The Washington Post penned an article yesterday on its "Washington Post Radio," a partnership with Bonneville in DC that uses rim-shotter WTWP-FM out of Warrenton, VA and 1500 AM in DC.
"Faced with continuing financial losses and stubbornly low ratings for Washington Post Radio, Bonneville International Corp. and The Washington Post are reassessing programming on the station, which the two companies launched 14 months ago. WTWP (107.7 FM, 1500 AM) primarily airs news and talk programs, much of it featuring reporters and editors from The Post. The newspaper-on-the-radio format is unique in the radio industry.
WTWP has struggled to attract listeners since its inception. Although its ratings have begun to improve, the station has never exceeded a 1% share of the local radio audience in any of the quarterly audience surveys conducted by Arbitron Inc.
The station continues to lose money…Executives of The Post and Bonneville said the station's business situation is prompting a reappraisal.
"Are we looking at ratings that are really disappointing and a broadcast marketplace that is tougher than any of us hoped for? Yes," said Tina Gulland, The Post's director of radio and TV projects. "Are we looking at how we can address that? We certainly are."
On Monday, Bonneville laid off five WTWP employees, including two producers and an associate producer.
The station's most successful show has been its morning talk program hosted by Tony Kornheiser, the veteran Post sports columnist…Kornheiser has become so valuable to the station, executives said, that his show will continue, with his name, even after he leaves it at the end of this month…Bonneville is also considering using syndicated talk programming at other hours of the day, marking a potential retreat from the station's original concept.
Among the programs that Bonneville is considering is a show hosted by conservative Glenn Beck. However, both Bonneville and The Post must agree on all programming decisions.
The Post makes its journalists available to the station under a three-year contract with Bonneville; the contract has two years remaining. In April, the station [ranked] No. 20 among local stations."
RBR observation: It's really tough for Bonneville, because no matter how you cut it, WTWP is competing with its local cash cow All-News WTOP-FM. That's the biggest reason this station is foundering. WTOP owns this market, largely because of the traffic on the 8's (The traffic in the DC metro area is absolutely maddening – makes LA look like a driver's paradise). Also, the 107.7 FM frequency doesn't cover the market like WTOP. Our suggestion: turn 107.7 to Hispanic or Indie Rock like "Indie 103.1" in LA and keep WTWP on AM 1500.