The Change

On Monday May 21, KRXA will be shaking up its weekday lineup with the Morning Show expanding to three hours and moving from 8 – 10 to 6 – 9.  Coach and I will co-host the first two hours and then I’ll fly solo for the final 60 minutes.  The Ed Schultz Show will follow in its entirety, with Randi, Barry Lynn, Karel, and Thom in their familiar slots. 

Despite intermittent complaints that we are far too quick to add and remove hosts, as of May 11, we will have maintained a wholly stable lineup from 3a – 4p for three years.  It was on May 11, 2009, that Randi Rhodes returned to the airwaves for good.  Later in 2009, we finalized our lineup through 6pm when Karel took over afternoon drive. Given this enviable record in an industry known for frequent changes, why the significant alteration?

First and foremost, Dial-Global which syndicates both Stephanie and Ed notified KRXA a few weeks ago that we could no longer carry their shows unless we agreed to air all the commercial spots sold for inclusion in each.  This would have meant a total of 10 minutes of prime ad time per day would no longer be available to KRXA to sell to local sponsors, to promote our programs, or for local content.  On balance, we concluded that this price was simply too steep.

Several reasonably obvious solutions came to mind: 1) the one we decided to take, 2) air all three hours of Stephanie’s show live and pull Ed’s for a 3-hour Morning Show airing from 9 – noon, 3) move the Morning Show into the afternoon and pull Randi or Karel, or 4) take the Morning Show off the air or out of prime time at least.

We went with option 1 for several reasons. Coach and I are both morning people.  We are at our best then and confident that we can deliver the most informative and entertaining show possible at that time. Moreover, the most valuable radio “real estate” is morning drive and KRXA generates revenue through spotlighting local businesses and organizations during the Morning Show.  That revenue stream would likely be jeopardized if we broadcast during a later daypart.

The Stephanie Miller Show certainly has devotees and the Morning Show certainly has detractors.  In certain important ways, however, I believe that  Stephanie has taken a step back from where she was when I first heard her during the run-up to the 2004 Presidential election on WWRC in Washington, DC. Then as now, the pace was frenetic and the spotlight was firmly on Stephanie but with an important secondary role for the brilliant impersonations of voice guy Jim Ward.  Stephanie’s focus on the breathtaking perfidy of the Bush administration and the Republican party more generally seemed absolutely right given the war on the people of Iraq, Karl Rove’s extraordinary duplicity, and the right-wing media’s nonstop lies about John Kerry.

From my perspective, Stephanie’s “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” approach towards President Obama is less successful than her take no prisoners tack towards W was and towards the GOP still is.  At a time when even the Democratic party often acts only politely interested in the plight of poor, working, and middle-income Americans, Stephanie seems disconnected from the ways in which the President has failed to champion the interests of the 99%.  With more and more air time given to lesser lights like Hal Sparks, Jim Ward’s reduced role is also problematic for me as is the relentless flogging of the “Sexy Liberal Tour”.  In fact, these trends go together since Sparks is a co-star on the sexy liberal tour, reliably takes Obama’s (and Stephanie’s) side in debates with progressives, while Ward’s is the most progressive voice on the show.

Ed Schultz who follows Stephanie in Dial-Global’s syndicated progressive lineup and on KRXA has been the most consistent champion of labor in America.  Unlike Miller, he takes note when President Obama leaves working people holding the bag in favor of Wall Street or corporate America.  For this reason, among others, we have chosen to air the Ed Schultz Show in its entirety.

If KRXA did not have a viable 3-hour alternative to the Stephanie Miller Show, we might well have bitten the bullet and agreed to clutter up our valuable weekday available ad spots with syndicated ads for which we receive no financial remuneration.  In light of my management responsibilities at KRXA, I would not have felt comfortable doing a 3-hour show on my own.  But we are very fortunate in our relatively small radio market to have the benefit of Coach K.C. Lynch’s big-market talent.  I have wanted to provide him with greater exposure for some time and the opportunity has now arisen.

