National Election Takes Toll On Anchorage Talk Radio

 

Have you ever gotten someone a gift you thought was absolutely perfect for them only to discover they didn’t want it at all? Well, now you know what it’s like to be a talk radio host in Anchorage.

For the last six months, all anyone seemed to want to talk about was Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump. And the contest didn’t disappoint, with almost daily plot twists, regular controversies, and a surprise ending. 

If you were a local radio mouth looking to give the public what they wanted, you couldn’t not talk about Clinton-Trump, right? That’s what people want to hear, right?

Wrong.

Yesterday, Nielsen released their Fall 2016 local radio ratings for the Anchorage market, and talk radio took a beating.

Graph Courtesy: Radio Online

The two stations that usually vie for local talk radio supremacy, KFQD and KENI, both saw substantial downturns over the same period last year in the broadest ratings demographic. By that measure, KFQD ratings are down about 10% and KENI down over 50% compared to the same period last year.

At first blush that doesn’t seem all that bad for KFQD, and digging into the hourly ratings shows KFQD’s morning news product and evening broadcasts of KTUU news did fairly well. It was the local and national talk shows that cratered.

KFQD’s afternoon talk show, The Dave Stieren Show, which can usually be counted on to deliver at least a 4 share in the main 25-54 demo, and has spiked to over a 10 share at times, only came in with a 2.4 share. That ain’t good, but Stieren has plenty of company.

Stieren’s morning KFQD compatriot Mark Colavecchio, whose show airs from 8:30-11 AM daily, only produced an average 1.45 share for the two hours his show is rated by itself. That is down substantially from the 3-4 share ratings the same time slot had produced in recent years.

Over on KENI, Rick Rydell’s morning show, which normally dominates his local talk competitors, and can regularly hover around a 10 share, sank to an average 1.825 share. KENI’s 4-6 PM product, the Mike Porcaro Show, came in just under that with a 1.7 share.

Those are just bad, I mean really bad, numbers for local talk, and they’re the best of the local talk bunch.

Over on KBYR, The Michael Dukes Show barely registered, garnering a .13 average share for his three hours on the air every morning.

At least he showed up in the ratings. The same can’t be said for KVNT talkers Tom Anderson and Anchorage Assemblywoman Amy Demboski. They didn’t score a single tenth of a rating point at any point in their broadcasts.

That means even with all the drama and media attention Demboski caused over her comments about local Muslim activity and her memorable on-air spats with Alaska GOP leaders, still, no one is listening.

While the overall population was interested in election coverage, as demonstrated by record ratings for national cable news outlets, that interest didn’t translate to the local talk radio industry.     

KFQD Program Director Joe Campbell acknowledged as much by email last night saying,  “Yes, I do think the national election and the wall to wall coverage across all media platforms caused fatigue and tune out. I’m proud of my team and lineup’s performance against our direct competition.”

The good news for all of these hosts is that none of them can be singled out for not producing; this was clearly a bad ratings period for the format as a whole. Spring ratings are usually better for the local talk radio format, so the next set of ratings should be more instructive as to which shows are really in trouble and which ones just got caught up in the election season downdraft.

About the Author

Casey Reynolds
Reynolds served as communications director for the Alaska Republican Party from 2008-2011. He left the Party in 2011 to host his own popular morning radio political talk show on AM750 / FM103.7 KFQD. Reynolds now runs The Midnight Sun (midnightsunak.com), crowned by the Anchorage Press as “Alaska’s best political blog.”
  • skinnerAK

    As one who used to tune in frequently, I’ve lost all interest in listening to Steiren tell his lies on behalf of the oil industry. As entertaining as he used to be, he’s become as predictable as the tide.
    Oil industry….good!
    Gov Walker….bad!

    No objectivity. Just a paid shill, lying to his rube listeners. About the same as rydel. Snore.

    • Lancaster York

      I couldn’t have said it better. Local talk radio is the pits, I don’t even listen anymore, at all.

      As far as Demboski and Anderson are concerned, their stations’ signals are so poor it really is hard to listen to for more than 5 minutes before listener fatigue sets in, and I’m just talking about the quality of the signal, the actual content is even worse.

      • ZD Töpfer

        Amy Demboski’s shrill voice on television broadcasts is like fingernails on a chalkboard, I cannot even fathom what that would sound like on air. Not sure I want to find out.

  • James Mason

    I’m not sure KENI could find a lower IQ demographic if they decided that’s what they needed. They get callers who are complete idiots on the same topics over and over. In the afternoon Porcaro’s show has degenerated into nonsense. The amusing but clueless Crash bears part of the blame. So-called conservative talk has redefined conservative to mean a religious kook who wants to force kids to pray in school, ban the teaching of evolution, and jail physicians who perform abortions. Alaska is not rural East Texas.