Wednesday, July 18, 2012

7.18.12 Bee-otch of the Day: northern Michigan radio

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Name: various
Age: various
Occupation: radio broadcasters
Last Seen: northern Michigan
Bee-otched For: giving progressive talk radio a blind eye


In the world of business, you must kill the horse to save the leg.

And in northern Michigan, you must sacrifice good talkers like Stephanie Miller and Leslie Marshall so Dave Ramsey and Dennis Miller can be homeless.

At the end of next month, the northern Michigan radio landscape will be changing to entertain the jocks. WCCW 1310 will be dumping ESPN on August 30th for Fox Sports Radio. It's not 100% known as to why they're canning the network after 12 years of carrying it, but ESPN won't be homeless up north. Instead, they're moving to what's currently 106.7/105.5 You FM.

Yessir, after just two years of airing a lifestyle talk format, mixing liberal and conservative talk towards a female audience, WSRT will flip to ESPN, giving that network one massive signal. Station GM Charlie Ferguson made the announcement to Traverse City's website earlier in the week.

106.7 has been the bastard child of northern Michigan radio for the past 12 years, especially when parent Northern Broadcast blew up 106.7 The Peak's Top 40 format for Hot AC. Eventually, The Peak transitioned to AC, and its name switched to WSRT "Soft Rock and Great Talk". However, the station's ratings nosedived, and even worse, their PD, Todd Martin sent in fake diaries to Arbitron to make the station look good. Instead, it became the embarrassment of the radio world. The station became You FM in 2008, maintaining its AC format, but flipped to Talk in 2010.

Because of its mix of liberal and conservative talk, You FM flat-out had an identity crisis. Liberals on the station included Miller and Marshall, but the rest of the schedule was filled with moderate-to-full-blown teabagger talk from the likes of Dennis Miller, Dave Ramsey, Jim Bohnannon and Michael Smerconish. Of course, the local Arbitron ratings are not published due to an embargo, but from all things understandable, You FM's ratings sucked.

To many in the radio world, You FM won't be missed, and Sports Talk on FM is a welcome change. However, there's a sad problem with You FM's disappearance, and it's the fact that it will reduce northern Michigan's talk outlets to three, and of those three, liberal talk will only be heard for one hour daily: Allan Colmes, whose show is heard from Midnight-1 a.m. on WJML 1110 Petoskey.

It's sad that just a few short years ago, northern Michigan had its own Progressive Talker: WWKK 750, also in Petoskey. It was WJML's sister. However, WJML owner Rick Stone swapped 750 with WLDR 1210 Traverse City, designed to boost WJML's signal. 750 ended up in the hands of Roy Henderson, which flipped 750 into a simulcast of his WLDR-FM "Sunny Country 101.9". Stone did tell his listeners that WJML would carry WWKK's most-popular shows, but they ended up weaseled in the overnight hours. WJML did keep Ed Schultz for a while, but dropped him not long ago for Dale Gribble Alex Jones.

FYI: WJML also carries Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, Michael Weiner, Mike Huckabee and the retiring Neal Boortz. I suspect that when Boortz retires in January, Huckabee will move to the Rush slot (12-3 pm) while Ingraham - who is only heard 3-4 pm - will have all three hours of her cuntfest heard (then again, Boortz is getting replaced with Herman Cain nationally, so this might get interesting).

Of course, WTCM 580 airs Rush, Hannity and Mark Levin while WMKT 1270 airs a bunch of no-namers. However, I have a hunch that Dave Ramsey will end up there since they carried the show prior to his move to 106.7 two years ago.

OK, so where's Ed Schultz? Where's Michigan-born Thom Hartmann? Mike Malloy? Hell, where's Steph gonna go when You FM kicks the bucket?

Point is, I hate hearing the words "Progressive Talk doesn't sell". Yet, we have stations paying up the asshole to carry Rush's show, which in some markets has become cost-prohibitive to air. I even read that ESPN even jacked up their rates recently, which might be why WCCW canned it in the first place (then again, all of Ross Biederman's stations dropped ABC recently for Fox).

I think Progressive Talk - especially in an affluent market like northern Michigan - can achieve *at least* a three share because there is an audience. Bear in mind that Traverse City is the home of Michael Moore and the liberal-leaning Traverse City Film Festival and State Theatre, which is one of the most-popular movie theatres in the whole country. Hell, TC has an indie paper, Northern Express and Grand Rapids doesn't! Yet, at least we have a station that airs Ed Schultz and Thom Hartmann. If You FM went full-blown liberal, I think the station would have been a full-blown alternative to WTCM.

So long, You FM. Don't let the door hit you hard on the ass.  

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