Is the ailing format of liberal talk radio about to get a shot in the arm? The Washington Post which owned the market leading AM news station for 29 years has jumped back into the nation’s capitol radio market by striking a deal to create a news-talk station in D.C.
What makes this deal unusual is that the station is owned by Utah based Bonneville International which in turn is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) and known for their generally conservative political stances on major issues. The Post on the other hand is at the opposite end of the political spectrum and it makes one wonder how the two philosophies will merge. One ominous clue is a statement from Bonneville Senior Vice President Joel Oxley who was quoted in The Washington Post as saying “It’s going to be NPR on caffeine,” meaning that “It will be non drowsy public radio.” This sounds like they are going to turn over the keys and just collect their share of the ad dollars without regard to making sure the programming will be fair.
At the current time it appears that rather than have a host a la Rush Limbaugh for example the station will carry interviews, commentary and news supplied by the Post. Or as executive editor Leonard Downie, Jr. said to “Put Washington Post journalism regularly on the area in our circulation area.” That’s just great. It isn’t bad enough wee get to read the drivel they frequently publish, now we will be subjected to it on the air.
This may be a last ditch effort by the Post to save a valuable franchise. With print circulation in decline and web operations still unprofitable they are trying to grab the attention of an audience that is increasingly mobile and rarely reads newspapers.
The success of this operation will actually depend on the Post’s willingness to cast their political leanings aside approach the news from a fair and objective perspective. Based on the Post’s history that isn’t a very likely scenario, but then again it’s never to late to become a recovering liberal.