It was an experiment preordained to fail.
Two years ago, Clear Channel rebranded two of its weak-signaled Boston-area stations, AM 1200 and 1430, as “Boston’s Progressive Talk,” featuring liberal hosts from Air America (such as Al Franken and Randi Rhodes) and the Jones Radio Networks (Ed Schultz and Stephanie Miller).
With little promotion and a small coverage area, liberal radio has not exactly been a ratings success here. Now, Jesse Noyes reports in the Boston Herald, Clear Channel is ready to pull the plug, and is likely to turn over the two frequencies to Spanish-language programming. The move comes as Clear Channel is in the process of being acquired by new owners, including Gov. Mitt Romney’s former company, Bain Capital.
And get this: Noyes says that Clear Channel is boosting the power of AM 1200 from 10,000 watts to 50,000. Gee, do you think that might have made “progressive talk” more popular?
It’s obvious that Clear Channel executives never wanted liberal radio to succeed in Boston. It was just a way of killing time until they figured out what they wanted to do with the two frequencies. Nor is it a terrible thing that Greater Boston’s growing Spanish-language audience will be better served. Still, this is a loss. Someone else ought to give it a try.
Update: Brian Maloney has more, and he also offers this:
These particular stations have really brought out a number of lefty conspiracy theorists who believe the lack of ratings were the result of not enough signal power and a promotional shortfall by the company. But these same arguments could be made regarding a number of other talk outlets that have in fact succeeded.
Uh, Brian. If you can’t hear the station, you can’t hear the station. If I leave for work early or come home late, I can’t listen, because AM 1430, which is the signal closest to me, is a sunup-to-sundown station. I’m pretty sure AM 1200 is, too. That’s not a conspiracy theory. It’s a reality-based observation.