Posted occasionally on Radio boards, like radio-info, is this
"Can Philadelphia support more than one talk radio
station?" It is a legitimate question. The
answers vary but lately have been narrowed to one false premise, and
that is that if one major station only draws around a 3.0 rating 12+
then, no, the city can't support another station with such a small
listener base. To say that "Nobody listens to talk
anymore" ... Well, obviously, to me, that logic is faulty.
Here is why.
If you only consider today's relatively poor showing for the
format of talk in Philly then you would falsely conclude that there
are not enough potential listeners for 2 or even 3 mainstream talk
stations. However, if you consider the history over the past 15 years
then you would see that the listener potential is easily triple
today's numbers. Ten
years ago the late great FM talkers WWDB 96.5 was pulling, what? 5s and 6s?
They were #2 in Winter 1993 with a 7 for crying out loud. Their
listeners didn't change, the station and owners did, repeatedly
milking the revenue teat until it was dry. WPHT has shown
can pull over a 4 without breaking a sweat. Add into that the
smaller stations and hot talk and you have a large pool of people
interested in being entertained and informed by talk radio. That
is the constant. Those people are still here and haven't changed
What has changed are
the listener's options and the perceived quality of programming.
It's as if Chevy redesigned the Corvette with a 3 cylinder
engine, sales plummet and the excuse for other car makers to stay OUT
of the market is, "Well, look there aren't enough buyers of the
Vette so there can't possibly be enough out there to support another
sports car. Many listeners feel, right or wrong, that the format
they love is running on 3 cylinders. Like sports car buyers they
stay out of the market until something suits their fancy. Many
factors have effected change in Philly. Syndication, Infomercials (
no matter what the economic sense) combine with other factors (like
corporate bean counting over talent development for example) to
degrade what was once a vibrant format. It wasn't too long ago
this country witnessed an explosion of talk stations after the
"fairness doctrine" was ended.
Gone now across the
land are the mentors of
talk, pushed aside for cost cutting. Also gone is the sense of value
in local talk programming, replaced by mega- conglomerate McTalk. That
is not to say syndication is the problem, far from it. Talkers
like Rush and others inject a fresh perspective and Philly should definitely
have access to such programming. As I keep saying over and over
the problem is not WHAT is on NOW but that there aren't ENOUGH
stations for what COULD be on. Philly has the listener base for
more than one major signal talker. This town likely will see more talk
within a year. One of the mega corporations could flip a signal
to dump all it's syndicated shows into Philly or another owner might
make use of it's investment in equipment and program talk.
Whatever happens the
potential talk listeners are out there. The trick is tapping into
them. Don't blame them for not tuning in. Don't think it
won't work because X station isn't pulling a 10 share. Put on something
people want to listen to and they will. The past clearly shows
this to be true.