Skip to comments.What killed the liberal radio star?
Posted on 12/26/2013 8:27:51 AM PST by raccoonradio
Next week, when WWRL 1600 AM flips its format from progressive talk to Spanish-language music and talk, New York will have no left-leaning commercial talk station for the first time in decades an ironic development just as an unabashedly liberal mayor and City Council are set to take office.
Its not as if liberal voices will vanish noncommercial stations like WBAI and WNYC are still alive and kicking but they cant replace the local flavor and crackling energy of commercial radio, where shows move more quickly to accommodate the ads.
The changeover at WWRL comes as a personal blow: I was the morning drivetime host at the station from June 2008 through October 2010. Sad to say, the steady elimination of progressive radio from the airwaves is part of a nationwide crisis facing commercial radio.
In Los Angeles, the last remaining all-liberal talk station, KTLK, will do an about-face and start airing only conservative talkers on Jan. 1. Ditto for KNEW in San Francisco. Last November, progressive stations in Portland, Ore., and Seattle switched to all-sports formats.
The biggest pressures squeezing liberal talk radio are commercial ones. Deregulation of the airwaves allowed conglomerates like Clear Channel to borrow billions from Wall Street and begin buying up stations by the hundreds. Saddled with debt, Clear Channel has ruthlessly standardized its 840 stations and squeezed each for maximum profit. That meant eliminating progressive talk from its stations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland.
Angry progressives claim such moves could also have a political motivation: Clear Channel is owned in part by Bain Capital, the private equity firm once run by Mitt Romney . Thats possible, but it wouldnt explain the problems besetting stations like WWRL, which is owned by Access 1, a family-owned media company.
A more likely culprit is the hard economics of persuading businesses to advertise on local radio. National advertisers have pulled away from progressive stations, and not just in New York, says Mark Riley, a New York radio veteran who just ended a great stint as WWRLs morning man. Stations arent worth what the people who bought them thought they were worth, he says.
That has left a cutthroat competition for local advertising dollars, with low-cost options like Craigslist and Yelp and services like Groupon competing with radio, cable television, billboards and other so-called old media.
Another theory behind the collapse of commercial liberal talk radio is that it has gone mainstream. Some of the most popular personalities from the now-defunct liberal Air America radio network Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz now command much larger audiences on MSNBC every night, as does the Rev. Al Sharpton, who is syndicated on dozens of black talk radio stations. Air Americas biggest star, Al Franken, is now a U.S. senator.
Conservative radio hosts point to the struggles of their liberal rivals with great glee, but that is whistling past the graveyard. The reality is that conservative talkers are serving an aging, shrinking audience, while listeners who want a liberal take on the news can find it on hundreds of National Public Radio stations. The most reliable estimates of the most popular radio shows gives the top two slots to right-wingers Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity followed by Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace, three public radio staples with a total audience that exceeds Limbaugh and Hannity combined.
Millions of listeners who want left-wing talk can still find it. But that wont replace stalwarts like WWRL, where I used to love spending three hours each day interviewing guests, arguing with callers and ranting about snarled traffic, late trains, warped politics and the state of the world. May the next crew at WWRL find fun and profit bringing the magic of radio to a Spanish-language audience. I, for one, will be listening.
Louis is political anchor of NY1 News.
Though WBAI has been taking hits lately incl funding drying up, broadcasting issues after Super Storm Sandy, etc.
>>Last November, progressive stations in Portland, Ore., and Seattle switched to all-sports formats.
(Because sports, and conserv talk MAKE MONEY)
>>Angry progressives claim such moves could also have a political motivation: Clear Channel is owned in part by Bain Capital, the private equity firm once run by Mitt Romney
(Thanks Mitt! Actually he ran Bain many years ago...)
(...he used Maddow, Schultz, and "popular" in same sentence?)
>>listeners who want a liberal take on the news can find it on hundreds of National Public Radio stations.
(THAT I agree with!)
There has never been one.
Nothing to talk about.
That article is a string of Liberal nutball conspiracy theories worthy of the darkest corners of the DUmmysphere.
Liberal Talk died because they weren’t selling ads. Because you can’t sell ad time to pitch to people who basically hate Capitalism.
You’ll just continue to take money out of my wallet to subsidize Liberal PUBLIC radio anyhow.
Let me guess; "noncommercial" is Libspeak for "public broadcasting".
Which is itself Libspeak for "taxpayer funded".
ooh, ooh, I know this one! Video.
Liberals have short attention spans.
Yep. Classic case of a product that sucks and nobody wants it, but **SOMEONE** thinks it is viable and being crushed by evil conservatives...:)
Incorrect. I work at a small town radio station on weekends. Our ad time is always completely sold out.
