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View Diary: Clear Channel Loses $424 Million in 2012, StopRush Rolls On (87 comments)

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  •  Not really (18+ / 0-)

    We'd love to believe that would be true.   But Miller's ratings don't quite compare with the ratings.   I can dislike Rush, but I see the arbitrons on a daily basis and I can't deny he draws an audience.

    What draws a bigger audience?  Sports.

    Rush dominates primarily AM radio.  And AM radio is quickly turning into either sports or political talk.

    And sports is kicking all political talk's ass.   I hate to say this, but it's true.   If you were to tell me that radio stations in Albama had the option of a daily 3 hour call-in session of Tide fans just griping about play calling OR Rush, I would tell you the show where people gripe about playcalling would spank the hell out of Rush.

    Same goes almost everywhere that Rush is a success.

    In the end, if Rush goes, those airwaves aren't instantly turning liberal.  Instead, they will move to other content.  And out of all the options, sports talk is the one that makes money.

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 08:21:56 PM PST

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    •  Back when Al Franken was on the air... (15+ / 0-)

      ...he once added up his numbers compared to Rush's, and showed Franken's were as good and sometimes even better, given the size of the audience reached by his stations.

      And when Bain bought Clear Channel, and closed down Air America here in Columbus, and replaced it with right wing WYTS, ratings dropped to asterisk...not enough to measure.

      Maybe the right wing has stunk up the very idea of radio, so it will long be their domain, but the niche market is a proven business plan, and a liberal station managed right, could do better than yet-another-sports station or yet-another-hate station.

      In think maybe the "secret" would be, take advantage of your underdog status and ASK your audience to be your advocates. Bottom up, instead of top down.

      •  Franken's numbers (11+ / 0-)

        Were in a limited market where there should be a presence and where you can succeed.  

        I'm not saying this to be anti-anything, but the areas where Rush is successful will not be areas where Miller will manage to be profitable from the get go.  It's the wrong demo.

        Air America's problem really boiled down to a terrible expansion strategy combined with salary disasters and poor management of localized contracts.   Profitability matters a lot in radio.

        As someone who's advertised a lot, or handled the advertising budgets, I can tell you Rush's arbitrons in many midwest and southern markets are unbelievably good.  If you could look at them, you'd understand why radio stations put up with the bullshit.. it's because he brings in green.

        This has NOTHING to do with his message or whether he should be on the air, but he has clearly tapped into a market that wants to listen.  It's the same thing that makes Fox News very profitable and a ratings magnet.

        There are a lot of reasons behind this, but high ratings with low profitability is the goal of a situation like the drive as mentioned above.   OR, better yet, to create a situation where ad revenue must be adjusted downward in regards to cost per spot, lowering the value to the broadcast.

        Nothing I'm saying here is to support Rush, it's just the economics.

        Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

        by Chris Reeves on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 08:55:07 PM PST

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        •  One advantage liberal radio does have is loyalty. (7+ / 0-)

          I think a savy advertiser could could take advantage of that.

          Ruth Lyons in Cincinnati had a TV audience whose loyalty was legendary.

          And Lyons did not just run commercials...she talked up here sponsors.

          For that to work on radio, we would need the talent to personally promote the national advertisers, and the local stations to at least make a general appeal outside of commercials to say "please support our sponsors who make our progressive station possible."

          But probably none of this will work as long as mega stations have taken over.   I talked to a local businessman who told me about trying to call Clear Channel to advertise on the local Air America station here in Columbus.  They tried to talk him out of it!  Instead they wanted him to buy a package advertising on other stations, and he said they asked him "What are you, some kind of a hippy?"

          Great idea, insulting your customers. He ended up not advertising at all.

          •  Not really (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tmservo433, VictorLaszlo, elwior, BusyinCA

            The genre that has the loyalty is sports talk. Mostly guys, and once they find a station they like they NEVER change the channel.

            The call in shows give them the illusion that they could pick up the phone and get on the air. Few will even try, fewer still will ever get on, but they like to think they could.

