Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Air America lands in Baton Rouge

By popular demand, radio behemoth Clear Channel has devoted one of the stations in its Baton Rouge group to Progressive talk radio.

On Tuesday, July 12, Air America Radio went live in Louisiana's capitol city on WYNK, 1380-AM.

This was the result of a petition drive undertaken by six Baton Rouge residents.

The Baton Rouge Advocate reports:

Vicki Lancaster, a Baton Rouge statistician, said her group of private citizens months ago started a petition campaign to bring Louisiana left-leaning radio programs like those Air America offers.

"These are public airwaves," Lancaster said. "We have a Democratic governor, Democratic senator. Why don't we have … liberal talk radio?"

About 1,500 signatures later, listeners will be able to hear the likes of left-wing comedian Franken and Bob [sic] Shultz, host of "Straight Talk from the Heartland," on WYNK 1630 [sic] AM on weekdays until sundown. On the weekends, the station will cover all the Air America programs, Lancaster said.
According to the Louisiana Democratic Party, this is the first progressive talk-radio outlet anywhere in the Deep South. A press release from the LDP reports that if the WYNK switch is successful, Clear Channel will consider making a similar move in other Louisiana markets, including New Orleans.

WYNK-AM was the poorly-performing sister of country music station WYNK-FM. Herein lies a lesson on strategy for advocates of progressive talk.

For all the heat it gets for its conservative leanings, Clear Channel is driven more by money than it is by the politics of its top management. The company wants to make a profit. It only does that by programming content on its broadcast properties that people want to listen to. Nobody is going to tune in to an AM station to listen to country music when it is available on FM. AM radio stopped being a viable music outlet 25 years ago, but many broadcasters keep it on just because there isn't anything else to put there.

Scan the AM radio dial in the town where you live. Find out which, if any, properties are owned by Clear Channel (or, frankly, any other media group). If there are any music stations on the AM dial, contact the management of the station and simply ask them if they would be willing to consider airing the programs of Air America Radio. It could be an easy sell, especially if the AM music station in question has a sister on the FM dial. They are probably simulcasting the content only to keep the AM station from having dead air. Original talk content is better than that by any metric you could apply.

Understand that the women who circulated the Air America petition in Baton Rouge gathered only 1,500 signatures. Baton Rouge is a top-100 radio market with a listening audience of more than 500,000 people, and a petition with 1,500 signatures was all it took for the company to change its format to Progressive talk.


vlanc said...

e had a lot of good advice with regard to our efforts to bring progressive talk to BR. We first found all the commercial radio stations in BR and got their Arbitron ratings. We found a Clear Channel station that was floundering and changing formats with no success. So we went to the regional VP of Clear Channel armed with marketing info about Air America and articles on the success of progressive talk radio and we asked CC what would it take for them to switch one of their stations to progressive talk. We were told - get 1000 names and contact info - we did it and put the info in an Excel data base - and CC kept their word. Don't ever let anyone tell you a few committed individuals cannot make a difference. We are now working on getting Democracy Now (independent news) aired in BR.

UncommonSense said...

I am assuming that you are Vicki Lancaster, the leader of the B.R. Air America petition drive.

Thanks for the great feedback. I think that your initiative can serve as a template for the expansion of Progressive talk in markets across the country.

Great job.

Clarice Klepadlo said...

I totally recommend. ty for the info onhow to exacty get going on this project-we have great need of a station here in Central NY

Driven Nail said...

This is good news. I live in the New Orleans area and I've been hoping that we would get some alternative to the right-wing talk shows that dominate the talk-radio market here.

I'm just pleased that I can pick that station up from my home.

Rick M said...

A friend found your blog and sent the article to me. Fantastic. We just lost our only progressive program here in NW PA, so I'm looking into this. Thanks for the details.

Rick M said...

A friend found your blog and sent the article to me. Fantastic. We just lost our only progressive program here in NW PA, so I'm looking into this. Thanks for the details.