Saturday, March 17, 2012

Get Bucky off of hate radio!

At last week's big rally in Madison, I carried a sign that included the following:

And a few people took notice. I particularly recall an older gentleman reading the sign, kind of nodding and saying "Never really thought about how that all tied together," and I replied "Yeah, even more interesting when you know Bain Capital runs Clear Channel, and Romney used to work at Bain Capital." At which point another person nearby disgustedly shook his head in agreement.

But make no mistake, while these stations specialize in right-wing hate radio during the weekdays, they set aside nights and weekends with other programming to lure others in. And most of the time, this "other programming" involves Wisconsin sports teams. Take a look at the Badger Sports Network affiliates, and notice that almost all of the stations in the picture also carry Bucky, and 1130 in Milwaukee carries Marquette instead of UW. This is a classic example of radio stations trying to have it both ways, by employing hate-radio hosts who constantly denigarate Madison and the UW as crazy liberals while getting a whole lot of listeners and advertising revenue from UW sports.

These hosts and stations also give overly favorable and unchallenged coverage to Governor Walker, who cut UW-Madison by $250 million and tried to set up a separate authority to run the university, while stacking that authority with his hack appointees. And then the Walker Administration hurt the UW even more when it targeted Bucky and the rest of the UW System for an abusurdly disproportionate amount of budget lapses, while keeping his buddies in areas like the Road Builders fat and happy.

So as I've asked before, why does UW Athletics continue to associate itself with a bunch of scumbags who want to destroy the university that allows Bucky to play sports in the first place? I've called for UW to get off of 620AM for the last 2 years because of the station's AM daytime hate lineup, and this seems more true than ever given that TMJ has carried Walker's water for the last several years while Walker and other Republicans have tried to mess up the UW. UW already has an agreement with WOKY 920 to broadcast games that TMJ bumps off of the station (including today's UW March Madness game? Unacceptable!)

I think UW has the upper hand in this equation, because it's well-known in the radio business that a main reason to get sports programming is to allow people to lazily stay with that station for its other dayparts. But the reverse is generally not true. Let's be honest, if Lucas and Le Pay are calling the game and you want to find it, you're going to get to the station that has it, and learn quickly where it is. That heavy UW sports listener is much less likely to care where Rush or Sykes or Belling or McKenna is, and won't end up tuning into their anti-UW poison by accident as a result.

This is why I think UW needs to use its leverage to pull itself off of stations that are intending to hurt the university. And there are a lot of easy ways to do so. In Milwaukee, why not go to 920 or some other station like 1250 full-time? Those stations would be more than willing to shell out the money to get the extra listeners, and it would allow the Badgers to be the priority they deserve to be in Milwaukee (and they most certainly are not on 620, as the Milwaukee pro sports teams all get preference over Bucky). And Badger fans wouldn't have to deal with bullshit like Sykes and Wagner promos interrupting their enjoyment of the game.

In Madison, the option is even easier, as they already have games on WIBA-FM, and Clear Channel does "backup" Badger games on their sports station of 1070. Why not just make 1070 the UW station (and Packer and Brewer station for that matter), and leave 1310 to the hate radio? Granted, it's still Clear Channel (which has its own set of issues given Limbaugh's hefty salary and pathetic act is a major weight around its neck), but it separates the UW from the screeching of McKenna and overall stupidity that 1310 has, and would increase audience share for 1070's other shows. Seems to be a win-win to me.

And Bucky should also go really hard after 1330 in Sheboygan and 550 in Wausau. There's just enough competition in those towns and areas that another AM station would salivate at becoming the new home of Badger sports, so why not tell them to turn off the hate, or their listeners will turn elsewhere to get Bucky? There should be a price to be paid for these stations allowing this unchallenged garbage on their stations, and pulling sports programming may be even more effective than hammering advertisers on these stations through boycotts and public exposure. (though by all means, do that too. The only way hate radio stops is when it becomes less profitable to have it than not to have it.)

C'mon Alvarez and the Athletic Department, you OWE this to the many alums and UW supporters that are tired of having our university get torn down on the very stations that are "the home of Badger athletics." Do your fans a favor and make these stations pay a price for taking UW for granted, because I'd argue that only the Packers have more pull and importance for Wisconsin sports on a statewide basis (though I admit the Brew Crew is close to UW). In addition, maybe these stations will learn to stop killing the best resource this state has- the high levels of education and quality of life that results in a big way from the contributions of UW-Madison and the rest of the UW System.


  1. Well, one of the problems with 1070 is that it's a much weaker signal than 1310. Granted, the 101.5 FM idea is a good one.

    But don't the radio stations actually bid and pay UW to cover the games? Doesn't UW just give the games to the stations that are willing to pay the most money for them? If so, UW would open itself up to criticism by taking less money to get games off of Rush stations. The talking point would be, "Hey, they must not need money that bad if they are willing to play politics with their football and basketball games."

  2. Alex- Thanks for responding, and it's a thoughtful post - As I understand it, you're correct as the UW offers up the rights to the stations, and the stations take the games (UW/ Learfield can then use the extra affiliates to charge more for their "network" spots). I'd say that anti-education and anti-Madison policies by Walker and WisGOP (which get promoted by hate radio) have cost the university a whole lot more than whatever UW would lose by switching stations. And losing UW sports would hurt those stations a whole lot more than Bucky, I guarantee too.

    In Madison, I'd argue that the boost in regular listeners 1070 would get as the AM affiliate for the Badgers is well worth the risk, and simulcasting hoops and football on 101.5 like they do now takes some of the concerns over "low power signal" away. It might even open up UW to more affiliates in the MSA.