[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Liberal Talk Radio Off Air in South Florida

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Liberal Talk Radio Off Air in South Florida

WINZ 940 AM, South Florida's radio link to Air America and liberal talk, was replaced by sports talk last Friday. Believe it or not, this news doesn't exactly thrill me. In fact, in a market already super-saturated with sports talk, an alternative talk station, even a liberal one, is/was welcome. This is of course my personal view. Others may be throwing wild parties at the news that Air America can no longer be heard in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market.

Via SFDB comes this blog saddened by the demise of liberal talk 940 AM. The blog, Radio or Not, is authored by Nicole Sandler, a radio veteran who had a morning show on 940 AM before being dropped last summer. Sandler makes some points which I would like to comment on:
(The loss of liberal talk) hurts because, even though the Democrats control both houses of Congress and the White House, the giant corporation and conglomerates that own and operate the majority of the radio stations in the country continue to push the fallacy that liberal talk radio can't work.

The fact is that it can. In cities where the signals of the "liberal" and the "conservative" stations are on par with each other, and where the stations are also on an equal footing when it comes to resources, they are quite competitive.
Let me refute the competitive angle by stating that in the case of WIOD (conservative talk) and 940 AM in South Florida, both stations are owned by the same entity, Clear Channel. Both transmitters have plenty of juice, with 940 able to heard as far away as Fort Myers on the west coast. For a little background, please click here for a post back in February which covered talk radio in South Florida, and click here for the ratings for the past year. The ratings show that WIOD beat 940 by more than double, despite being owned by the same company and having the same geographical reach. This is even more noteworthy considering that English-speaking South Florida isn't exactly a bastion of conservatism. Comparing apples to apples, liberal talk in South Florida was roundly defeated.

Sandler continues by railing on "big business" which is "best served" by Republicans:
But let's look at it another way... Most radio stations are operated by BIG business. As much as the right likes to label the media as liberal, the fact is that most media outlets are owned by BIG corporations, whose interests are best served by the Republican agenda. Deregulation, tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, tax loopholes for those same BIG businesses... you get the idea.

It's no wonder that 90% of the stations that air political talk opt to promote their conservative/Republican ideology.

Do they have an audience? Yes. Is there an audience for an opposing viewpoint? YES!
BIG business is interested in one thing, making BIG money, not spreading their ideology, whichever that might be. How they arrive at making said BIG money depends solely on one thing, the consumer. If liberal talk was such a big success (which naturally it's not), Clear Channel and other media conglomerates would be making sure that Air America remains a healthy entity. However, those pesky ratings prove otherwise, which goes back to the consumer thing.

South Florida's ratings for conservative vs. liberal talk is the sole argument one needs to present to show why Clear Channel dumped the liberal talk format. In TV and print media, where liberals DO dominate (sorry Ms. Sandler), "BIG business" is equally concerned with one thing: ratings. TV gets a large part of their ratings via their prime time lineup, fueled by liberal Hollywood. TV news coverage leans left, especially on the networks and all cable channels except FOX. On the print side: New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Chicago Tribune.....the country's biggest newspapers all lean left, as do the vast majority of papers nationwide.

The liberal viewpoint is heard every single hour of every single day via various formats. If talk radio, the only media outlet where conservatives have established a foothold, hasn't embraced liberal talk, it's not because of "Republican BIG Business". It's because of a lack of quality talent as well as an over-saturation of left-leaning news and viewpoints in our media which don't necessarily represent a large part of America.

Sorry, Ms. Sandler. Your argument that media conglomerates are purposely holding down liberal talk radio is flawed on many levels. I think the points presented here easily dispatch this assertion.

I believe Clear Channel wants to test the South Florida sports talk waters, where until now they weren't an active participant in. They probably think they can knock off competitor WQAM and get better ratings than they did with the liberal talk format (it's interesting to note that liberal talk 940 edged out WQAM's ratings). Again, it's all about ratings.

As well-intentioned and passionate as Nicole Sandler appears to be about her business, as well as my understanding of her disappointment at the loss of her preferred radio format in South Florida, her concluding paragraph raised my eyebrows:
I do appreciate the extra effort it takes to listen to the Radio or Not Podcast. I know that the day will come, in the not-too-distant future, when listening to a podcast in your car will be as easy as pushing a button. Unfortunately, timing is not on our side in South Florida today, where at 6:00 this evening, the option of pushing a button and hearing someone who is politically in line with the people who run our country will be lost. Somehow, that seems very un-American!
I think it's safe to say Ms. Sandler would embrace the Fairness Doctrine like a long, long lost friend. That, my friends, is what's truly un-American.



Blogger La Ventanita said...

Personally I don't listen to either.

However as a marketer, ratings is what drives radio programming. Bad ratings, you are off the air, good ratings then you get to stay.

I do not advocate the Fairness Doctrine; not only do I think it is un-American, but businesswise it makes no sense either. You will be forced to have on air programming that is not profitable for the station. No or low ratings in a market, will lead to very low advertising dollars, which ultimately is what keeps Broadcast afloat.

In this case, I guess the people of South Florida have spoken.

As to your surprise for the lack of ratings for Air America in South Florida, I've found that the right is a lot more passionate about their programming. You only have to look at Fox and it's ratings.

The left seems to not be as passionate about their programming. Look at MSNBC and its rating.

Or more specifically look @ O'Reilly's ratings vs Olbermann.

The other explanation I've discussed, is that the media overall is slanted to the left, so maybe liberals do not feel compelled to find programming addressing them as the right who feels the media overall pretty much ignores their point of view.

1:55 PM, April 07, 2009  

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