More Messages: Returned Bill

This week marks the return to KHOW's airwaves of The Radio Factor, hosted by Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly. However, the evening slot he's been handed says more about the weakness of KHOW's schedule than it does about the strength of O'Reilly's appeal.

O'Reilly's disappearance from the outlet was awkward and protracted. As noted in this October 2005 Message column's second item, KHOW sent out a press release on September 15, 2005, announcing that O'Reilly would be replaced by syndicated (and ultra-unctuous) yakker Glenn Beck four days later. Then, on September 16, KHOW promotions director Jan Whitbeck faxed a second release declaring that Beck's debut had been put off because of "contractual issues."

In truth, the folks at O'Reilly's syndicator, Westwood One, were figuratively dragging their feet in an effort to find another Denver radio home for their client. They weren't having any luck, however, and the situation remained unresolved as of September 26, when the Rocky Mountain News published an O'Reilly-is-out piece by veteran radio-and-TV scribe Dusty Saunders. That effort wound up generating 190,000 additional hits to the Rocky website after it was posted on the Drudge Report, but it was awfully premature. As pointed out in a subsequent Message, Beck didn't step into O'Reilly's place on the schedule until November 14.

The O'Reilly comeback isn't a repudiation of Glenn Beck's local ratings. Indeed, Beck is keeping his noon-3 p.m. shift, while the Radio Factor will be heard from 6-8 p.m. That means O'Reilly's show will air on a whopping eight-hour tape delay -- an insane gap for a program that aims for timeliness. Expect to hear O'Reilly talking about news developments that are already outdated by the time the Radio Factor is heard on KHOW.

So why has the station taken this step? A good guess is weak evening numbers. To fit in O'Reilly, an hour has been shaved off the afternoon-drive chat-fest hosted by Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman -- a sign that the twosome may be losing listeners as the early evening approaches. In addition, the relationship sessions conducted by Dr. Laura Schlessinger begin an hour later than before, not that it matters much. Dr. Laura's show is designed for daytime, and makes absolutely no sense in the evening. She's cheaper than a local host, though, so KHOW is likely using her blather as filler, pure and simple.

Given this scenario (and despite the hullabaloo), the Radio Factor will probably have zero impact on the local radio scene -- and O'Reilly could find himself out on his ear again if KHOW comes up with a more sensible evening lineup. Sorry, Bill. -- Michael Roberts

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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