David Sirota's AM 760 ratings grow thanks to unlikely talk-radio demographic: women

Do the ladies love David Sirota? Apparently so. The AM 760 morning-show host's ratings have doubled in most categories over the past year -- but his audience among women, not traditionally a group that prizes commercial talk radio, has increased by leaps and bounds -- more than ten-fold in one demo. Why? Sirota's got a few theories.

"We don't do sexist morning-zoo-type radio," he points out. "There's so much of that out there, and not only in the Denver market. And we're saying, 'Here's a place where women will be respected and not denigrated."

Granted, the numbers AM 760 is generating won't cause jaws to drop. According to the latest ratings listed by Radio Online, the station is currently tied for 25th place out of 43 outlets in the market among listeners age twelve and older. But March numbers provided by the station show Sirota's program generally outpacing AM 760 as a whole -- and in female demos, it does even better.

Examples? His ratings are up 1125 percent among women 35-54 over the past year; 680 percent among women 35-64; 471 percent among women 25-54; and 450 percent among women over 35. In these categories, his program places from eighth to fourteenth place among head-to-head competitors.

As Sirota concedes, ratings fluctuate month to month, week to week and even day to day. But he sees the overall improvement as evidence that listeners are finding his program. And those who do tend to stick around because of the variety of subjects -- a range that's naturally broadened of late because he recently became a father.

"We don't just do politics, and we don't do water-carrying for one party or the other," he says. "And our topic lineup is very wide. This past week, we did everything from the DUI bill in the legislature to the History Cannel documentary looking for the nails that crucified Jesus to Noam Chomsky to the mayor's race. And when we do politics, it's not just 'Democrats are great and Republicans are terrible.' It's a broader frame."

There's a tonal difference from most other commercial talk radio as well, he believes. "People are looking for something different than having partisan talking points screamed at them," he says. "And we don't do what I would call thundering-fist, angry-male radio. It's not that I'm not passionate about things. But I think our show is much more conversational and thought-provoking. It's not just about taking a position and ramming it down people's throats."

For instance, Sirota likes to use pop-cultural references to underline his opinions, as in his latest book, the '80s-centric Back to Our Future, which has gotten lots of national publicity via the likes of MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. He's also a syndicated columnist, and he concedes that "the show's benefited from the fact that I'm on a lot of different platforms. And I hope the book suggests that what we talk about isn't going to be so esoteric and ideological as to turn them off."

As such, he believes "we're showing that not only can a different kind of radio format succeed, but it can succeed in ways the old formula doesn't and can't."

More from our Media archive: "David Sirota named justice on Matt Taibbi's Supreme Court of Assholedom: Congrats!"

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts