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