Tuesday, March 02, 2004

AM 630 KTKK Changes their Lineup

After listening to all the blather on the K-Talk Forum http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ktalkforum, I have chosen to respond here rather than in the forum. I may post a link in
the forum, but I am not sure yet. One of the reasons I am choosing to post my
comments here is that I want to name names. I am going to express my
always-candid opinion, but I am going to be even more blunt, and possible
offensive, than usual. If in a few days I reconsider, I may alter it or delete
it, so please don’t quote me. ;-) My objective is not to insult or hurt anyone,
just to give my take on the situation.

The management of Ktalk radio recently decided to change
their lineup of talk show hosts to "improve ratings". I find this odd
as ratings have never been a priority of theirs - free speech has. I understand
their need to make a living, but they didn’t say they wanted to increase
revenue, they said they wanted to increase ratings. The fact is that the best
way for K-Talk to improve ratings (and revenue) is to give listeners what they
want. And what do listeners want? It seems that people want to listen to shows that entertain them, that make them laugh, make their day seem “not-so-bad”, listen to DJ’s or talk show hosts that
they can relate to – that they ‘feel’ that they know. People don't want to have
positions force fed to them. People don’t want to hear boring hosts read to
them. No-one wants to listen to a “canned”, contrived, or phony broadcaster for two or
three hours a day. Unfortunately, the new lineup gives us just that for much of
the day.

For a short while, KTKK allowed the “Joe Jackson Show” to
air. I intentionally said “allowed to air” and not “hired” because Joe, and
most of the “personalities” are volunteer. Now the Joe Jackson Show (which I am
proud to say I was a part of) was on when MOST of the listening audience was
sleeping and the signal was turned down to less than ½ of its daytime output.
Despite those two important issues, Joe’s Show was one of the most listened to
programs at the station. Joe was actually a TRAINED, EXPERIENCED, professional
radio person…what a concept. He actually put a lot of time and preparation into
his program – as opposed to grabbing a copy of the Salt Lake Trib 10 minutes
before the program starts. Yes, Joe’s preparation included creating humorous
carts and musical interludes that would ENTERTAIN his listeners while making a
political statement. His guests inlcuded political satirists. His callers were treated with respect and usually hung up with a good impression of "Utah's favorite liberal". His production quality was without question, the best that the station has ever had. Those who have heard, “Patriotic Tattoo”, “I Need Drugs For My Team”, and “I Have a Dream” on Joe’s show will never forget them. Calls were stacked on all lines for the entire 2-hour segment. So WHY was Joe not asked to join the new format? He was. In fact, he agreed to come on and later reneged. The problem was that rather than ask Joe to come on and be Joe, they asked Joe to share a two-hour program with Jim Kirkwood and Merrill Cook. Essentially, they realized that the listeners wanted Joe, but it appears that management didn’t really want Joe to be Joe for two hours a day. Instead, they took the two hosts with the worst shows and asked Joe to do a show with them. Now, let me explain
what I mean when I say worst shows. I mean They suck. OK, here is a little more clarification. Kirkwood, while having a very good radio voice and being technically capable is a statist who spews hate and statism for two hours a day. His idea of “entertainment” is inviting a homosexual guest on and insulting them repeatedly and following the insults with insincere giggling. He also takes every opportunity to label a caller with a dissenting opinion an “idiot”, “moron”, and a “jerk” and then hang up on them. While 20 years ago this was cutting edge "shock radio", it is no longer considered entertainment. Labeling everyone in disagreement with the President a “communist” and “un-patriotic” is not only juvenile, it is wrong. Isn’t it our obligation to voice concern about a tyrannical government? Doesn’t the same freedom of speech that allows him to
voice his opinion over the airwaves give callers the right to speak out against the President? One wouldn’t think so from listening to Jim’s show. He often states that “anyone who (fill in the blank) should be shot”. In this day in age, not only are such comments irresponsible, they are also dangerous.

Merrill’s Show is not only one of the most boring shows I have ever heard; it is also difficult to follow. From the moment his dreadful 60’s surfing music starts until he mumbles off the air two hours later, one wonders WHY this guy has the best time slot in the lineup. He mumbles incessantly, he allows boring calls to go on and on and on even carrying them over two breaks, he changes his position on topics – often in mid-sentence, he forgets what he is talking about, and he appears to have no preparation and no agenda for his show. Flip-flopping back and forth on issues throughout the program. How is this entertaining? How is this informative? Why in the hell would a company striving for “better ratings” allow this mumbling, bumbling, has been to stay on the air, let alone in the top-spot in the lineup? It certainly has nothing to do with ratings, because his “book” is abysmal. His ratings are among the worst at the station.

So WHY would management choose to match these two with Joe?
It is widely believe that Jim Kirkwood hates Joe Jackson, he hates liberals, and he hates protestors. Could it be that management wants to see Joe’s issues and beliefs marginalized by having him share the time slot with two nit wits whose idea of preparing for a radio show means getting a cup of coffee?
Thankfully, Joe reneged on doing the show. Hopefully, management will realise that he reason for backing out of the show had nothing to do with work and everything to do with integrity.

