Even the New Alt Media Gets Old

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The Los Angeles Business Journal (which you have to subscribe to, then pray toward, if you ever want to read certain stories online), reports that in the City of Angels, at least, Arbitron ratings for every talk-radio station are down … except for the lefty Air America, whose (small) share has more than doubled. Market-leader KFI (which carries Rush Limbaugh and popular local yapsmiths John & Ken) slumped from 4.6 to 3.9, which "parallels a slowdown of the talk radio format nationwide," the LABJ asserts.

"I'm seeing a definite leveling off, that's for sure," said radio consultant Holland Cooke, who is based in Rhode Island. […]

"There's been an erosion in the number of people who want conservative political talk. Rush's ratings are at an all-time low," [said David G. Hall, programming director for Infinity Radio's KNX and KFWB].

NEXT: Lincoln Park Pirates Redux

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  1. What are the Arbitron numbers, and the change, for Air America?

  2. Curious. This is certainly the first good news I’ve heard about Air America.

    Then again, I’m disinclined to take figures at face value from a company called Arbitron, but they seem reputable enough.

    I also have to wonder what they’re referencing these numbers against, because I’m sure that there was a pretty big spike in ratings during election season, so maybe the trend is just a return to equilibrium, and AA is finally coming into its own.

  3. Wow, I just tried to BugMeNot the LABJ, and you really weren’t kidding. Apparently, you can’t access this article unless you’re a real print subscriber and can prove it. Seriously, who do these people think they are?

  4. It’s a lot more entertaining to listen to an insurgent flinging poo at the stodgy DC establishment. (Rush in his Golden Age). When you’re reduced to flackery for the stodgy DC establishment it gets a little dull. Like 4 hour state operas about the Dear Leader’s Five Year Plan for Increased Tractor Production.

  5. Here in good ‘ole Akron, OH, we just got Air America a few weeks ago. I used to listen to right wing radio (640 AM) not because I really enjoyed it, but because I needed something to listen to. Now that AA is on, I listen to it, or flip between it and the RW radio station. I’m not really sure which station irritates me more. 🙂

  6. Here are the ratings, from Winter quarter and Spring quarter. KTLK is Air America:
    4.6/3.9 KFI
    2.5/2.3 KLSX
    2.3/2.1 KABC
    0.3/0.8 KTLK
    0.8/0.7 KRLA

  7. “Then again, I’m disinclined to take figures at face value from a company called Arbitron”

    Why? Arbitron is the leading radio ratings service, and has been around for ages. It’s the Nielsen of radio.

    “Apparently, you can’t access this article unless you’re a real print subscriber and can prove it. Seriously, who do these people think they are?”

    Sounds like they’re smart and — aptly enough — business-savvy. You may be accustomed to free content on the Web. But countless content providers are kicking themselves these days for their decisions of ’97-ish, when they opted to throw all their material out there at no cost to readers. It set a precedent that’s going to be very difficult to set aside, and bred an entitlement habit among Web surfers that will be mighty tough to break.

  8. Was Judge Napolitano on the ads on the right side of the screen once a recurring character on Star Trek Voyager? He looks like the time travelling dude.

  9. Political radio is much like the scene on Family Guy a couple weeks ago where Peter, Chris, Brian and Stewie vomit uncontrolably for 3+ minutes.

    Radio numbers have been flat for the past few years, yet they’re treated like they are some grand broadcasting legacy. The whole HDTV thing is a way for the FCC to get TV broadcasters off of certain bandwidths to make them available for wireless. They should have scraped the whole AM spectrum.

  10. Doesn’t a rise in Air America’s ratings not mean that they’re any better, but that more people are discovering it? Any new station will increase shares over time, but how long can they hold them?

    Just like Conservative radio, I agree with some parts of Air America and some I don’t. When Al Franken, one day, complained that pretty soon everyone will own a small business, I gave up on him. A negative belief about people owning a small business tells alot about the philosophy of Al Franken. What is the alternative if you are against small business ownership?

    I also don’t like their “we are part of a social contract” philosophy that I’ve heard a couple of their talk show hosts claim.

  11. SP

    One could view their content giveaways in the same vein as the coke dealer who gives free samples. Some people, after years of using crap, are willing to pay for it.

  12. I wonder if John & Ken will get off the immigration politics and celebrity trial kick. They used to be listenable, the interlude on KABC mornings being their high point for whimsical content. Whatever happened to Yankee Ball? Offer him a job as producer.

