Hearne: The Sad State of Affairs @ Talk Radio KCMO 710 AM

Chris-Stigall-is-leaving-KCYou can’t win if you don’t play…

And judging by how far the fortunes of Talk Radio KCMO (710 AM) have fallen in the last three years, the local powers that be at owner Cumulus aren’t even trying.

Three months after popular morning show host Chris Stigall bailed for a gig in Philly in January of 2011, KCMO replaced him with Greg Knapp, a journeyman talk show host who moonlights as a fill-in guy for talk stations in other markets. And it’s been a downhill slide ever since.

How bad is it?

In December 2010 with Stigall still leading the charge, KCMO had a 2.5 share.

And in the recent May ratings for listeners 12 and up it barely eked out a lowly 1 share.

In other words, KCMO had two and a half times the listenership just prior to installing Knapp and loading its lineup with a mishmash of syndicated nut ball, has-been, over-the-top oddball personalities.

“It is what it is,” says a former KCMO AM executive. “It’s like that all over the country- you have one AM station that is still holding on – and usually has Rush Limbaugh – and the rest of them are going to be like 1 shares unless they have a sports franchise.”

A reasonably strong case to be made that most local talk radio listeners have long since forgotten KCMO AM still exists.

Take talk radio habitué and News/Talk KMBZ frequent flyer Paul Wilson.

“It’s sad because KCMO was a flagship talk station in Kansas City,” Wilson says. “There were very few dials that weren’t turned to the station if you were a talk radio listener, but they just gave up after Stigall left.”

KCMO’s primary problem: too many inexpensive, syndicated filler shows and just one that passes for local with a dude who’s not even from here.

“I’ve listened to him,” says a prominent local talk radio listener who asked that his name not be used. “And I listen to him periodically, but it always sounds like he’s preaching. Maybe it’s the way he presents things. Obviously it’s not working based on the ratings.”

1353387396Speaking of “preachy”

“The station’s live morning show features an evangelical preacher named Greg Knapp who regularly quotes scripture,” reads the Wikipedia page on KCMO.

Preacher or not, Knapp seems a nice enough guy and appears to put in a workmanlike effort. Where he pulls up short arguably, is he doesn’t seem to have a jugular instinct or keen sense of the local market. The show sounds formulaic which hardly makes for compelling radio.

The rest of KCMO’s lineup reads like a been there, done that bunch of blast-from-the-past conservatives and loony toon has beens.



Financial advisor Dave Ramsey: “Oh, that’s kind of worn out,” Wilson says. “He’s done the same thing for years.”

Funny guy turned right winger Dennis Miller:  “I just think his market is so narrow,” Wilson says. “Because you have to be an ultra intellectual to keep up with most of his one liners.”

Over-the-top, conspiracy whacko Michael Savage: “Boy, that guy,” Wilson begins. “I used to listen to him some, but he’s just frightening anymore.”

Conservative lawyer / “constitutional scholar” Mark Levin: “He’s just kind of a screaming, yelling, off-the-wall conservative guy,” Wilson says, “that’s not even really listenable.”

Nighttime host John Batchelor: “He’s a former WABC brainiac,” Wilson says. “He’s an oddball. Everything’s about deep, deep history and military stuff with topics you’d never think of. He’s kind of a yawn.”

Missing in action on Talk Radio KCMO’s lineup?

“Probably a listenable product,” Wilson says. “And local hosts. Sign me up, I’ll do it.”

Janell Carroll

Janell Carroll

And while it may be totally boring to some to recite KCMO’s All Star lineup of past hosts, it ranged from Mike Murphy, Dave Dawson and sex therapist Janell Carroll to Rick Roberts, Conrad Dobler, Chris Baker, John Boss and Russ Johnson.

All of whom achieved far more success locally than anyone currently in Kansas City’s current roster of talk personalities, regardless of station affiliation.

All of that said, things are unlikely to get better at KCMO any time soon, if ever, radio sources say.

“The thing at KCMO now is not to spend a lot of money and sell all of the programs on the weekend,” says the former KCMO exec. “It’s probably all brokered programming, but they’re not doing that for listeners, they’re doing it for the money.

Rick Roberts

Rick Roberts

“The bottom line is they’re just not going to invest any money in that radio station because there is no return on investment. Trust me, nobody around the country is trying to build up a local talk station unless they’re already on top. If you’re No. 2 in that format, you probably don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of growing it.”

Well, it’s pretty hard to grow something without planting a few seeds.

And given the frighteningly diminishing listenership, at what point do you make even a token effort to sustain or become an even halfway listenable, viable radio station.

Otherwise, why not just stick a fork in it?