What's hard is persuading businesses to advertise on radio stations that spew hatred of free enterprise.
Commercial radio depends upon listeners who buy the advertisers products. Consider the audience for liberal radio.
Why would anyone want to advertise when the same people get public dollars to push Marxism. Two Americas, the self-sufficient, taxpayer and the Socialist leech.
Librals hate, and that is not appealing. All they talk about is pitting people against each other, this person has too much, that person is greedy, another person is holding someone down. I don’t even think liberals want to tune in to listen to that every day.
As I’ve said before: (commercial Lib talk radio): “So, all these huge corporations that exploit workers—Walmart, Big Oil, they’re all eeeeeeeeeevil! Well, we’ll be right back after this, uh... _Public service announcement_...”
We almost got NPR/PBS defunded but fell short, damn...
Bwaaaaaaa ha ha ha ha haaaaaa!!!
Spewed coffee on laptop alert!
MUCH LARGER audiences????
Bwaaaaa ha ha ha ha haaaaaa!!!
Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Marketplace, three public radio staples with a total audience that exceeds Limbaugh and Hannity combined.
Hahahaha, one can only laugh at their delusions.
A liberal radio star???
I didn’t know there was such a thing.
They began to speak?
There is no understanding Liberalism (aka Progressivism, aka Communism). They prefer to live in the dark. Self-deception is a form of self-preservation.
Why yes, maybe 38 people instead of only 9.
They already have the other media, why do they need radio?
Conservative talk radio succeed, and still succeeds because it is an outlet for voices that are not heard in the lame stream media. Why do you need a “liberal talk radio”, when you have ABCNBCCBSCNNMSNBCPBSNPR?
Esecially NPR, it is the liberals main radio station, pretty much the same all over the country, so they can get their talking points straight while they are on the way to work if the missed the alphabet network TV shows in the morning.....
All the “liberal radio stars” are on television. That’s what killed the liberal radio star.
To quote Rush, “I _AM_ equal time”.
Nobody listened to them then, nobody watches them now.
If it wasn’t for tax funded stations like NPR subsidizing left wing talk station failure, there probably wouldn’t be many libs on the radio.
Even in blue New England commercial prog talk is rare. Not on in Boston, but in Bangor ME (horrors! Stephen King’s WZON),
western MA, and Brattleboro VT (WKVT, running a local show plus Steph. Miller, Thom Hartmann, Bill Press, Alan Colmes)
you have it...otherwise, nope.
Stephanie Miller has given me the willies ever since she spent the final hour of her short-lived TV show angrily trashing her bosses for canceling her. Thoroughly unprofessional.
Despite it slapping him in the face, this clown doesn’t notice that publicly funded NPR has driven the commercial market for liberal talkers off a cliff.
Yeah for us! Press three for English...
I was in Argosy Books last week (looking at prints) and NPR was droning on in the background providing the reassurances their progressive staff needs to feel their feelings are the correct ones.
“the steady elimination of progressive radio from the airwaves is part of a nationwide crisis “
It is a nationwide BLESSING.
....,,,Liberals can find their bile on hundreds of Public Radio stations but conservatives are all dying off and conservative talk radio is an aging and dying media......
Mr. Error (I meant Errol), come on,!................these hundreds of Public Radio Stations you so merrily alude to are just a handful of votes in the senate away from summary execution!
If 2014 goes the way it very well could, Senate and house super majorities will cancel Obama’s veto and your darling NPR’s execution date will be guaranteed as this government is BROKE!
Your point on advertisers being a “hard sell” on buying time on a station that a is only listened to by perpetually unemployed people is a good one!
In radio, you can’t fake the numbers.
If you don’t get an audience, you will fail. And there are just not that many true believer liberals out there, so it is hard to build a large audience.
The same thing is happening in TV news, but in slow motion.
Modern liberalism is built on lies, but you can’t lie about the numbers. Math wins in the end, especially on the radio.
The only lib talk that can stay on the air is NPR and that’s cause it’s taxpayer supported.
Even then, according to Arbitron, NPR stations typically have among the lowest market shares in any market.
One time I called into an NPR talk program and when I mentioned the Arbitron data the host hung up on me.
* "How to Live in Mom's Basement until You're 40"
* "How to survive an Occupy encampment without getting raped or OD'ing"
* "How to 'Stick It To The Man' in 3 Easy Steps"
* "Are You Eligible for an ObamaFone?"
* "Where to Obtain Your Section 8 Voucher"
* "How to Sell Your EBT Cards for Fun and Profit"
* "Keg Stands: Not as Hard as it Looks"
* "With Free Contraceptives, Is 10 Times per Day Too Much?"
