Saturday, August 20, 2005
Twin Cities Limbaugh, Hannity Radio Ratings Halved, Even As Al Franken's Rises
The Strib has the scoop:
Twin Cities listeners have been tuning out political talk radio. Locally, conservative-talk icon Rush Limbaugh's show has lost 43 percent of its audience among 25- to 54-year-olds in the past year. Sean Hannity's show is down a whopping 63 percent. The shift is serious enough that "we're weighing where these shows fit for us in the future," according to Todd Fisher, general manager at KSTP (1500 AM), which carries both syndicated programs. [...] Locally, listeners tuned into sports in greater numbers this spring. Weekday ratings at sports-talk station KFAN (1130 AM) are up 37 percent among listeners ages 25 to 54 compared with a year ago, while KSTP-AM is down 33 percent. A look at individual shows reflects much sharper contrasts. Limbaugh's show, which airs Monday through Friday from noon to 3 p.m. on KSTP, dropped from a 7.6 percent share of listeners ages 25 to 54 in spring 2004 to 4.3 this spring. Sean Hannity's 6-8 p.m. show dropped from 6.3 to 2.3 percent. In contrast, KFAN has seen its afternoon lineup of Dan (Common Man) Cole, Chad Hartman and Dan Barreiro post audience gains of 24 to 32 percent. Both WCCO (830 AM) and KFAN have made gains in the 26 to 29 percent range during the 6-8 p.m. time period.By the way: Dan Cole is a liberal and is not afraid to say so. His show has been KFAN's best-rated show for years.
What may be of particular concern to KSTP executives is the impact on shows such as Joe Soucheray's popular "Garage Logic," which airs after Limbaugh's show and has dropped in the ratings as well. Local partisan talker Chris Krok, whose show follows Hannity's, has less than 1 percent of the age-25-to-54 audience, too low to even register a rating point. "We are giving a lot of consideration to the nationally syndicated shows like Rush and Hannity," said KSTP's Fisher. "We have really become concerned with what I would call their tight play list of topics revolving around politics. We respect them and they've done well for us, but we're really in a quandary here."Note well: KSTP is as right-wing as they come. One of the Hubbards is notorious locally for his Nazi memorabilia collection. For them to consider dumping Limbaugh and Hannity is like you or I considering sawing off our left legs. Joe Soucheray is the Lead Local Lord of Loud. He's got a column in the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he uses, along with his radio show, to beat up on anyone to the left of Attila the Hun. Now, some of the radio persons quoted in the article are trying to say that people aren't interested in listening to nationally-produced political shows, and want to listen to local shows. But the big shift is not from centrist shows (such as Don Shelby's and Dave Lee's on WCCO) or liberal shows (such as Dan Cole's on KFAI, which is as much about politics as it is about sports) -- those have all GAINED listeners. No, the big shift, whether talking about local or national talent, is away from the conservative talkers.[...]The ratings shift hasn't affected partisan radio stations such as WWTC (1280 AM), known as the Patriot, or KTNF (950 AM), home to Air America programming, including Al Franken's weekday show. Both have maintained relatively stable, if small, audience shares of about 1 to 1.5 percent. Franken is an exception, however. Locally, the Minnesota native has increased his audience share to 2.4 percent of listeners ages 25 to 54, compared with 1.3 last year.
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