Clear Channel Begins WOR Revamp

710 WOR New York Buckley Clear Channel John Gambling Joan Hamburg David Patterson

Update 1/3: Clear Channel has begun to put its stamp on WOR as we enter the new year with two new lineup additions.

KFI Los Angeles afternoon hosts John Kobylt & Ken Chiampou will begin airing from 9-11pm on WOR. The first hour will be a simulcast of the final hour of their KFI program, followed by an exclusive to New York hour. John & Ken are familiar to the New York market from their time hosting afternoons at “New Jersey 101.5” in the early 1990’s.

Another local addition will be Mark Simone, who will take the 10am to 12pm timeslot. Simone had been hosting a Saturday night show and filling in at Cumulus’ 770 WABC. He is a longtime fixture in New York radio also spending time at 101.9 WPIX-FM and 1130 WNEW among other stations.

WOR has also renewed with Dave Ramsey to continue airing his show from 2-4pm. But have they yet initiated the clauses to pull Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity from WABC and move them to WOR?

The WOR lineup as currently constructed consists of John Gambling 6-10am, Mark Simone 10am-12pm, Joan Hamburg from 12-2pm, Dave Ramsey from 2-4pm, fill-in hosts from 4-6pm, America Now with Andy Dean from 6-9pm, and John & Ken from 9-11pm.

Update 12/20: Clear Channel has closed on its purchase of WOR from Buckley Broadcasting.

As Clear Channel takes over a number of staffers have been told that their employment will not be continued. Those staffers will have their severance picked-up by Buckley. Among those out are former New York Governor David Patterson, who hosted afternoons from 4-6pm, the news department, and syndicated host Dr. Joy Browne. Browne’s show aired on delay on WOR from 10pm to 12am. News has been outsourced to Clear Channel’s Total Traffic Network. Salem Radio Network’s Mike Gallagher, airing from 10am-12pm, Talk Radio Network’s Jerry Doyle from 6-8pm and Cumulus Media Network’s Mike Huckabee which had been airing from 8-10pm have been cancelled as well.

The first pickup from Premiere Radio Networks appears to be America Now with Andy Dean, which is currently airing in its 6pm live clearance. All that currently remain listed on the WOR schedule are John Gambling from 5-10am, Joan Hamburg from 12-2pm, Dave Ramsey from 2-4pm, Health Talk from 12-1am, and Coast To Coast with George Noory from 1-5am.

Update 8/17: The FCC filing shows Clear Channel is paying $30 Million for WOR and its related assets.

Original Report 8/13: Clear Channel has agreed to purchase News/Talk 710 WOR New York from Buckley Broadcasting for an undisclosed price. It will begin operating the station via LMA on Wednesday, August 15 until the sale closes.

The sale gives Clear Channel its first AM in New York to pair with its five FM’s in the market.

“WOR is an iconic New York City brand with a rich history and an exciting future,” said John Hogan, Chairman and CEO of Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. “Clear Channel is excited to add WOR as a powerful, high potential complement to our New York brands. We believe WOR makes our already incredible platform even more interesting for listeners, advertisers, and strategic partners and we look forward to the tremendous potential WOR adds to Clear Channel Media and Entertainment New York.”

“For more than 23 years, Buckley Radio has been the steward of one of the most legendary radio stations in broadcasting history and I would like to sincerely thank all of the wonderful people who devoted their time, energy and efforts over the years to WOR Radio,” said Joseph Bilotta, President & CEO, Buckley Radio. “By passing the baton to Clear Channel Media and Entertainment, WOR listeners, advertisers and employees will gain access to the unparalleled resources of a worldwide, multi-dimensional media and entertainment company. We have had a great run with WOR and could not be more confident that it is poised for another great run as part of the Clear Channel Media and Entertainment team.”

INSTANT INSIGHT: WOR has struggled in recent years with the combination of low ratings and skewing old. There are two directions Clear Channel can go with the station to help revitalize it.

1) The direction most will expect to see is Clear Channel pulling some of their syndicated hosts off of Cumulus’ 770 WABC. Pulling the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity would prop up WOR at WABC’s expense while the rest of the station could be retooled.

