The cult of personality appears to have ebbed a bit since Barack Obama had to begin governing two weeks ago. The Washington DC radio station calling itself Obama 1260 and featuring liberal talk stalwarts Bill Press, Ed Schultz, and Stephanie Miller has given up the ghost already, a victim of undetectable ratings. Howard Kurtz notes that not all political radio has that problem:
President Obama may be riding high in Washington, but OBAMA 1260 is not.
The area’s only progressive talk station is changing formats, dropping such syndicated liberal hosts as Ed Schultz, Stephanie Miller and Bill Press in favor of financial news, starting next week.
The move by Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who purchased the station, WWRC, and others in Washington last summer, leaves the city without a liberal radio outlet. Program Director Greg Tantum says he thought the station could work because of enthusiasm over Obama, but that ratings collapsed to a level that could not be measured after the election.
But ratings nearly doubled, he says, at Snyder’s conservative station, WTNT, which features Laura Ingraham and Bill Bennett.
The very name “Obama 1260” should have embarrassed the syndicated hosts who appeared on it. It paints them as nothing more than apologists for a man who hadn’t yet worked a single day in executive office. The name strongly suggests an overt campaign on behalf of Obama, and after the election, an effort to propagandize on his behalf. Would a station branding itself on Obamamania dare to criticize the One and ruin its own brand?
Fortunately, we’ll never have to find out. While ratings for conservative radio soared, undoubtedly in some part to see how conservatives would react to the election of Obama, taste for Obama worship cratered. Neither will shock veteran radio people, who can see a gimmick for what it is and its expiration date when it arrives.
Tantum wants to put Schultz on the conservative station now to see if he can salvage a piece of his liberal line-up. Something tells me that listeners will tune away from WTNT and tune in WMAL instead, where conservative listeners can avoid Fast Eddie. Tantum may have been better advised to keep Miller instead, who has a better show, if he wanted balance instead of ratings. Given the collapse of Tantum’s Obama 1260, why is WWRC still taking his advice?