Preparing for Bongino

Dan Bongino’s much anticipated run at overtaking the memory of Rush Limbaugh is scheduled to begin on May 24th.  Bongino has been doing a 1-hour podcast in the late evening, so this is a big change for him.

Dan Bongino was recently diagnosed with lymphoma, and there is some residue of a growth in his lungs. He has been straightforward about this, but you have to figure  program directors will have to factor that into their decision.

iHeartRadio has made it clear they intend to continue the Rush Limbaugh program indefinitely with various hosts playing old clips from Rush, which have been carefully archived and cataloged. I’m comfident that was always the case as Rush would frequently play clips of himself from the “I told you so” collection.

I just completed a review of every station that ever carried Rush Limbaugh that I was aware of. A lot of Rush affiliates are in the Midwest and either have no website or don’t stream, but I don’t doubt that he had around 500 affiliates.

The Bongino show will be syndicated by Westwood One, which is owned by Cumulus media. Cumulus has already said they are going to carry Bongino on their big market AM stations, but they’ve been quiet about their smaller stations.

Other than Cumulus, I only found one Rush affiliate who has announced ahead of time that they plan to carry Bongino.  Markley van Camp and Robbins have already grabbed at least 10 affiliates.  Grace Curley has a handful in New England, Cox is hoping RedState’s Erick Erickson will make a fool of himself…

There is not nearly enough data to show current listening patterns, but here it is at least as a starting point.  As of today, I have 198 current affiliates for Rush, 190 of which carry the entire three hour show live.  Note that these statistics go back 90 days, which was before Rush Limbaugh died.


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The bigger oil pipeline story


Effective today, May 13th, 2021, the Democratic governor of the state of Michigan has ordered the Enbridge pipeline to shut down the Line 5 pipeline that runs underneath the straits of Mackinac.  Enbridge is refusing to comply with the order.

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Bob & Sheri have a new home

Radio One does not broadcast to white people, so it is no surprise they have booted Bob and Sheri from the lunch counter at WLNK-FM in Charlotte NC.

Radio One acquired  WLNK-FM and WBT-AM in Charlotte from Entercom in a swap  during November 2020, and right away indicated Radio One would not renew the Bob & Sheri contract at the end of April.  WLNK-FM was their flagship station.

Beasley had acquired the CBS cluster that dominated Charlotte and one of their not-so-great stations is where the show is going to land.  Bob and Sheri have been on the air for 27 years, and accumulated 70 affiliates around the country.  An entire generation of people in Charlotte have grown up listening to this show.

Expect riots.

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2021: what radio looks like today

As an experiment, I have changed the order in which different categories of radio stations appear, based on their number of active stations. This list is suppressing simulcasts, otherwise religious would be at the top of the list by far

The commercial radio industry outlets have yet another online survey of self selected responders announcing that there is no problem with radio and everything’s fine. What’s missing from the survey is how much of the radio listening is NPR and K-Love.

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Today at the FEMA “extermination” camp

Nothing to fear

Friday, the local Republican pseudo-newspaper in Greensboro NC the mentioned that the “FEMA mass vaccination site” again has the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is the one that I wanted to get. As you know, it was temporarily pulled back because of one in a million doses possibly causing blood clots, almost all of which happened in women. Birth control pills are known to cause blood clots.

I saw a couple videos, and went to the website where you make an appointment, which I completed. I already knew that very few people in Greensboro are getting the vaccine. I’m not sure why, but I think Louis Farrakhan scaring people that vaccines are used to transmit AIDS to kill black people might be a factor.

So I found that every single time period on Saturday (the next day) had available appointments. So I signed up for 3:00 p.m. on Saturday (today). I’ll share with you my experience for whatever value it has.

This Mass vaccination center was set up by Joe Biden and his minions to target underserved minority communities and make vaccine distribution “fair”. The appointment form wanted to know my race and my Hispanic status. I entered truthfully. They made the point that there would be no requirement to show an ID to get the vaccine. The vaccine would be free and no requirement to bill your insurance company, which in my case would be Medicare.

The plan was to keep the center open for 8 weeks, and vaccinate 3,000 doses per day, 6 days a week. So in theory it had the capability of vaccinating 1,500x6x8 people with two doses, or 72,000 people. It opened in early March and was then extended until the end of May.

