Earlier this month, in reporting about the firing of Gloria Neal and the impending death of the progressive AM-760 format at Clear Channel-owned KKZN-AM, we speculated about possible new approaches, noting along the way that business-centric radio "hasn't been markedly successful in this market for decades."
Well, lo and behold, the rebranded Real Talk 760 is sort of a business station...but also sort of not. And the almost total dearth of local programming makes it mighty unlikely that the outlet will suddenly turn around the aforementioned trend.
Of course, AM 760 wasn't loaded with local programming, either: Neal, who helmed the morning show, was the only weekday personality broadcasting from here, with the other programs coming from syndicated sources.
We hear that Neal's ratings were hitting Clear Channel's goals -- but with the numbers for other programs lagging, her show couldn't prop up the rest of the station, which began as an effort at providing local listeners an alternative according to ex-Denver-based programmer Kris Olinger. In a 2010 interview, she said, "Our motives here had to do with us having three AMs -- and finding a format that works on the third AM can be somewhat challenging" -- a reference to Clear Channel outlets KOA and KHOW. "You've got sports, you've got business, but we felt, after researching the market, that progressive talk would be a strong choice, especially when you look at the makeup of the population in Colorado politically. It's a third Democrat and a third Republican and a third independent. So it made sense to give people who are progressive, liberal, what have you, a radio product that reflected their values."
Seems logical, but it didn't work. So now Clear Channel has turned to the rejected business approach, more or less. The syndicated Money in the Morning show, based in San Diego, is airing in a seven-hour block from 3 a.m. to 10 a.m. Beginning on June 2, finance author Dave Ramsey will be heard from noon to 3 p.m., followed by consumer expert Clark Howard from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
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In addition, the station is running two hours' worth of Tom Martino's show from 10 a.m. to noon. But while the self-proclaimed Troubleshooter, who just pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace regarding a December incident involving his wife, Holly, is locally based, he's also heard on KKZN's sister station, KHOW, at the same time -- and it's highly unlikely many of his listeners will change dial spots to check out the same material they can hear at a better-known, more powerful station. Hence, the show is basically a space filler.
As for the rest of the schedule, it has few ties to business programming at all. Syndicated radio psychiatrist Dr. Joy Browne is on twice, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and again from midnight to 3 p.m. Jim Bohannon, on from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., is a general-interest yakker with a political bent. And TMZ Live from 11 p.m. to midnight is...TMZ Live.
How much energy is Clear Channel putting into boosting this hybrid concept? One indication is the station's Facebook page, which was launched on May 18. In the eleven days since then, it's garnered a grand total of fifteen likes, and the most recent post was shared on May 22.
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As such, Real Talk 760 seems likely to make even less of a mark than did AM 760 -- but it'll be cheaper to run. And in these days of struggle for traditional media outlets, maybe nothing else matters.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Media archive circa May 13: "Gloria Neal's firing marks impending death of progressive AM-760."