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WABC Throws Down the Gauntlet in NYC Talk Radio War

Back in August, I put WABC on a Deathwatch Clock. With the looming loss of both Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to rival talk station WOR–and no credible replacements being touted, I figured they were toast. At the time, it looked like Cumulus would be replacing the nation’s two biggest talk radio hosts with Mike Huckabee, and the vile troll who calls himself Michael Savage.

I figured Limbaugh and Hannity would move down the dial to WOR and then eat WABC’s replacement squad for lunch. Then, Huckabee announced he was ending his radio show, and I was sure it was curtains, baby!, for WABC….

Throw that prediction straight out the nearest window; It’s pretty safe to say no one saw today’s announcement coming:

WABC-AM (770), which is owned by Cumulus Media, will introduce a new lineup on Thursday that emphasizes live and local programming, as its two most popular hosts, Rush Limbaughand Sean Hannity, move to a rival station, WOR-AM (710).

Weekday programming at WABC will include the return of Curtis Sliwa’s and Ron Kuby’s show, “Curtis and Kuby,” from noon to 3 p.m., after an absence of more than six years, and, starting Monday, a one-hour program at 5 p.m. with Pat Kiernan, the NY1 television anchor.

This is a pretty big deal for Big Apple talk radio junkies like yours truly. It’s also a conflagration of corporate confusion every way you look at it.


Curtis has–he’s still listed there–both a morning and afternoon show, on AM-970 The Answer, and had been promoting a coming simulcast of the morning show (a la Imus/FOX Business), to be shown on local TV channel WWOR (“My Nine”). Did WWOR know this was coming? Did AM-970?

At the same time, WABC has been hyping the hell out of the vile troll who calls himself Michael Savage taking over the 3PM-6PM time slot and taking on Hannity mano-y-mano, with the vile troll who calls himself Michael Savage promising to clean Hannity’s clock. Now they’ve shaved an hour off his show to slot in… Pat Kiernan? Huh?

When we switched from Time Warner Cable to Fios here at the LP Igloo, losing Kiernan’s NY-1 morning broadcast was my only regret. Still, how is the vile troll who calls himself Michael Savage going to react when he hits the airwaves later today? He’s been bragging on scoring that 3-6 timeslot as if it was his divine right to run his nauseous schtick in that time slot. Now his show’s footprint has been slimmed before he even started the new gig.

The next few months’ worth of Arbitron numbers are certainly going to be interesting to watch unfold. I’ve got Curtis & Kuby on right now, and they sound like they ain’t missed a beat, despite the 6+ year hiatus. That is bad news for Limbaugh, because his NYC numbers were always a product of an almost complete lack of credible competition anywhere else on the dial.

That game is over now.


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