In New Haven, Connecticut, Clear Channel has just replaced the liberal talk radio station, WAVZ (which featured Air America programming along with some other syndicated liberal hosts such as Stephanie Miller), with ESPN sports radio. Clear Channel also owns the local conservative hate-fest station (Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, etc.), which, needless to say, remains on the air.
According to the New Haven Register:
Jerry Kristafer, the WELI morning host who is also program director of WELI and WAVZ, said the move was made because Clear Channel's Hartford station, WPOP-1410, is successful with the format.
"It's business, that's what we're here for. ... We think the stations will complement each other," Kristafer said. "ESPN is a brand everyone recognizes. It's a branding thing. You just have to say those four letters and people know what to expect."
I know what the right wing response to this will be. Clear Channel is a business, not a charity. If liberal talk radio can't attract enough advertising to survive, it's just the invisible hand of the free market at work, right? Well, there's just one little problem with that -- as a leaked ABC Radio Networks memo revealed late last year, advertisers seem to be actively boycotting liberal talk radio for reasons that have nothing to do with ratings. The deck has been stacked from the start.