            •  because it's so hard to find a station you like (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              elwior, BusyinCA

              Ye gods, it is physically painful to listen to terrestrial radio.  The expectations are so stunningly low it's scary, and yet nobody seems to do any better.

              Try listening to any music station.  Any station playing more than 10% good songs is a keeper.  It's brutal to suffer through an hour worth of crap for one song that maybe you like.

              Try listening to any news broadcast.  "dow up 13 points".  No number, just a difference.  Intentionally reduced information content.  The same five headlines repeated all day.  No rotation whatsoever.

              NPR may have their programs that suck (This American Life, anyone?) but at least there is a vague attempt to inform.

              -7.75 -4.67

              "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

              There are no Christians in foxholes.

              by Odysseus on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 08:44:28 AM PST

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              •  I don't listen to regular radio (4+ / 0-)

                Since I got xm. When I have to its just so horrid I wind up finding an NPR station or listening to my iPod.

                So I know what you mean.

                But my husband would listen to sports radio 24/7. When he's home, the tv is on espn, golf, or one of the history channels. Usually sports of some kind.

                Sports radio in his truck. Granted he doesn't spend a lot of time driving, but if he did that's all that would be on.

      •  And yet WVKO-AM failed again, so we're left with (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ichibon, elwior, tmservo433, KittyFitz50

        no progressive talkers in Central Ohio. Aside from WABQ up near Cleveland I'm hard pressed to name another lefty talker in the marijuana leaf Buckeye state.

        Thank the FSM for -- I can punch up Chicago's WCPT on my Android app every morning and get my Steph fix.

        (I sub to the DKos podcasts on iTunes -- that Stitcher app is a flaming bag of suck).

        TRAP: Targeted Regulation of AMMUNITION Providers.

        by here4tehbeer on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 09:44:30 PM PST

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    •  compare talk radio with talk radio, not sports (10+ / 0-)

      it's a mistake to look at RW talk radio merely as a business being run for profit. they will gladly lose millions to sell trillions in war, deregulation, tax breaks, ignorant sycophant politicians and supremes, character assassination of good people, and global warming denial.

      rush is big because they bought him a monopoly on the loudest stations on the planet and made sure there was little or no competition.

      the main prog talkers can compete with and beat limbaugh and hannity on an even playing field in blue areas and they've proven it- but those opportunities have been limited, and for a purpose. at soem level, yes, they are a business but CC operates primarily as a propaganda tool. they're  going to be happy if the stations can pay wages and operating costs. anything else is gravy.

      there is no way 95% of the americans who listen to political talk radio are teabaggers, especially in all those blue areas RW radio dominates. in most parts of the country there are NO alternatives for political talk and that's for a reason- they can't handle the truth. limbaugh's success is dependent on his certitude never being challenged.

      those giant stations also often broadcast sports. 28% of limbaughs depend on university sports broadcasting- a disgusting association that needs to end. i wouldn't be surprised if many of the 600 stations they bought up for him were chosen exactly for that reason- the uni association bring community cred and local ad money.

      many of his stations loudly dominate their areas and often offer traffic, weather, and local news- limbaugh is teh beneficiary of the advantages of a protected monopoly - not a reflection of american taste for ignorance, hate, and lies.

      i hope you'll use you knowledge of the business to help stoprush.

      This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

      by certainot on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 10:06:13 PM PST

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      •  OK. Some radio talk (14+ / 0-)

        Radio works by two guidelines:

        Local buys and Aribtron.

        If you have a show that doesn't do fantastic arbitron #s but has a high local buy number, it will stay running.  If you've ever wondered why AM Radio stations may have a "Master Plumber" radio show on a Sunday or Saturday, that's why.  The local buys into those shows act almost like infomercials and the value of the spots matters.

        On the other hand, you have Arbitrons.  Arbitrons are the metered ratings you sell to everyone else, and they help decide how buyers place their money.