2) The other option, but one that could be more beneficial in the long run would be rebuild the station along the lines of KFI Los Angeles. KFI has become a top 3 performer in the market with a lineup that is all local from 5am to 10pm daily outside of Rush Limbaugh. While WOR is currently local in both drive times, WABC runs all national syndication on weekdays. Getting away from a dependency on syndication and differentiating themselves as the only local talk station in the market would do wonders for WOR and give it a viable niche in New York.

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  1. Charles says

    I’d see WOR going for option 2 and — more importantly — go after the New York Yankees radio rights which IIRC expire after this season.

    Getting the Yankees would immediately make WOR relevant again in its own town. Clear Channel’s 5 Manhattan-based FMs would be able to do plenty of Yankee-centered promotion as well.

  2. John Davis says

    WOR is more local than WABC, but is anybody listening?

    KFI does a pretty good job of sounding like Los Angeles. Being local isn’t enough to get ratings. You have to be local and good.

  3. MattParker says

    The difference is KFI stayed local. It’s a lot easier to keep an audience than to create one. It’s also easier to steal a host and his audience than to create one. WOR already has Beck. Grabbing Rush would be very tempting. CC doesn’t own Hannity free and clear, so getting him to move would be tricky.
    In any case, we are talking about AM and the right-wing geezer demo on both stations. No long term prospects for either station.

    1. Charles says

      WOR dropped Glenn Beck in January 2011.

    2. Nathan Obral (@myronfalwell) says

      Well, where the station is run as conservative as the Buckley family had – NTTAWWT – the end result is a staid, boring sound that doesn’t draw anyone below the age of 35. It’s safe to say that in the coming months, WOR will start to sound more aggressive and intense.

      Here’s my guesswork of what might take place.

      * Gambling’s show might become more tightly-formatted (but not become an all-news block) but he’s most likely IMO to remain.
      * Glenn Beck will return, if but for the last two hours.
      * Joan Hamburg, Savage and Dr. Hoffman are probable goners.
      * Huckabee, Mike Gallagher and NBC News (specifically their audio simulcast of “Nightly News”) will be totally gone.
      * Fox News Radio gets an NYC flagship in WOR.
      * WOR’s news department will wind up as a news content “hub” for CC’s co-owned news/talkers in the northeastern US (just like the news departments for WLW/Cincinnati, WTAM/Cleveland and WHAM/Rochester). Expect CC to invest significantly into that area; only it won’t be specifically to defeat WCBS/WINS.
      * Dr. Joy Browne’s show will become a Premiere product as it absorbs the WOR Radio Network and temporarily moves back to a live slot at noon until they can wrest away Rush.
      * David Patterson will likely remain, depending on how long his contract lasts. I doubt that Hannity will move to WOR specifically because of Cumulus’ sales management (and distribution control over the legacy ABC Radio talkers).
      * They might take a flier out on a Steve Malzberg or a Curtis Sliwa, but recycling past hosts just isn’t going to move the needle that much.

      1. Charles says

        John Hogan told the New York Post today that WOR might want to get the Yankees. That would be far more valuable for WOR than Limbaugh, Beck or any right-wing host. Keep in mind that WOR has always seen itself as advertiser-friendly.

        If Clear Channel wanted a station just to showcase Limbaugh, they would have purchased AM 1130 from Bloomberg or AM 1560 from Disney.

        1. Nathan Obral (@myronfalwell) says

          It could be argued that the Yankees were partly behind WABC’s ratings performance throughout the 1990s. The Cleveland Indians have always been a big ratings draw for WTAM, and in some ways have propped up the station while the news/talk format has been in a nationwide PPM decline (election burnout, poorly managed stations like WABC, KABC and WMAL, et al). WLW in Cincinnati has long had the Cincinnati Reds as a source of pride even with their massively successful, all-local “Big One” talk format.

