Michael Savage to KTRB is inexplicable… or is it?

According to Rich “Big Vinny” Lieberman and the Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci, right-wing talk show host and author Michael Savage will be returning to the Bay Area airwaves at KTRB. Savage, who was booted off KNEW last September, was famously left without station in his own market. KTRB’s bringing Savage back into the Bay Area belies the “Xtra Sports” tagline pitched by the station since it became the A’s flagship station last spring.

Whatever your take on Savage’s political views, the fact is that baseball games and “hot” talk aren’t the most compatible types of programming. Rush Limbaugh held the 9-noon spot at KNBR throughout the 90’s in part because his show generally didn’t interfere with Giants broadcasts. Savage’s show will be in the drive time slot (3-6 p.m.), which will make it automatically pre-empted when the A’s go on those weeklong road trips to the Central and Eastern time zones when accounting for pre and postgame shows. While Savage was not an awesome performer in the Bay Area, he was the #3 hot talker in the nation at the time of his demise at KNEW.

If anything, the move seems like a hail mary to grab listeners without properly going local. Currently, KTRB runs a delayed broadcast of Fox Sports Radio/KLAC’s Myers & Hartman show, a dreadfully boring show. The only constants in the station’s slate have been two Sports Byline USA properties, the flagship show run by veteran Ron Barr at 7-10 (live), and former KNBR morning guy Chris Townsend at 1-4 a.m. With Myers & Hartman on the way out, no more FSR shows will be on the slate. What’s left is an odd pastiche of syndicated programming, none of it locally focused. Even though both of the Sports Byline shows are out of Northern California, both are decidedly national and that’s unlikely to change. Besides, night and overnight programming doesn’t pay the bills, and Barr’s show is often pre-empted because of A’s West Coast games anyway.

For his part, Savage swears he will bury KNEW and KSFO, his first radio home. That seems rather unlikely unless KTRB starts going on an extremely heavy marketing blitz tomorrow. It’ll be interesting to see what KTRB does in terms of getting out the word. Savage is clearly being brought in because of name recognition, despite the inherent polarization he inspires. Other than the A’s, KTRB had little to hang their hats on when trying to court advertisers. The A’s on radio have often underperformed compared to regularly scheduled programming on previous flagship stations, so something had to help bolster the station’s image. Even then, with KTRB’s frequent schedule shuffling there’s no guarantee Savage will be around for long. Chances are good that a Pappas will bite the bullet and bring in real on-air talent. If not, well that mountain’s going to be that much harder to climb.

9 thoughts on “Michael Savage to KTRB is inexplicable… or is it?

  1. BOOOOOOOOO! I won’t be listening to Michael Savage for the same reason I don’t listen to any other vitriolic political radio show. They suck.

    But, I understand needing to build a business model. I would hope that they have checked in with Marty Lurie for a local show.

    One idea… who knows how to set up a serviceable online radio show? Watching iCarly with my girls has me thinking a fan based radio show would be fun, assuming ti could pay for itself.

  2. What does Savage have to do with the A’s getting a new stadium? Why don’t we talk about the Mass Sen race, too, since that also has nothing to do with the A’s stadium?

  3. I’d say Savage on the A’s station is about a distant connection to the team as we can ever get. The A’s used to pre-empt Tom Leykis, too. If we want to talk about incompatible programming, how about the Sharks on 98.5 FM, a classic rock station?

    • I don’t think the Sharks on KUFX is any kind of incompatible. There is a large cross-section of people who listen to classic rock who also attend Sharks games. They’re also local to SJ, and have many co-promotions.

      KTRB declared itself an all-sports alternative to the Giants’ KNBR station. So far, there aren’t any Bay Area-centered shows building a fanbase that would hopefully lead to listening to the A’s. The idea for this post is that Savage on KTRB seems like it might be a step backward for the station. There are two sides to this.

      One side is that they’re using up a prime time slot for something non-sports related, where that time should be used for something that would draw sports fans who may stick around for A’s broadcasts.

      On the other hand, Savage would bring a lot of listeners to the station. The question is will those people stick around to listen to a baseball game? How big is the cross-section between the different types of listeners?

      A broadcasting deal with a prominent radio station helps the A’s image and can help earn fans. Will this move help the station’s popularity? Does that help the A’s, since they’re linked to the station for the next ten years? That is why it relates to the A’s.

  4. After the ’08 election, I remember saying on this blog that conservative talk radio would go into a decline, especially for stations like KTRB that ran second and third-tier shows, which was why they switched to sports. But right now there will probably be a renaissance(short-lived, hopefully) especially since the tea party nonsense and the Mass senate election. I actually listen to Savage once in a while and when he’s not ranting about liberals he actually comes across as someone well versed in the arts, which lends me to think that his right wing views may be an act(After all, he IS based in SF)

    Here in Corpus, a third conservtative talk radio station is about to start in a town that really doesn’t have a big enough market for two. I mean, how many different ways are there to say “Praise Jesus and Obama’s a socialist”?

    To get back to the A’s, I’ve often wondered if talk radio is what the San Jose folks really need. A good, loud, opinionated host that will rant for three hours every day about the Giants and territorial rights. You up for the job, Tony?

  5. Boy I though that KTRB would start giving some of the guys we see on Chronicle Live a call by now and offering them a show. Or maybe a Larry Biel or Raj Matthai or something. I mean come on, could Tim Kawakami and Larry Biel together be any worse than Fitz and Brooks. It would probably be better. Just awful, pure awful.

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