Clear Channel Donates WDTW Detroit To MMTC

1310 WDTW Detroit Clear Channel MMTC Tony Trupiano Stephanie Miller Ed Schulz Update 12/14: reports that WDTW will end is current format and turn off its transmitter on December 31. The station’s current six tower array will be dismantled afterwards, so whomever acquires the station from the MMTC will need to find a new tower location before returning the station to the air.

Original Report 12/11: Clear Channel has agreed to donate Liberal Talk “AM 1310” WDTW Detroit to the Minority Media & Telecom Council.

The MMTC, which acts as a non-profit broker to secure training and ownership for female and minority owners, will turn around and sell or lease the station to such a buyer. Clear Channel previously donated a few other stations to MMTC in 2010 including 690 KFXN Minneapolis.

WDTW currently programs a Liberal Talk format that registered a 0.3 share in the most recent PPM monthly. It operates with a highly directional (and possibly expensive to maintain?) 5kW signal that uses 2 towers during the day and 6 towers at night.

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  1. bill stancliff says

    Very suspicious move. Bain Capital is attempting to silence Liberal talk in a huge martket.

    1. Lance Venta says

      NO. NO. NO.

      There is NO political conspiracy here. The station had a 0.3 rating. NOBODY was listening. If there was such a conspiracy against Liberal Talk, than way did Clear Channel drop Conservative Talk from similarly struggling stations in Boston and Atlanta in the past couple months? It’s business, nothing else.

  2. bill stancliff says

    Hey lance..I don’t believe that rating for one second. If they indeed did drop conservative talk, it’s because there are plenty of other stations (that thet undoubtably own) running rightie talk in those markets. There is Nothing to balance the Bain/right wing lies in Detrit market.

    1. Lance Venta says

      Believe what you want, but that’s the fact. It’s the actual rating for the station as surveyed by Arbitron.

      Here’s the secret truth. Most liberal audiences don’t listen to political talk the same way conservatives do. In Detroit, they are more likely to listen to All-News WWJ or NPR affiliates like WUOM and WDET. Part of that has to do with demographics. Most conservative talk listeners are fairly old and male. Liberal talk audiences are more diverse demographically.

    2. Nathan Obral (@myronfalwell) says

      Outside of WJR (if you don’t include afternoon host Mitch Albom) and little-listened to WDTK/1400, there is no other presence for conservative talk in the Detroit market. I won’t count WXYT/1270, which is set to flip **from** conservative talk to CBS Sports Radio in January.

      I would not be shocked, IMO, to see WDTW be sold off to local interests that want to keep the format alive. Just because it’s being spun off to MMTC means that it’s a death sentence for the format.

      1. Lance Venta says

        Selling off the station isn’t the death sentence. Dismantling the tower site is the death sentence.

        1. Nathan Obral (@myronfalwell) says

          Right. Not that it couldn’t be brought back. But it makes the situation a lot more treacherous.

          If it is successfully sold, I won’t envy the buyer… unless they have deep pockets and enough connections and resources at their disposal.

  3. bill stancliff says

    That’s true, The GOP is old and white. Unfortunately, that’s who is making these decisions about the stattions…coincidental? For anyone who reads this..please note, BAIN CAPITAL OWNS CLEAR CHANNEL. They are not serving the public good on the airwaves!! Right as i type this, 27 people (including children) are dead in another rash of gun violence…Rush Limbaugh is currently talking about how obamacare is going to be expanded to cover all illegal immigrints? What?

    1. Lance Venta says

      Bain owns Clear Channel, Bain DOES NOT operate Clear Channel. BIG DIFFERENCE.

      There is NO right-wing conspiracy afoot. AT ALL. Clear Channel is DONATING the station that began this discussion to a minority non-profit. So they will not be the ones who drop the programming, which invalidates your argument.

      And as mentioned, Conservative Talk is slowly dying as well. Clear Channel itself dropped the format in two markets of similar size to Detroit and has taken it off FM in San Diego. As we reported this week, Boston could soon go from the three conservative talkers it had in August to possibly one. The problem is the content on both ends attracting listeners and more importantly advertisers.

  4. JeremyAndrews says

    So they “donate” a station and dismantle the transmitter site. WDTW-AM is history.

    1. Lance Venta says

      Yup. Tax deduction for donating the license. IF 1310 ever returns to Detroit it’ll likely be running a few hundred watts and be even less of a factor in the market than now.

  5. MattParker says

    Lance, again, I do question your use of the word “conspiracy” in this context. It’s a red herring (in this context, one favored by management and right-wing hosts and programmers).
    A variation on progressive talk targeting Black and Urban audiences might continue (with people like Al Sharpton and Michael Eric Dyson).
    Lance, you and others keep saying progressive talk stations succumb because of ratings of .2 o.3 (although it has been dropped from stations with shares above one or two). Meanwhile, conservative stations with decimal point shares keep on going like the Energizer Bunny. Why is that?

    1. Lance Venta says


      If you saw the amount of comments I get with abusive language that do not get approved with all these “political theories” about how and why these Talk stations are changing format, you’ll understand why I’ve settled on conspiracy in this context. I disagree with it being a red herring as because of hosts and bloggers on both sides of the spectrum pushing those thoughts into the mainstream thinking.

      Please give me some examples of the Conservative stations with minimal shares that keep going. I’m going to many of them are the Salem owned stations that exist in a different plane. They’re not worried about local advertising, but rather to give a national ad sales platform pushing availability in most major markets.

      The rest exist because they’re cheap to operate with syndicated programming. Not different than any of the stations that plug in a Sports network with little to no local programming. These operators are just trying to get what little ad revenue they can out of these AM’s with no other viable formats that they wish to program.

  6. Laurence Glavin says

    One thing about Salem Communications: it’s a publicly-traded company on NASDAQ, so it has a fuduciary responsibility to try to make a reasonable profit for its shareholders. Yet it has kept a stable of SEVERE underperformers on many key stations around the country. Every day it seems that radio-station owners fire and replace broadcasters with disappointing ratings, but Gamblin’ Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Praeger, Hugh Hewitt and Michael Medved continue to draw a paycheck from the Company. At least in Boston, they jettisoned this crew for Spanish-language religion, probably as an LMA.

    1. Lance Venta says

      Who says Salem isn’t doing that? They’re primary moneymakers are the brokered Christian preachers and business talkers which is non-stop revenue. These talkers and the SRN Radio News network are a third revenue source through national ad sales. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be growing as they are taking over other under-performing stations.

      1. johndavis says

        The brokered programming largely subsidizes the political talk programming at Salem. Salem is one of the few operators where spreading their views is as important as making a buck, but they’ve got enough revenue from the brokered shows plus fairly lean local operations and centralized programming resources to pull it off.

        As for WDTW, the real estate is probably worth more than the license, and it doesn’t matter what you put on that dog, you’ll make more money from selling the land. Such is the state of AM radio.

        If you owned a craptacular signal on 1310 or 1230 and you found a way to take a tax write off for the license and sell the real estate, you’d do it too.

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