Industry watchers are eagerly anticipating the pending showdown between Clear Channel and Cumulus as the latter is adding new voices and services to their line up. Maybe the most interesting face off starts next week when Mike Huckabee goes directly up against Rush Limbaugh (770 KTTH M-F 9a-12p). Now that Rush has gotten himself in some hot water, however temporary, will listeners tune in to Huckabee as an alternative? Cumulus certainly hopes so, and also hopes that audience will give the other new voices, such as Ryan Seacrest, a chance as well.
The New York Times has this to say:
"Cumulus, which is publicly traded, and Clear Channel, which is privately held, mostly by Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital, are highly profitable. But Cumulus and Clear Channel are also saddled with enormous amounts of debt — $20 billion in Clear Channel’s case and $2.8 billion in Cumulus’s. For years they have been squeezing costs out at stations by laying off employees and cutting local programming."
Cumulus hopes to offer alternative programming with other voices, such as Seacrest and Geraldo Rivera, as well as local traffic news, to advertisers looking to buy time on shows with less controversial hosts.
Our friend over at Daily Kos, Joan McCarter, says, "With Huckabee, it's all of the conservatism, none of the hate. Well, none of the explicit hate, implied maybe, given Huckabee's extreme conservatism shielded under the nice-guy image...Whether this can make a huge dent in Clear Channel's dominance in talk radio remains to be seen. They've got 900 stations to Cumulus' 580. Limbaugh's show runs on 600 of Clear Channel's stations. So far, 140 stations have contracted to air Huckabee's show, but significantly "only about 45 of those stations are owned and operated by Cumulus, meaning that the other stations that agreed to carry Huckabee's show have no affiliation with the company."
Washington listeners can find Huckabee on the following stations:
KBKW AM 145 Aberdeen
KEDO AM 1400 Longview
KBSN AM 1470 Moses Lake
KNCW FM 92.7 Omak
KOMW AM 680 Omak
KONA AM 610 Pasco
KONP AM 1450 Port Angeles
KCIS AM 630 Seattle
KVNI AM 1080 Spokane
KXLY AM 920 Spokane
KBBO AM 980 Yakima