Monday, April 17, 2006

Don't Touch That Dial

Last week, our neighbors who populate the political forum over at were speculating on the demise of local conservative talk radio. The quantitative basis for their arguments was an online report generated by the web site

The posting entitled “KFAQ Ratings Keep Dropping,” was first put up by the frequent forum poster Ron Warnick (aka “rwarn17588”) who as fate would have it, is in real life an employee of the Tulsa World. Mr. Warnick writes:

The latest ratings report is out. KFAQ remained in 14th place in the Tulsa market, but its ratings dropped again, from 3.6 to 3.4.

KRMG saw a drop, too, from 7.5 to 6.4. It makes me wonder whether listeners nationwide are getting tired of right-wing radio, and the dropping ratings to Tulsa's two talk stations are reflecting that.
Thoughtful analysis and some facts beyond a single web site’s extremely general assessment of Tulsa’s radio scene belie Mr. Warnick’s hopeful analysis.

While it is true that the report shows that KRMG dropped from a 7.7 in the Winter of 2005 to a 6.4 in the Winter of 2006, and KFAQ dropped from a 4.3 in Wi05 to a 3.4 in Wi06, it is a giant leap to declare this a clear sign of the repudiation of "right-wing radio" in Tulsa.

If we were to analyze the entire market based on this single report, maintaining Mr. Warnick’s logic would lead us to the conclusion that Tulsans are also growing tired of Country Music and Classic Rock and Roll.

After all, KWEN dropped from a 6.8 to 6.7, KVOO from a 7.1 to a 6.3, and KXBL from a 5.6 to a 4.8. That’s a cumulative drop in listenership for the three top country stations of 1.7 per cent of the total market. Perhaps Tulsans are growing weary of the degeneration of country music from its historical roots grounded in slide guitar and twanging voices, to its current trend toward artists with crossover appeal, such as Shania Twain and Gary Allan.

Rock and Roll fairs no better. KMOD dropped from 5.9 to 5.6. Are Tulsan’s finally growing tired of “Free Bird” and “Stairway to Heaven?” Is the Breakfast Club Zoo seeing backlash for their refusal to erect a statue to a Hindu god in their studio?

Classic rock station KJSR saw a decline from 5.0 to 4.2, oldies station KQLL dropped from 4.0 to 3.6, and urban station KJMM fell from 3.5 to 2.8.

So who went up?

Pop station KHTT jumped .6 percent, going from 4.6 to 5.2. Alternative rock station KMYZ leaped from 2.6 to 5.0, nearly doubling its listenership. Spanish Oldies station KIZS moved up from 2.3 to 3.8 and regional Mexican station KXTD went from 0.0 to 0.8 in the ratings.

What can we glean from all of this?

A logical assessment would look at what is happening nationally as well as locally, with regard to technology and the shift in local demographics.

Satellite radio services such as Sirius and XM had extremely good sales during the last Christmas shopping season. Obviously, many of the local stations are going to feel the impact of such services, including talk radio. Given that many of the more popular national shows are “time shifted” to fit local schedules, the satellite services offer true fans the opportunity to hear their favorite shows live.

When one looks at who is buying such satellite systems, obviously the preponderance of the purchases will be made by early adopters with more disposable income; in other words, older listeners who trend to classic rock, country and talk. The numbers seem to bear this out, more than an overall growing dislike of conservative talk.

If you’re pulling out some of the older demographic, then you’re also going to make the younger demographic’s members count more. Perhaps this is why alternative jumped so high?

But the most interesting assumption one could come to analyzing these numbers comes from the demographic trend that occupies much of the talk on talk radio. That is, the influx of Spanish speaking residents, (both legal and illegal) into the Tulsa market. The numbers seem to show the shift just as much as the signage above businesses at 21st and Garnett.

The most disappointing facts that burst Mr. Warnick’s assumptive balloon, though, have to do with the virtual worthlessness of the report he cites. Radio stations pay a small fortune for ratings information that breaks the market down into time segments and demographic/psychographic groups. Let’s face it folks, if the information contained on had any real value, you wouldn’t be able to access it for free.

The truth is, recent ratings reports show that KFAQ’s Michael Delgiorno show is more popular than ever. I’ll post on this later.

In the mean time, perhaps Mr. Warnick can explain why his employer, the Tulsa World, no longer participates in the readership survey conducted by the Audit Bureau of Ciculation, the newspaper industry’s equivalent to radio’s Arbitron ratings? Could it be that they don't let the Lortons count free and almost-free newspapers as paid subscriptions?

It's not talk radio that's dying, it's newspapers. Even the venerable Washington Post has a story on the declining readership for the nation’s newspapers.

Or this one from CNNMoney.

Or this one from Reuters.

Or this one from Associated Press.

No…Mr. Warnick. What people are growing tired of is local “Hate Newspaper.” The continued liberal bias of the nation’s newspapers are pushing readers to alternative news sources, such as talk radio, blogs and even forums like

The times, they are a changin', but one thing stays constant...our nation is slowing moving to the right politically.

"We're the Right...we have might...get used to it."


bamlock said...

Oh they're going to be bashing you now, over on Tulsa Now.

Tulsa Nows favorite pastime : #1 bashing KFAQ #2 Bashing Medlock #3 bashing anyone with a right view , with bates moving up their ladder....

Paul Tay said...

Oh come of it, Schuttzi. TN does not reserve da bashin' to people with right views. I have never had a right view in dis crummy town. My gawd, some of da stuff they are sayin' bout me over there. Da GALL.