Progressive radio to leave South Florida?

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.



27 responses to “Progressive radio to leave South Florida?

  1. I can sympathize… living close to Kansas City as I do, we have nothing here either. They have one out of Topeka, KS.. and there is one out of St. Louis I believe, but neither are close enough for me to pick up. So, the only choice I have is to listen online.

    Not much fun and not very easy if I want to roam the house, but it’s all I have…lol

  2. I have Sirius radio in my car and they had dropped the 2nd progressive station years ago and their content on their remaining one stinks. I try to podcast the shows I like.

    Radio, since deregulation, has been awful across the board so I really shouldn’t be too surprised.

  3. as I love to listen to and enjoy intelligent radio, this format change will leave me no other radio option except Neil Rogers from 10am-2pm and NPR the rest of the time.
    It will be very difficult being without Rachel Maddow, Thom Hartman, Mike Malloy and obviously the mia Randi Rhodes.
    May be time to pack up and leave South Florida like so many others have already done.
    It’s so sad.

  4. There is no progressive AM radio in Southeastern Pennsylvania. I’m with you, My2Bucks. I have XM radio in my car and the progressive talk radio show that remains is uninteresting. When I’m not listening to music, then I listen to NPR. The only place where I can find progressive news is via the Internet.

    My husband is a big fan of sports radio and even he would be bored with 5 sports radio stations. Guess AM radio is in as dire straights as the printed newspaper.

  5. nice blog,
    what about link exchange with me? let me know… via mail or comments at my site…

  6. I can’t believe they are adding another sports radio station – Miami does not need more sports! Save Progressive Radio! especially Thom Hartman – the most inteligent broadcaster on the air!

  7. I’m glad we have someone locally that can analyze this for me. I was baffled by the change – your posting fills in the blanks for me.

    There is lots of high-quality progressive stuff out there that could succeed if presented well. 940 has always been really disfunctional technically (who hasn’t listened to 10 minutes of multiple feeds playing on top of each other). I’ve always pictured this station as a lights-out operation run by robotic equipment controlled from someone 1000 miles away that is running 50 stations at the same time.

    What marketing study advised them to randomly preempt regular programs (Mike Malloy, Lionel) with sports broadcasts that send listeners scurrying to the competing stations (or their CD player, IPOD). People listing to talk want talk, if they wanted sports, they would be at those stations.

    Please keep us up to date as this progresses. You could also start a discussion about alternatives – Internet radio, podcasts, etc.

  8. I’m really upset about this. It seems to me to be very political. Since last year, they’ve done everything to drive away the Progressive Talk listeners, such as:

    *Have prolonged periods of dead air (I’ve timed it a few times – 15-30 minutes)
    *Occasionally, they would have repeating messages that the problem is due to sun spots, but then why can the messages get broadcasted, and how come none of their other right-wing stations are affected?
    *Often, they would broadcast 2 things at once (ie: local news and national news talking over each other), or some other show would pop in for 10-15 minutes (right-wing talk show, foreign language show, or music).
    *They fired the only local host we had, Nicole Sandler
    *They would air rebroadcasts of shows that were live at other times, so that we didn’t have as many live shows to call in to.
    *Replaced weekend shows with religious shows and infomercials
    *Change the weekend line up so you never know when your favorite shows would be on the air.

    Is there anything that can be done about it?

  9. We need another sports station like we need another hole in our head. This change is the worst idea I have heard. I guess I will be on Sirus more often

  10. I was listening to WINZ when they switched formats. It was a surprise to me. At first I thought it was a joke: Rush Limbaugh (or a voice actor claiming to be Rush) spoke for a bit saying WINZ was a big reason Obama got elected, so we gotta get rid of it. Miller and Hartmann have to go. He said “I’m the king” and the king has spoken.

    What kind of nerve is this? This little bit was followed by a few ads saying “The Sports Monster: No one has more balls than we do.”
    Even if that is a joke, it is spitting in the face of the many thinking people who live in South Florida and want to hear intelligent, entertaining programming. Hannity ain’t it!

  11. I am so upset! I listen to 940 progressive talk as I deliver the mail. I can’t get neil rogers on my portable radio. what can I do??!! Is there any other option (with a good signal) out there? help!

  12. Today was the day. South Florida’s only Progressive Talk radio station switched to sports.

    I got into my car after work and heard the sports talk and promptly removed 940 from my pre-sets. I already have 4 sports stations set in my car radio. I don’t need 5.

    Hopefully, 850 or another station will have the sense to bring Progressive talk back to the area.

  13. For what it’s worth I filed a complaint with the FCC over the format change and it’s negative impact on the communities choices in use of the public airways. Wish every 940 listener would do the same. Takes 2 minutes on-line.

