Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Musical chairs in non-music radio

Okayfine. The odd saga of progressive talk radio in the NEO continues.

A few weeks back ClearChannel reformatted an Akron station to progressive talk amidst one of the more bizzare media campaigns in recent memory -- one that vilified ClearChannel. One possible reading of the move and the campaign was that -- conservative roots to the contrary -- ClearChannel is more about making money than about any political agenda.

The former incarnation of CC's 1350 was as WTOU, a Fox Sports affiliate that also carried Jim Rome. The new 1350 is WARF ("but we won't use the call letters because they start with 'W'" CC's politics also won't stand in the way of bad jokes), which carries Ed Shultz and Stephanie Miller -- whom I do not care for -- and Thom Hartmann, who is bearable.

Meanwhile, if the ions lined up right and I stayed out of the Valley, my car radio could pick up a fuzzy, picket-fenced, wah-wah version of Air America from WJMP out of Kent. Not satisfying, but after more than a year of contriving reasons to be by my computer from 1-3 that didn't involve actual computer work so that I could listen to Al Franken, it was a welcome change.

So this morning I tune into WJMP and hear -- Fox Sports. Round about noon, WJPM is playing -- Rome. In an exercise of desperate hope, I tune to 1350 and hear -- Al.

Contrary to expectations, this is not all about ClearChannel. According to this article, WJMP is owned by locally-based Media-Com. (In another business-makes-stranger-bedfellows note, Media-Com also owns lumpenprole wingnut talk station WNIR.)

I've been unable to find info about the switch. Don't read anything into the adoption of Fox Sports -- the politics of sports radio is fairly insulated from actual politics. Fox Sports is simply where you go if you want to compete with a local ESPN affiliate (i.e. WKNR). To further confuse you, the Fox Sports on WJMP is punctuated by CBS radio news updates, while the liberals on WARF have to tune out ABC news breaks.

And we won't even talk about Springer backing into Paul Harvey and Limbaugh on TAM.