Radio Withdrawal

Arbitron released the Spring 2012 market ratings a while back, but the information is becoming increasingly uninteresting. In summary, KKOH continues to drop like a rock. They posted 8.5, which means that they could easily be surpassed by one of the music stations in the near future. This is their fourth consecutive drop and the lowest share during the time I’ve been tracking their numbers.

According to a friendly at KKFT, Arbitron no longer lists non-subscribing stations. This means that an unintelligent and uninformed layperson like myself does not have access to KKFT’s current data. We only know that they are part of the roughly 30% of unidentified share.

KJFK is enjoying a record share of 2.4 and KBZZ is stagnant at 1.3.

I would like to say there were some exciting surprises, but alas this is not so.

A few months ago I half-heartedly proclaimed my independence from traditional radio. Considering this proclamation I’m not sure that I have any business commenting on the ups and down of radio. With KOH continuing their downward spiral and KKFT no longer appearing on the map, I think it’s time to move on to other matters. I suppose this will be the last time I have much to say about the state of Reno radio for a while…

ObamaTax and the Enslaving of America

What more can be said about the Supreme Court’s abominable decision last week regarding ObamaTax? Don’t worry, I’ll find something to say whether it’s worthwhile or not.

Two things occurred to me as I’ve been listening to the discussion. First, I realized just how close-minded those on the left are. Those on the right can completely understand why others want ObamaTax to stand. “Free” health care would be great. Not having to worry about pre-existing conditions would be awesome. It sounds dreamy and we get it. I doubt there are many on the right that do not understand why some people are so excited about the prospect of socialized medicine.

Now, should we take bets on whether any of the lefties understand why people are opposed to ObamaTax? I’d bet that it’s not many. I’d be surprised if they thought it was because we fear an enormous government. Or because we distrust our government becoming so intimately involved in one of the most private and important aspects of our lives. Or because we’re saddling ourselves with unthinkable debt when we’re already nearly $16t in the hole. Or because we believe that in a free country we should not be taxed and/or penalized for not doing something. Instead, consider the comments of Gene Jeffress where he suggests that those who oppose ObamaCare are racist.

Speaking of racism, why is it that black Americans are not outraged? Why is it that they continue to support this president? I’m not very good with math, but I’m going to do my best here. Currently, almost 9 million of the nearly 40 million black Americans are on food stamps. That’s about 22% of blacks compared to about 6% of whites on food stamps. Additionally, almost twice as many black Americans are below the poverty level as white Americans (25.8% vs. 12.3%). The unemployment rate for black Americans is hovering just below 14%, which is almost double the national average. All this with a black president in the White House!

The progressives, including our supreme leader, President Barack Obama (mmm, mmm, mmm), seek to enslave black Americans by making them dependent on government programs like food stamps and health care. Many people are fighting this tyrannical government, but far too many are willingly allowing the government to enslave them. A Pew Research Center poll from March shows that 83% of black Americans approve of ObamaTax while only 9% disapprove. After all the blood that was shed so that slaves could be free, why would their descendents willingly replace the shackles? Obama is not your friend. ObamaTax enslaves all Americans. The sooner we understand that and find a way to escape the better.

Free Prose – Nothing to Read Here

As the messages and comments continue to come in, it’s clear that Bill Manders continues to be a hot topic. Admittedly, I didn’t listen to Manders much when he was on KOH. Then again, I didn’t listen to KOH much at all. I’ve listened to Manders more since he came over to 99.1 FM Talk and I’m a little curious about where the vitriol toward him comes from. He has a wide range of topics and he discusses the topics intelligently. Whatever he may have been when I wasn’t listening, he doesn’t seem to fit the bill now. I think Manders provides a unique program and will be benefit to the station.

Now that I’ve said that, let me backtrack a bit. I’ve been a big fan and advocate of 99.1 for many years. I fell in love about seven years ago when they were KPTL-AM 1300. Sadly, I think I’ve fallen out of love with 99.1. If I had to identify the turning point, I would definitely say that dropping Glenn Beck was it.

I have a limited amount of time that I can listen to the radio on any given day. Work and family commitments dictate what I can listen to and when. When I listen I’m not listening to simply fill time or have background noise. I want to hear programming that I enjoy listening to. I think that the concept of DVR has changed the way we look for information and entertainment. Instead of surfing for something to watch, we record our favorite shows and tune everything else out. Although a bit behind the curve, radio is starting to offer a similar choice.

