When it comes to talk radio in Reno there are not many options. To the best of my knowledge there are four radio station in Reno: KKOH, KJFK, KBZZ and KKFT.
KBZZ (1270 AM) – We can automatically disqualify KBZZ because it isn’t really a talk station. It’s basically the equivalent of lame FM morning shows all day every day. I can only take so much of that kind of radio – zero to be exact.
KJFK (1230 AM) – This is the child of Air America, although they don’t say so on their webpage. They feature some of the Air America hosts such as Randi Rhodes, Thom Hartmann and Lionel. Their market share is barely over 1% and dropping. You can tune into the station at any time and hear bizarre ranting. You’ll discover within moments why they cannot hold their market share.
KKFT (99.1 FM) – KKFT is a strange one because they are based out of Carson City, but their FCC license is issued for Minden/Gardnerville. The signal in Reno is usually a little weak and the advertising is clearly aimed at Carson, Gardnerville and Minden listeners, although this seems to be changing. Their market share is about 1%, but seems to be growing fairly quickly. In the past three ratings periods they have gone from roughly 0% to .6% to 1%. I expect this trend to continue.
KKOH (780 AM) – KOH is clearly the powerhouse of all Reno radio, including ALL stations and not just talk. Their ratings are consitently well over 10% but they are slowly slipping away. They are down more than a full percent from the same ratings period a year ago.
So, back to the original point. The pickin’s are slim and seem to be slimming. KKOH – once the undisputed heavyweight champion – has been losing quality steadily for several years. The start of the decline happened in the late 90’s when Rusty Humphries arrived in Reno. This event sparked KOH’s Dark Ages, which they still have not recovered from. Another painful page from their book is “Reno’s Morning News with Ross and Monica”. This show consists of < 5 minutes of news per 1 hour of programming, endless crude and unfunny jokes and plenty of loud, fake laughing by Monica Jaye. I believe the largest nail in the coffin is Michael Savage. There are a few things keeping life in the coffin, which, unfortunately, is still nailed shut. Limbaugh and Hannity obviously buoy the station to keep their ratings high. The recent addition of Mark Levin is odd because they are only giving him one hour in the evening in order to extend Coast to Coast AM to 10pm instead of 11pm. Is Coast to Coast AM so incredibly popular that it needed to be bumped up? More on Levin in a moment…
KKFT is the station that could pull away a huge portion of KOH’s audience with the exception of the Hannity and Limbaugh hours. They have Dr. Laura, Laura Ingraham, Dennis Miller and Bill O’Reilly. Bill O’Reilly used to be on KOH, but for some strange reason KOH and KKFT traded Mark Levin and Bill O’Reilly. It was a good move for KKFT, but KOH hurt themselves by cutting Mark Levin down to an hour after the switch. KKFT recently brought Glenn Beck back into the lineup, which is probably their best move yet; however, the benefit of adding Glenn Beck is countered by the stupidity of removing him in the first place. As KKFT continues to target the Reno market they will undoubtedly impact KOH’s ratings significantly. Their weak signal in the Washoe Valley will be a big problem, but hopefully their continued success will allow them the grow into a more powerful signal, or perhaps even make the move to Reno.
My final comment pertains to drive-time listening. During the morning commute you can choose between Laura Ingraham and Ross and Monica. During the evening commute you can choose between Lars Larson and Bill Manders. The morning choice is a no-brainer. In the evening I think Lars Larson is a clear winner. I think Bill Manders is a good guy (definitely very genuine), but I just am not entertained by him. I’ve always wondered why KOH doesn’t put a stronger personality on during the commute times when they undoubtedly have the most listeners? For KOH it’s clear – by providing local programming during those hours they can increase their ad revenue by playing more ads. They are not restricted the way they would be by a national show. The perfect morning drive was when Glenn Beck was on KKFT during the morning drive. Why they took him off I’ll never know.
So, that’s basically why our market is weak in Reno. A little more shuffling and I think you’ll see KKFT become the powerhouse that KKOH is not ceasing to be.