Sunday, January 31, 2010

31 JAN 10: Missing Mouths

When a "Top Ten" list comes out, where do your eyes usually go? Most people want to know who's on top. But sometimes missing names at the bottom are more noteworthy. Now don't get ahead of me here - today's topic is NOT North Carolina basketball....

A missing name stunned me Saturday night, when I reviewed the new Columbus radio ratings. The fall report lists 18 radio stations, including a few in Atlanta and Auburn - but WRCG was nowhere to be found. Did the last listeners to leave turn off what's left of the transmitter?

WRCG tried to rebuild a long-lost audience during the fall ratings, by starting an FM simulcast in mid-October. Yet the ratings report doesn't even mention that. That's the problem with "double or nothing" bets....

The only conclusion you could draw from the fall radio ratings is that WRCG has no listeners at all. No one is listening to Neal Boortz's rants against President Obama. No one needs Clark Howard's consumer advice. And no one really cared about Georgia Southern football last season.

But I faced a problem in getting answers to my radio ratings questions. Schedule restrictions required me to interview a manager with PMB Broadcasting Friday afternoon - after he saw the advance ratings numbers, but before they went public. So my knowledge of WRCG's disappearing act matched its rating: nothing.

Joseph Brannan with PMB Broadcasting did explain the addition of Spanish music on WRCG on Saturdays. He said "Poder Latino" is part of an agreement for WBOJ-FM to become "88.5 the Truth," replacing WTMQ. You'd think the Christian station would allow a little Spanish music - but it barely plans Jaci Velasquez songs.

Joseph Brannan assured me WRCG will carry Atlanta baseball games on Saturdays this coming season as usual, overriding Poder Latino. And yes, the broadcasts will be in English - even though the team has at least ten Hispanic players on the current 40-man roster.

It should be noted WRCG switched back to English Saturday night, to broadcast the Columbus Cottonmouths' 2-1 loss to Mississippi. But wouldn't you love to hear a fast-talking Spanish soccer announcer call a hockey game? People who heard "gol-gol-gol-gol-gol!" might assume he's shivering from being too close to the ice.

(That broadcast also revealed something I didn't know. Former WDAK Morning Show co-host Chris Weber now is working behind the scenes at WRCG. He's joined Val McGuinness at PMB Broadcasting. Now all that remains is for Scott Miller to rejoin them....)

Speaking in general, Joseph Brannan says he's satisfied with how PMB Broadcasting did in the fall ratings. He says the stations held steady from the spring report, but are up from a year ago. Wall - that's not exactly what I saw Saturday night. WKCN "Kissin' 99.3" held steady. WCGQ went up from spring to fall. And WRCG seems to be up to nothing.

The number-one station in the fall radio report is no surprise at all. WFXE-FM "Foxie 105" was first again -- and fellow Davis Broadcasting station WKZJ-FM tied for second. The age to make this switch must be 28, because Alicia Keys songs already are on "K-92.7" and she turned 29 the other day.

The biggest loser in the fall radio ratings seems to be WVRK-FM. "Rock 103" has lost more than one-third of its listeners in the last year -- which tells me Auburn football coach Gene Chizik still has to rebuild some confidence with fans.

There's no sign from the radio ratings that last summer's "big switch" in TV news partnerships made a difference. Well, except for one thing. Unless listeners are saying Rock 103's Chris Chaos ought to take WRBL meteorologist Bob Jeswald outside one afternoon, and lock him out during a thunderstorm.

WBOJ's fall rating went down a bit, in the final months before "The Truth" switched dial positions. We'll have to wait until later this year to see how the new WLTC "Lite FM" fares against WGSY "Sunny 100." With Donny Osmond battling John Tesh in the middle of the day, it's a bit like corn syrup versus maple syrup.

A different sort of media note begins our review of other weekend news:

+ Congratulations to WTVM's Zaneta Lowe, on the birth of a baby boy! I'm told the child is named Wade Wilson Lowe - which shows football runs in this family's blood, since the boy is named after a retired journeyman quarterback.

+ WTVM reported several west Georgia homes are candidates to appear on "Extreme Makeover Home Edition." If they don't start with the historic paint-peeling Spencer House downtown, someone should launch an investigation.

+ The Alabama Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments this coming week on whether state troopers can raid Victoryland. Owner Milton McGregor has one advantage in this dispute over Country Crossing in Mobile. He can unleash greyhounds all over the grounds, to prevent agents from removing bingo machines.

(I'm not sure why Governor Bob Riley suddenly has gone on the warpath against Victoryland. Where was he the last seven years? Are that many state lawmakers staying at the Oasis Hotel, while the legislature's in session?)

+ More rain and drizzle fell on Columbus, forcing Chattahoochee Valley Community College to cancel its opening baseball games of the season. At last there's some sense in the sports world! Playing college baseball in January is about as silly as playing a Super Bowl one week before Valentine's Day.

+ Plans were announced for a statue of Alabama football coach Nick Saban, outside Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. And you thought people don't worship football in the South?! I can't wait to see the fans leaving roses there on Memorial Day.

+ Roundball Saturday Night (tm) found Georgia's men losing at South Carolina 78-77. Gamecock fans apparently did NOT storm the court to celebrate the win - as if we needed more proof Georgia's basketball program lags behind Kentucky's.

+ Instant Message to whomever sent the latest e-mail about Cascade Hills Church: I'm sorry, but I cannot touch your accusations. This matter involves a death, and other blog readers have told me death is nothing to joke about [10 Dec 09]. Maybe the Ledger-Enquirer's crime blogger will consider it a crime against humanity.

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