It's been months since the media changes took place that relocated 'Afternoon Drive Diva', Keri Rodrigues, to mornings at WSAR. The move was met with some criticism. Why take your highest rated host from a time slot that works for her and move her to mornings?! Didn't the Karam's know the old saying "if it ain't broke don't fix it?"
The move resulted in the departure of long time host Mike Moran. This too was met with some criticism. Just what were the Karams thinking?!
Well this all came down to ratings. No, WSAR never officially said so, but if the morning show and Moran's hour broadcast were pulling in good numbers do you think they'd make a change?
What about all that criticism following Mike Moran's departure? I remember listening to Don Imus on his show a few years back. He was relating a conversation he had with a GM of a station that had, in an effort to improve ratings, just switched from their own local programming to Imus' syndicated show. The station GM was being besieged with complaints by people who did not like the programming change. The GM thinking perhaps he made a mistake took his concerns to Imus. Imus basically told the GM 'of course you're getting complaints you idiot. These are the people who were listening to whatever lousy programming you had on before!' Likewise those who complained about Moran's departure were his loyal audience.
If the move was all about ratings why move your highest rated host? To answer that question I had to do a little research. Arbitron is the all-knowing authority on radio ratings, so to get some answers I referred to the 2008 Radio Today report on their site. According to the report News-Talk-Information is the number 1 format in New England and mornings (6am-10pm) is when NTI draws its biggest audience. So what does this mean? It means that when NTI stations like WSAR sell ad time, they're able to sell that ad time based on the strength of being the number 1 format. Now it goes to reason that since NTI's biggest potential audience is in the mornings those spots should command the most money and that is why morning ratings are so important.
Now we understand the logic behind moving Keri, but did it work? Was this a good idea?
I think it's funny how many times I've had just that conversation. I think it's funny how many times I've heard people having that conversation. So, to get to the bottom of this I went to K-Rod herself.
Unfortunately the Arbitron ratings are copyrighted and Keri couldn't just tell me the numbers. But I was able to learn that the station's morning ratings have gone up. I asked her if they were as good as her afternoon ratings. She said they were comparable. So I asked her if WSAR's morning ratings were now the strongest of the lineup and she said that would be fair to say.
As much as I was critical of the departure of Mike Moran, and as much as I questioned the wisdom of moving Keri Rodrigues from her successful afternoon spot to mornings I guess it's a move that has worked. WSAR's morning ratings have improved and as I pointed out before morning ratings are important to revenue. I guess there's a reason the Karam's own a radio station and I don't.
Of course things are still early and I would guess it would take a few rating cycles to see if all these moves continue to pay off. If not I hope the Karam's will consider expanding Keri's talk show to two hours (maybe from 8-10 in the morning) or moving her back to afternoon drive!