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How low can you go? Meet Clear Channel’s KPOJ sports

Arbitron Portable People Meter ratings for December are in, and progressive talk radio lovers in Portland, Oregon are getting a bit of wry satisfaction from the results. KPOJ, recently switched by its owner Clear Channel from blue state talk to sports, now has an Average Quarter Hour (AQH) share almost as far down the well as it goes.

Back in the talk radio days POJ clocked in at around 0.9. That was in early 2011. It hovered around 0.8 and 1.0 in mid-to-late 2012.


Former KPOJ host Carl Wolfson (

But now? Wait for it: 0.2 in December. That means KPOJ comes in second to last in the market in average quarter hour ratings. AQH is the number of folks listening to a particular radio station for a minimum of five minutes in any discrete 15 minute period. You get the share by dividing that station’s AQH by the whole market’s cumulative AQH, and multiplying that number by 100.

A conservative station with the call letters KUFO now has a higher share than KPOJ. The only signal with a lower rating is KKOV-AM, which specializes in Barbara Streisand, Bette Midler, and Frank Sinatra tunes.

Why did this happen? The sad-but-inevitable version of talk KPOJ’s demise can be found at Willamette Week. The “real cause” of KPOJ’s death, the article explains: “The changing face of Portland radio, a communications company at the mercy of casino capitalists, and a sympathetic audience that—despite progressive talk’s potential appeal—simply tuned in elsewhere” (here’s more on that theory).

The story quotes Clear Channel marketing executive Robert Dove: “At the end of the day, the station just wasn’t performing. It had a loyal, small-core following that just wasn’t enough.”

Just a “business decision,” it was. The phrase always assumes the inherent rationality of such transactions. So is 0.2 “enough”? It could be that Clear Channel expected this and doesn’t care. After all, there are two other sports stations in the area. And the new operation looks so automated that you’d never guess the radio giant once let stand up comedian Carl Wolfson host three hour morning shows across the work week.

Wolfson is going to be on Portland community station KBOO on Wednesday. Maybe he’ll react to the numbers.

Meanwhile they’re grinning bitter grins over at the Save KPOJ Facebook page.

“They should have stuck with their ‘loyal, small-core following’ for progressive talk,” one post declares. Alas, radio listeners don’t get to tell Clear Channel what to do.


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2 Responses to How low can you go? Meet Clear Channel’s KPOJ sports

  1. Matt January 9, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    Clear Channel couldn’t care less about radio. It’s simply margin. If a .2 share with between zero and none staff can deliver better bottom line numbers than station full of expensive humans puling a .8 to 1.0 share – then 0.2 it is.

    I just wish Clear Channel would go ply their trade using a resource I don’t care about.

  2. Charles Letherwood February 7, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    Don’t know what he said on KBOO, but if you want to keep up with Carl Wolfson you may be interested in this interview we did with him for our newsletter this month…

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