1090 AM WBAL Radio broadcasts the Baltimore Orioles home opener Monday, it will mark more than just the official reunion of two major Maryland institutions that had been synonymous for most of six decades.Read more.
The return of Orioles baseball to WBAL after four years on the FM dial is also part of a larger move by the 50,000-watt station. It's re-emphasizing its news-and-sports roots after more than a decade featuring highly political talk with the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Chip Franklin.
"They certainly went talk-heavy for a little while," says Mike Skandalis, who analyzes radio ratings trends for the Baltimore advertising agency MGH. "And the station became very opinionated."
But Ed Kiernan, WBAL's general manager, describes the station's identity today as "news and information" featuring "news with a capital 'N.'"
And longtime WBAL news director Mark Miller defines the WBAL Radio brand as "local, local, local, local, local news."
While the station still has two daily talk shows hosted by Ron Smith and Clarence Mitchell IV, it has gone to all-news in its most important time periods — morning and afternoon rush hours.
In the past year with that format, the station has increased its audience overall by a third and moved locally from eighth place to fourth with listeners 18 years and older.
While the Hearst-owned broadcaster has been doing all-news in afternoon drive-time only since July, its audience was up by 23,500 adults or 18 percent in January over its average monthly audience in 2010.
And those ratings increases are in line with what all-news and news/talk formats are doing in cities across the country — particularly on established, big-watt stations in big cities that have large newsrooms. WBAL's 19 newsroom employees make it the largest radio news operation in the state by far.
Monday, April 4, 2011
WBAL Radio Rides News, Orioles Back To Its Roots
From David Zurawik, Baltimore Sun:
Posted by Tom Benson at 12:01 AM