Finally, as much as I admire our syndicated hosts Bill Press, Ed Schultz, and Randi Rhodes, none pays sufficient attention to the ongoing ecological catastrophe or America’s disastrous and continuing military adventures in the middle east.  KRXA listeners will hear detailed discussions of these topics and many more besides, with a special focus on California’s Central Coast, on the Morning Show.

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23 Responses to The Change

  1. Joanne Marecek says:

    Hal–thanks for sharing this explanation. I totally support your decision. Stephanie is a bit too much for me at times and I agree with your perspective on her show. So glad Randi is staying where she is–I listen to her everyday I can. Looking forward to your show with Coach. Keep up the good work.

  2. Arlen says:

    I remain a big Stephanie fan, but I also enjoy listening to Hal and Coach. I’m not losing much with this switch, because I don’t usually get up before 7:30 or sometimes 8:00am. I really have the best of all worlds, because I can listen to much of the Morning Show, and if I need a Stephanie fix, I can record her show off the TV. Good luck, guys.

  3. peter casey says:

    I have no problem with the change. In fact , I think Stephanie’s show is repeated on Current at night. I noticed that a couple of days ago. So I think Stephanie fans can still watch her show. So….problem solved.

  4. Brent says:

    Hal-I think your reasons for the changes make sense. Perhaps a little shake up will help the station’s profitibility. Now, if you could work on the “talent” you have on air during the evenings and on the weekends, and update your local spots,it would strengthen the station even more. Keep up the good work. You’ve got me listening!

  5. Janie says:

    I find Stepanie Miller just a little too A.D.D. for my tastes. I am happy to have found and listened to this station this morning. I look forward to many happy listening mornings!

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I am in SUCH disagreement; Stephanie is my only reason to tune into KRXA, not to mention a main reason to get up in the morning. How to survive these times without this amazing comedian? In spite of his labor support, Ed Schultz is known by all to be SUCH a hack for the Democratic party! Randi is okay, but too acerbic on most days. And not all of us subscribe to cable t.v. to catch Stephanie. Steph has the most valuable interviews with news I hear NOWHERE else, and is full of the most updated news of all of them; I get national perspectives in a form I can swallow, first thing in the day. I see your financial reasons, but obviously Ed is the one to cut if anyone; I turn off his show as soon as I hear his voice and I also know many, many others do. Locals who have time to listen to you & interact would love to hear you at that slightly later time of Ed’s spot, not on commute time earlier when Stephanie and gang are on (that is better for national programs, when commuters, not the locals who have time to interact, are not yet awake in large part–don’t you see??). I am deeply deeply disappointed. Won’t be listening to your station much at all anymore. Sad to hear this; no, am far beyond sad, as are all the people I have polled around here who agree on these points. Unfortunately your decision to do this for financial reasons will only hurt you as your numbers of listeners for that time when you want to highlight local ads will drop tremendously anyway.

    • Valarie says:

      I am 100% in agreement with Elizabeth. I am deeply disappointed with the change. Today I had to search for a new station to listen to during my 6:45am to 7:30 am commute. I have always changed the station as soon as Hal’s intro music came on and stopped listening to Ed due to the constant Obama bashing.

      Sad to say that my pre-set has now been permanatly changed…540 AM is no longer my commute station of choice.

  7. Jaimie S says:

    Thanks for the detailed explanation–much appreciated. Due to my crazy work schedule, I usually don’t have a chance to hear the morning shows, but I have to agree regarding Ms. Miller. She acknowledges that many consider her an Obama apologist (which I have to say she is), but I don’t think she agrees with that assessment. Glad to see the new programs/changes and that you’re keeping the rest of the line-up as is.

  8. The Lesser Rusty says:

    Well put – well played.

    Looking forward to a stronger KRXA.

  9. Doug says:

    I will miss the constant promotion of the “Sexy Liberal Show”, but look forward to the change. PLEASE do not spend 3 hours advocating a carbon tax. We are tired of hearing it.

  10. Peg says:

    You just lost a listener. You need to get over yourself. There is no way that you two can be half as entertaining or as informative as the Stephanie Miller Show. I can’t stand to listen to you now and you want to expand your boring show for 2 more hours! Please give the Central Coast listeners a break and stay behind the scenes and off the air!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Peg, I agree. Hal has every right, as it’s his station, but such moves are NOT well thought out and will lose him revenue and listeners galore. Stephanie’s show is the most highly rated progressive talk show for a reason! And certainly Ed Schultz. who Hal is keeping, is more of an Obama apologist than she is.

      • Roberto says:

        Totally agreed. I believe that part of the reason why the Tea Party was successful in the 2010 campaign was because of “progressives” like Hal were constantly bashing Obama making a lot of liberals stay home and not vote. That’s when I stopped listening KRXA at 8am every morning.

      • hal says:

        Ed may be many things but he is not, as Stephanie is, an Obama apologist. He interviewed a number of times Dr. Paul Hochfeld from Mad as Hell Doctors – a strong critic of Obamacare for not going nearly far enough. Ed’s regulars include Katrina van den Heuvel, United Steelworkers President Leo Bernard, and Mike Papantonio. All three have taken the administration to task for any number of failings. Ed is a realistic not a blind Obama supporter.

  11. Phil says:

    Hal, Thanks for all your hard work, time & money you’ve put into KRXA to provide the Central Coast with a progressive voice. How can we petition Dial-Global to exempt small markets like ours from their commercial inclusion policy. (I know these sort of exemptions are always available.) You simple don’t have the time, resources or talent to hold an audience for 15 hrs a week. I know I won’t be listening. Don’t be a Jerry Jones. Know your limits. Work your strengths. You are NOT a broadcast personality.

  12. Jason says:

    A very thorough explanation of very reasonable rationale, and very respectful of your audience. Thanks. This stands in stark contrast to cold-blooded Corporate stations like KGO, that one day decide to ‘shoot’ their longtime hosts, and then continue on the next day like nothing happened; *very* traumatic for listeners. KRXA really deserves to have their 50kW blow-torch transmitter and spot on the dial. Anyway, good job.

  13. Mary says:

    Keep Stephanie, I look forward to listening to her in the mornings. It is a comic relief. I use to like Hals show but find him condescending toward women, and very anti Obama. If Stephanie is an obigist Hal is a Obama basher. I have not found Stephanie to be petty. She still has people on her show that will disagree with her on Obama. And remains friendly, but Hal calls Nicole (Randi Rhodes sub) and calls Randi and Stephani apologists. I found that petty and cowardly. I find Coachs comments during Stephanis shows childish as well.
    I do appreciate and find it admirable that Hal is giving us thislatform. But I think he should concentrate on his show and the development of it and leave programming alone. I will turn off 540 completely if Stephani is taken off.

  14. Arlen says:

    I appreciate your new poll, Hal, but I am confused about what you mean by choose the hosts “in order.” Does that mean in the order in which we like them, or the order they would appear during the evening? I’m guessing the former, but it could be taken both ways.

    • hal says:

      The chronological order. In other words, if you choose Hartmann, Malloy, Miller, you want their shows to air in that order starting at 6pm. We will only be able to air two hours of the last host from 1-3a. Chris in Salinas asks that we air Malloy live at 6pm. The reason that this option is not presented is because, in my opinion, Malloy’s show is simply not suitable for children whose bedtime is before 9pm.

  15. Chris says:

    You forgot to mention at the bottom of your book
    “Finally, as much as I admire our syndicated hosts Bill Press, Ed Schultz, and Randi Rhodes, none pays sufficient attention to the ongoing ecological catastrophe or America’s disastrous and continuing military adventures in the middle east.” and the shredding of our Constitution and Our Bill of Rights.

    I am not clear on the line up in the poll, what will the specific time slots be? Are you getting rid of the Block, Dr Bob and removing Ed @ Midnight? Is Hartmann Malloy Miller, pretty much keeping it the same?
    How about playing Malloy LIVE and adding Malloy-Hartmann-Miller/Miller-Hartmann to your poll!

  16. Arlen Grossman says:

    If it’s chronological, then any order is fine, as I like all three: Malloy, Hartmann and Miller. What I don’t care for is the Block, Dr. Bob and the other infomercials (but I do understand they are a good revenue stream).

  17. Chris says:

    How about a response to my questions Hal!

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