Monday, August 26, 2013

The Fall of WHAM and Lonsberry

1180 WHAM is losing viewers by the day, not because people are changing the channel, but because their viewership is dying.  The signs of 1180 WHAMs decline is everywhere, recently their news director left to join NPR.  They have juggled Lonsberry's schedule yet again moving him 30 minutes earlier.  None of this will save WHAM.  The problem for WHAM is a stodgy, unqualified management that is fiddling and holding on to an outdated business model.

You probably think this the bitter rantings of a lunatic, yes I am crazy.  And at one time, I used to love WHAM, I still think Bob Matthews is a great sports talk show host.  Though he has slowed down in recent year.  He was one of the most innovative sports talk hosts on the radio at one time.  However, in WHAM I see a station, whose website is poorly constructed and confusing.  The depth of the articles make a YMCA pool deep.  Lonsberry and Matthews are the only two personalities that have even semi interesting blogs.  Think about that the largest radio station in Rochester, only has two blogs that are readable and gather page views.  That is an indictment on itself.  For a station that prides itself on news its web page is bland and looks like a webpage circa 1996.

You can argue rating are high, guess what if I started a station from scratch in Rochester tomorrow and had Limbaugh and Hannity, my ratings would be through the roof too.  But, the stations completely inept failure to engage a younger audience has set its death spiral in motion.  Lonsberry's audience is over 55, conservative and white, just what advertisers are looking for.  If you do not think he can be fired due to poor ratings, check out what happened in Utah.  The sad part is WHAM had an excellent opportunity to replace Lonsberry when Rachael Barnhart's contract was up at Channel 13, but probably did not make a contract offer.   She could have revolutionized WHAM, but that would require management, that can see the forest through the trees.  Lonsberry will not retire he is 62 with young kids, and WHAM will eventually have to replace him.  The problem is, now when they do, they will be working from a position of weakness.  As WHAMs ratings slowly sink, the death of a once great radio station edges closer and closer to the edge.  While management keeps looking for a time machine to travel back to 1996.

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