Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Keri in the morning, was this a good idea?

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!


Anonymous said...

A friend who works in sales in the Providence radio market says the Arbitorn results for the spring 2008 survey are not available yet. I wonder where Keri got the numbers?

phayemuss said...

To "anonymous": Probably not available for public posting, but she's an insider.

Everything boils down to money - and it was obvious to me at the time that moving a "star" to enhance the ratings in the morning was the intent.

Too bad she can't clone herself.

BTW, I put up that video of her interviewing Ted Kennedy at Al Mac's on my blog. The girl is goooooood!!!

Our local radio station is KMOG.
Don't even get me started. Do NOT get me started. ;)


Anonymous said...

Wouldn't a radio sales person also be an insider?

Lefty said...


You're right the Spring 08 numbers are not out yet.

What we're basically looking at here is the Winter 08 numbers. Now Arbitron issues the rating books for each season but they also release monthly reports called Arbitrends. I'm not 100% sure but I would guess this would come from one of these monthly reports.

Will the Spring survey results show the same increase or better? I'll have to follow up this post in August!

Anonymous said...

Lefty - The winter Arbitron survey was from January 10 to April 2. Keri moved to mornings on March 24. Hard to evaluate her impact during this period. My Providence source says monthly Arbitrends show no impact by WSAR in any demographic group. If Keri has brought the ratings up, congratulations are in order. But are they really up?

Faye Musselman said...

Does it occur to anyone that the restructuring of the programming/host line-up may have more to do with an intent of the brothers Karam to sell the station? I mean, seems to me that even Keri's topics are becoming less community based and more tabloid topical, i.e. Christy Brinkley's divorce. By expanding the listenership, perhaps their intent is to expand the marketability of the station for a future sale. I mean those guys are getting up in years and it wouldn't be a surprise to me if they did sell.

In the end, most all issues, events, policy, etc. ultimately have to do with money. Will the Arbitron stats be a barometer in that regard?

Frankly, it would sadden me to think Fall River had no community based radio to use its megaphone for point and counter point on local issues.

Lord knows it needs it.

Anonymous said...

Huh? WSAR provides no point counterpoint.
It provides screraming, half of it from people who don't live in Fall River and editorials written by an employee of the county sheriff

Roger Williams said...

If they haven't just replaced her with a robot that lifts talking points from Daily Kos and the Huffington Post before delivering them in a preachy, indignant scream ... well, they should consider it. I'm sure they'd save a bundle on health insurance costs.

PS: Whassup, Lefty?