It’s a new year. A time for more nonsensical literary meanderings. I’ve disqualified myself from discussing the state of Reno radio on a couple of occasions, primarily because I don’t listen like I used to. I generally pedal to work for seven or eight months of the year and this definitely affects how I tune in to talk radio. That said, I’ve never let my lack of qualifications or knowledge get in the way so here we go!
When I originally started grunting about Reno talk radio the landscape was meh. There was one powerhouse (KOH) and a few others with negligible market share (KJFK, KBZZ and KKFT). KOH held a 10.2 share compared to a collective 4 for the other three stations. That was 2007. Things were exciting for a while until KKFT, which seemed poised to go into the ring with KOH, became so inconsistent that you hardly knew who was in their lineup from day to day. Add the fact that KKFT stopped participating in the Nielsen/Arbitron ratings and you see that there hasn’t been much to talk about.
Jump to 2013/2014 and we have a different story. Bill Manders, who moved from KOH to KKFT but then left to go to KNEZ, finally landed at Power Talk 96.7 in Fresno. KJFK was mercifully put out of its (and our) misery. Mike Huckabee’s show vanished into the ether. Of course, the big one is Sean Hannity’s move from KOH to KNEZ. Whoa! Seemingly out of nowhere, KNEZ ends up with Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Dave Ramsey. If you don’t think that’s a game changer then email me and tell me about your trip to Colorado.
So, in the tradition of previous posts, let me briefly share my uninteresting and uninformed opinion about each of the talkers.
KBZZ (1270 AM) – KBZZ always had a really weird lineup. They were a lot like a morning FM show that went all day long, all day, every day. But they had Savage for a while. You would think having Savage would affect their ratings but it didn’t seem to matter much. If anything it may have hurt them. About a year ago they switched to a sports format so they are officially off the radar. So long.
KJFK (1230 AM) – As previously noted, KJFK closed shop last year (March 18th according to their web page). Apparently a station cannot succeed if the audience is comprised solely of its own staff. They had a very stagnant share for as long as I watched them, averaging about 1.6 with a high and low of 2.4 and 1, respectively. They ended at 1.7. RIP.
KKOH (780AM) – I’ve gone from griping about KOH to feeling almost sad. Almost. KOH has had a rough time lately as their numbers show. As of the Spring 2013 review period KOH is sitting at 8.2, which is their all-time low since I’ve been keeping score. KOH is actually at risk of being overtaken by Sunny 106.9…Renoooo as the top station. KRNO 106.9 scored a 7.8, which puts them less than half a point away. Hannity’s move to KNEZ is certain to be a problem – he’s been replaced by the very mobile Michael Savage. The deal between Rush and Cumulus will be a lifesaver for the station. I think they were grooming Mike Huckabee to replace Rush, but when Cumulus realized that they were unable to advertise to a sleeping audience they pulled the plug on Huckabee. KOH is alive for now. And in position number one. For now.
KKFT (99.1 FM) – KKFT seems to be treading water. I’m still a member of their fan club, but I’m feeling a bit apathetic. Their lineup is solid: Laura Ingraham, Dennis Miller, Tom Sullivan, Lars Larsen, Andy Dean, Roger Hedgecock, George Noory… *breathe*. This is where I always get into trouble. Personally, I’d rather listen to Beck than Ingraham. I’d rather listen to Rush than Miller. I’d rather listen to Levin than Andy Dean. That said, Jerry Evans has put together a great schedule. It’s just not always my first choice. Except for Tom Sullivan and Lars, to whom I’ve definitely converted. In a Cumulus and Shamrock world, it’s great to have a local shop.
KNEZ (107.3 FM) – KNEZ is proving that they’re ready to play ball. Beck, Ramsey and Hannity are awesome. The station also has Sean Patrick and Rusty Humphries, both local favorites (even though Rusty joins us via his national show). Travis Christensen almost reminds me of the old KOH-era Ira Hansen. I wish he had more airtime. For such a new station they’ve certainly shown that they want to be taken seriously.
The big win out of all this is the fantastic choice now available to the patriotic citizens of Northern Nevada. It seems like there is room for three great talk stations. Unfortunately, it seems like the turf wars will be an issue. I was disappointed when I heard Sean Patrick refer to 99.1 FM Talk as a “tinker toy station”. Seriously? C’mon. Competition is good, but nastiness serves no real purpose. KOH clearly has some issues to deal with. I’m sure KKFT and KNEZ do, too. If either of these stations rise to number one I’m sure we’ll see all their dirty laundry.
The numbers for Fall 2013 will be available next week. It will be interesting to see how things look. But not as interesting as the 2014 numbers when we begin to see the effect of the Hannity and Huckabee changes…