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InsideRadio ^ | 9/14/06 | Brian Maloney

Posted on 09/15/2006 2:24:28 AM PDT by pookie18

With One High Profile Name Leading The Way, A Significant Post-Merger Exodus Looks Increasingly Likely At ABC Radio.

As you may know, the rumor mill has been in overdrive for months. And now, it appears there is substance behind the chatter. Radio's story of the year, what will happen when Citadel finally merges its operations with that of ABC Radio, seems at last to be taking shape.

And right out of the gate, we have an earthquake: news that Sean Hannity is extremely likely to leave ABC Radio Networks, as soon as it is contractually possible.

That means Hannity, one of the country's most important talk show hosts, would be free of the combined operation as soon as one year from its completion date. Or, by mutual agreement, it could happen even earlier.

Either way, it's a near certainty that the conservative talker and FOX News Channel television host will be moving his base of radio operations somewhere else.

In addition, there are strong indications that a number of additional hosts and managers may also depart Citadel's ABC operation, some by choice and others due to the company's change of direction. Since contractual dates and terms differ, however, exits could be spread out gradually, rather than as one sudden exodus.

One outside source sympathetic to the plight of ABC's staffers told me they have a right to be paranoid: "...there have been many unhappy faces around the ABC watercooler, fearing that Citadel will make the kind of changes that will thwart their efforts of making good radio. Most industry personnel would be nervous at the thought of a takeover, but the ABC staffers, most of whom have been there for many years, have valid concerns," according to the observer.

Which side?

According to insiders with knowledge of the situation, the issue apparently isn't one of unhappiness by Hannity, the indications of dissatisfaction are instead coming from Citadel's side of the fence.

What are they and why is Hannity one of the first to potentially depart? One issue could be ratings: Sean's have been a mixed bag across the country this year, strong in some places, weak in others.

But the same could be said about Rush and almost every other syndicated political talker. Clearly, the market is saturated with far too many of them. Many firms have signed up talent seemingly without regard for audience demand and there simply aren’t enough stations for all of them.

With hot election year contests now underway, however, the fall book should show gains almost across the board. Already, we've seen some unusually heated primary battles in key races, which gave talkers an early dose of excitement to pick apart.

But there's simply no denying that talk radio, particularly on the syndicated side, is in a slump. Beyond the low-hanging fruit that emerges when big things happen, picking compelling topics the rest of the time is a challenge. Increasingly, creativity has gone out the window, making way for news event- driven talk. That approach makes generating consistent ratings growth difficult.

Another theory behind Hannity’s departure is that it could simply represent a philosophy shift by ABC's incoming owners. Another source has told me that Citadel is likely to favor more local talk on ABC's stations than has been the case recently, particularly on stations as large as WABC in New York City.

An obvious way to increase local programming would be to add it during the afternoon drive timeslot, a place Sean occupies on the East Coast. That means that Hannity may not just be looking for a new syndicator, but also new affiliates in some or all of ABC's markets.

Also, the mixed track record of ABC's owned-and-operated news/talk stations can't be ignored. While some continue to dominate their local ratings, others have been troubled for years, seemingly without much attention paid by the company. Why did they allow KABC in Los Angeles to slowly deteriorate over time? As hard as it may be to remember now, at one time there was actually a horse race between KFI and KABC, but the latter lost the fight long ago.

Lastly, the elephant in the room is painted green. It could NOT be said that Citadel has a history of paying top-dollar for air talent, in fact the situation has been quite the opposite, compared to other firms. It's very possible that some of ABC's talkers (and managers) are simply making more than Citadel is willing to accept, particularly with a declining ratings and revenue picture.

We'll be keeping track of every merger development here at Inside Radio

TOPICS: Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: abcradio; foxnews; greatamerican; hannatizer; hannitizer; hannity; hannitycolmes; manonthestreet; pompous; ruthchris; seanhannity; talkradio; usedtobebetter; youareagreatamerican
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To: pookie18
particularly with a declining ratings and revenue picture.

Do you think this is the writer's main point? Geesh. And I don't even think its true. Must be confusing Sean's ratings with Air America's.
101 posted on 09/15/2006 5:25:56 AM PDT by Eagle of Liberty (If you speak against your own, you have chosen the wrong side.)
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To: OldFriend
I've heard Andrew Wilkow several times and do not like him - he's way too liberal for starters, and seemingly too anxious to please MSM types. Strikes me as a lightweight, not particularly well-informed or perceptive.
102 posted on 09/15/2006 5:27:46 AM PDT by CatoRenasci (Ceterum Censeo Arabiam Esse Delendam -- Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit)
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To: tightwadbob
John Batchelor has also just left ABC. He was on late (9pm-1am) so many of you may not know of him but he was by far the most interesting and informed (non-political) show on any tv or radio. He's due back somewhere, sometime later this year

I wondered about that, as I had not heard his show in a couple of weeks, and WABC was playing TLIS instead.

103 posted on 09/15/2006 5:28:11 AM PDT by Fury
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To: pookie18

"And right out of the gate, we have an earthquake"
Uh..I haven't felt it yet. When Hannity understands that "great Americans" are fighting and dying for their country and not manning microphones, his ratings will go up. That's why I prefer the psychotic meanderings of Savage. He tries to minimize gratuitous flattery from his callers, but not Hannity, nor Rush. They're addicted to it.

104 posted on 09/15/2006 5:28:28 AM PDT by libbybelle
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To: libbybelle
Hannity seems to think interviews with Howard Stern, Jerry Springer, Charlie Rangel, and assorted other reprobates make them Great Americans too. Ugh.