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26 Responses to Hearne: The Sad State of Affairs @ Talk Radio KCMO 710 AM

  1. rkcal says:

    This genre of radio is at an evolutionary dead-end. The audience is shrinking (i.e, dying off) , there is no new fresh talent entering this arena. It’s going the way of Vaudeville.

  2. Curtis Blow says:

    I am a bit surprised that kc can’t support more than one station of conservative old white dudes yelling about falling skies all day, every day.

  3. harley says:

    again wislun doesn’t know sh*t from shinola.
    ramsey: huge national audience and he’s got a hot book out with his daughter that’s
    just starting to get rolling. And he’s a huge endorser for advertisers all over the nation. inhis case you don’t need huge numbers. just people who will go out
    and buy the products he promotes…He’s solid gold as a pitchman…
    and his show and books continue to sell. Be interesting to see how his new
    one does wit h his daughter.
    Harley 2000
    wislun 9
    I give the guy nine because nine proves he’s well down the line.
    If he listened to ramsey he’d see the shift in his dialogue.
    ramsey has changed his overall themes…moving to business books (which was
    a bestseller) to more family themed books (his current one with his daughter)…
    and he’s still on over 450 channels…
    yes talk radio is dying…rush is cooked…the rest of them are cooked..
    beck is seeing the light and moving to the left…and ramsey has
    changed his overall show to be more broad.
    either way …they’re printing money!!!!!!
    and it costs almost nothing to run a talk radio station like kcmo am….
    they’re still profitable.

  4. CG says:

    Guess if they wanted ratings, they’d ask me, but they don’t have that kind of heart..so like most talk shows..a one share. What can I say.

  5. Jack Springer says:

    Don’t blame it all on Greg Knapp. He does well in the morning. The rest of the lineup sucks.

    KCMO should go after Limbaugh. KMBZ treats him like they don’t want him — you can hear it in the tone of announcers on the station.

    KMBZ’s local afternoon show used to be interesting — now they suck. It’s all about Kansas and both hosts are very into themselves … most shows are based on things that have happened in their lives — it gets very boring.

    It’s time for something new.

    • admin says:

      Interesting takes, Jack…

      Not really blaming anything on Knapp, other than if you’re only going to have one local show, he doesn’t exactly scream Kansas City.

      Of course, it’s better than nothing but plugging in some actual local talent would seem to be a better bet. That and maybe hiring somebody on the cheap for afternoon drive

      • Jack Springer says:

        The creative and chance-taking programming people from the 70’s and 80’s don’t exist anymore.

        It’s easier to change the format to country or hiphop. The only reason for the number of radio stations in KC is to air the ads.

        • admin says:

          Think you’re right again, Jack.

          And to make sure the competition was minimal, a handful of big companies bought up almost all of the stations that halfway matter

  6. radio dude says:

    Maybe the on air folks don’t want him, but management sure does.
    Take away Rush and you can kiss away KMBZ….and Albert knows it. Plus, KCMO won’t pony up the
    150k in annual expense for a guy who is hard to sell…even with the ratings he produces.

  7. John Altevogt says:

    Jack Cashill would be a natural for this station. He has experience, he’s good at it and he’s local. KMBZ has not as good a local show as the ones he did and the nly reason they had problems was because of his liberal co hosts. Mary O’Halloran was obviously unprepared and what’s his face got them sued.

    Agree with the rest of the reviews. Mark Levin is just an obnoxious, pompous ass and Savage only talks about what a genius he is for taking whatever bizarre position he’s fallen into. Would love to see Limbaugh over here just to watch KMBZ sink below the waves.

    • paulwilsonkc says:

      Thank you, John. This proves Harley wrong, as usual.

      • Orphan of the Road says:

        You know how a for every foot of film in a movie, twenty are left on the cutting room floor.

        How much on the harlinator’s floor? Over/Under? Anyone? Bueller?

        • John Altevogt says:

          I don’t read him. Just not worth the effort. be like the folks who dived into a cesspool to find a mobile phone. Too much crap for the rare possibility you might find something of value.

          • Orphan of the Road says:

            But everyone loves a train wreck.

