Why KOKE switched to the Mexican music format is somewhat puzzling considering that Austin already has about 5 or 6 Spanish language stations. Three stations in town offer conservative talk programming.
So Austin just lost it’s ONLY liberal news/talk station. No more Ed Schultz, Randi Rhodes, Rachel Maddow, or “Ring of Fire”…and once again, the voice of the left has been silenced.
Although media insiders knew this sale was coming, the average listener in Austin had no advance warning at all. Perhaps because the station owner’s didn’t want another San Diego-style protest on their hands. They just did it quietly, in the middle of the night. No announcement until after the deal was done.
I noticed late last night that KOKE had dead air for several hours. Just thought it was a transmitter problem (these are not unusual at KOKE), until I turned on the station at 5am when I woke up, only to hear Mexican music instead of the “Young Turks.”
First reaction was “huh”? Then, it became clear this was a permanent format change. Why?
Well, let’s examine the summer `07 Arbitron ratings for this market:
Yikes. Can’t even pull 1% in Austin, TX? Amazing but true. Don’t ask me why. This is a city that is overwhelmingly Democratic, yet the right-wing talk radio stations in town such as KLBJ-AM consistently get much better ratings.
Another factor in KOKE’s demise is that the station lacked local programming. No local live call-in shows. No news staff. No involvement in the local community. The entirety of their programming was Air America, along with a few football games and weekend shows beamed in from the Dallas market.
Austinites don’t give a damn what’s going on in Dallas, but they DO care passionately about local issues. And they had no outlet for interaction on the Austin airwaves, especially considering that KLBJ-AM is rather infamous for screening out callers who disagree with their conservative viewpoint.
KLBJ, to their credit, knows how to do news/talk successfully. They have a newsroom staff of 7-10 people, several local call-in shows, advertising, billboards, promotions, and stay completely engaged in the community. It doesn’t hurt that they are a heritage station with those legendary call letters.
Always thought it ironic that our right-wing news talk station in town was KLBJ, owned for 40 years by the family of one of our nation’s more liberal Democratic presidents.
Somehow, I don’t think it’s quite what Lyndon and Lady Bird had in mind.
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