The spring radio ratings will be available in a little more than a month; the review period ends in a few days. Although the battle of the talks is very interesting, I wonder how many people are like me. There’s too much programming I don’t like and the programming I like is not on when I can listen to it. So, I turn off the radio and plug in to exactly what I want.

If you’re a Beck addict like me, send me a message. I’m curious to know if I’m the only one that essentially dumped 99.1 when they dumped Beck.

Also, I think that 99.1 is full of Ron Paul supporters.

Whiners and Winners

Republicans tend to get flustered when it comes to picking a candidate. It seems to be a much easier task for Democrats (“Would a dead person vote for this candidate?”). I admit that I struggle a bit myself; however, it usually doesn’t take long before the choice is apparent.

Consider the crybabies (hereafter referred to as Gingrich and Santorum) that we had in the race. Their campaigns amounted to little more than complaining that the Romney campaign wasn’t playing fair. Because, as we all know, it will be a clean fight once our supreme leader, President Barack Obama (mmm, mmm, mmm), gets involved. I hate the dirt and vitriol in politics. I wish we could have a clean debate. The fact of the matter is that the left cannot win a fair debate and they have to resort to throwing sand in the eyes and then kicking the groin. It’s dirty but it wins elections.

Romney seems to be the only candidate that is willing to go head-to-head with Obama. What’s more, I believe he can do it without sacrificing ethics or principle. He may have hit hard in the primaries but I never heard anything that was fallacious. On the other hand, Newt built his campaign almost exclusively on fallacy. Newt was the Republican candidate most like Obama. He is smart, he portrayed himself as something he is not and he fought a dirty fight. I expect that Romney’s campaign style will be equally effective against Obama.

If the promise of a good fight isn’t enough to convince you that Romney is the man, then consider the whining and bellyaching that came from the presumptive losers. Both Santorum and Gingrich looked like children at the store that didn’t get the toy they wanted. The only thing that was missing was the footstomp and the refusal to cooperate until they got their way. Their concessions told us immediately that we made the right decision. I never liked Gingrich, but I wanted to give Santorum a chance. Unfortunately, it became obvious far too quickly that Santorum was not the one to put against Obama. It won’t be long before we know for sure whether that person is Romney.

On another note, I finally realized what Ron Paul’s supporters have in common: they’re all crazier than he is. If that’s possible.

Burned by The Blaze

I’ve always been a big fan of Glenn Beck and the wares that he peddles. TheBlaze.com is one of the products that I’ve loved since it was first launched.

Several weeks ago the site introduced annoying pop-up ads that jump out when you click anything on the page. They aren’t even good ads. They are generally those terrible ads with the dancing silhouette that loops over and over. I think it’s for insurance or something. (You know it’s good when you don’t even know what the ad is for.) The problem was solved easily enough by using Adblock Plus. But seriously, who still uses pop-up ads?! It’s a sure sign that you run a seedy site.

On Saturday I brought up the site and received a message that Windows Antivirus 2012 was trying to install. For those who have been hibernating for the past several years, this product is much closer to a virus that an antivirus. I contacted the support team at TheBlaze.com and received a message that included an apology and the following message:

We understand how serious this issue is. We have confirmed this is not coming from our site, but a third party site.

I’m not sure they realize that their site is responsible for all the content, including that of advertisers. The people over at The Blaze need to take a look in the mirror and do some soul-searching. I understand that this is a for-profit venture, but the product is being lost. A good idea is about to go up in smoke because of poor decisions.

The Walmart Condition

There are some great things about Walmart, but, unfortunately, the people there are not among them. Whether dealing with unhappy workers or hostile shoppers, the experience can be downright unpleasant.

Shoppers generally seem to be in their own world and refuse to recognize that others exist. Have you ever encountered these types?

  • People who stop to look at something, but then suddenly start walking right as you are passing them
  • People who cut you off as they are coming out of an aisle but instead of apologizing they stare at you as if you’re the one who causes pets to die
  • People with two full carts who cut you off to get in the self-checkout line where you were planning on buying one loaf of bread but you patiently wait while they struggle to understand how the barcode scanner works
  • People you talk to or smile at and they respond with an expressionless stare

As enjoyable as other shoppers can be, what about the Walmart employees?

  • Greeters who refuse to make eye contact or speak to you (in other words, “greet” you)
  • Workers who seem to be dodging you as you are trying to get help
  • Cashiers who complete the entire transaction without ever speaking a word

One day, I attempted to purchase a 12-pack of soda at the self-checkout lane and the price came up as $30. When I asked for the clerk to fix the price she let out a deep sigh and explained that the price came up wrong because I don’t know how to scan correctly. This is clearly true because to this day I still don’t understand that there is a right way and a wrong way to scan a barcode. And that the price will be incorrect if you do it wrong. I paid $700 for 5 bananas once and didn’t realize it until my wife called the next day to ask what I bought at Walmart for $700. And I said, “Bananas.” Now I always check the receipt before I leave. And it is very clear that I don’t know how to scan a product. But I digress.

