Progressive Commercial Radio Station Shuts Down

  • Progressive Commercial Radio Station Shuts Down
    RadioForChange, a progressive AM talk-radio and Internet station out of Boulder, CO, posted an announcement–apparently released last week–that the station ceased operations at noon on May 30. The station was operated by Working Assets, best known as a long-distance telephone provider that donates a percentage of profits directly to a variety of progressive causes. RadioForChange went on the air two years ago and scored instant credibility in the progressive media community by landing Laura Flanders as a host, who formerly reported for Fairness and Accuracy in Media’s weekly media news and review program, Counterspin. According to the published statement, “the station has not been able to become a sustainable business either as a traditional broadcaster or as an internet broadcaster,” and has been bought by Colorado Public Radio.

    In the scheme of things RadioForChange was a sort of a grand experiment since the majority of AM talk radio leans to the right or focuses on sports. Most progressive -leaning radio tends to come from non-profit community or college stations, which are also typically on the FM radio dial, and also feature a variety of music programs in addition to talk. Thus this station was unique in both its format and the fact that it tried to be a commercial station. A Daily Camera article quotes a radio consultant who said that, the station “likely suffered because its signal forced it to focus only on the Boulder area, making it tougher to gain listeners and advertisers.” It probably also stands to reason that some of its audience was diluted by Boulder’s community station KGNU which has a much stronger FM signal into the larger Denver metro area.

    I don’t know if the quieting of RadioForChange indicates that progressive or liberal talk radio is not a viable commercial radio format. Personally, I kind of like to think that challenging and interesting radio formats can be viable commercial stations, especially if the stations are run for the value of the programming and to provide a reasonable living to employees, rather than to rake in profits at all costs. It’s too difficult to separate RadioForChange’s circumstances–having a weak signal in a market already decently served by progressive and public radio–from it’s format. Maybe the station would have made a go of it if it had a good signal into Denver or were located in a city without a good community station. At least the station was sold to public rather than commercial radio — although for $1.1 Million!

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