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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Is Traditional Radio Dying?

By Thornton Crowe

For Rush and Sean listeners who follow them on local AM station WICO, silence has become a mainstay. Lately, the station has been having issues with dead air during every news break where nothing can be heard. One would swear the station was off-air because it's not a short pause, but at least, a minute in length, then the network news coming blaring through.  What's going on here?

Have you also noticed the station will also repeat network news on the weekends? For many listeners, this is a pain because when you listen to talk radio, you'd like to believe the news breaks on the weekends would be fresh, but to no avail, WICO's repeat weekday news can trip people up if they're not paying attention.

What's happened to this once-excellent station? It used to be they had an FM frequency but well over a year ago, they 'lost' it in a sale. When you call the station, they claim they're waiting for the FCC to clear them for another FM handle, but it seems to never happen. The calls happened around the same the time they lost their first FM standing and it's never come back.


Shows like Hannity and Limbaugh still enjoy popularity but what's happening with other shows less known? Since his meltdown during the Trump campaign, Glenn Beck's presence has diminished on the airwaves - even his XM status has waned since his suspension after calling for the then-candidate's assassination.

Is this all about advertising going down? With the popularity of social media like Facebook and Twitter, it would seem talk radio is going down the tubes on all fronts. Today, many political based radio also sports websites with paid premiums, podcasts, Periscopes and articles people can read without being a slave to a schedule.

It would be great if we could get some answers from the station because it's no longer manned by a live jock, it must be a technical situation.  And, when will they get their FM frequency back so you can listen to them beyond the limited AM frequency area as it usually ends around the first Berlin exit on Route 50 East.

Can radio survive the changing times or will it become a relic of the past? Guess we'll have to see how it shakes out but the radio has many memories associated so, hopefully, it won't go away altogether. For stations like WICO, it might serve them, advertiser and listeners better if they stopped having those multiple dead air moments and fill the voided transmission space!

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Paid advertising on radio is still expensive and with Sirius XM along with other ways to listen to music and talk radio, stations are going by way of the dinosaurs.

Jim said...


The 'dead air' around newsbreaks is probably because of automation glitches. That minute is probably supposed to have a local commercial running, or it may be mis-timed to catch the network news feed.

You're right-- local radio seems to be biting the dust. But I think tht's because many don't actually do it locally anymore.

I've seen a number of small AM stations that are doing very well because they are locally owned and manned with live on-air people who are talking about local stuff. Not some 'voice' injected from New Jersey.

Anonymous said...

i stopped listening to wico when they sold their fm side

their am just doesn't have the sound quality the fm had

should have sold the am

Anonymous said...

Lack of local adverting is likely the result lack of a staff of sales weasel to sell air time.

It would also help if automobile manufactures would return to making their OEM radios actually capable of tuning AM stations.

SBJ

JoeAlbero said...

Advertising rates in the traditional media are way too expensive. It's a crap shoot with radio advertising, will they hear your ad, or won't they. Television ads are the same but do notice how many commercials you are seeing over and over again, like Window World or the stupid flashlight commercials. Multiple mini infomercials for copper pans, stupid plastic twister thingamaboppers, mesothelioma legal ads, pharmaceutical commercials, the list goes on and on. Very few local advertisers any more because it's just too expensive and is proven it's not worth the expense any more. Car dealers are no longer dumping millions of dollars yearly on local ads and are instead going to the Internet.

My favorite are the commercials where advertisers CLAIM their business has increased 75% since they started advertising on tv commercials. HOWEVER, no one sees those businesses running commercials.

With well over 52,000,000 hits on Salisbury News and ads only costing $100.00 a month, they just can't compete any more.

Anonymous said...

I am not a fan of talk radio, but on Sunday mornings from 9:00am until 11:00am they air "The Sounds of Sinatra." This not the only music to which I listen, but it one of the many types I enjoy.
The problem with the show is not updated by the station. It comes from a show up in Philly, but since AM 1320 is not manned, they will broadcast the same show week after week, since they are not capable of downloading the current show of the day.

Anonymous said...

