Last week’s programming decision by CBS-Owners 1210 AM WPHT to revamp its lineup after New Year's leaves Premiere Radio looking for an outlet for Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. Both were dropped in favor of moving Michael Smerconish to PM Drive and adding Chris Stigall to fill AM Drive. Current evening talker Dom Giordano moves into Beck’s old time slot. No decision has been announced on evenings.
Stigall starts his Philly show Jan. 3 at 5 a.m. He's conservative, "but not a fist-pounder," according WPHT's Andy Bloom. He had been a talker at 710 AM KCMO,
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Marc Rayfield, senior vice president and market manager for CBS Radio in Philadelphia, told The Philly Inquirer the shakeup began with renegotiating Smerconish's contract, which expires at year's end, and seeking to reduce the demands on his schedule. Smerconish has been doing two radio shows a day - one locally oriented and one for national syndication - writing columns for the Daily News and Inquirer, filling in on MSNBC and other projects.
What's more, Rayfield said that WPHT wants to become "more of a locally based station" and that its biggest draws have been Smerconish and its broadcasts of the Phillies. The move means that for now the Big Talker will have just one well-known national host in its lineup - Limbaugh, long a fixture in the noon-to-3 p.m. slot.
Effective Jan. 17, Smerconish moves to 3 to 7 p.m. The first hour of Smerconish's program will be local.
WPHT's decisions have sent syndicator Premiere Radio on a search for a Philly home for Beck and Hannity. The two need an outlet in all 10 top radio markets, and Philly is No. 8.
So who would want them?
Apparently not Clear Channel, even though it owns Premiere. Clear Channel Philadelphia market manager John Rohm told the Philly Inquirer he does not plan to reformat a station to talk, even low-rated Spanish outlet 1480 AM WUBA.
Not Greater Media, whose market manager, John Fullam, says he has no plans to create a talk station, even on 950 AM WPEN, which simulcasts the sports-talk FM station 97.5 the Fanatic.
Hannity and Beck could land on conservative talker 990 AM WNTP, which has a potent signal. Execs from owner Salem Communications did not return calls. Another wild card is 1340 AM WHAT, which sources say is weighing a sale and a change of format. Station officials have not returned calls for comment.
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Tom's Take: CC Philly cluster manager John Rohm might be wise to check further up the food chain before ruling out converting an FM to talk. While an music FM may have a bigger profit margin, it should be tempting to CC (and Premiere) to launch "Rush Radio" in Philly. They've done it on FM recently in New Orleans and Raleigh-Durham. And on AM in Boston D'oh! That means WPHT would lose Rush. CBS Radio's WCCO (830 Minneapolis) and KDKA (1020 Pittsburgh) lost Limbaugh to Clear Channel FM challengers, leaving Rush on only three CBS stations: WTIC (1080 Hartford), KXNT (100.5/840 Las Vegas) and KMOX (1120 St. Louis).