The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

8 February 2003

New kid on the news block

It was last Saturday, and word had just come down the wire that Columbia was in trouble. Management at KOMA radio, which was getting ready to drop its oldies format (still carried on KOMA-FM) for news/talk the following Monday, apparently decided that if they were going to build any credibility as a news operation, they had to cover Columbia, and damn the official schedule.

And so they did, staying with the story most of the day, and when the regular schedule began on Monday morning, I suspect they had a lot more listeners on board than they'd originally anticipated.

So how did they do? The lineup hews pretty close to what you'd expect from a station of this type, and pretty close to that of rival KTOK. For some reason, KOMA thinks it takes a two-person anchor team in morning drive, but only one in the afternoon, which I attribute to lingering morning-zoo philosophy. Local personality Carole Arnold, bounced by KTOK a few years back, has the late-morning talk slot. After an hour of news at noon, Bill O'Reilly's Radio Factor slides in, two hours of which run directly opposite Rush Limbaugh on KTOK. (Bottom line: Evenly matched, bile-wise, but Rush is usually funnier.) The afternoon news block is nothing special. Early evenings are given over to Laura Ingraham, who is the answer to the question "What if there were someone like Ann Coulter, only normal?" After midnight is a bit of weirdness called The Edge, a sort of macrobiotic Art Bell.

A couple of tweaks I would suggest to KOMA as they try to build a news powerhouse on a budget:

  • Is it really necessary for the guy in the traffic helicopter to read off promos for AT&T Wireless? For that matter, is it really necessary to have a guy in the traffic helicopter? This ain't New York or Los Angeles. The same intersections are clogged every day at the same time; only the accident locations are different. And hardly anyone in these parts will make a route change to avoid a wreck — most of the time, I think they actually want to see it.

  • The KOMA News Web site is indistinguishable from your average fifth-grader's Tripod or Geocities page. I'm not saying you should tart it up with Clear Channel-styled bombast, but this is just hideous.

That's the news, as Dennis Miller would say, and I am outta here.

Posted at 12:10 PM to Overmodulation