I listen to Patriot radio on Sirius and I download Podcasts from Michael Savage and the X22 report. Both great podcasts! I seldom listen to WICO anymore. Not much content, and the morning show that was on it sucked.

Anonymous said...

This is a spot on article. I live down in Nanticoke and can't get AM WICO until I get about half way down Nanticoke road heading into Salisbury. Also in the Winter time its even worse in the morning because I can't get it at all until after the sun rises and I tend to be already at work by then.

Also I really can't stand Doug Stephen in the morning. Most of his stuff is infomercials for super beats and other stuff.

I tend to tune into AM 680 WCBM out of Baltimore. They have fairly local host Sean and Frank that gives a Maryland perspective and not all the drivel you get from Doug Stephen.

In the areas where WCBM gets a weak signal I switch over to the Tune-in app on my phone and stream them. Its funny though that WCBM's AM signal gets to me but I can't get WICO until I get close to Salisbury. WCBM also has a lot of commercials out of Baltimore so it seems at least their broadcasting model is working fine. Maybe its mismanagement from WICO instead of the local radio medium failing.

I love to hear Sean Hannity but since I am already tuned into WCBM I can listen to him on that station instead of WICO and their weak signal.

I have to admit that that Hannity's commercials are getting way longer. I have about a 30 minute ride home from work and so tend to only here about 10-15 minutes of show and the rest is commercials. My wife's car has Surius XM radio on it so when driving that I just listen to Fox News Radio.

Anonymous said...

When you have John Robinson on discussing issues with his own program, that speaks volumes about the poor decisions by this station. This station is poorly run and operated.

Anonymous said...

ah the days of AM radio, listening to the smooth voice of Jon Miller broadcast the O's on WETT. Summertime beach songs...

The OC104 forecast weather report stating its 85 in Salisbury, 84 in Pocomoke and 77 fun loving degrees on the beach in Ocean City!! Ah...the days.

Now yuck since most of the Great Scott stations have changed a gazilllion times or just gone Johnny Dark! Delilah is too national. I miss my OC radio!

Anonymous said...

On the internet, Iheart radio, or tune in radio. You can access just about any station locally or nationally or worldwide with these apps. People in general are pissed off all over the country, not just here locally with our government.

Anonymous said...

I hear your point, but I think your target is missed. Yes THIS radio station has flaws, but those flaws start with someone who wants to "play" radio. Your blog does great traffic, but if I found some blog written by some uneducated person who rarely posted articles and claimed that all blogs sucked because this one I was looking at, it wouldn't be a fair analysis.

Yes, corporate radio is dying. That's easy to see, just look at iHeart or Cumulus stock prices, but local radio is going strong. These are the stations that have LIVE jocks in their buildings talking about our area. Not some jock on Froggy doing a show from Florida or morning show on Q-105 from Louisiana. What do they know about our area?

TV does appear to be struggling, constantly filling spot breaks with per inquiry spots or other PSA garbage. With so many different places nipping at WBOC's heals they aren't even close to what they once were.

Jim said...


WICO-AM
PO Box 909 Salisbury, MD 21803
410-219-3500

Let them know what you like or don't like.
THEY are the ones who can fix it.

Anonymous said...

Radio is dead. Ridiculous ad prices for an extremely limited audience.
FM radio will go the way of AM very, very shortly.
(Cable TV is next. Everything will be sent through your computer.)
Talk Radio will be the last hangers-on.
Add radio to the list of digital age victims: Book stores; traditional Taxi's; Mall shopping, and many more.
Add radio

Anonymous said...

I hope not. I tune in every day to sports talk radio and have for over 20 years. 960 am and 660 am in new york.
And also listen to baseball, hockey, and football games on the radio. Many times it's better than the t.v. broadcast. and it's reminiscent of when i was a kid listening to a ball game thru the crackle on the radio, and lightning strikes from afar on the am dial in the summer.
Couldn't do without my transistor radio. I know they are hard to find, and i bought 6 of them about 10 years ago at Boscovs so i'd have them in the future. on my 3rd one now.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting Alexa. I'll be getting a lot that I want that used to be aired here on local radio.

Anonymous said...

Thank God for Sirius