Big news on the local media front, as KSTP, once the go-to place for conservative talk in the Twin Cities, will become the local outpost for ESPN. Brad has a lot of the details and David Brauer from MinnPost has more. A few thoughts:
- Radio is a strange business, but the slow motion immolation of KSTP has been a sight to behold. A few years back they had a lineup you could listen to all day long, with all of it but Rush Limbaugh local. Now they are ceding pretty much everything but the afternoon drive to other stations, at least in terms of local content.
- One of the signal dangers (bad pun, sorry) of listening to consultants is that you can get very bad advice, and the advice that the Hubbards got about the death of conservative talk radio was terrible advice. What the consultants never understood was this: while conservative talk radio was by necessity on defense during the Bush years, there was never any question that at some point the Democrats would return to power and the audience for alternative viewpoints would again increase. Rush Limbaugh's greatest successes have come during the Clinton era and now. KSTP took that success to the bank in the 1990s, but they let Limbaugh go and now a competitor is enjoying the ratings.
- The guys that KSTP brought in, who were supposed to be a better alternative to conservative hosts like Jason Lewis and Bob Davis, were abysmal. Willie Clark was just about unlistenable and "Prebil and Murphy," whatever they were, were boring. And the ratings reflected this. It's awfully tough to do much in morning drive in this market, given the unparalleled success of Tom Barnard at KQRS, but a good morning show with a consistent format could have had a chance. These dudes weren't any good.
- The remaining signature voices at KSTP are Joe Soucheray and Patrick Reusse. They can certainly do sports and are great together. It will do Reusse in particular a lot of good to stay within a tighter format. Reusse is a gifted storyteller and can be funny as hell, but his politics are cookie-cutter leftism of an especially dim variety and it made his morning drive show just about unlistenable. The question is whether or not Joe and Pat's shtick, which has been on the air here for 20 years, is past its sell-by date.
There's more to say about this and I'll get back to it in the coming days.