Hearne: Will News/Talk Station 980 KMBZ’s Talent Measure Up On The FM Dial?

The $64 million question: Will younger, trendier listeners flock to news/talk station 980 KMBZ after it goes FM?

That’s a tough one.

At this point, nobody really knows. After all, the main thrust of frequency modulation (FM) is the high quality the signal imparts to music. I mean, how mellifluous can Rush Limbaugh get? And it’s not like Mike Shanin’s going to forget he’s not in the shower and break into song in the middle of dissing Obama or fantasizing about Sarah Palin. I mean, he is getting up there some, but…

 Which brings us to the age issue…

For KMBZ to truly take its game to the next level it needs to attract younger listeners. You know, people who don’t subscribe to the Kansas City Star.

Let’s see, they’ve got Rush, he’s 60. Darla Jaye; she doesn’t reveal her age on Wikipedia, but if she started in radio 25 years ago she’s probably old enough (but not young enough) to date El Rushbo. There’s Mike Shanin. He doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page (big surprise) but since his former radio mate Jerry Fogel graduated from West Point in 1959, it’s probably safe to say he’s in his 70s. Or close enough.

No spring chickens there, ladies and gentlemen.

And KMBZ’s weekend lineup reads like a John Knox Village event calendar.

There’s a health talk show, health insurance show, cruising to retirement show. Any day I expect a switch from penis enlargement and hearing aid ads to cryonics and burial plans. Face it, older listeners with ultra conservative outlooks are KMBZ’s stock-in-trade.

So who can KMBZ’s merry band of right wing, rogue oldsters hope to attract on the FM dial?

KCUR FM 89.3 listeners, that’s who.

There’s plenty of ’em, too. The local public radio station is chocked full of gray hairs but also has a healthy supply of younger, hipper listeners who seem to like news and talk. And the station has quite a few more of them than KMBZ, so there’s that.

Just one problem…

Can they stomach KMBZ’s political leanings? Doubtful. I mean, some may, who knows?

"To me it’s a stupid move," says one radio insider of KMBZ’s move to an FM simulcast. "Just because they put it on FM, they’re not going to be able to raise their rates and raise their revenues."

Au contraire, KMBZ has reportedly told advertisers it’s raising its rates by 20 percent.

"In the short run they’re not going to be able to make up the revenue they’re giving up on (KUDL) 98.1," the insider says. "The question is, will this elevate KMBZ to where they can attract the younger listeners that big advertisers are looking for.  If it does, then it could be a good play, but it’s not going to happen overnight."

Back to 980 KMBZ’s ratings – 14th place in its key demo, adults ages 35 to 64 and 14th place with a 3.5 share in the money demo of adults 25 to 54…

That the station’s current on-air lineup fares so modestly with older listeners on the AM band is not a good sign that younger, hipper – and arguably more liberal – listeners will embrace it on FM.

"There are AM-only news-talk stations in similar markets that have 8 to 10 shares," says the source. "And they built their stations on their talk talent and not all of it is syndicated, part of it’s local. Those stations built their numbers on AM alone. They didn’t need to be on FM…

"It’s all about the talk and it’s all about the talent. It’s proven in (other) markets that AM radio with good talent can succeed. Like in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Indianapolis. Their news talk stations have always been strong. But KMBZ has not been a powerhouse in the PPM (ratings) world…It all boils down to talent and do they have it."

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11 Responses to Hearne: Will News/Talk Station 980 KMBZ’s Talent Measure Up On The FM Dial?

  1. smartman says:

    Bombs Away
    The only media outlet with less local talent than KMBZ is KCC. Welcome to the Boomtown! Craig and Hearne make Shanin and Parks look like Woodward and Bernstein. McTavish GONE, Botello GONE, Maria GONE, Fitz GONE, Miller HIT AND MISS, Edelman RARE,Swanson RARE, Janesko RARE, Hovick-Urich-Thomas-Donnelly, NOBODY CARES. Two Advice Columns GONE BEFORE THEY STARTED, As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be….without Greg Hall it’s nothing at all….world without end Amen.

