Friday, July 8, 2011

All-News On FM: It's The Money, Honey!

From Robert Feder,
WBBM studio
As Chicago’s one and only all-news station, WBBM-AM (780) made $42.5 million for CBS Radio last year — more than any other radio outlet in town and up from $40 million the previous year.

That’s really all you need to you know to understand why Newsradio 780 soon may be facing competition from a reformatted WKQX-FM (101.1), courtesy of Randy Michaels and his merry band of mirthmakers at Merlin Media.

Whether Chicago radio needs another purveyor of traffic and weather every 10 minutes (or whatever gets thrown into the mix) is beside the point. As long as Newsradio 780 has stood out as the top-billing and top-rated station in the market, it’s been ripe for an FM challenger to come along. Enter Q101.

Granted having Bears football broadcasts for the past decade has enhanced the CBS station’s bottom line significantly. But its format exclusivity undoubtedly remains its strongest suit. “It’s been a great station for a long time,” Rod Zimmerman, senior vice president and general manager of the 50,000-watt powerhouse, told me recently. “I think because of the value proposition of the format, and the quality and consistency of the product, we’ve done it better than any other all-news station around the country.”

Why the rush for Merlin Media to switch to news at Q101 and at its new station in New York? According to one of radio’s most respected observers, it may be to cash in on some of the billions about to be spent on political advertising for the 2012 election cycle.
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