Spring Cleaning

Kamb, Stern, ESPN--the new year braces for big battles in talk radio

All of which makes sense on the surface. Dunham and Miller's show, you may recall, got a big ratings boost after KEGL-FM 97.1 dropped Stern's show in 1997. In trying to have it both ways--mixing guy talk with sports talk--the theory that folks who prefer one or the other are ripe to leave has merit. Not to mention the stronger FM signal, the fact that ESPN carries weight with sports teams and players, and that they have tremendous marketing budgets. There is no doubt this is The Ticket's winter of discontent in anticipation of the big spring battle.

I really believe, though, that this will make The Ticket stronger, not weaker. I think the shows have gotten too pat, too predictable, too reliant on replaying bits and tossing off a we've-made-it attitude. I think the competition will cause the station to focus on local sports to distinguish it from ESPN and tighten the running soap opera that gets guys to tune in day after day. Stern will succeed, Martin will succeed, and ESPN will be a major player here. But to paraphrase the Hardline's Greg Williams, this is big-market, big-time radio. There is room for more than one kitten at the big cat's teat. As one radio vet says, "It's going to be a test for The Ticket, sure. A big one. But history suggests these guys will rise to the occasion."

Wrongheaded thought No. 3: That it will take a six-figure salary to sign me up for a talk show.

C'mon, media barons, pony up. Daddy needs a fat contract. You want to take another whipping on the next Soapbox Day?

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