          • paulwilsonkc says:


          • harley says:

            again wislun does the “face plant” when Harley
            investigates wislun’s writing.
            still waiting for the sprint story…I mean that
            was your signature piece wasn’t it.
            All I hear and see is nothing.
            Just like election 2012…and the big jeweler
            story with you seeing aliens with big antennas
            at 73rd street waiting/hovering/secretly gathering special inside information/aliens from
            beyond the universe in search of diamonds and
            jewels that were actually “lost” …not stolen…
            hiding under the dashboard…hitting your head
            on the steering wheel…all 6 feet of you
            tucked under the fiat’s glove box…hiding from
            the aliens with big antennas and long poles
            hanging from their ears….mysterious
            never before items from a universe far far
            away sitting in the parking lot…unbeknownst
            to radar and secret service agents…and
            you? with your high powered night vision
            goggles watching their every move.
            I can’t make this up.
            I could write this if I was jimmy fallons writer.
            I couldn’t even dream this up.
            but i’ll still have a beer with ya…because you
            are a blast to communicate with!!!!!!
            beware of the aliens!!!hahahahahaha1

        • admin says:

          Funny, Orph

    • harley says:

      yes sure…the guy with more conspiracies and b.s. than
      wislun. Sure would do well on radio. just what we need.
      another b.s er to fill up time on the station. this guy has more
      fantasies than wislun searching for a jewel thief hiding under
      a dash board while “aliens” with antennas arewaiting in a
      building parkin lot. what a joke!!!!!!!
      for you fools who think otherwise…kcmo am is doing well.
      you wouldn’t know it because you’re not tuned to how to run
      a business. Especially wislun but I won’t go into that again
      because its common news according to my emails I receive!!!!!
      we know wislun can’t…we know the rest of you can’t.
      but with their low overhead and the cost of running syndication
      very cheap…and with probably no one needed to really run the
      station…it makes money.
      and don’t forget the people lined up for Saturday and sunday
      hour shows…lets see: 12 hours or more of shows on Saturday…
      12 hoursor more of shows on sunday…24 x $1000= $24K a
      week x 52 weeks= 1.2 million dollars and they only need one
      person on staff for that.
      add in the revenue for the spots and they’ve got a literal
      cash cow without any headaches.
      but john altnot…and wislun don’t get it. Both have histories
      that make us understand that they don’t know business.
      Eventually they get rush because cumulus nationally carries
      rush on most of their stations…and that’s a money maker…
      as far as the other shows…they probably arebarter or cost
      almost nothing to run…
      so for altnot and wislun (who
      just did a face plant not once but twice in one day with his
      “stories”)…I suggest you both go back to what you do “professionally”
      and keep the analysis of business to those who are in the know. Like
      me and glaze.
      again…wislun takes a knockout punch with his comments. The bell
      rings and he keeps coming back for more retractions and facts that
      show he really “isn’t an insider” like he claims to be.
      you want inside info…feel free to contact law4life1000@yahoo.com
      and get the real story.
      til hearne wakes up and realizes he is not a business expert and having
      lived with a silver spoon doesn’t make him a business insider.
      again proven right. If you need to checkthose figures…I suggestyou get wislun to do some research …whiichis like pulling teeth. hahahahaha

      • paulwilsonkc says:

        Hey, gasbag, a couple of thoughts.
        1. Stop offering to have a beer; you’re too big a coward to come public.
        2. When you “wrote” your first lame ass KCC story, you said “next week I’ll have a story that blows the sox off KCC readers. Were waiting.
        3. Publish an email or two about me you get from readers or that too, like most your crap, is a lie.

        I’m putting you back on ignore, where you belong.

  8. Orphan of the Road says:

    Mass media is only producing stuff good enough so you don’t change the station.

    Of course with the consolidation of the media, the next station will have the same owner.

    Imitation may be the sincerest for of flattery but it is seldom entertaining nor as good as the original.

  9. peculiar guy says:

    The only thing that KMBZ has going for it is Rush. They are not going to drop him and cut their main source of profit. Same thing happened at Channel 9 after GM Godfrey left, It is now more than ever a leftist channel.

    • Media Buyer says:

      You are flat out wrong. Check the ratings ( adults 25-54).
      Morning News 5.o share rank7th
      Rush 3.0 share rank 14th
      Parks and Dana 5.8 share rank 5th

      Rush sucks and is holding the station back. KMBZ’s local programming is kicking his ass.

  10. bs says:

    I don’t agree with anything Knapp says, but I find him likable. I love hearing Levin blow a gasket on my way home from work. Dana and Parks are insufferable narcissists.

    • admin says:

      Almost hate to say it, bs, but I pretty much agree with you except I really haven’t listened to Levin

  11. Ratings says:

    This is what I hate about blogs and comments. Facts are secondary. I too have access to the full ratings, and Media Buyer is correct. KMBZ mornings and afternoons out rank mid-days, as well as most other music stations. The only true fact is that KCMO is on life support. Whether or not you like Parks and Dana or EJ and Ellen or Weir and Darla, you have to give credit to KMBZ that they have put together a local Kansas City product worthy of the ratings they are receiving.

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