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Ed Driscoll

Is there nothing Obama can’t do?

Ohio’s WVKO-AM, which PJTV alumnus Tony Katz describes as “a small station utilizing a progressive talk format” — forward thinking right down to the half-century old peace sign in the station’s logo — “will cease operations because of a lack of support from the like-minded community.” Including the president himself, according to the station’s farewell cri de coeur. As Tony writes (emphasis below his), “Their website reads as a cross between a sweet goodbye letter, and a double-crossed lover doing their best not to boil your bunny:”

It is with great sadness I must inform WVKO’s listeners that once again, Progressive Talk will be silenced on the Columbus airwaves. Our one-year lease on the station is about to expire, and at this time there is no way that we can continue operating the station. So as of midnight on Sunday, December 16th, the new operators will be airing a gospel format on WVKO. Once again, we had a good run with the station, and we were happy to in some small way contribute to the success that the Democrats enjoyed in November.

Unfortunately, it was not a two-way street, and lack of advertising support from the Obama campaign all the way down to local races ensured that we will be unable to continue into the new year.

I put my time, money, heart and soul into doing what I believed to be important for the country, but those who benefited most from our efforts chose to spend their campaign dollars elsewhere.

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice….Well, we can’t get fooled again. Also, a number of advertisers who supported the station in the past chose to turn their backs on us this time. I can’t say why, since they would not return our calls. I want to thank our advertisers, supporters and you the listeners for everything, and i hope that Progressive Talk can somehow return to Columbus in the future.”

Of course, as Air America found out the hard way, it’s tough to succeed in the world of “progressive” talk radio when NPR has been the dominate presence there, seemingly since the days of Woodrow Wilson. And NPR’s soothing tone (well, some of the time at least) makes all the tofu and castor oil go down much more smoothly. Back in 2009, in an article titled, “Some Industries Deserve Bankruptcy,” Andrew Ferguson neatly described Newsweek as “a liberal opinion magazine written by liberals who don’t want to admit they’re liberals.” That also sums up NPR’s style in the world of radio, and they’re feeling the advertising pinch as well, as a report from industry publication Inside Radio noted in late November:

High client churn and softer digital pricing sends NPR into the red. National Public Radio hasn’t disclosed its tax filings for its latest fiscal year, but the network reportedly moved into the red. The Current magazine says NPR had a $6.2 million deficit in fiscal 2012, which ended September 30. NPR blames a drop in corporate underwriting dollars for the shortfall. That’s a turnaround from a year earlier when underwriting dollars increased 24% — growth that had NPR $2.4 million in the black. In an interview earlier this year, an executive at NPR’s rep firm National Public Media told Inside Radio that when the economy is weak advertisers often look to more action-oriented pitches, something public radio can’t offer. National Public Media CEO Stephen Moss tells the Current that digital ad sales are also growing more slowly — even as the inventory becomes cheaper to sell in the face of growing competition. Three-quarters of the pubcater’s digital revenue comes from banner ad sales, with the remainder split between podcasts and mobile advertising. NPR also suffers from a high turnover rate in clients. Moss says on average 35% to 43% of advertisers don’t return. But in 2012 the churn rate hit 45%. “We’re good at bringing new people in, but the churn rate is a little higher than it should be and we’re looking at that,” Moss says.

Unexpectedly.

Linking Tony Katz’s post on WVKO, Jim Treacher quips, “It must hurt when you do everything you can to help your side win, and then they do, and your reward is… going out of business.”

But hey, if, as NPR and WVKO’s ultimate CEO likes to say, “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times, and then just expect that every other country is going to say, ‘Okay,’” isn’t it for the best that these stations are seeing reduced revenue — sufficient in the case of WVKO, to shutter its doors?

These core listeners certainly think so — and so do these.

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