  13. Not surprising. AA can only go up from where it was. Limbaugh is getting a bit old hat. Honestly, it’s been years since he actually contributed anything original to the political dialogue (and even that was of questionable quality.)

  14. SP, I just think the name Arbitron is funny for a company that’s supposed to provide accurate statistical data.

    As for web content, I’ve got no problem paying, but to charge an online-but-not-print subscriber $3 for an article that’s a couple of days old seems counter-productive. Maybe I’m wrong and the LABJ has absolutely indespensible information that can’t be found anywhere else, but I wouldn’t be surprised if their $3 charges didn’t make up for lost ad revenue.

  15. ” … Content providers are kicking themselves these days for their decisions of ’97-ish, when they opted to throw all their material out there at no cost to readers. It set a precedent that’s going to be very difficult to set aside … “

    I agree. I remember I brought this up to a newspaper I used to work for, in 1997 no less, when they were in a rush to look “high tech” and throw their content up on the web, even most of their audience at that time still probably wasn’t web savvy. I said, well if people can read your crap for free, don’t you think that’ll eventually cut into pay-for-subscription sales? Years later, their audience is more web savvy and grown accustomed to the “free content”. The paper is barely hanging on.

    “It’s a lot more entertaining to listen to an insurgent flinging poo at the stodgy DC establishment. (Rush in his Golden Age). When you’re reduced to flackery for the stodgy DC establishment it gets a little dull.”

    Ditto again (no Rush pun intended). I can’t really think of too many public airwave talk outlets, other than NPR, that AREN’T right-wing, conservative in talk radio.

    How many angry right guys do you have to choose from? Limbaugh, Liddy, Mike Reagan, Mike Gallagher, Glen Beck, Dr. Laura, Ken Hamblin, etc. etc. etc. Too much supply, a glut.

  16. I don’t think it’s a bad business decision at all for the LABJ to be stingy. Local business journals have limited audiences, who they charge premiums to. I just get annoyed as a subscriber, and also as a fan of their work who would like to see it have more of an impact.

  17. I wonder how much of this audience loss is due to the rise of sat radio, Internet streams and even (gasp) those podcasts things you hear so much about these days.

    I also hope we’re reaching a “fuck ’em all” attitude in the country again. It wasn’t that long ago that an absolute freak con-man did well against the dems and reps in a presidential election … and he would’ve done a lot better if he wasn’t insane (or a plant put there to siphon off the national disgust w/o threatening the dem-gop power structure). If we *are* reaching such a phase of True Discontent again (hooray!), then the jabbering assclowns of partisan talk radio have nothing to offer.

    It would be nice to see some entertaining libertarian-conspiracy-antigovt types on the daytime talk radio, like Art Bell and Alex Jones … would also be nice if Phil Hendrie admitted he was wrong about Iraq and the whole terror scam and went back to being a savage (and funny) critic of America’s pathetic establishment politics.

    / just got Sirius in the car and can’t believe I’ve gone so long without it … Dozens of talk / news stations including weirdo world radio (Slovak National Radio, anyone?) and CNBC and all your NPRs, PRIs, BBCs, cable news audio feeds, etc.

  18. Two words for the ratings boost at Air America:

    Jerry Springer.

    Final thoughts anyone?

  19. Limbaugh is getting a bit old hat. Honestly, it’s been years since he actually contributed anything original to the political dialogue (and even that was of questionable quality.)

    What are you talking about? Limbaugh is terribly original. He makes up new facts every time he’s on the air.

    I’m glad to see KLSX is doing so well. All hail Tom Leykis!

  20. Give Rush a break. Half his material went out the window when he couldn’t make fun of Janet Reno’s and Chelsea Clinton’s looks anymore.

    Poor thing, no wonder he had to numb the pain.

  21. Last time I was in the US all that was on the radio was Terry Schiavo crap. And I disagreed with all the right wing radio guys on that.

    But other than that Rush is awesome. I have learnt tons from him. There was a guy in VA beach that was also great, Tony McCurry, or something like that, he is a Libertarian, more of a Thoreau libertarian than a Neil Bortz libertarian. Neil Bortz is pretty cool too.

    I miss talk radio. I mean Hannity sucks, Art Bell sucks, Mike Savage sucks, the local Reno guy really really sucks. But I miss listening to Rush and the other guys mentioned. Even Hannity hits the nail on the head once in a while.

