Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Rock Bottom

Well, that didn't take long, did it?

Another radio ratings trend is out, and KWNR is, in the words of the immortal Les Nessman, "sucking canal water". It's been seven months since the Clear Channel braintrust decided that the station would be better off letting me go from the morning show. In that seven month period, the morning show has gone from 5th in the ratings, all the way down to 18th. That's something else. Really. I mean, that's one serious drop. You can actually attempt to scare listeners off and not do as badly at the end of the day as KWNR has. In a way, you almost have to respect how quickly the station has fallen from relevance. You can't rely on music to make you a successful radio station these days. The personalities have to be there to make hearing the same songs every day bearable to the listener, and in giving the heave ho to well-liked personalities like myself, Brooks O' Brian, and the Stunt Runt, KWNR is drenched in the sewage of its just desserts.

And it's not like Coyote Country is picking up KWNR's listeners. They're up slightly, but it's not one of those things where you can say, "ah, they've gone from here to there". Nope. One person's opinion here, but the Decline and Fall of KWNR should be exhibit A for the argument that personalities heard on the radio are more important to a station's success than ever. Preferably local personalities. On KWNR, the most successful personality these days is Country Chuck on Sunday morning. To my knowledge, Chuck is left alone to do what he does best, and his show flourishes. Why management can't see fit to do that with its other veteran personalities is easy to understand- they have to do something to justify their lofty title and the hefty salary that Clear Channel pays them. Guys like Mark Stevens and Bob Bishop have been successful in the business for a combined 50 years or so. They know what works. Leave them alone. Why is this so difficult to understand?

Another one of CCLV's stations, The Party, has brought in a couple of national shows to their lineup- Ryan Seacrest and Kidd Kraddick. Seacrest is best known for hosting American Idol. He has a radio show in L.A. that deals mostly with the world of celebrity gossip. Kraddick has had morning show success for years elsewhere, most recently in Dallas. Bully for both of them. Syndicated personalities on a music station haven't translated to big rating in Las Vegas, but that's not going to stop Clear Channel from pushing them upon increasingly disinterested listeners. Those of us in the programming side of the business know what's going to fail, but far too often it's the sales department that is running things, and once the tail wags the dog, it's time to duck and cover.

Back to KWNR's morning show for a second. Their rating in May was a 2.3, which placed them 18th in the market. 18th. That makes them the lowest rated morning show among the full power FMs. The demise is complete. They now officially have nowhere to go but up. The fall was swift, brutal, and beautiful. It was also preventable. The fact that those not responsible for the whole debacle won't be held accountable at the end of the day is what's most sad to me.

Still, I slept like a baby last night.

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