...Bonneville International is pulling the plug on "Washington Post Radio," which aired on one of its stations in the nation's capital. The 17-month experiment, which featured Post reporters in a blend of news and talk programming (just imagine how exciting that was) failed to attract an audience and was losing money. So much money that Bonneville and the Post decided to terminate the partnership barely half-way through their three-year agreement.
When the format was launched in early 2006, it was described as "NPR on Caffeine" (and they wonder why it floundered!). But the station failed to attract even one percent of the D.C. listening audience, and WTWP--clever call letters, huh?--was mired in 18th place in the most recent Arbitron ratings, ranking just ahead of a "Christian Contemporary Hits" station, a couple of second-string country outlets, and an AM station playing "Latin Pop."
By comparison, Citadel-owned WMAL-AM, with a conservative talk line-up that includes Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, is #8 in the market with a 3.4 rating. Ironically, the market's most popular AM station is another Bonneville news outlet, WTOP, which does not brand its coverage with the Washington Post.
While the paper's primary role was to provide reporters (and stories) for discussion, the failure of "Washington Post Radio" suggests that the outlet has limited appeal, even in its home market. Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie described the venture as a "good experiment" which is media exec-speak for "Thank God Bonneville lost most of the money on that one."
To no one's surprise, there are no plans to resurrect "Washington Post Radio" on another station in the market. The format is expected to be replaced by--you guessed it--a conservative talk line-up featuring Glenn Beck and Neal Boortz, among others.
Bonneville is a large broadcasting group that owns some news/talk powerhouses, including KSL in Salt Lake City. So, they're not a bunch of numb-skull, arrogant upstarts (hellooo, Air America). That's why we were a bit surprised when the WTWP concept was unveiled almost two years ago; it struck us as a sure-fire loser, despite the Post's dominance of the D.C. print media market. "NPR on caffeine" is not something that sounds like a ratings-grabber and sure enough, the experiment failed miserably.
Back to the newspaper, boys and girls, where your particular brand of "news" and "analysis" can still attract an audience. Leave radio for the pros.