Guilford County has a population of about 527,000 people, of which 290,000 live in Greensboro. To date, there have been 45,000 confirmed cases, 43,000 recoveries, 630 deaths, 43 people currently hospitalized. The ratio of people who contract covid and die from covid is around 1.5%, which is very consistent across all of the world where adequate hospitals exist.

Guilford County is roughly 2/3 White, and 1/3 black. Interestingly about equal number of people have tested positive. That could be because of more outreach to the black underserved community to test people. Also, a large portion of the population here is college students, which probably distorts some statistics.

Cone Hospital and pharmacies are also administering the doses. For a couple weeks, Cone hospital has been signaling that nobody is waiting in line. As of today, roughly 50,000 people have received either both doses of the two dose vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Keep in mind there is several week delay before you declared fully vaccinated.

So only about 10% of the county are vaccinated, while in the state of North Carolina vaccination stands at 29%. Keep in mind that children 16 years or younger cannot be vaccinated currently. I am assuming the county’s statistics include those done by pharmacies, but that may be incorrect. So that’s the background, let’s get to the visit.

I chose to do it this way because of two specific reasons. The first was that they had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The second is that I did not have to get out of the car. I have long believed the most dangerous place currently to be is inside a healthcare facility.

The FEMA site is in the large parking lot of the major shopping mall in Greensboro. I arrived about 15 minutes ahead of time, because that’s the kind of guy I am. More than anything the layout reminded me of the parking lot at Disney World, with cones directing you where you needed to go.

So I arrive at the first person who has the tablet with registration. Shockingly, my appointment that was confirmed by text and email was not in their system. They probably never anticipated that someone would make an appointment and be able to show up the next day. She specifically said “you’re not in the spreadsheet”. My guess is I registered after they extracted the spreadsheet for the next day.

So I answered the questions I already did in the online registration and they did a very cursory check. They did check my temperature. So much of this is nonsense. Everyone I was going to come in contact with either are vaccinated or have recovered. If I actively had covid, that’s irrelevant other than they would be wasting a vaccine. My temperature must have been okay, so I moved forward. I was asked if I had a mask and I showed my unopened box and said since they had been vaccinated or recovered there was absolutely no reason I needed to be wearing a mask.

The next place asked me several of the same questions again. The woman talking to me asked if there is any chance I was pregnant or breastfeeding. As a 65 year old man, I was tempted to say yes. These days you can never be sure. I sort of smirked but didn’t make an issue. I figured she’s either joking or bored or had no discretion to not ask the question. Twice I agreed that I understood there was a small chance of a blood clot and I was willing to take that risk.

Having made it that far, we were to the point of getting the shot, however apparently they didn’t actually have the vaccine there. It probably took 10 minutes for them to retrieve it from wherever it was, probably at the clinic inside the mall. This wasn’t a problem because there was nobody behind me for the entire time, and only one car in front of me. 90% of the people were just sitting around and had nothing to do.

So a woman in a military outfit injected me. I have absolutely no idea what her training is. I asked her if she was with the national guard, and she volunteered that – no she was in the Air Force. I suggested that what she was doing here was more useful than bombing people in other countries. Heh.

Having received the shot, I was directed to pull forward to a holding area where a nurse would monitor my well-being for 15 minutes. I already knew this from the video explaining the process. That suggested that the person who gave me the shot was not a nurse. After 8 minutes, the nurse walked by and said how you doing, and I said I’m fine and she let me go.

While I was waiting, the passenger in the car in front of me decided to get out of the car. She was in desperate need of smoking a cigarette. She looked very underweight and in bad health. I thought about suggesting to the nurse that they be reminded that the vaccine doesn’t kick in for at least 3 weeks, and they shouldn’t be hopping out of the car and standing around. But since I think most of this is a foolish exercise, I didn’t see any upside to pointing this out.

My guesstimate is they are maybe getting 300 people a day, maybe even less. The governor has threatened that he’s not going to repeal his statewide mask mandate until June 1st and only if 2/3 of the (16+) population is vaccinated with at least one dose. Yesterday, he actually backed away. He knows the Republican will challenge him in court if he keeps extending his 60 day max emergency executive order. Republicans control the Legislature and they are not going to give him further “temporary” emergency powers.

