The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Party over for Air America?
The winter Arbitron ratings (January to March) came out last week and look pretty ugly, if one may judge by Byron York's National Review piece.
Of course, the ratings (for the key 25-54 demo, at least) are not available to mere mortals, so we have to take what York says on trust. (We don't do trust. But beggars can't be choosers.)
On the performance of flagship station WLIB, he says
Between the hours of 10 A.M. and 3 P.M., for example, the daypart that includes Al Franken's program, Air America drew a 1.4-percent share of the New York audience aged 25 to 54 in Winter 2005. That number is the latest in a nearly year-long decline. In Spring of 2004, Air America's first quarter on the air, it drew a 2.2-percent share of the audience. That rose to 2.3 percent in the Summer of 2004, then fell to 1.6 percent in the Fall of 2004, and is now 1.4 percent — Air America's lowest-ever quarterly rating in that time and demographic slot.
If that's right, the station was shedding listeners during the climax (er, closing stages) of the general election, when liberal adrenaline should have been pumping - at that stage, a lot of them thought Kerry could win!
And, as for AAR's clean-up guy,
Franken's performance against Limbaugh in the most recent ratings is significantly lower than in Air America's first months. In Spring 2004, Air America's first quarter on the air, Franken scored a 2.6-percent share to Limbaugh's 3.2-percent share. In Summer 2004, he scored a 2.8-percent share to Limbaugh's 3.2 percent. But in Fall 2004, Franken dropped to a 1.8 percent share to Limbaugh's 4.1-percent share, all within the 25 to 54 age group.
[More on NYC's Arbitrons.]
But as one door closes...
Franken has a very friendly profile in Salon which has him moving to Minnesota to set up for a (still unannounced) Senate run in 2008 . And he's going to carry on the with show.
It says here.
Meanwhile, the Post has an winter-Arbitron-related piece on Washington talkers. And they've all been in a slump:
WMAL-AM (630), home of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other mighty righty talkers...lost nearly 30 percent of its core audience (adults ages 25-54) from the preceding three months, when the election was the dominant story.
Scope for the trademark Franken smugness?
WRC, which turned to a liberal talk format in January by adding Al Franken and some of his "Air America" crew, was nowhere to be found. It captured less than 0.1 percent of the audience, too low to be counted.
Which is not to write any obituaries, yet: I've no idea how the spreadsheets look for AAR. You'd expect there to be some pretty fancy fixed costs in there - Franken's salary, for instance, or the 'rent' it pays Clear Channel for the time it has on their stations - that make for high leverage.
On the other hand, many organs of the VRWC - and its liberal counterpart, so far as it exist - make ends meet with handouts from supporters. Letting AAR go down for the want of a few millions bucks a year would be something wealthy Dems would pay to avoid, I'm thinking.
Al Gore's TV network - Current.tv - is not going to be a news network, apparently.
One complaint one reads quite frequently from AAR listeners is about poor reception. Although it may be in 8 of the top 10 markets, the stations it uses tend not to have the most powerful transmitters.
I wonder how Franken measures up against Limbaugh not in ratings but in wattage. My guess is that, in most markets in which they come head to head, Franken is seriously outgunned.
(Some of stations that run AAR material are, notoriously, owned by Clear Channel. But I don't think any of them are clear channel stations .)
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