I believe Walmart is a magnification of a general problem in our community. We keep to ourselves and stay out of other people’s lives. I believe this is wrong and I believe that Walmart is a good place to start fixing the problem. Starting now I’m going to change the way I shop and I challenge you to do the same.

  • Smile and say “hi” to as many people as possible
  • Always say “excuse me” when walking in front of someone
  • Exercise traffic laws with your cart (stay to the right and respect right-of-way)
  • Be mindful of how many items you have when picking a lane
  • Let people go in front of you when they have significantly fewer items
  • Talk to the cashier and try to throw in at least one compliment

Walmart is just a start, but I think it’s a good one. Hopefully, the next time you’re at Walmart you’ll run into at least one really friendly person. If so, toss him a couple bucks to help pay for the bananas.

It’s Tuesday and It’s Super

It’s Super Tuesday and today will be the day that defines several people’s futures. In a way, the whole process is maddening. But at the same time it’s like a really good Super Bowl. At least I image that’s what it’s like. I don’t watch much sports.

Some of the things I’ve been wondering during this election year…

  • Why do so many people hate Romney so much?
  • Why do Tea Party people seemingly support the other candidates over Romney?
  • Why do other candidates like to compare Romney to John McCain?
  • Does Newt think he can successfully paint Romney as the establishment candidate?
  • Why is Gingrich still in the race?
  • Why are people like Sarah Palin, Laura Ingraham and Lars Larson supporting Newt Gingrich?

As much as the other candidates want to paint Romney as “McCain 2012”, it just doesn’t fit. If you remember, the media selected John McCain as the GOP candidate early in the election. He was a maverick! As soon as McCain had the nomination buttoned-up the media reversed course.

On the other hand, Romney has been fighting not only the other candidates, but also a hostile media. I have not heard anyone on the radio or TV support Romney, although I’m sure there are some supporters out there. How is it that Romney is doing so well? He is a successful person who is devoted to his family. I believe people see that he has integrity, even though they may not agree with everything he says or does.

Speaking of not agreeing, why would Tea Party people be opposed to Romney? Santorum is no Tea Party conservative when it comes to government or spending. Maybe a little bit, but not any more so than Romney. The same goes for Gingrich. Ron Paul has great ideas when it comes to spending and the size of government, but then he starts talking about something else and everyone starts looking for the white van with the padded walls to show up.

The pro-Newt “Winning Our Future” super PAC runs commercials comparing Romney to McCain and Bob Dole. They insist that Romney is the establishment candidate. I can’t tell if they’re being serious or not. I’m assuming they are because I can’t imagine spending that much money on a gag campaign. Gingrich has been entrenched in politics forever, including time working as a lobbyist. He has support from a lot of big names. If anyone is the “establishment candidate” it’s Newt Gingrich. And he still doesn’t have a chance.

Does anyone remember when Gingrich stood next to Hillary Clinton to take up the cause of healthcare legislation? Or when he sat next to Nancy Pelosi to talk about global warming? And what about the affairs? And Freddie Mac? When Newt Gingrich led the charge to impeach Bill Clinton, the Republicans stood up and declared that character matters. From that point on, it’s been a defining attribute of the party. It’s why Republicans resign when they have affairs and Democrats who have affairs get talk shows. Because character matters, I can support Santorum and Romney, but not Newt Gingrich.

I’m hoping that Newt drops out after today. I hope that Newt’s supporters will get behind Romney. There’s too much on the line to be dickering the way we have been.

Return of the Ratings

After a two-year hiatus from talking about the ratings in the talk radio market, it’s time to jump back in. Without me here to express my witless insight it seems like the stations are falling apart. So, here we go…

As of this week Bill Manders is back and new life is breathed into talk radio craziness. It’s not surprising that KOH has continued it’s downward slide; however, KKFT plummeted to it’s lowest point in over four years. All “talkers” stayed the same or dropped. This seems to be the case for other formats as well – the exception being adult contemporary. You wouldn’t be here if you cared about adult contemporary music, so on to the talk.

