Seattle talk stations KTTH, KIRO FM, KVI, KIROFM, are all sucking in ratings and the late summer-fall season is the traditional time to give radio stations haircuts if not decapitations.
KIROFM in particular must make some changes... we're not sure what they'll do... flipping back to AM won't be it, and neither will putting Dave Ross out to pasture or in the afternoon drive.
What can they do to eat into an FM audience that's listening to music, get back the old white male rage-talk fans who will have to have their AM radios pulled from stuck in their cold dead hands while appealing to a younger FM audience. It's a sticky problem. WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
KVI, a seminal conservative talk station is looking like poop on a tongue depressor. Conventional wisdom is Fisher must make some drastic changes to appeal to PPM listeners or... get off the pot. The latter is a strong possibility, so say the wiseguys, because no one can imagine the down and out, teevee-based Fisher putting any of their scant scratch into the radio side, at least KVI, who's been neglected for years and is looking so sad. KVI- HOLD 'EM OR FOLD 'EM?
RON & DON (KIROFM m-f, 3-7p. These guys are not doing well in the important afternoon drive... Whodathunkit? a self-absorbed, testostermanic celebrity/sports orgy vs. All Things Considered in Seattle? (The rumor generators have gone hypermanic since out-of-work local teevee personality John Curley, side-kicked by retired radio pro Mike West, was tried-out in a fill-in on the show, last Friday). We say LET'S MAKE 'EM RON & DONE! WHAT DO YOU THINK?
(photo: Don O'Neill has brought down the regional collective IQ)
KIRBY WILBUR (KVI m-f, 5-9a) His iron-clad contract is up in December. The Kirb has brought his numbers up a little in the last year, but "Thee Station" ain't what she used to be. Even Dennis Miller and Sean Hannity are but wetspots on the bedsheet in this market. Kirby is, shall we say, not always appreciated upstairs at Fisher, but nonetheless costs them a bundle with the only live & local news talk show on the station. (we don't count Weissbach). Will Kirby go elsewhere? We've heard of glowing offers from right-wing activist/businessman, gun-dementalist, and convicted felon Alan Gottlieb (he owns KITZ in Port Orchard; KGTK, Olympia; KBNP, Portland; and KSBN, Spokane). The meta questione is: once Kirby is gone or somehow shuffled, will Fisher flip formats or sell the heritage talker altogether? WE SAY SELL THE STATION TO THE MEXICANS SO WE CAN GET SOME REAL FAIR & BALANCED AROUND HERE!
(photo; Kirby Wilbur)
DAVE ROSS (KIROFM m-f, 9a-12p) As we said he's going nowhere. That's his problem, too. He's still the most intellectually responsible, smartest AM jock in the talk market., Unfortunately, responsible voice are out of style, and he's on FM. (Dave's even smarter than you, Steve Scher, and he can sing.) DAVE SHOULD REPLACE DORI MONSON AND DO A 6-HOUR SHOW.
PETER WEISSBACH (KVI 5-6p) Do you find yourself yearning to hear the last hour of Laura Ingraham's morning show recast in the afternoon on KVI? That's probably because you probably made the mistake of staying when they yank her at 5p and Weissbach (rhymes with "buys crack") comes "pricking the pretensions; and questioning the veil that we're told is reality." Peter is a cleaning service millionaire who's bought himself an hour of drivetime after years of flapping around the edges of a radio career. He replaced Michael Medved on KVI back in the '90's and his quirky, libertarian schtick hasn't changed one word or inflection since those halcyon days as he helped KVI on their gran slide. No serious, mainstream news talker should have Weissbach on in drivetime, and we suspect KVI "once having thought [will] stand up and speak out," and Weissbach will be banished once more. WE SAY LET HIM TELL THE NEW MEXICAN KVI OWNERS HIS VIEWS ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION.
DORI MONSON (KIROFM m-f, 12-3p): For you fellow Dori, er, critics, get over it: he's not going anywhere. Dori's the lead dog on this mule train to Tukwila (and random parts of Seattle) and he's safe. He has no political clout, politicians don't even bother to answer his flamboyant, heat-seeking accusations or much come on his show anymore. His clout is within the station where he's created a nasty little don't-cross-me-or-I'll-stab-you-in-the-back fiefdom. He's turned his show into celebration of his daring little self, himself, and him. WE SAY GIVE DORI A SATURDAY MORNING SHOW ABOUT DOGS. HE CAN KEEP HIS FREE DOG FOOD PRIVILEGES, AND STILL HAVE PLENTY OF WOOF. WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH DORI?
LUKE BURBANK (KIROFM m-f, 7-10) Against all conventional wisdom, we believe that Too Beautiful to Live will be spared the coming ax. Of course, we like the show, and have a heavy prefernece towards it despite we don't listen to it... But it is evening radio which is sort of a cheese plate after the money-making main-course time slots that precede it. We've heard the terrestrial radio numbers are low, but the idea is that Luke and his intrepid gang build a multi-platform, FM community, and that they are doing, even selling ads on their podcast. Bonneville has staked some dough and some other coin on TBTL we believe it will be spared. WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH TBTL?
SEATTLE'S MORNING NEWS (KIROFM m-f, 5-9a) The story may not be who's got to go, but who will come. Will they re-inflate the news staff to compete again with KOMO who has breached what was once solidly KIRO's brand: news. If they' plan to do that, they better get some more reporters. so they won't have to crib stories from NPR and the Seattle Times. (photo: Greggg & Jane, not pictured- Mara Laisson)