Baumhower: Toledo leads nation in Sirius XM listenersWritten by Jeremy Baumhower | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Congratulations, Toledo! We have made a radio Top 10 list! In fact, we are not just on it, we are No. 1! But don’t start chanting “TO-LE-DO!” just yet.
Toledo has been ranked the No. 1 market for Sirius XM satellite radio by themediaaudit.com. Toledo has the biggest percentage of population that listens. In the past seven days, 7.9 percent or 36,400 adults older than 18 have listened to Sirius XM. Toledo outranked Detroit (6.2 percent), Washington, D.C. (5.6 percent) and the entire state of Florida (4.5 percent).
As a Sirius XM subscriber, my first reaction was pride; Toledoans must love Howard Stern the way I do … Baba Booey! But after some additional thoughts, my pride turned to sadness mixed with a touch of embarrassment. Why did I have a change of heart? That 7.9 share is a blatant reminder of how bad radio has become here in Toledo. People are paying at least $13 a month to not listen to the local airwaves. Think about that for a second. Toledoans are choosing to pay to not hear market leaders such as K100, WIOT-FM, KISS FM, The River and Star 105.5.
Toledo has such a rich history of great radio stations and personalities that this statistic should shock most of you, but it won’t. Paul W. Smith, Steve Mason, Denny Schaffer] and Scott Sloan honed their craft right here before moving on to bigger things. WIOT in the 1980s was one of the very best rock stations in the country. Just visit the fourth floor of its Fort Industry Square studios and you will find a sad reminder of what great radio it once was.
Can anyone remember the last great bigger-than-life radio stunt or promotion that happened here in Toledo? How about when the last “Steve Mason being buried alive” or “living on a billboard for charity” event happened? Remember how big Toys for Tots was at the Franklin Park Mall? Or even Denny’s Disco parties and the Kiss-Off contest 92.5 did on Valentine’s Day? When was the last time Toledo radio made a great impression on you?
Question: When did Toledo radio go from great to sad? Answer: The day the FCC deregulated ownership rules with the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which limited the amount of radio stations a company could own.
Before the FCC changed the game, Toledo had numerous private owners of all the stations. Every station had a program director (PD), an assistant program director (APD), a promotions department — some even had a marketing person. Radio stations now are lucky to share a PD and promotions department, and marketing is nonexistent. Jaycor and Cumulus Broadcasting bought 90 percent of the stations and started consolidating jobs immediately. Jaycor merged with Clear Channel in 1999.
A quick review of the Toledo corporate-owned stations shows only 50 percent have live, local jocks — it used to be nearly 100 percent. The review does not even begin to break down the cross responsibilities the DJs have. Many DJs are also PDs or APDs; they have to program music, which means they play songs corporate allows them to. The DJs are more concerned with keeping their jobs than creating better shows with content. Trust me, it is not the DJ’s fault; try to be creative when you have to worry about driving the station van for a remote broadcast — it’s impossible!
Put all of the above information together and you see why Toledoans pay Sirius XM to hear great radio. And let’s discuss how much money is being paid out of market not to hear Toledo stations. At an average of $13 per month with 36,000 people listening, we’ll divide the people by two (married couples) to show the low end of the spectrum. So $13 times 18,000 is $234,000 per month, that totals more than $2.8 million per year, if my Whitmer educated math is correct. Think about that for a second. Toledoans are paying $2.8 million (on the low estimate) not to hear local radio. The sadder part is that figure is probably way higher. People with disposable income are choosing to spend their money to hear something designed to be free. This can be fixed and is completely reversible. People probably would like to keep $13 per month and be able to listen to something local again. This 7.9 percent share should serve as a wake-up call to the management at Cumulus and Clear Channel.
This $2.8 million amount should also be noted by local advertisers. The coveted demographic of “People With Disposable Income” has spoken and now Toledo is the No. 1 city paying to hear radio elsewhere. Advertisers should demand better radio stations; they are the only ones who can fix the problem, with their money and where they choose to spend it.
Jeremy Baumhower is a self-proclaimed media expert who writes and produces for morning radio shows across the country. Please follow him on twitter @jeremytheproduc.