Radio Review Follow-up

Almost exactly one year ago I posted an entry about the Reno radio market, specifically as it relates to talk radio. It’s time to post a follow-up review with more blatantly biased commentary.

There have been some interesting trends, some which can easily be explained and others that cannot. Let’s work our way through the stations…

KBZZ (1270 AM) – KBZZ seems to have made some significant changes since I last researched their station. They still want to flirt too heavily with the FM morning show format to be taken seriously; HOWEVER, their ratings over the last three periods have gone from 1.7 to 2.1 to 2.4. Even though these numbers are not insignificant, their station still tends to shy away from a role that I would consider to be inclusive with common perceptions of talk radio. Then again, maybe this is their goal.

KJFK (1230 AM) – KJFK surprised me with their ratings. After suffering a recurring drop in their ratings they suddenly jumped from 1.3 to 1.7 and then fell back to 1.6. I’m not sure whether something happened to cause them to suddenly be more popular, or if they were previously suffering a slump that they have now rebounded from. It doesn’t really matter, though. This station appeals to a very specific audience – those with BDS and those who listen to people with BDS for entertainment.

KKFT (99.1 FM) – KKFT has been steadily growing for as long as I’ve been watching their numbers. They’ve gone from basically 0 market share to 1.6%. Each ratings period has shown at least a .3% increase. They’ve made some odd changes to their programming, but their current lineup is apparently paying off. More about their programming later…

KKOH (780 AM) – KOH continues to be top dog for all Reno radio with consistently >10% market share. They seem to have ups and downs, but they don’t see gains like the other stations do.

When I first started writing this post I was somewhat perplexed that KJFK is enjoying as much success as they are. It finally occurred to me that KJFK has a very good location to transmit from that should ensure good saturation through Reno. On the other hand, KKFT transmits with even lower power (on FM, even!) from Washoe Valley and yet still has the same market share as KJFK. I think anyone can listen to KJFK for any length of time to get an idea of what they’re about. I tried it once and felt very silly for not turning it off sooner. But that’s just me.

For KBZZ, adding personalities such as Cory Farley can either hurt or help their ratings. If Mr. Farley chooses to discuss more common fare then I’m sure he’ll be a good listen. His non-political writings can be very good, even downright hilarious at times. If he chooses to go into maniacal-leftie mode then he becomes a local version of the bizarrely vitriolic personalities from Air America. And believe me, when it comes to politics he can say some pretty awful things.

For me the most interesting competition is between KKFT and KOH. At first glance I’m sure it seems laughable that KKFT might affect KOH at all. I don’t think it would be smart for KOH to discount KKFT and I can guarantee that KOH keeps at least one eye on this competitor. To summarize I would like to briefly point out the good and bad that each station has going for them.

KOH – the good: KOH has some excellent programming, namely Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Plus, they have a strong local voice in Bill Manders. They have an extremely powerful signal, which means that in addition to Nevada you can listen to them in parts of California, Oregon and Idaho.

KOH – the bad: They are basically stagnant. When they do make changes it’s usually for the worse. For example, they eliminated Bill O’Reilly and when they added Mark Levin they only gave him one hour. I personally don’t agree with their choice to keep Michael Savage. He was interesting to listen to at first, but once the novelty wears off (usually one to two weeks) you crave something more. I’m not sure what I can say about Coast to Coast AM. To me it seems like it would only interest a very specific group, but they clearly have a huge audience for that type of show at that time to keep it on for 7 hours each night.

KKFT – the good: The best programming put together anywhere right now, in my opinion. I start listening with Laura Ingraham in the morning, which is followed by Glenn Beck, Dr. Laura, Lars Larson, Bill O’Reilly and Dennis Miller. Each one of these hosts is outstanding. I don’t typically hear their other hosts, so I can’t comment.

KKFT – the bad: Based in Carson City with a fairly low power signal. This means that unless you live on the very south side of Reno you probably aren’t going to get their signal. They no longer have a local host in the afternoon (what happened to Ira anyway?). Although they take an active stance on some significant issues, sometimes it’s a bit too much. For example, the Jeremiah Wright/Barack Obama ad they play is almost scary. Do they think a lot of Obama supporters are listening to their station? There may be a few. It was also a little strange that they spent so much airtime attacking Rudy Giuliani during the primary. I guess when you understand their pro-second-amendment stance it makes more sense. I personally don’t really care if they play their own ads for specific causes. It just seems a little weird.

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