  22. Some Confused Radio Listener,
    Are you thinking Jerry Springer has given Air America a bump, even though ratings remain very low in comparison to Rush, et al?

    I wish someone would answer. I don’t know.
    Why isn’t Jerry steamrolling Rush?
    I think Brian had it with his 1:30 post.

  23. Come now, we can’t discuss Air America without mentioning the recent revelations regarding their funding:

    Funds of a Bronx Youth Group Allegedly Lent to Air America

    BY DAVID LOMBINO – Special to the Sun
    August 1, 2005

    The top executive at a Bronx youth organization said yesterday that the former director of Air America Radio received more than $800,000 in loans for himself and the radio network from the nonprofit organization while serving as its development director. [snip]

  24. Ruthless, I don’t especially know the history of Air America, or when they signed JS, but ya figure a name had to help… given where AA started from.

    /I burn my own CDs but don’t always play them when driving with someone else who makes fun of my lack of taste…

  25. If you’re in commercial real estate in LA, you must subscribe. You have to get the SF Valley Business Journal too.

  26. come on papaya, you can’t talk that way about err america. the leftist pseudo-libertarians on this site love it. anyone that hates bush and apologizes for terrorists, after all, must be pro-liberty, right?

  27. reason: free minds and free terrorist apologies

    i want to set up a lab on thoreau’s island where i breed democratic underground regulars with freepers. the resulting offspring will be taught to party like there’s no tomorrow.

  28. …weirdo world radio (Slovak National Radio, anyone?)…

    Weirdo? Listen mate, in Australia people watch Fox news to have a laugh at how clueless Americans are. You know, “Let’s flip over and see what crap those boneheads are pumping out”. It’s become an ironically funny thing for stoners to do late at night while bonging on.

    Fox is absolutely hilarious, especially the bad 80’s guitar leadbreaks – just like listening to the Best of Peroxide Rock. Not to mention the cheesy graphics.

    And you call it ‘weirdo world radio’? My bet is Radio Slovak is a shitload better than most things on the dial in the US.

  29. I wonder if John & Ken will get off the immigration politics and celebrity trial kick. They used to be listenable, the interlude on KABC mornings being their high point for whimsical content.

    I wondered what ever happened to those guys. They were on Trenton, NJ radio in the early 90s. Jim Florio was elected governor in 89 stating “I see no reason to raise taxes” and then raised the sales tax (among others) 6 months later. John and Ken went after Florio relentlessly. The Republicans won a veto proof majority in the legislature in 91 and they actually rolled back the sales tax increase.

    Of course they didn’t roll back all the tax increase and we ended up with Christine Todd Whitman as governor, but was nice to see all those tax raisers lose their jobs.

  30. The headline of this thread should have been:
    “‘Alt’ media gets too soon alt.”
    (It’s a paraphrase of a Pennsylvania Dutch saying.)

  31. “Weirdo? Listen mate, in Australia people watch Fox news to have a laugh at how clueless Americans are. You know, “Let’s flip over and see what crap those boneheads are pumping out”. It’s become an ironically funny thing for stoners to do late at night while bonging on.

    Fox is absolutely hilarious, especially the bad 80’s guitar leadbreaks – just like listening to the Best of Peroxide Rock. Not to mention the cheesy graphics.

    And you call it ‘weirdo world radio’? My bet is Radio Slovak is a shitload better than most things on the dial in the US.”

    Newscorp owns Foxnews they are a Brittish company. Its as American as Gordon’s Gin. If you are going to “have a good laugh at the yanks” go after CNN, after all they invedted 24 hour news. “The Austrailian” and just about every newspaper in Australia is produced by the same “boneheads” who produce fox news. Its hardly “an American” thing your local news from Fox….

    http://www.news.com.au/

    P.S. Australian stoners, are 8724th on the list of groups I give two shits what they think about American culture. Right ahead of Sean Hannity, but a spot behind Jesse Jackson.

  32. The owership is British, but Fox’s content is completely American.

  33. Joe, What is so uniquely American about the content on FoxNews as opposed to the The Sun, or The Advertiser? Local fox affiliates, The New York Post play the same game too. Even Fox Sports and Fox Sports international are cream puffs of the sporting worlds. The content and styling are consistent continent to continent.

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