Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Defining Success Down

This week, liberal radio talk show host Bill Press wrote an editorial in the Washington Post calling for the Federal government to intervene and save, coincidentally, liberal radio talk shows. Here he is at the height of his paranoia:
There is no free market in talk radio today, only an exclusive, tightly held, conservative media conspiracy. The few holders of broadcast licenses have made it clear they will not, on their own, serve the general public. Maybe it's time to bring back the Fairness Doctrine -- and bring competition back to talk radio in Washington and elsewhere.
I don't believe Bill Press actually believes in such a conspiracy. He's a shameless idealouge and huckster. Which is probably why he's particularly chagrined that he can't succeed where the likes of Sean Hannity have prospered.

But if there is indeed a conservative media conspiracy choking out the voices of liberalism so fervently demanded by the marketplace, all I can say is that in the Twin Cities, we are getting SCREWED. Regularly heard in this market are numerous voices of the Left, on stations such as WCCO, KSTP, KFAN, 107.1, and of course the government funded news leviathan itself, Minnesota Public Radio. The conservative media conspiracy is by far the shoddiest executed conspiracy we've had since Cheney and Halliburton arranged the Iraq invasion in order to profit from those high oil prices.

Press does depart from the world of fantasy to offer some real world case studies of successful liberal radio stations that should be emulated across the country. This example caught my attention:
Station owners complain they can't get good ratings or make any money with progressive talk, but that's nonsense. In Minnesota, independent owner Janet Robert has operated KTNF (950 AM) profitably for five years.
Note how his first sentence about good ratings and making money loses half of its focus on the KTNF example. We'll have to take his word that the local Air America outlet is being "run profitably".  As far as their unnamed ratings go, let's just say they're low enough for them to be envious of AM1280 the Patriot's numbers.

But, far be it from me to dissuade liberal entrepreneurs from around the country from taking Press's advice and adopting the KTNF model. If they want to invest their precious savings and time in this effort, endorsed by Press as a winner, more power to them. In fact, I'll even help by passing along some of their best practices, as outlined by their most prominent former employees.

From former morning drive host Nick Coleman, an itemized list of how things are done the KTNF way:
1) Station management increasingly demanded control over "topics, tone and guests" and ordered certain hot button topics off limits, such as guns, gays and abortion.

2) Station management repeatedly disrupted program development by making mercurial staffing changes without my knowledge or consent.

3) The station, despite its on-air support for the "dignity of workers," mistreats its own employees (who have no union protections).

4) I do not like wingnuts, of any stripe.

Now here's a question to mull: can "liberal" or "progressive" talk radio prosper under an ownership that is neither?
According to Bill Press, YES THEY CAN!!!

Also, let's not forget the primary three factors in the success of any business: location, location, location. Tips on the KTNF way from former afternoon drive host Wendy Wilde:
The studios are located in a mold-infested basement, and management had a construction crew tear out the moldy basement walls and carpet, but that actually threw mold spores into the air and the mold dust is everywhere. Hepa filters helped some but I continue to get sick.
There you go, the keys to success in liberal radio in America. If others would only adopt these strategies around the country, the insatiable market demand for liberal radio will be satisfied without us having to resurrect that pesky Fairness Doctrine.

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