        In many areas in the south and midwest, conservative radio flourishes not because they are willing to lose money, but because they are making money, and unfortunately quite a bit of it.  

        We can highlight Clearchannel's loss, but after looking through their statements most of this is one time investment and refinancing losses, not related to their radio performance.

        Many networks who are not clearchannel, especially smaller networks, latch onto programming based on talk.  It's easy to seperate "Sports" and "Political" talk and consider them totally different animals (mentally) but as far as #s go, it doesn't matter.   This is why if country music was on an upswing you'd see some flagging AC station change it's genre, or when Hip Hop has value, FM dial stations skew that way.

        What is happening with political talk though is more geared around the local buy AND the arbitron.  It also shows how week the rest of the market is.

        Two years ago, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity and others ran radio programs where they flouted their numbers and market penetration.   That's not happening at all now.  Their market penetration is flagging and the local buy through is not so good.  

        Most "conservative" themed radio stations have went to a mix that goes like this:

        Local News talk
        Local News commentator
        Local News Nighttime drive commentator

        They've chopped everyone out of the game but Rush.  And this is happening in a lot of markets.

        This is where I think we may be missing a really ideal target here by focusing too much on Rush.  I get the value of defeating him, but at the same point the more he spreads his message what is really needed is an effective rebuttal.

        As more and more stations move to localize their afternoon content, you are going to have a much easier time making a case for a liberal-leaning alternative in the afternoon.   If you can't get that, start out with a more "crossfire" oriented local show, a real liberal, a real conservative.   This sounds creepy to some, but it works in the ratings, it's an easier local sell, and you'll find "real" people who are intelligent cannot make Rush's lunatic arguments and will give ground in a back and forth debate.

        THOSE kind of programs actually have some ratings number successes.

        Here's the alternative of what happens the other way.  Let's say tomorrow ClearChannel dumps Rush's contract and he flees to Satellite Radio.   Well, just like David Lee Roth trying to replace Stern, they will plug Hannity or whoever into that mid-day spot and it's going to tank.  

        I mean, badly tank.  We'd love to say liberal talk radio will work in those markets, and we believe that based on the idea that "local buys" will be heavy.   This sounds serious to a lot of people especially in more liberal places.   A business who would advertise on a progressive radio station in Mobile, AL or Joplin, MO markets would be on the same ground as how people in those areas feel about coming out of the closet ;)  The local buy and sell on ad spots would be horrible.

        So, how do you get around that?   Well, a big part of this is to build the discussion.  Like I said, most of these markets, especially third tier independent markets where Rush absolutely sweeps up (I'm talking places like Enid, Oklahoma, Hays, Kansas, Hastings, Nebraska, Springdale, Arkansas, etc.) where you aren't worried about major network reach.

        In those markets, for now, Rush needs to be an argument for a counter point.  

        If you're a program director, your biggest concern is bringing in revenue.   Counterpoint programming or "debate" programming is proving successful in many mid-major markets (Kansas City, Omaha, Little Rock) and could be easily adapted to more markets.

        I would need to look at more recent arbitrons to really get an idea of how this all ends up, but I'm still thinking over truly effective ways to communicate.   Because the biggest issue the left has isn't that Rush reaches so many people, it's that they don't.   If they had similar regional and local reach throughout the US, there would be much less of an issue; because once you give the opposing side you start changing the debate.

        I'm still thinking through this.   I think this is a good idea you're on to economically, I just think there are a lot of factors here.

        And if Rush were to leave let's say tomorrow as I propose, and a replacement fails, it wouldn't be liberal talk that would take over.. those stations - at least 2/3 of them, would immediately flip to sports to pay the bills.

        Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

        by Chris Reeves on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 12:06:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  thanks for the great perspective on the radio biz (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tmservo433, elwior

          i hope you’ll keep up with the stoprush effort.

          i’ve been monitoring RW radio for over 20 years. i was living in western states where that was all there was and i checked it out while working and saw a lot of patterns over the years.

          there are a few things i’d add and i think it’s important to keep in mind the value of talk radio to the right as basically free advertising and more- a way to pound the country with repetitive messaging coordinated on the national and local level. they are going to protect their monopoly and find ways to keep it going any way they can. limbaugh is a key piece with “talent on loan from god” - the ability to beat a lie detector, create ‘facts’, and rationalize opposites within the same paragraph. the key to selling the lies is his royal certitude, which can only be maintained is he is unchallenged in real time. that’s why his handlers will not have him on stations that also do liberal talk. i remember hearing somewhere that is in his contract- that would be an interesting thing to see (the contract). there may be a few exceptions and those limbaugh stations may also do sports but they won't have liberals following him.

          my observation is that the the political content is usually well coordinated. he gets first dibs on national stuff and the others add and reinforce but there is considerable coordination. a lot of these guys don’t do their own homework and i’ll bet, at least until rove lost the white house, there was significant coordination of the main national and local subjects emphasized. timing is also important on events related to getting the screaming callers in to push or stop legislation or attack someone. that happens nationally and locally. it’s clear from listening RW talkers over the years that very few of them do their own research. i wish someone in the radio biz would check that out. i know the heritage foundation plays a big part. i heard the subs for hannity let slip they were broadcasting from there- probably not a secret.

          with call screening software they can ID incoming calls and program who is friendly and who is not. that would give them the ability to automatically send paid callers to the top of the line. i wish someone in the biz would check that out. i think people would be surprised how often and to what extent paid callers are used.

          relative to the mix on a stations and selling ads, take the denver RW limbaugh mothership 850 KOA, which at one point was reaching 38 states at night. nowadays it does bronco, rockies baseball, and colorado buffaloes footbal and basketball but it can dominate state politics with the local morning and evening blowhards and delayed limbaugh at 12. they include a sports talk segment in the afternoon with the traffic news and weather.  the sports connection is big- but that station is a big part of republican politics in CO. during a CO bball game recently i heard “850 KOA, home of the buffs and rush limbaugh!” 3 times. except in the south and a few other places i doubt they could dominate without the sports connection to our universities. in this case they have pro sports too but just one university sports connection can be a big deal for a station in the state and community.

          re the debate programming. the ones i’ve heard are often a version of the old hannity and colmes,   where there’s something distracting about the ‘liberal’ and he/she is not really a liberal. like one in denver where the ‘liberal’ has an incredibly whiny voice. and he's not a liberal, just the less conservative twit. the big debates are usually something like whether reagan was a great president or a really really great president. i think the crossfire format might be a winning alternative for some stations but it won’t help a lot if the karl roves are the ones picking the hosts.

          i think the right will do a lot before they allow their stations to go from RW/limbaugh to progressive. they know their model can’t survive with real competition (the truth- not just alternative opinions). they know they can’t sell their alternative reality in any area where there is a loud alternative so they’re going to try to keep their monopoly.

          i hope people in the radio business will look at the talk radio part of a company like CC  as a very successful and valuable propaganda machine within the company as opposed to just another format. they’re going to try everything to keep it going and minimize competition, and i wouldn’t put it past them to try every accounting trick in the books to extend it and hide losses and problems.

          the key for americans to fixing it is to break down that monopoly until there’s finally some competition. they can’t handle the truth.

           but until then we're not going to have rational national discussions on any major issue without their think tanks being able to distort it with professionally orchestrated and well-timed PR campaigns laundered through 1000 radio stations pretending to reflect 'popular opinion' and 'market forces'.

          This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

          by certainot on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 08:28:23 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Miller is hard to find on the radio. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I live in MA. I can find Limbaugh everywhere in the state. A Blue State. And you'd be hard pressed to find Miller in anywhere but tiny pockets throughout MA. Her ratings are decent for the limited availability. The comparison is unfair at best.

      Welcome To The Disinformation Age!

      by kitebro on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 08:57:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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