for being ranked #1, but for many other stations? As Reds’ broadcaster Marty Brennaman would say, “How we lookin’? Not good.”
The above is what few in corporate radio or talk radio will speak of, a format dying by the day and no one willing to call the baby ugly.
“HEY. THE BABY IS UGLY.”
Today, I read a piece from Harker Research, a group that does a fine job analyzing media and trends confronting the radio industry. I love their insights. Excellent stuff. Their piece entitled Lesson from New York and LA: Content Matters pointed out how important content is in talk radio and all formats. I couldn’t agree more.
They indexed the gains and losses of KEIB in Los Angeles v. KFI in Los Angeles, both Clear Channel stations. The Rush Limbaugh show moved from KFI to KEIB in January 2014. The research gathered from Nielsen data shows the audience increase of KEIB indexes at 265. That means KEIB’s audience has almost tripled, while KFI’s audience has dropped slightly. Here’s the problem. When you have no audience to begin with, tripling the audience isn’t all that hard. 0.0 to 0.3 is a 300% increase or an index of 300.
Harker Research also compared the move of Limbaugh from WABC to WOR in New York this past January. They pointed out WOR indexes at 370 for the first 6 months of 2014 and during Limbaugh’s time slot the index has tripled (or 300). They fail to mention, however, much of the total station increase is due to an increase in cume from New York Mets baseball. Don’t believe me? Check this out.
WOR 6+ CUME 6+ SHARE
JAN 568,800 1.7
FEB 565,600 1.5
MAR 649,900 1.5
APR 968,300 1.7
MAY 1,031,100 1.6
JUN 967,300 1.5
At no point is Harker Research cheering the anemic ratings for these stations in their piece. They are simply pointing out content matters by showing, using Nielsen data, one station going up and the other going down. Ratings are a zero sum game, after all.
Me? I’m pointing out we’re cheering for the tallest midget and accepting mediocrity or worse abject failure in the talk radio industry. We’ve got a problem and the first step is realizing it and accepting it.
I wonder if Rush Limbaugh, ego in check, fine businessman and exceptional radio performer that he is, feels good about being on the #26 station in Los Angeles. I’m thinking no.
And one more thing, the November mid-term elections. If you’re one waiting for a ratings lift and waiting for those political dollars to fill the program logs, I have one question to ask. “Do you really think it’s a good business model to have a station designed for success one month every two or four years?”
Noodle that one.
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