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Michael Smerconish Leaves Syndication For SiriusXM

Michael Smerconish 1210 WPHT Philadelphia SiriusXM Sirius XM POTUS P.O.T.U.S.Syndicated host Michael Smerconish, based at CBS’ 1210 WPHT Philadelphia will depart terrestrial radio for satellite on Monday, April 15.

The program will air on SiriusXM’s “POTUS” (Channel 124) Political Talk channel in the 9am to 12pm Eastern time slot.

In the AP story announcing the move, Smerconish has some fairly harsh words regarding the state of political talk on broadcast radio.

The only people that I meet for whom the issues are hard left or hard right, the only people who see the world through ideological glasses, are those who have a microphone in front of them

Smerconish, who had been syndicated by Dial Global since 2009, has been heard on WPHT for over a decade. He hosted mornings until the addition of his syndicated show moved him to afternoons and later a live

Profile photo of Lance Venta
Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

9 Comments

  1. Profile photo of MattParker


    Big question is: What’s happening to 1210 without Smerconish?

    Will the “local-live” (supposedly Smerconish counts as local-live) continue without him?

    Is Smerconish jumping ship because he knows CBS plans to over-haul 1210. His criticisms of right-wing talk are valid but don’t sound like the real reason. Supposedly, he’s been able to do his own thing but his Philly numbers haven’t set the world on fire and Dial Global hasn’t had stations beating down the door to sign him. Maybe it’s sour grapes that the audience seems to have followed Rush, Beck and Hannity from 1210 to 106.9. He’s a lawyer and this sounds like a lawyer’s spin.

    Now we are back to speculating on what’s next for the historic station previously known as WCAU, the station that moved Bill Paley to get out of the cigar business and into radio.
    – Syndicated talk left overs?
    – Oldies (again)?
    – Sell it off?
    – Bloomberg?
    – Comedy?
    – Standards?


  2. It didn’t help Smerconish that Cumulus launched their own in-house product with Mike Huckabee last year in the same time period. Whatever major affils Smerconish had were likely taken away as a result.

    As for 1210… who knows at this point. There really isn’t any other option out there that would do better than the current format. Standards would be surprising, but is totally unsellable. Leasing to Bloomburg (under the guise that they heavily cross-promote with KYW, and vice versa) is the only other option. I just can’t see CBS selling off a 50kW AM signal. 610, however, could be unloaded, with CBS Sports Radio scooting onto 1210.

    Maybe the live/local approach could have worked if they retained Rush, but we’ll never know now. Unless CBS actually buys WWIQ and merges it into WPHT, giving Merlin some badly needed cash flow and fixing 1210’s ratings crisis at the same time… not to mention giving KYW an FM simulcast…


  3. I am sorry to see Smerconish leave 1210,,,,,never really got over loosing him in the 6AM slot. It was fun, fast moving and we learned something more than the classic Stepford Talk Host Assignments. Now it’s the same fatiguing Angry Rant all morning long, with a few bobble headed Uh’huh’s for good measure. For the listener wanting an original thought, 1210 is hardly the station.

    Instead Management has decided to become a single topic (It’s Michelle and Barack’s fault) Station,,,,by a group of Rush/Beck/Hannity Mutual Admiration Society Wanna Be’s. It’s a shame.

    TC, Smerconish and Greg got along, had fun and had topics people were interested in learning.

  4. Profile photo of MattParker


    CBS could buy one FM using it for talk or to move KYW. If they sold 1210, then they could buy a second FM and operate both news and talk formats on FM.
    Probably their best move would be to buy 106.9 from Merlin (possibly for less than Merlin paid when it beat CBS in the bidding for the station) and get back their former syndicated hosts. Then look to buy a second FM for KYW and sell off 1210.
    Even though WIP’s ERP is less, their lower frequency more than makes up for it. 610 comes in clearly where 1210 does not.