* "Freedom and Liberty: Way Overrated? Why the Evil White Patriarchal Founders Constructed Such an Evil System"
* "The Joys of Communism and Gulags"
They committed suicide..............
They doubled their audience.................
A lie needs to be feed. There is no food for a lie.
Those shows get in a week about what Limbaugh and Hannity get daily. The clown who wrote this article is either unable to quote stats. correctly or deliberately lying.
what killed Michael Jackson, a liberal radio guy back in Los Angeles in the 70s and 80s, was the supreme court overturning the Fairness Doctrine on radio...that guy had no ratings, but he was on a station KABC, that had very good numbers in those days. He followed after Ken & Bob morning show that ruled Los Angeles in the 70s and 80s..
>>>Another theory behind the collapse of commercial liberal talk radio...
And the real answer is that Hispanic radio is expanding. They can get the advertisers. The programing is merely following the surging illegal immigrants that we let in the country from North, Central, and South Americas. So don’t be surprised if 1/3 of the surprising programming sounds like this:
“And, now for our Norteno lovers, back to more Tejano music from Portland’s 3rd Frontera Vivo Bar. The next four hours we return to Spanish language only. Turn up the volume: más fuerte!”
Liberal talk radio fails for exactly one reason: It fails, almost universally, to put entertainment FIRST.
A notable exception is Alan Colmes, who is first and foremost a career broadcaster who has worked commercial music radio and understands that you gotta be entertaining before you can be an idealogue. His shows have been successful and have pulled numbers. The rest of them are typically either political hacks, stand up comedians or D-list actors whop can’t cut it in real radio. They try and fail and try and fail.
Chris Matthews (I know that’s television) is also entertaining, but only because he is just so OUT THERE that it’s entertaining to watch him make a fool out of himself nightly. It’s like audio vaudeville with him executing pratfalls in your ears constantly. Marc Maron is a really funny stand-up guy, but his preachy, whiny show on Air America was an unfettered disaster of liberal proselytizing that was just NOT entertaining.
Air America radio tried to be relevant but was too busy squandering million$ on impressive facilities in midtown Manhattan and on overpaying the aforementioned stand-up comedians and D-list actors who were NOT entertaining but sure as hell were idealogues. It failed despite several massive cash infusions. D-listers Al Franken and Jeneane Garofalo are NOT radio broadcasters, and their message-first schtick didn’t cut it. Oh yes, there were sycophantic hangers-on who hung on their every word and who thought they were the greatest thing ever, but their numbers were far too few to mean anything to advertisers. And for a political ideology that makes businesses out to be Satan himself, it’s kind of silly to then turn around and ask big businesses to support them when they’re howling about how pure evil big businesses are. The network failed to attract meaningful advertiser support (why feed those who seek to destroy you) and in many markets, had to BUY the air time it used. Meanwhile, El Rushbo charges—and charges a TON—for his show to be carried. Stations compete with each other for the right to pay for his show. Why? it is entertaining first and puts the message second. Advertisers support it and it pulls listener numbers. In Chicago, the nation’s third largest media market, Air America had to buy air time to be heard, and even at that it was on flea-powered stations that couldn’t be heard in large portions of the metro. Full powered stations wanted nothing to do with it.
Eventually, some liberal talk show host will put entertainment first. What do I mean by this? I mean, not going on the air and spending 3 hours wringing his hands bloody over the plight of (insert liberal cause here). Put more simply, liberals get ANGRY at conservatives. Conservatives LAUGH at liberals. To quote Billy Joel, “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints...the sinners are much more fun.”
Radio must be entertaining first. But because liberals can’t laugh at themselves and only display anger to those they oppose, they just aren’t fun to listen to. They are so busy cramming the message down your throat they forgot that no one likes a sermon and they’ve got sermonitis.
In the mean time, it’s fun to watch people like George Soros squander vast sums of money down a preachy, whiny rabbit hole. And the state of the art broadcast gear that Air America bought with it was a steal for a lot of actual radio pros at the liquidation.
So it will be until some liberal stops preaching and starts entertaining.
That's not really what they are. A great disaster is about to unfold. It's very sad.
The Bay Area is about to get a major shuffle.. Libtalk,, gone , relegated back to pirate and college underground stations.
at least 3 talk shows are being bundled on 960. some from 560 and some from 910.. where oh where will Randi Rhodes and Colmes go now? at least the brow has a gig on Foaux Nooz.
It all started with defeated ex-Gov Mario (Pope Mario I the Pious) Cuomo in 1995. He started a liberal talk show the hallmark of which was Cuomo’s practice of instantly hanging up on any caller who uttered the word “liberal”.
Lots of Schadenfreude here, folks. This leftie writer is shackled to his own delusions.
Liberal Portland & Seattle have no more `prog radio’? Oh, the huge manatee!