A number of people seem to be “excited” about Rush Limbaugh’s new radio homes in Indianapolis and Boston. I just don’t believe Rush is.
In Indianapolis, the heritage news/talk radio station is WIBC. Most radio geeks, me included, remember the bigger than life top-of-the-hour ID voiced by Chuck Riley.
When you heard that, you knew it was an important radio station.
In Boston, WRKO has been around since the early 1920’s. Its call letters back then were WNAC and it was one of the 16 original charter stations of the CBS Radio Network. After changing its call letters to WRKO in 1967, the station today is remembered as a 50,000 watt New England Top 40 powerhouse. It’s been in the news/talk format since 1981.
Weeks ago, each station told Rush Limbaugh he was no longer wanted on their stations. Predictably, Limbaugh’s syndicator, attempting to save face, sent out corporate approved narrative to the radio industry press. It was their best Kevin Bacon impression to date. Everything is great with Rush’s show and “exciting” news about Rush’s new stations is on the way. The word “exciting” was used.
Premiere Networks then sat back with “excited” anticipation waiting for the telephone to ring. And they waited. And then waited some more. How could stations in Boston and Indianapolis not be as “excited” as they were?
Being pro-active – after all, they’re on the hook to Limbaugh for a $400 million contract – Premiere Networks started calling around, asking stations to pick up his show. Boston and Indianapolis are big markets and you can bet Limbaugh’s lucrative contract has a “market clearance clause” guaranteeing radio stations in those markets. Having no stations in markets #10 and #39 is not a option.
But, it appears no one wanted “America’s Anchorman.” In Boston, Mary Catherine Remmer, the co-owner of Daly XXL Communications, the soon to be new owners of WMEX-AM, the station many predicted would take his show, said in the Boston Globe, “He’s been offered to us four times, and we’ve said no.”
WMEX-AM, a station with 50,000 watts at 1510khz, is Nielsen PPM ranked somewhere around 38th place in certain demos and it seems even they’re not desperate enough to yell “Mega Dittos,” due to the program’s high costs in rights fees, required barter commercial inventory, poor ratings performance and advertisers who deem Rush’s show “toxic.” I explained this in a previous blog.
Luckily for El-Rushbo, his syndicator is owned by a company that owns a lot of radio stations too. Some with good signals and some with bad signals. Surely, two stations with good signals could be found so Rush’s brand of outdated conservative talk could be heard by his shrinking group of Ditto-Heads.
But, none were found.
So two company stations got the call and were told to “take one for the team.” Smart local management, of course, doesn’t want to deal with the show’s expense, low ratings and demographically mismatched talk programming on their stations. “Suck it up,”
Clear Channel Media + Entertainment iHeart Media senior management said from their lair in lower Manhattan. Anyone with a radio clue knows cramming Rush Limbaugh’s show and sports programming on the same station is a horrible idea, but if get that call in a local market you simply smile and facilitate the “exciting” news.
In Indianapolis, part of the “exciting” news is Rush is going to be put on an FM translator. W248AW. I can hear the top-of-the-hour ID now. “Radio Broad Ripple. W-2-4-8-A-W. Fishers.” This low power translator on 97.5 FM is to simulcast WNDE-AM, another station with a dubious signal broadcasting mostly Fox Sports Radio programming. This sports network caters to a 18-44 year old guy and is not very successful at it either since in the last Nielsen PPM WNDE-AM has a 0.5 share (6+) and a weekly cume of only 34,100 people. Rush will be heard between Dan Patrick talking sports and local guys Query and Schultz talking about how Brady and Belicheck are cheaters. Judging from the latest ratings on his new station, Rush should be able to sit all his Indianapolis listeners in just a few sections of seats at Lucas Oil Field.
“Excited” iHeart Media Market President Rick Green said, “Rush continues to be national radio’s dominate (sic) talk personality. We’re ‘excited’ about the opportunity to have Rush join the iHeart Media team on 97.5FM and 1260AM.”
Rick was so “excited” he listed the weak signaled FM translator first and misspelled dominant! Who can blame him for his “excitement?”
In Boston, the “exciting” news is the
Clear Channel Media + Entertainment iHeart Media station licensed to suburban Everett, Massachusetts will be Rush’s new home. Starting on June 29th, the current Spanish language “Mia 1430” and its 0.6 share (6+) will be called “Talk 1430.”
“Excited” iHeartMedia Boston Market President Alan Chartrand said, “We are ‘excited’ to bring this powerful lineup of talk show hosts to our cluster here in Boston. We are confident that the biggest names in the talk radio format will serve our listeners and advertisers well.”
As with Indianapolis, little strategic thought went into programming this station, since Rush and companion conserva-talk shows will fill part of the day and Fox Sports Radio will fill the rest. Judging by the new “Talk 1430” logo, I’m guessing there wasn’t much thought given to that either. Can you see the difference in the “Talk 1430” logo and the logo of the failed “Talk 1200?”
All “excited” joking aside, if you make your living as a news/talk program director or local talk host and wonder what the future holds, what does it say when arguably the talk format’s biggest star is being sent to “Radio Siberia” by his own company in another two markets?
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