  14. I can hear Progessive Talk here in Buffalo, NY either on my Sirius radio (not the best line-up) or on WKBW 1520 AM (much better). I agree with you about Thom Hartman – I can only hear him for an hour a day on Sirius, and I’d love to hear his entire show. What’s funny is that a totally local station, WHLD 1270, started doing Progressive Talk about 3 years ago. They failed when Entercom communications changed the format of WKBW from Sports to Progressive Talk. You’re right – if they can make money, they’ll put the talkers on. Hope you can change things around down there.

  15. Yes, indeed, it is a sad day. They took away Nicole Sandler and Randi Rhodes, They gave us that a-hole Imus and this other jerk in the P.M. Now they give us (ugh) SORTS… who needs it. Did we also lose Thom Hartman and Lionel ?
    I don’t know, because I have removed WINZ from all my radio tuners.

  16. Clear Channel is clearly screwing the pooch. A couple of years ago, Clear Channel owned the ONLY modern rock station in South Florida. Zeta. Mind you, the playlist was repetitive and dull (just like all their other music stations), but that’s a formatting problem. So they decided to drop it and go Spanish. So Cox jumped on that and within 3 days turned 93.1 into a Rock Station. No wonder Clear Channel worldwide was laying off thousands of people. They have no idea how to run a radio station market. If you are the only dog on the block, why give that up?

  17. Pingback: The Sports Animal replaces Progressive Talk « My 2 Buck$

  18. It is so difficult to realize that the one and only progressive talk station, here in South Florida, has switched to sports!!?! This actually leaves us with 3, yes 3, very right wing talk stations in this area. Thank you, NPR, as the only remaining voice worth listening to. I believe that, we, the listening public, are the only ones that can effect any change. With radio station ownership in so few hands, local radio coverage is non-existant, and a variety of opinions is difficult to come by. I guess that this is why the Fairness Doctrine (limiting ownership of media blocs), or something similar is so important. Maybe we should press members of Congress, as well as the FCC on this matter. I miss Rachel Maddow Thom Hartmann, Randi Rhodes (very much! – abrasive, but always did such great research on everything she presented). We really need other voices on our local stations!

  19. Well, these are interesting thoughts. I think they are true. However, everything is
    relative and ambiguous to my mind.

  20. I can’t believe that we have no Progressive Talk Radio. I am an on the road sales rep and listened to Randi Rhodes and Thom Hartmann everyday. This is just awful. I wish they’d find a way to get back on the air, until then, they are truly missed. It’s as if they’re trying to force us to listen to the right wing crap. Never.

  21. This is the Internet – where no one can hear you scream. Let’s not simply roll-over here folks.

    To make change (Yes, we can), simply call, write, or email WFTL 850 radio and let them know they have a ‘Progressive Audience’ waiting for them and their advertisers.

    James Crystal Radio, Inc. dba 850 WFTL Radio
    6600 N. Andrews Avenue Suite 160
    Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33309

    Phone: 954-315-1515
    Fax: 954-315-1555

    E-mail directly from their web site:

  22. Thanks Beau for providing the contact information. It was an oversight.

    I have an updated post and will add it there as well.

  23. “So why change the format of the #2 English speaking AM station to an oversaturated format?

    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.”

    My2bucks, I think it may actually be politics. I really think that Clear Channel may have their own agenda that they’re working on. This may be their warped way of doing things for their own greater good. Don’t they have a lot more to lose (financialy) with Obama in power. I have always thought of Clear Channel as greedy and power hungry.

  24. to bad now i have no reason to turn on my car radio…..i guess thom was too intelligent for all the unintelligent in south florida time to move to the islands since they have all moved here……..

  25. I just got back from a trip out of town, very upset there is no progressive talk radio in this area. I don’t like the right wing stations too clowny and no substance. Rush Limbaugh always sounds like he is on drugs. To me, its all about politics and money. It was nice having Nicole Sandler with a local staion to call in. Tom Hartman was the best, and so inteligent, I could listen to him all day. I will send a complaint to the FCC, and also contact 850 wftl. Don’t know if it will help, but, at least I feel like I am doing something.

  26. Hi. I’m planning on moving down to Miami in a couple of months. Have there been any changes to the Miami talk radio scene?

    Apart from WLRN 91.3, is there any outlet for Progressive Radio?


  27. Sadly, there is no progressive station in South Florida. I listen to the internet and Sirius radio mostly. Randi Rhodes is on in Palm Beach 1230 am from 3-6 but that is about it. I listen to local host Nicole Sandler on from 10-12.