The latest trend ratings for the first month of the Spring season came out today and CBS Radio is still suffering on the FM dial in the #1 market, New York City. According to Arbitron, Mix (WNEW) and Jack (WCBS) are tied for 20th with a 1.7 market share while Free FM is still dragged down to a dismal 1.1 share despite bringing on Opie and Anthony for the last month to replace the awful David Lee Roth Radio show (note: ratings won't begin to include O&A until next month).
So far, Opie and Anthony have been good, steady and controlled. They are slowly bringing in their established characters from when they were doing afternoons on Hot Talk WNEW prior to their scandalous exile and later brought over to their Sirius Satellite radio show. It's "comforting" to hear their familiar voices on the radio...but not yet compelling.
Over at sister FM stations Mix and Jack, they're both mired with major audience disconnects with the format radio listeners expect to hear. WNEW's 102.7FM was a legendary Rock station address in New York for 30 years. Then it dropped Rock and changed to an ultra-male (not very female friendly) Hot Talk format experiment. They've now been targeting women for the past 3+ years, hoping that the radio listeners they pissed off and/or offended before (with notorious shows like Opie and Anthony) would forgive or forget. They haven't.
WCBS's 101.1FM was THE place to turn on the radio dial for the major Oldies hits of all time combined with some of the biggest radio personalities ever. Because their audience was getting "too old" (older than 50) to attract the premium listener demos (25-54), they junked a still-successful format in terms of audience size and ratings rank against the competition, replacing it with an canned "anti-personality" Jack character and a bunch of train-wreck songs New Yorkers really don't want to hear. At least not on that frequency.
Now, back over to Free FM, its 1st five months might be described as schizophrenic. The failure of Roth Radio blew any post-Howard Stern carryover; it simply was too painful to listen to, even for Stern fans who like things that cross the boundaries. That goodwill was killed within days.
Elvis and JV in middays -- formerly morning stars in San Francisco for a decade -- have been great in middays, even though it seems like they get a bit stifled doing middays radio instead of having the spotlight of mornings they crave. They also get miffed frequently that they've received very little marketing support.
Jim Cramer's Mad Money and The Penn Jillette show are one-hour each and are there as decent pace changers. In fact, Penn (of the Vegas duo Penn & Teller) is regularly among the top 10 podcast downloads on iTunes.
One of the constant bright spots on Free FM has been The Radio Chick show in afternoon. As a team, they've got a well-lubricated, highly-entertaining, smart talk show "classically" formatted as a professional talk show normally heard on AM radio. Big fan of them.
After they are done, Free FM had something building with The Booker Show; Chris Booker had a 10-year run in New York, mostly at Free FM's predecessor alternative K-Rock. So he already had a built in audience. But he left at the same time Roth left taking a better gig doing mornings in Phily on hit station Q102. With Booker and Roth both leaving, they also decided to get rid of the Jake and Jackie show, deciding to do Free Rock music programming instead and occasionally experimenting with new partners for Jackie (they decided to completely toss Jake, no doubt for constantly ranting negatively at station management and ownership).
The latest experiment may be their most wild one: bringing famous walking implosion/attention whore Danny Bonaduce. His most notable recent story was last year's Breaking Bonaduce reality TV saga which weekly showed the downward spiral of a former TV star as he repeatedly made damaging decisions against himself and his family. The show -- and the destruction it caused -- ultimately cost him his LA morning gig on KYSR, even though he went and completed rehab.
I have to admit it was compelling TV in a circus freak show sort of way, even offering good advice and perspective for your own life. Danny's meltdowns, jealousy, lack of anger management control issues and alcoholic spirals basically showed the viewer how such selfish behavior impacts the family. Due to its ratings success and overall buzz, season two comes up later this year.
So now, Free FM is trying out Danny Bonaduce this evening (with Jackie), will get paired during middays with JV tomorrow (as Elvis goes home to be with his dying mom), and then do another evening shift on Wednesday.
Will this be a permanent move for evenings or later? Or will it be another example of Free FM breaking down? I bet it will be at least a long-term let's-see-what-happens test, since Free FM still seems to be in test mode trying to find any traction.
Bonaduce's history is filled with radio show destructions, including when he was on the air in New York in the late '90s. Most New Yorkers probably won't remember that short-stint; let's see how long Bonaduce can ride the rails in NYC this time. Personally, I think he's very talented when he's on his game; it's those demon days that keep tripping him up. Maybe he can get back on top. Everyone loves a comeback story...Free FM is still looking for one...
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Monday, May 22, 2006,
- At 9:15 PM, BungoJungo said...
Commercial radio is worst form of media out there. Program Directors have no idea what their audiences really want to hear and record companies have to rely on payola to get the drivel they produce on the air.
If I had to spend more than 20 minutes a day in a car, I'd get Sirrius or XM.