So it’s been 8 hours, and I’ve not developed any symptoms yet. Hypothetically, I have wondered what would happen if the vaccine was actually a placebo and this was entirely fraudulent. For now, I’m assuming they’re telling us the truth.

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HD Radio

HD radio is now available in almost all new vehicles sold in the United States. It was not always that way.

Originally HD Radio was a joint venture primarily funded by CBS Radio and Clear Channel radio, and carried a patent royalty based on the revenue of the radio station. Not only was that going to discourage any other radio owners from using the technology, the reality is nobody wanted it. With a dwindling “over the air” radio audience, the last thing you want to do is further segment your listener base. With very few listeners, you could not afford original programming, and without original programming you can’t attract new listeners. Presets in cars are the way most people find their stations, except when traveling or in rental cars. Very few people just randomly press the SEEK button.

HD Radio promotes itself as free competition to SiriusXM, which has in excess of 20 million paying customers. When your business model is not based on selling advertising, it doesn’t really matter how many channels you have. All that matters is subscribers don’t cancel. Amazon wiping out large parts of brick and mortar retail also makes it harder for local radio to get advertising revenue.

Eventually, the original HD radio patent expired, and the intellectual property rights were sold to another party who has been much more aggressive at getting radios into new vehicles. SiriusXM paid vehicle makers a significant amount of the subscriber revenue to the vehicle manufacturer to achieve critical mass – where now people want a SiriusXM Radio when they choose a new vehicle.

Originally, the HD Radio website was organized in a way that allowed me to gather information about the HD channels. One would have thought they would have liked getting exposure – to get the public familiar with the technology, but that never happened. Eventually they changed the website to prevent me from scraping the data. It probably was not intentional, they just didn’t care.

I finally got around to scraping their website this week using a different technique. It’s pretty labor intensive and the most important information is no longer there – the website for the HD channel, if any, and a streaming link.

Initially, the newly discovered HD 2/3/4 channels will have a format of “unknown format”. Many of them have unique formats. Many are simulcasts of AM stations feeding an FM Translator.

This has unearthed a long-standing problem that I don’t have a good solution for yet. If an FM radio station does not transmit in HD, the stream is named “KXYZ FM”. If I find that the station is now HD capable, the stream name becomes KXYZ FM/HD”. Because the stream name is unique, that means I can wind up with two streams for the base station (HD1). When a new FM radio station shows up, I have no way of knowing if it uses HD radio technology.

The same applies to AM radio stations, although HD capable AM stations are not common. There is one station that has gone full time to “AM digital only”, meaning that your normal radio (car or house) can no longer hear the station, but an HD capable radio will hear the AM with the quality of FM, but only in the local area. Digital AM is not going to work for long distance listening, usually referred to as DXing. There currently is no FCC mandate for new radios to be compatible with HD radio.

I expect the FCC to encourage all-digital AM in the future. Since almost every station is available over the internet, the value of being able to listen at night to a radio station 500 miles away is not very significant, other than to hobbyists – or the event the internet goes down someday. But if that happened, the radio station would have nothing to play. What would News talk Radio do without the Drudge report?

After looking over what I just wrote, and reviewing their website, I believe the solution is to not designate streams as HD radio compatible. Since people streaming are already using digital, that is an irrelevant distinction.

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Roy Masters dead at 92

Roy Masters has been a big influence on “Conservative” talk radio for at least the last 30 years, but it’s possible you don’t know anything about him.

Roy Masters ran an organization called the Foundation for Human Understanding, that had a long running battle with the IRS over whether FHU was or was not a religion. Roy Masters hosted a show called Advice Line that ran in the middle of the night, dispensing out what many considered to be unconventional advice. Roy Masters claimed that he could hypnotize people just using his voice.

Talk Radio Network was owned by FHU and operated by his son Mark Masters. There was a long list of hosts syndicated by TRN. Several left on unpleasant terms, the most visible being Michael Savage, who had a bitter expensive court battle to win his freedom. Art Bell originally was syndicated by TRN. He was given to Clear Channel during a planned acquisition that ultimately did not work out. Phil Hendrie, Jerry Doyle, Monica Crowley and Laura Ingraham all spent time at TRN.