The graph below shows how each of the four talkers (KBZZ, KJFK, KKFT and KKOH) compare in the years since I’ve been watching the ratings. Up until the Fall 2011 ratings, KKFT had a fairly steady (albeit bumpy) climb while KOH steadily dropped. The last report shows a severe drop for KKFT. I’ve been criticized for calling the latest KKFT drop an anomaly, but the picture speaks for itself.

KBZZ (1270 AM) – KBZZ peaked during the SP08 review period with a share of 2.4. They had some fairly wild swings before leveling off at 1.2, which is slightly below their average of 1.46 between SP07 and FA11. The station dropped to .8 share for the period following the addition of Savage. In my opinion, the station is sort of a mutt. They aren’t all entertainment and they aren’t all politics. With such a weird mix, who is their target audience? Who cares?

KJFK (1230 AM) – Nothing new to report here. They have pretty much the same line-up they’ve always had. Their share is currently 1.6, which is just a smidgen above their average of 1.55. The station has found it’s niche and is clearly happy to maintain altitude.

KKOH (780AM) – KOH has gone from hurting to flailing. The station always seems to enjoy a bump in the fall ratings period; however, this time they dropped by almost a full point. For as long as I can remember, KOH has been top dog with a double-digit share. We are approaching a point where one of the music stations could overtake KOH, most likely KRNO or KWYL. It seems that KOH should have been a cash cow for Cumulus, but they’re certainly not taking advantage of it. Cumulus doesn’t even list KOH (or Reno, for that matter) on their list of stations. This is odd considering Cumulus now owns roughly one quarter of Reno’s market, including the number one station. The station has always had exceptional programming. Now, it seems that good programming is the exception. Although I’ve taken issue with some of the things Dan Mason has done, he does well as a show host.

KKFT (99.1 FM) – KKFT has me stumped. The station’s ups and downs painted a picture of a long and steady rise. Their share went up as KOH went steadily down. This last period they went from a 3.3 share to a measly 1.2, which is their lowest point in more than four years. The only thing that seems to correspond with this change is the addition of Sean Patrick; however, I cannot believe that Sean Patrick single-handedly drove two-thirds of the stations listeners away. The decrease could also be partially attributed to the general decrease in the number of people listening to talk stations.

Unfortunately, I think KKFT may be putting itself into a KOH-style tailspin. Dropping Glenn Beck will likely be disastrous, but we won’t know until SP12 comes out. On the other hand, I think the addition of Bill Manders is sheer genius. There are still a lot of people who don’t know about 99.1. These people now know there is another talk station besides KOH thanks to Manders. The downside is that Lars Larson has been pushed back and cut down to two hours. I consider Lars to be the station’s flagship program and this could affect the station negatively. The addition of Manders should be a net benefit, though.

With all the chaos between KOH and KKFT it will be interesting to see how they choose to fix the problem…

Intrigue and Change in Reno Radio: Part II

KOH is not the only station that appears to be looking for the right rhythm. 99.1 FM Talk has also been making a lot of changes. In April, the station upgraded to 50,000 watts and also added Sean Patrick to the lineup. Recently, the station dropped Glenn Beck and put Laura Ingraham on in his place. Time will tell whether these changes will help or hurt the station.

Regardless of what you think about the programs on 99.1 FM Talk, there is an overarching problem that I believe plagues the station: No one is really surprised when things change anymore. You just never know what programs will be on from day to day. And you never know whether the change is permanent or temporary. For example, the station was apparently flirting with Laura Ingraham when Glenn Beck was still on. It would be Glenn Beck one day, Laura Ingraham the next and then back to Beck again. And then it’s Laura Ingraham and it never goes back.

It’s too early for me to know what to think about Sean Patrick. It generally takes 3 to 6 months of listening before you can fairly judge a host. I rode my bike to work almost every day from April through September, so my exposure to The Sean Patrick Show is minimal. I will say that his show has improved since it started. He is definitely becoming more comfortable.

So, why does any of this matter? KOH seems to be struggling and the other talkers have an opportunity to grab listeners who are looking for an alternative. People who are disenchanted regarding the firing of Bill Manders will find the change to 99.1 quite comfortable. Probably more comfortable than listening to someone they perceive as being responsible for Manders’ departure, regardless of whether or not that is a fair perception.

While KKFT seems poised to win in the afternoon slot, I’m not sure why they dropped Beck. Laura Ingraham is good, but Glenn Beck is HUGE right now. He dominates the media in a way few others can. This was driven home a few days ago when I heard my mom complain that Glenn Beck was no longer on the air. She isn’t big on radio or politics, but she was discussing the change with her friends. My mom was talking about Glenn Beck.

