It’s just what we need – another all-sports radio station. The 2 kings of South Florida sports talk are WQAM (560) and 790 The Ticket will be seeing a 5th sports station join the market any day now.
You read correctly. When WINZ – 940 AM converts from Progressive talk radio to all-sports (picking up their Fox Sports programming), the Miami – Ft. Lauderdale radio market will have 5 sports talk radio stations and 0 Progressive talk.
It doesn’t take rocket science to understand the reasoning behind these decisions and we’ll get to that in a minute.
First, let’s look local sports radio competition:
WQAM – 560 is the original sports talk station in South Florida. They are the flagship station for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins and college’s University of Miami. And on Monday – Friday, they take a 4 hour break from sports at 10am – 2pm to broadcast the top program in the market – The Neil Rogers Show. Mostly local sports programming.
WAXY – 790 The Ticket came on the scene in 2004 and does carry mostly local programming and is the flagship station for both the Florida Marlins (Major League Baseball) and the Florida Panthers (National Hockey League).
WFTL 640 had broadcasted a couple of local shows mixed in with Fox Sports until Clear Channel claimed the Fox Sports shows for WINZ. It will be interesting to see how 640 recovers. Outside of Jeff ‘DeFo’ DeForrest, there is nothing of substance on this station.
WFTL – 1400 ESPN Radio. The call letters are not a typo. There are 3 radio stations that use WFTL as their call letters. 2 are sports stations and 1 is a news / conservative talk radio station which I will address shortly. This station focuses on ESPN programming and doesn’t even appear to have a website – just a link to ESPN radio.
WINZ 940 is owned and operated by Clear Channel and has been an Progressive Talk radio station since it switched from Fox Sports radio in July, 2004. They are the flagship station of the Miami Heat and as I have mentioned earlier will become the 5th local sports station in the South Florida radio market when it switches back to Fox Sports radio.
It had to be the ratings
This is exactly what the right would want us to believe. “Who would listen to such vile left-wing trash?”
Then when you compare 610 WIOD’s conservative talk line-up and their strong ratings to WINZ’s mediocre ratings, it seems to strengthen their argument.
WIOD broadcasts Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Schnitt and Sean Hannity during their day. Three of 4 are huge names with long radio and/or television history. They rank #2 in the AM market and #1 English speaking.
WINZ and it’s progressive talk rank #4 in the AM market and #2 in the English speaking AM market. Both stations are owned and operated by Clear Channel.
South Florida also has conservative talk radio WFTL 850 which broadcasted Bill O’Reilly’s radio Factor and Mike Savage, Laura Ingraham and Dennis Miller. WFTL’s ratings are a terrible 0.5 and it gets worse when you realize that WFTL’s ratings are calculated by using 850 (conservative talk), 640 (sports) and 1400 (sports).
How does WFTL 850 stay on the air with those dismal ratings?
Comparing WINZ to the 4 existing sports stations
WQAM finished 14th of 33 stations in the Men 25-54 demographic as compared to 16th for 790 the Ticket.
In a head-to-head, WINZ 940 topped WQAM in the ratings book with a 1.5 to a 1.4.
As WINZ moves into a 5 horse race with 2 champions already running, WINZ is doubtful to even register a blip on the screen.
So why change the format of the #2 English speaking AM station to an oversaturated format?
Could it be money? It’s always about the money. The fact is that Fox Sports is very cheap since Clear Channel broadcasts this format in many markets. Clear Channel only has a handful of Progressive Talk radio stations across the country so the cost must be higher.
Could it be about politics? Could be, but I doubt it. If Clear Channel could make a financial killing with any format, believe me they would. The problem is with the shows that they air.
In the morning they had a local program – Nicole Sandler who was okay. I found myself listening to other programming about 80% of the time. Then they pulled her show and replaced it with Don Imus. Really? Imus?
How is he progressive? Imus proudly voted for McCain. But if you were paying attention, 940 stopped calling themselves Progressive Talk. Now they ceased airing Imus.
Stephanie Miller has an entertaining show. At noon, is Thom Hartmann, who I believe is the smartest talk show host in the country. The man is brilliant and brings in a terrific perspective. Until February, the 3-6 slot was held by Randi Rhodes who takes a little getting used to but I have enjoyed her show since Clinton was in the White House. For a while I listed to only Rhodes and Rush Limbaugh. Mike Malloy at 9 is interesting but you can keep Alan Colmes and Lionel.
Here’s what I do
WFTL needs to rethink their market. They have 3 stations, none of which are particularly strong in ratings or in financial gain. They should remarket 850 as News / Progressive Talk and broadcast the best Progressive programs available. I would also bring in 1 local program that features state and local politics and how it affects us. This could air on Saturdays and Sundays.
Remember that WINZ currently destroys 850 in the ratings so the move would be a no-brainer. If they were insistent on their intent to continue broadcasting the right-wing loons (Savage, Dennis Miller and Ingraham) they could move them to 640. This would remove 1 sports station from the market and keep us at 4.
WFTL 1400 ESPN sports could remain. I suspect that it is low cost programming and who cares really?
In conclusion . . .
We have determined that Clear Channel’s WINZ’s upcoming switch to Fox Sports from Progressive talk is not about ratings as they will assuredly get much lower ratings numbers after the switch. It could be about the money since Fox Sports programming costs considerably less than bringing in the progressive programs. I doubt that it’s about political position even though Clear Channel seems to lean right because most companies will broadcast anything that will bring in tons of money. How else do you explain Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader and So You Think You Can Dance?
The bottom line is listeners of Progressive Talk will soon have no terrestrial radio options in South Florida but sports lovers will have 5 choices in a very limited market.
It’s a sad day for South Florida radio.
Update: WINZ changed format on Friday, April 3rd. For more on this story, please read The Sports Animal Replaces Progressive Talk.