Monday, April 27, 2009

My Thoughts on WABC Rewound

My radio enthusiast friends are aware that Allan Sniffen, the moderator of the New York Radio Message Board, made the official announcement today that WABC Rewound that has been played on Memorial Day for 10 years will be heard only on and WPLJ-HD3 this year. To me this brings up the issue of ageism in radio programming which I would like to discuss in detail.

It is true that there is a new program director at WABC who may not value the heritage of the station as her predecessor, but I would not take this decision personally. I would draw an analogy to a long running TV series on a major broadcast network that was relegated to cable TV. Radio and TV programs have diehards and casual viewers/listeners. I would listen to the early Rewounds religiously, but as the years went on, the novelty wore off and my enthusiasm gradually waned. Whether we like it or not, we all have aged and the Rewound audience has aged with the show. I don’t want to go into a long discourse on the hijacking of WCBS-FM in June 2005 and the reincarnation of the station with a classic hits rather than an oldies format. Older audiences are not appealing to advertisers since they are set in their ways and not easily swayed by commercials. Thus radio executives are trying to program to a younger audience. Here is why I feel WABC is wrong in making this decision:

The entire AM band appeals to older listeners anyway. WABC’s brand of conservative talk radio appeals to older listeners. Liberal talk stations have not thrived. WABC let go liberals like Lynn Samuels and Ron Kuby.

Does WABC know that the talk radio audience on a major holiday would be any younger than a WABC Rewound audience? If you are at a family picnic on Memorial Day. Would you rather listen to music or a rerun of Rush Limbaugh?

Is there any guarantee that there will be more ad revenues for talk than for Rewound?
WABC promotes the regular talk radio programming on SNO and did so on past Rewounds.

On the positive side Rewound was not killed completely. I am one of the few people who owns an HD radio, but almost everyone has a computer and can hear the stream. Allan Sniffen said there will be new tapes this year and the 2009 version will be archived. Some of the older shows are available on aircheck sites, but it is possible they will be archived.

The radio executives are out for the almighty dollar. Mark Simone’s morning show now starts at 7 AM because the bean counters thought they could make more money with an infomercial. My gut feeling is that WABC management is happy with the advertising dollars made on SNO. But nothing in this world is absolutely permanent.

Let's take things “One Day at a Time”.


Pete-R-NY said...

Yoummake sense, Bruce. We have to face reality. I feel worse for my parents, because there are no radio stations that they can listen to (even the local adult standards station sneaks some Elvis into the mix). They definitely don't own a HD radio, and are not computer-friendly.

At any rate, I'm glad that the show will be archived, since I have to work that day and couldn't listen on the job.

Anonymous said...

WABC has been running HD Radio/IBOC lately, jamming both WJR and WBBM, with a reduced fidelity on WABC analog.

Unknown said...

It appears WABC would rather go with "The Best of Rush" repeats than a live "Rewound" because not only do they save on production costs, they make advertisers happy. Radio stations are in business to please advertisers, not listeners. Advertisers, IMHO, are the de facto program and music directors.

Sad state of affairs, but it is what it is.

Unknown said...

WABC would rather air "Best of Rush" reruns instead of a live "Rewound" because they save on production costs and it makes advertisers happy. Radio stations are in business to please advertisers, not listeners.

Sad state of affairs, but it is what it is.

jinglejim said...

There is way too much talk on the AM band as it is mostly the far right was who are dissatisfied that their man McCain lost to Obama.Can't we for once on one day of the year go back to a simpler time and relive the music and the personalities of bygone days?Is that too much to ask?Keep rewind a tradition at least for 12 hours on
Memorial Day!!!

Bruce S said...

Jim, I agree with you on this, but there are management politics involved. I am glad that they at least put the show on the stream and on WPLJ-HD2, but I would have preferred a shorter show on 770 AM as a compromise. Maybe 4 hours would be enough. Hopefully all the older Rewounds will be archived.

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