    • (1) Why should CBS buy a station to “get back their former syndicated hosts”? Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh = Right-Wing Radio. Difficult to sell to advertisers, especially in the Northeast.

      (2) WPHT is 50,000 watts, non-directional. “CBS Sports Radio 610” is 5,000 watts, directional. In fact, WPHT has a clear signal in Trenton and Wilmington where AM 610 does not.

      (3) Phillies baseball and Temple University sports help keep WPHT afloat. Right-Wing Radio will not.


      • 1. Eliminate the competition. Plus I would use the 106.9 signal to relay KYW and offer the all-news format increased exposure in office buildings and the like. That would be more valuable to CBS than just merging WWIQ into an AM/FM simulcast with 1210.

        Plus, Merlin Media is still in a world of hurt after their attempt at “FM News” in New York and Chicago failed in spectacular fashion. Their private equity underwriters could use some cash flow, just like when they unloaded the former WRXP/WEMP for a pittance to CBS so WFAN could move to FM.

        I would ONLY merge WWIQ into WPHT just to get the rights to Rush back (filling the gaping hole left by Smerconish). Lionel and Al Gardner can also be integrated into the 1210 format, likely as afternoon hosts. Everyone else… meh. I’ll pass.

        2. Even with WPHT being a 50kW clear channel signal, they are at the middle of the dial. Lower dial position + higher power = greater signal coverage. It’s why WLW in Cincinnati covers virtually the entire state of Ohio by being on 700, but WTAM – a fellow 50kW clear channel – has coverage issues in the far reaches of the Cleveland metro, and is but a rumor south of Columbus.

        For that same reason, even though 610 is just a 5kW signal, it has better coverage throughout the **immediate** Philly metro than 1210 does. (Note that KYW uses a directional signal.)

        3. Well, look at WLW. They are the flagship of the Reds (and share the Bengals flagship with WEBN-FM and WCKY-AM) and have an 24/7 local talk lineup (mostly conservative based, with an all-news block in mornings and sports-centric in the evenings).

        But unlike WPHT, WLW is in the top 5 in the Cincinnati books (was still #1 until the nationwide post-election ratings meltdown) while WPHT flounders. The difference is, WLW’s hosts are all compelling and provocative. Besides Smerconish and Don Giardono, is there any talent at WPHT that stands out? (Sid Mark being the exception…)

        • Profile photo of Lance Venta


          Its not fair to compare WLW and WPHT for two big reasons.

          1) KYW. WLW serves the role in the Cincinnati market that KYW serves in Philadelphia as the go-to news source.

          2) WPHT’s lack of heritage. If we were talking about 1210 WCAU this would be a different story, but from the time 1210 went through its series of failed formats Oldies WOGL, Sports WGMP, the early Talk resuscitation as WPTS it lost all of its heritage. The only reason WPHT once again became even a factor in the market was the demise of 96.5 WWDB in 2000 handing the Talk audience back to CBS.

          The fairer comparison would be to 550 WKRC, which went through similar 1990’s rebrands as WCKY and WLWA before returning to the WKRC name and solidifying itself as the Conservative Talk sister of WLW.


  5. Actually, February’s numbers show WWIQ with a 2.5 share and WPHT with a 2.1 share. Not bad for a station that is only a few months old. I guess right-wing talk works after all.

    My issue is that Smerconish was key in restructuring WPHT – and in turn, dumping Linbaugh, et al. Then, when the station’s ratings plummet, he leaves terrestrial radio. Nice guy.

    • Profile photo of MattParker


      Works after all? Beck, Hannity and Rush are shows that have been heard in this market for years. Overall share numbers are meaningless, which is why Arbitron gives them away. What are the demos (old, downmarket)? What are billings (weak)?

      But even if you want to talk share numbers, those current AQH shares are pathetic compared to WWDB and to WCAU before either station was killed off by management.

      The only think right wing talk works at is driving away listeners and advertisers.

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