Masters decided to fight a legal battle with Dial Global / Westwood One over their representation of TRN shows, which competed with some Dial Global and Westwood One shows. WW1 was acquired by Cumulus Media, who then inherited the legal battle. When Cumulus Media went into bankruptcy, the lawsuit ended. In the end, TRN was just Roy Masters doing his Advice Line show repeated several times a day.

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A first for Streaming Radio Guide

For the first time in almost 20 years, today I called a radio station. As I mentioned elsewhere, I don’t really want to socialize with people in the radio business, especially the big guys.

Erick Erickson is one of the people who is hoping to fill the void left by Rush Limbaugh. WSB-AM in Atlanta took their evening talk host and pushed him into the Rush Limbaugh time slot after they dropped Rush’s show.

Erick Erickson was the CEO of A few years ago, he sold Red State to Salem Radio. Eric is a lawyer and had served on the Macon Georgia city council, but apparently had a poor attendance record.

I don’t think he will be successful in attracting Rush’s audience. He’s extremely aggressive toward Republicans for not being conservative enough. He has called Donald Trump a racist and a fascist. Erick seems to think that Donald Trump should go to jail because of his phone call to Georgia after the election. For those paying attention, the news accounts have been retracted because they were hearsay, not what was actually on the recording. Erick is a political consultant and has appeared on CNN. This couldn’t be more different than Rush Limbaugh.

So I called one of his affiliates (WDDQ-FM in Valdosta Georgia) to confirm that his show is being carried. It took the pleasant woman who answered the phone 10 minutes to figure out that – yes they are carrying the show, from 9:00 p.m. till midnight Georgia time.

I don’t actually know if this show is going to be live anywhere. Each affiliate seems to have it at a different time of the day.

For what it is worth, I don’t think Dan Bongino is going to be successful either for many of the same reasons. While liberals tried to label Rush as a “shock jock”, he was nothing of the kind. In the 30 years he was on the air, I think he only asked people to call their congressman once, and the number of times he talked to a politician on the air you could count on one hand. He stayed away from subjects like abortion unless it happened to be in the current day’s news, like a Supreme Court decision. While Rush would tell you he was a Christian, his political beliefs were not rooted in religion, which he knew was a very divisive thing.

Rush knew that being outrageous or too activist would scare away advertisers. In the end that’s what matters more than the number of people who are listening. I’m going to predict right now that you will still be listening to Rush Limbaugh 10 years from now.

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Curtis Sliwa leaving WABC-AM in New York City

The founder of the guardian angels has decided he is going to run for mayor of New York City as a Republican. That means he’s got to stop being on the radio, at least temporarily. Curtis is 67 years old, so this might be his last time in the ring.

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Will Alex Jones inherit the Rush Limbaugh legacy?

The Infowars broadcast is live from 12 noon for 3:00 PM eastern time. As I’ve been reviewing radio stations the past few days, not only is Alex Jones not going away, he has picked up new affiliates among the independent radio stations.

Because I was paying attention, I was aware of the close relationship between Donald Trump, Roger Stone and Alex Jones in 2016. Almost every day Roger Stone was communicating information directly from the Trump campaign to Alex. Donald Trump even appeared on the Alex Jones show and made it clear that he was a long time listener to Alex Jones.

If Donald Trump is serious about running in 2024, or just getting payback on the Democrats, Alex Jones is likely to be a player.

A lot of the listeners to conservative radio seem to believe that Dan Bongino is the heir apparent to Rush Limbaugh, primarily based on a press release from Westwood One. I think his success is not guaranteed. Here is why:

  • Despite the rants from the left, Rush Limbaugh and his audience were pretty moderate.
  • Dan Bongino has no experience doing live radio other than occasional fillin. He has been doing a 1 hour podcast
  • Waiting until late May to launch might miss the window of opportunity
  • Advertisers may be scared of him – in the end, that drives the decisions
  • IHeart is not going to pick up his show
  • Cumulus / Westwood One has no backbone when it comes to controversy
  • With the exception of Mark Levin, who they inherited from ABC radio, Westwood One has been increasingly ineffective in syndication beyond the stations owned by Cumulus

Bongino has appeared on Infowars with Alex Jones. They largely believe the same things.

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