          If CC gets those rights (which would shock me to a point, given the price tag and CC’s long-publicized money issues) that will be a start to make WOR relevant for people under age 55 again. But it’s probably posturing just to shake CBS and ESPN to their core (and you know CBS is bidding against ITSELF for the Yankees or the Mets, with WEPN taking what WFAN can’t/won’t).

          The WOR you and I have known for decades will soon radically change. Not tomorrow, but soon. It’s not going to be a station with a staid, boring presentation. That will mean a massive overhaul to the lineup; obviously keeping pieces like Gambling and Patterson (the latter probably by default) in place. But their current schedule is a total mess.

          When Rush (not if, but WHEN) moves to WOR, that is the biggest name personality you can get. And like it or not, polemic talk is what gets ears… even as the format has been impacted by PPM adjustments this year (and VERY poor performances by mismanaged Cumulus talkers WABC, WMAL and KABC). CC certainly didn’t buy WOR just to continue airing octogenarian Joan Hamburg and Mike Gallagher.

          Maybe CC actually surprises us and replaces Gallagher with a locally-based show. Poach WABC fill-in Joe Crummy or WNYM’s Curtis Sliwa. Import a firebrand like Mike Berry from KTRH, Joe Pagliarulo from WOAI or Doc Thompson from WXYT-A. Or get Andrew Wilkow away from Sirius/XM. There are many possibilities here.

          And don’t be shocked to see the station eventually re-branded as “The Big One, 710 WOR.”

  4. Joseph says

    I expect that WOR-710 will be mostly syndicated fare with the possible exception of morning drive, until/unless CC-owned Premiere Networks launches a morning-drive syndicated talk show.

    Should Premiere launch such a show, it would be cleared on WOR (and perhaps originate there) which would go a long way towards it becoming a national success in terms of ratings, dollars, and cents.

    The mostly-local WOR lineup will very, very soon be mostly history (probably by Labor Day).

  5. Rich M says

    Whatever they do I hope they bring back Steve Malzberg.

  6. Nathan Obral (@myronfalwell) says

    Today’s actions… woah. WOR is headed for a very swift makeover. That Huckabee has already been canceled is probably the worst kept secret. Only question now is, how long will Joan Hamburg last – or is she merely keeping the seat warm for Rush?

  7. Kevin says

    Since Clear Channel has closed on the station, could there be a WOR-FM coming in the next year to simulcast the AM broadcast?

    Clear Channel would be able to bring in Beck, and pull Limbaugh and Hannity from WABC, and still make a run at the Yankees.

    1. Lance Venta says

      If that were the case, they wouldn’t need to buy 710. They could’ve just launched an FM Talker.

  8. Kevin says

    I forgot to add, make a run at the Yankees and other local host like Malzberg.

    1. Nathan Obral (@myronfalwell) says

      If WOR really entered into bidding for the Yankees, it would only serve no more purpose than to drive the rights fee even higher for CBS Radio or ESPN (who will basically bid against each other).

      While having PBP rights to a major team would help WOR in trying to have some more mass appeal, I don’t think they will be able to afford it. Maybe I’m wrong.

      BTW, former congressman J.D. Hayworth and WPHT’s Dom Girodano were taking turns filling in on WOR’s currently vacant midday and afternoon slots, respectively. For no other purpose than to keep the seats warm for the obvious soon-to-be-arrivals from Premiere…

  9. Kevin says

    I still think they could still flip an FM station to simulcast WOR-AM. If Clear Channel gets a their nationwide talk hosts in their line up, and bring in other local hosts.

    If they also get the Yankees, they could have the Yankees, which would mean their pregame, full game, and post game on the AM and anyone that wants to hear the news/talk format could listen to it on the FM side.

    1. Lance Venta says

      Not going to happen regardless of where the Yankees go.

      First off, the reason ESPN and WFAN added FM’s were to appease the Mets and Yankees along with the other local sports franchises. That’s where those teams want to be.

      Secondly, Clear Channel could easily started a new talker on FM if they were so inclined. Why spend the $30 Million for a signal that you’re going to gut and then render useless by simulcasting on FM. It makes no sense financially, and that’s the driver behind all programming moves.

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