Hannity has his groupies on FR but I'm not among them.

If you listen to Rush you don't need a re-run on Hannity.

105 posted on 09/15/2006 5:31:08 AM PDT by OldFriend (I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag.....and My Heart to the Soldier Who Protects It.)
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To: KillTime

I think his show is really good....why don't you like him?

106 posted on 09/15/2006 5:33:42 AM PDT by Fawn (
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To: RobFromGa

Although I do find him a bit of a lightweight, Hannity has been doing us all a valuable service the last two or three months by constantly beating 'House Speaker Pelosi' into everybody's head and reminding reluctant conservative voters that the RATS are far worse than the GOP.

I don't think he'll ever be able to fill Rush's shoes when the Maja hangs it up, but for now, he's doing good yeomen's work. Not that I think Rush is going anywhere before the 2008 election because Her Heinousness is too much for him to pass up, but I do think after his current contract is up, he's going to call it quits. God knows, he doesn't need the money anymore, and before "The Path to 9-11" Stalinism from the RATS got him fired up, he did sound kind of bored. My guess is he'll blaze away until the midterms, then sort of meander till the primaries in '08.

I'd love to get Laura Ingraham locally, because I leave for work before her show even gets going, but I think she could fill his shoes. Or if they really want to get people listening again, hire Mark Steyn as his permanent guest host and give him more time to get used to the format, because he was absolutely brilliant filling in a couple of weeks ago.

107 posted on 09/15/2006 5:33:45 AM PDT by ABG(anybody but Gore) ("By the time I'm finished with you, you're gonna wish you felt this good again" - Jack Bauer)
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To: RobFromGa

Dylsexics fo hte wrodl, untie!

108 posted on 09/15/2006 5:36:08 AM PDT by Erasmus (I invited Benoit Mandelbrot to the Shoreline Grill, but he never got there.)
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To: KillTime

Noooo....leave laura on from 9-noon!!!! She's the perfect lead in for Rush...personally I couldn't care less where sean goes. I try to listen to local shows after rush and before Levin.

109 posted on 09/15/2006 5:40:12 AM PDT by Katya (Homo Nosce Te Ipsum)
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To: Erasmus

you've heard about the dyslexic agnostic insomniac right-- he stays up half the night worrying about whether there is a dog?

110 posted on 09/15/2006 5:41:45 AM PDT by RobFromGa (The FairTax cult is like Scientology, but without the movie stars)
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To: pookie18

It is curious that this is an issue coming to light just as the news of Err America's continuing and deepening fiscal issues is also surfacing.

I like Sean, but he does tend to be too reptative....however he is good during elections cycles in comparing and contrasting conservative vs. liberal positions on important issues. He does need to freshen his show up a little or something to make it more interesting during non-election time frames. He was at his best when he started out with his show....he needs to recapture that energy.

111 posted on 09/15/2006 5:43:30 AM PDT by GLH3IL (What's good for America is bad for liberals.)
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To: tightwadbob

Loved Batchelors show...actually liked it when he still teamed up with Alexander. Only drawback was it aired in my market very late in the evening...always ended up missing the last hour.

112 posted on 09/15/2006 5:43:34 AM PDT by Katya (Homo Nosce Te Ipsum)
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To: ajolympian2004
"know Sean being successful and the fact that he makes money in a free market system ticks off the extreme minority of Sean Hannity bashers here at FR who are just plain jealous of successful people in our country." that you???? I thought you DON"T come to FR anymore....come on you've got your own's WAAAAAY better the

113 posted on 09/15/2006 5:48:39 AM PDT by Katya (Homo Nosce Te Ipsum)
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To: ajolympian2004
Hopefully it will be Rush, Hannity and Levin to Fox News radio

Neal Boortz is already on Fox News radio in the morning...he could be lead-off batter in that awesome lineup!

114 posted on 09/15/2006 5:49:00 AM PDT by NewLand (Always Remember September 11, 2001)
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To: Katya

Nope, I'm not Sean. Just a listener to his show since way back in his WGST 640am Atlanta days, 11 years this month.

115 posted on 09/15/2006 5:51:05 AM PDT by ajolympian2004
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To: pookie18; butternut_squash_bisque; ajolympian2004; Prince Charles; MamaB; KillTime; ...
Hope he comes to Sirius Satellite radio. It's the best!!!
116 posted on 09/15/2006 5:53:52 AM PDT by icecold
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To: RobFromGa

I thought he sold his soul to Santa.

117 posted on 09/15/2006 5:54:38 AM PDT by Erasmus (I invited Benoit Mandelbrot to the Shoreline Grill, but he never got there.)
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To: ajolympian2004
I think I heard Mr. Hannity has written a book.

The title of that book wasn't an autobiography per chance?

118 posted on 09/15/2006 5:55:15 AM PDT by joesbucks
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To: NewLand
Yep, Neil is great too.

There are so many many excellent talk show hosts on the libertarian / conservative side.

Here in Denver we have two talk show hosts worthy of national syndication, Mike Rosen and Jon Caldara, both on 850am KOA. There just aren't enough national timeslots available on AM/FM radio.

119 posted on 09/15/2006 5:55:44 AM PDT by ajolympian2004
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To: ajolympian2004

The good news is that the conservative message is dominating the air waves.

120 posted on 09/15/2006 5:59:22 AM PDT by NewLand (Always Remember September 11, 2001)
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