I enjoy reading comments and blogs that mock KKFT. They always use current ratings to discount the station – they never look at the change over an extended period. Bob Hastings over at BATTLE BORN POLITICS made the following comment: “The closest News/Talk station in the Reno ratings is KKFT with paltry 3.3 rating.” Keep in mind that KOH has scored below their average in 7 of the last 9 ratings periods. KKFT is almost double their own average. And that’s even if you include the spectacular current rating in the average.

KKFT has a chance to kick KOH while they’re down. Consider that when I started tracking the stations KOH had more than 10 times the share that KKFT had. In the current period KOH has less than 3 times the share. You can call me clueless and mock KKFT’s “paltry” ratings, but the Reno radio landscape is changing.

Intrigue and Change in Reno Radio: Part I

It seems that now would be a good time to talk about the Reno radio market. It’s a sordid, incestuous situation full of conspiracy and intrigue. Well, maybe not quite, but there’s still a lot of interesting things going on.

First, what is the story behind the shakeup at KOH? Bill Manders was laid off from KKOH in November. There is very little information about what happened – pretty much just a few paragraphs on RGJ.com. The article states that Bill Manders was laid off on November 11th and was replaced by Dan Mason. The story quotes Manders as saying, “It certainly wasn’t shocking, and it wasn’t a surprise. But it’s caught me a little off guard.”

While declining to comment, Andrew Perini, general manager at KOH, made the following comment: “We’re going to refrain from any comments. It’s too complicated of a situation.”

The lack of reporting on this story is a little odd considering Manders’ popularity and KOH’s huge audience. KOH commands about 10% of the market share in Reno radio. Manders was KOH’s voice for the after work rush. His fans deserve more information than “It’s too complicated.”

The whole Reno radio market has become very strange. Dan Mason, program director at KOH, appears to be in the middle of a lot of things. Dan Mason was hired as program director around 1995. He is considered to be the brains that helped launch KOH into the number 1 spot. He is known and recognized throughout the radio industry for his achievements. There’s no doubt that he knows what he’s doing when it comes to running a radio station.

In the midst of all his achievements, though, there appears to be trouble when it comes to hosts. You may remember that in 2003 Rusty Humphries tried to leave KOH to move to Washington. He explained that his wife was very ill and he felt that he had “exhausted all of the doctors in this community.” He also wanted to be with his family in Washington while dealing with his wife’s illness. In the face of this horrible situation, KOH refused to let him out of his contract and actively interfered with Rusty’s efforts to find other employment. Rusty final brought a civil suit against KOH and the judge issued a restraining order and ordered “Citadel Broadcasting Co. not to interfere with Humphries’ job-seeking efforts.” His wife died just 5 years later in 2008.

A couple of years before the situation with Rusty Humphries, KOH was involved with another controversy when they fired popular Saturday host Ira Hansen. In the months leading up to the 9/11 attack, Hansen had been critical of the relationship between the United States and Israel. According to Hansen, the station warned him that he could only speak favorably about Israel. Following the attack on the twin towers, the subject was renewed and Hansen again made comments critical of Israel. John Farahi, a big advertiser on KOH, threatened the station and Hansen was ultimately fired as a result.

I am sympathetic to KOH’s situation regarding Ira Hansen. Loss of a big advertiser would certainly impact the station significantly. Ultimately, the station needs to make a profit and pay their employees. What makes the situation interesting is that KOH tried to censor Ira Hansen and fired him when he failed to comply. Dan Mason is quoted numerous times in Brian Jenning’ book Censorship: The Threat to Silence Talk Radio. As a matter of fact, the book contains essentially an entire chapter dedicated to Dan Mason, Bill Manders and Harry Reid. It surprises me that someone who is quoted as an authority on talk radio censorship should censor his own hosts.

So, Bill Manders is gone and we now have The Dan Mason Show. Was this the plan all along? Or has Dan Mason finally given up on trying to find a host? Or was he jealous of Sean Patrick’s show? Remember, Sean Patrick used to be the producer for Bill Manders’ show before he had his own show on 99.1 FM Talk.

It’s been a while since we’ve reviewed the market ratings, but KOH was the only talker to lose market share in the Spring 2011 report. What’s more, since I started watching the ratings in 2007 KOH has only dropped below 10% twice – once in Spring 2010 and again in Spring 2011. Did this have anything to do with Bill Manders? I doubt it. The ratings were strong for years with Bill Manders. I think people are finally discovering that they have other choices.

In part II we’ll look at some of the changes made at 99.1 FM Talk.