No, in my opinion, the best way to improve ratings is to improve the quality of the broadcast. Use headphones! Learn to speak into the microphone. Keep the door closed while broadcasting. Get some clever production quality “carts”. Get professional talent on the air or train the talent that
you are going to put on the air.

Management – Can KTKK management to make sound decisions? Now I like Tom Draschil, but I don’t think he knows very much about managing a radio station. Sometimes I fear that Tom is more concerned with promoting his agenda than in improving the quality of the broadcast? I am not
suggesting that he shouldn’t promote his agenda – it is talk radio – but I am suggesting that when a manager’s agenda is at odds with what is best for the station, there might be a problem. Shouldn’t a manager lead by example? If Tom continues to do a below average show day after day, isn’t that sending the
wrong message? If he is going to host a show he should step up to the standards of any other host that he would hire.

Not being able to afford professional talent is one thing, rejecting it is another. Both Joe Jackson and Mark Marine do professional sounding shows. Mark Marine PAYS for the privilege. There have been rumors about Jim Sumpter getting 6 hours a day. I can’t imagine how Mark Marine would feel about that, but if the other shows on the station don’t improve their quality soon, it will become a detriment to Marine’s show and he will eventually seek a new home for his program. Speaking of paying for a time slot,
I actually told KTKK management that, like Marine, I would be willing to discuss paying for a prime time slot. They never even called me about it. I find this amazing. There are plenty of rumors about the financial difficulties at the station and talk about improving the ratings – yet they ignore even a discussion with me about paying to go on the air. Now I ask you, is that sound management?

I own a couple of businesses and I have advertised a few times with KTKK - nothing huge, just a few thousand dollars. What I found odd was that they would not let me choose when my ads would run. Now that they have made these schedule changes, that policy is unaccepable to me as an advertiser. There are shows that I absolutely do not want to advertise on. This is another tip to management. Certain products will do better with different programs. In addition, some advertisers would be willing to pay more for drive time than for noon.

The bottom line is that all the bitching and whining of the listeners is falling on deaf ears. It is obvious that management is not listening to the audiance.

Jim Sumpter has a good radio voice, has experience with
radio broadcasting, and has some good ideas on how to improve station ID.
Unfortunately, where KTKK is concerned, Jim has chosen to ignore what the
listeners want and to force his ideals, and his agenda down the throats of
listeners. Although he is the newest host and has very few listeners, rumor has
it that he has just been given a three-hour prime time spot and there is talk
that he may get an evening spot in addition. Now Jim has done a ton of work at
the station and has been behind a lot of the positive changes that have taken
place in the last 10 months. For this, he is to be commended. But, for the love
of Pete, does this mean the man has to be on the air for 6 hours a day? I used
to be a loyal KTKK listener. I would almost never touch the dial…until Sumpter
came along. Since his arrival, it seems that he just lurks around the station
waiting for someone to come in late, call in sick, take a vacation, or get
pulled off the air. For a while, I couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing
him. Rather than complain, I just stopped listening. And you know what? I liked
not listening. In fact, I have yet to find a station that doesn’t have better
commercials, have better production, sound clearer, or have a more distinct
station ID. Now, I don’t care too much for the content of other stations, but
as far as Sumpter, Kirkwood, and Cook go – I don’t like their content

OK, enough of the finger pointing, here are some suggestions on how to improve the station:

  • Buy headsets for the hosts

  • Give a training class to the hosts – How to prepare, how to use the board, how to speak into the microphone, how to end a call, how to make a cart.

  • Hire a station manager (or a consultant) with radio experience

  • Do a poll of listeners and advertisers to find what they like, dislike, and want more or less of.

  • Mix up the line up. Don’t only allow hosts that suck up to the Bush administration, we already have too much of that on the radio. Allow some liberals, some greens, some libertarians, and some anarchists to get on the radio and have some discussion. Use the medium to stimulate thought and new ideas.

  • Put the best sounding hosts and those with the best ratings in the best time slots.

  • Get better equipment. If the CD player skips or starts slow, spend $50 and get a new one or barter for one. KTALK will never increase its audience as long as it neglects its signal and equipment

  • If the phone system drops every call from Ogden, call a phone repairman or get a new phone set.

  • Treat the radio station as a business.

  • Here is the lineup I would like to hear:

    5-7 AM – Jim Sumpter

    7-9 AM – Jack Stockwell

    9-11 AM Dale Williams

    11 AM – 1 PM Jim Dexter MTW/ Drashill TH F

    1 - 3 PM Accountability Utah

    3 - 5 Fight The Liar Within - Shari Hollwig

    5 - 8 Joe Jackson Show (with Fran Tully)

    8 - 10 Merrill Cook


    7 – 10 Alan Keyes

    10 – 1 Michael

    1 – 3 Best of Boortz

    3 – 5 Jacob Hornberger

    5 – 7 PM Survival and Self-sufficiency with Kimbel Holliday


    Jim Sumpter

    Tom Drashill

    Eagle Forum

    Gun Talk

    Ron Paul

    Alex Jones

    I believe that these changes will increase ratings, increase profits, and please the current KTKK audience while attracting new listeners. Please send me your feedback.


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