Afternoon Drive: Large Audience of Listeners on Way Home from Work

Afternoon Drive: Large Audience of Listeners on Way Home from Work

Capital Radio Wars Park IV — Afternoon Drive

by Woody Jenkins, Editor

Guaranty Broadcasting

Eagle 98.1 • Talk 107.3 • ESPN 104.5 • Country Legends 104.9 • The Tiger 100.7

BATON ROUGE — For Gordy Rush, market manager for Guaranty Broadcasting in Baton Rouge, afternoon drive represents the largest audience of the day, and he approaches it as he does the other day parts.  He asks himself what local programming we can offer the people of Baton Rouge that can best serve their needs.

“We are a locally-owned broadcaster,” he said, “and we pride ourselves in providing the personal touch and a personal relationship with our listeners.”

“The drive home is a little different from the drive to work.  It may take a little longer.  You may stop to pick up some food.”

“We’re going to provide all of the broadcasting elements, but especially weather and traffic.  Being locally owned, we are live and local.  So if there’s a weather event or a traffic event, we are going to be people’s lifeline.”

“We’re not pre-recorded.  This is not a voice track.  We’re there for you,” he said.

Rush points to some of his station’s key personalities in the afternoon.  “Scotty Drake on Eagle 98.1 is like the elder statesman.  He is an institution and has an intimate, personal relationship with listeners.”

“Devan Adams on New Country 100.7 has over 20 years’ experience, 10 years in that position.  It’s a consistent relationship, like your TV weatherman or Smiley Anders in the Advocate.”

“Look at Matt Moscona on ESPN 104.5.  He’s a Catholic High boy and a star for us.  His show, ratings, and sales are outstanding.  He’s a big market personality who could go national, but he’s decided to stay with us.  Bill Profita really became a vital part of this community during Hurricane Katrina.  People came to count on him.”

“I have nothing but good to say about the personalities on the other stations, such as Michael Berry, who is outstanding.  But Michael is national.  Bill Profita is here locally.  He can tell you what’s happening right here in Baton Rouge.”

“When there’s a big local story, we jump all over it, because we’re here and can do it.”

“There’s more competition in radio today, more platforms, but one thing will always be successful, and that is investing in local people.  Today, you can listen to Taylor Swift a lot of places, and you can hear Rush all over the country.  But if you want to know what’s happening in Baton Rouge, we are your best bet.  We have all these local stations, providing local content and serving the community.”


Clear Channel

WYNK 101.5 • The River • Downtown Radio 97.7 • WJBO • WFMF 102.5

BATON ROUGE — Michael Hudson, market manager for Clear Channel in Baton Rouge, sees morning and afternoon drive of equal importance.  He takes issue with some of Guaranty’s approach to localism and says it’s really about being the best you can be.

While some of Clear Channel’s afternoon drive personalities are syndicated, such as Sean Hannity, Michael Berry, and Ryan Seacrest, “We’re doing what works and providing the best programming that’s available in the market,” Hudson said.  “It may be local or it may be syndicated, but we’re here, providing news, weather, and traffic for Baton Rouge.  We have 48 people on our staff, and every one of them lives right here.  We’re all local.”

Hudson said Clear Channel stations have three of the five top-rated stations in the market in afternoon drive — WFMF, The River, and WYNK.  The other two top stations are urban stations owned by Cumulus.  “Ryan Seacrest on WFMF is not local, but he’s the reason the station is No. 2 in the market with a 10 share of women,” he said.  “We back him up with local weather and traffic.”

“What does television do?  They provide the best entertainment available.  Michael Berry isn’t local, but what should we do, use weak local talent in a time period or the best talent available in the nation?  Right now, we are 70 percent local and 30 percent syndicated.”

Bob Murphy, operations manager for Clear Channel, says what is working in afternoon drive is continuity.  “If you look at the top five stations in afternoon drive — three from Clear Channel and two from Cumulus — you see that all of them have stuck with the same format for at least 10 years.  People are connected to the stations they know and love.”

“Afternoon drive is very personality based.  There are more listeners in the morning but they are in and out.  In Baton Rouge, they are in the car for 23 minutes on their way to work, and they are often distracted with the phone or texting.  In the afternoon, they are with us longer.  They stop and get food and come back to us.”

“We’re doing what works.  Look at Scotty Mac.  He’s been around since 1982.  Sam McGuire.  Austin James.  They all have great ratings, including WJBO. We’re all about local and all around being the best.”

In reality, the biggest challenge facing Gordy Rush and Michael Hudson may not be each other.

Hudson touched on the real villain. “The hand-held phone!” he said.  “People pick it up 150 times a day.  They pick it up the first thing in the morning.  I pick it up!”  Hudson is proud Clear Channel owns iHeart Radio, the gateway to radio stations across the country. Every time someone uses the phone to listen to radio, Clear Channel profits a tiny bit. But there remains the suspicion that the phone may be radio’s greatest enemy.


Next: Radio Wars: Part V — Radio’s glory days, and the Baton Rouge stations that used to be.

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