  2. seriously? says:

    Are you going to do any research Hearne? Maybe look at research from other markets who have made the same move?…. or are you just going to keep aking your butt budy Bob Zuroweste his personal opinion and report it as fact? No wonder the Star shitcanned you and Entercom ran “Z” off. Enjoy your own private little uninformed world.

  3. Brian says:

    I agree with Smartman
    The only thing that keeps me coming to this site is Greg. Moving KMBZ to the FM dial has everything to do with a cost cutting move. Goodbye KUDL crew!

  4. Hearne Christopher says:

    You call that praying?

  5. Bad Ass Jew, Berkowitz says:

    Hearne and Glazer Most Comments
    I find these attacks odd, since hearne and glazer get the most comments on this site. Greg is right in there, but sports brings out even more haters. From word around the office and city, this is a very popular site. Yet the same comments fly about how they can’t stand Hearne and Glazer. Odd.

  6. Hearne Christopher says:

    Easy big guy, life is change. There’ll be plenty more people that come and go. It’s the nature of the beast when your pay scale only starts in the low six figures.

    Tony and Fitz have agreed to work with KCC on a case by case basic or specific stories. Maria is a full time student at KU, she’ll be back. You may not care for some of the writers but that’s what makes the world go round. This is a buffet, not a one dish menu.

    And don’t sell Matt Donnelly short. He’s a kickass writer – granted you may care little for MLS and Sporting – but others do. And if you happen to be into newer music and entertainment i.e. a little younger than you appear to be, he is doing an amzing job of covering the KC and Lawrence music and entertainment scene. He’s Brian McTavish minus about 25 years in age.

    As for Greg Hall…glad you like him. Guess who dug him up?

  7. Hearne Christopher says:

    Hey, Berk

    With 10,000 unique visitors to this site a day, there are gonna be a handful of haters. Since they rarely (if ever) use their names, they can pretend to be the man or woman on the street. But more often than not, they’ve got a dog in the fight somewhere. We’ve tracked URLs directly to the Star. They’re jealous of Craig. They think Greg’s a homer for KU. Or MU. Or NU. He’s everybody’s bitch at one time or another. They work at the Star or – hello – KMBZ. Thing is they’re reading. It’s a little gutless to snipe but it keeps things kinda interesting, so…

  8. smartman says:

    News For Jews
    There hasn’t been a bad ass Jew since Meyer Lansky so I have to assume Badass Jew Berkowitz, like so many other aging menschs has a problem with a drooping derrier that perhaps is pimply, pock marked and jiggling with cellulite. Ask some of the women at Temple and I’m sure they can recommend a nice Jewish board certified plastic surgeon to nip and tuck your Woody Allen hiney.

  9. Hearne Christopher says:

    Maybe you missed it, but the Star has laid off hundreds of people as the red ink has flowed the past three years. And Zuroweste resigned from Entercom for health issues, he wasn’t run off. Seriously, get a clue.

  10. smartman says:

    KCC was supposed to be The Traveling Wilbury’s and it’s turned into the Warbling Hillbilly’s. Craigs latest send up of Nick Wright doesn’t make him a tool, it makes him the whole damn Snap-On Truck. If you suck a dick once you’ll always be a cocksucker. You write that Nick Wright is “the shit” you’re a tool truck. There is no evidence to support that Nick is “the shit” or will ever be the shit. That’s not even an a worthy opinion of anyone with a modicum of common sense and propriety who purports to have some zen-like knowledge of anything much less everything. That doesn’t even fall into the legendary Hollywood Mogul Robert Evan’s maxim that “There are two sides to every story, your side, the other side and no one is lying” Take Harley jojo’s advice and get it together. Get your good contributors to write more, dump the wannabe’s in the peanut gallery and find some interesting people to write. This site has the rhythm and feel of a 72 year old white guy dancing at Touche’s.
    You can do better. Time to clean house and remodel. Remember it’s not personal…..it’s business. Your friends tell you what you wanna hear. Your true friends tell you what you need to know.

  11. Arte says:

    Scott Parks
    Is that a real picture of him posted here? My God, he looks exactly like Alred E. Newman.

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