"Freedom is dying from the acute onset of apathy.”
— Bradd Davidson
I am not sure what all of the issues are concerning Gregg Henson's demise on WOWO's 3-6 p.m. time slot. I would hope that it is all not as simple as the “Humbarger” incident.
The margins from running a radio station in a market the size of Fort Wayne are not stellar, and the attempts made by Henson (and the management of Federated Media) to expand the listening base to the “local local local” radio show are, or were, well-intended.
The problems began when the politics and social approaches of the host were less than accepted by the listening populace. Kind of like getting a new wallet. It holds all your stuff, but when you put it in your back pocket, it just does not feel right.
I listen to WOWO frequently and have contributed to all of the content, but in all the time I have listened, nobody, neither the callers nor the hosts of the shows, have changed my mind about anything. They have gotten me to think and consider but ultimately have only gotten me to be more resolved in my original thought. Here in “fly-over country” people are pretty steadfast in their beliefs, and whether they are liberal or conservative it takes a lot of effort to change one's mind.
Nobody but a newspaper reporter/editor would know that more clearly. A commentator on the evening news said it best when talking about the differences between a newspaper and the broadcast media. Howard K. Smith asked his father, “Why do you keep reading the newspaper when you have so much broadcast media to provide you the news?”
His father responded, “When I read the newspaper, I am my own editor. If I begin to read an article that annoys or does not interest me, I stop reading and move on. If I read something that interests me then I both get more in-depth information and I can make it a point to follow that story so to continue and educate myself, as best I can, from the information provided me by the reporter. Radio and television do not offer me that luxury.”
Please forgive me, the quotes I provided are from my best memory of what Smith telecast one evening some 30-plus years ago, but it is the essence of the story that matters here. For WOWO and Henson, it was an experiment that was ill-timed at best. Talk radio is highly charged for the upcoming 2012 elections, and trying to take what was once a more clearly defined political segment of the local programming time to something more the likes of dealing with social issues (which Henson professed to avoid but delved into constantly) leaves the listener at odds.
Let's not forget that Pat White was summarily terminated after some number of years to be replaced in favor of what WOWO said was “programming more focused on politics, which Pat White was not willing to do.” I am not sure that was the real story as internal politics of radio stations are the likes of what goes on in the White House. But I listened to White pretty regularly, and while he had his annoyances, he did, indeed, delve into national and local politics when they mattered and was able to keep a “local local local” audience at hand.
He had local politicians on his program quite frequently, so the reason for removing White did not hold water. Thankfully, he has landed new digs, and I listen to him as time/interest permits.
I would be remiss to not say that Pat Miller did a fine job of covering politics. He maintained that conservative standpoint that is the base within the listening area of WOWO. Where Miller got off track was bringing personal religion/beliefs into the program on a too-frequent basis. There is no better way of starting a fight than to bring up politics or religion in the presence of friends.
Where religion is concerned, you lose even when you win. Let's all be honest about this whole thing. It all comes down to what generates a share of the listeners, which converts directly into the value of advertising. Federated Media is in business to make money, and if the time slots are not getting listeners, then the slots are rearranged.
If Dan Turkette, and his aliases (accomplices), can bring on enough pressure to Federated Media to make a change in the programming of WOWO, then perhaps they should both consider making a purchase offer. Twenty-twenty hindsight is usually perfect. It is just that simple, yet just that complicated, and Henson was “the new wallet” that very few were willing to get a “fit” for.