The year 2010 brought the tipping point for the print daily-newspaper model.
For the first time ever, more readers said they got news from online sources than daily print, according to surveys conducted by the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism: 34 percent of those surveyed said they received news via the Internet within the past 24 hours, while 31 percent said they got news via the traditional daily-newspaper model.
That still trails television news, which remains America's No. 1 information source.Among readers 18 to 29 years old, 65 percent cited the Internet as their main news source.
To make matters worse, other data indicates that newspaper and digital advertising dipped to a 25-year low, to $28.5 billion. As recently as 2005, newspaper ad revenue checked in at $47.5 billion, but the double barrel of doom—online options for news retrieval, and the mass downturn in the economy—has pummeled the industry.
Online advertising revenue did increase by $3 billion in the industry last year, but many advertisers utilize other Web-driven options that they believe better target their specific audience, generally through search-engine optimization.
Internet ads now account for 12 percent of newspaper ad revenue. It was just 5 percent in 2005.
The Journal Broadcast Group, which owns and operates the only FM news/talk station in the market, is now hoping FM success will carry over to sports/talk: Journal is now simulcasting its sports station KFFN AM 1490 on 104.9 FM.
Furthermore, it has changed the station's name from The Fan to ESPN Tucson.
"We're very excited to be on 1490 AM and 104.9 FM," said program director Ryan McCredden in a press release. "This additional signal gives us the ability to reach more people across Tucson, and that's what it's all about—bringing everyone in Tucson the best in sports/talk and play by play."
In this column two weeks ago, I reported that Journal was likely going to give up the signal for 104.9 FM. That scenario involved a transfer of ownership of radio station KWCX from Willcox to Tanque Verde. KWCX broadcasts on 104.9 in Willcox, and its closer proximity would have meant that the station would occupy that frequency in Tucson, too. Behind the scenes at KZLZ, LLC, the company that owns KWCX and also operates KZLZ, an FM station in Tucson, folks believed that to be true at one point.
Well, that didn't happen.
While the 104.9 FM signal—which had been simulcasting the Mega 106.3 signal—is relatively weak, it's still an improvement over the 1490 signal, which is inaccessible in many of the outlying areas. It seems safe to suggest the company is so pleased with the performance of its other FM talk offering—conservative news/talker KQTH FM 104.1—that it hopes the FM success carries over to sports/talk.
KFFN 1490 AM and KCUB 1290 AM (which employs me for UA football and men's basketball pregame and postgame shows) have languished near the bottom of the Arbitron ratings for some time, so Journal likely figures the move to FM can give KFFN a distinct ratings advantage. And it probably will.
Furthermore, even if the ratings aren't stellar, it will still be an improvement over dedicating two signals to a Mega 106.3 station that ranks among the lowest-rated FMs in the market.
KQTH 104.1 FM has dramatically cut into KNST AM 790's news/talk dominance. KQTH doesn't rate ahead of KNST in overall Arbitron numbers, but that's largely due to KNST's stranglehold among the 55-and-older demographic. KQTH delivers stronger numbers than KNST in many of the key advertising demos.
KFFN's programming is made up of syndicated ESPN talk shows; local sports/talk show Happy Hour With Jody Oehler; and play-by-play broadcasts from the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Diamondbacks and numerous national sports events such as NFL games and the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
Ken Kowalcek, the general manager at Citadel-owned (soon-to-be-Cumulus-owned) KCUB, declined to comment on the Journal move.
KCUB is the flagship for UA football and men's basketball broadcasts. Games are broadcast on 1290 and KHYT FM 107.5.
Tim Richards has left his position as operations manager at Clear Channel's Tucson cluster to handle the day-to-day duties as show director of the Johnjay and Rich morning radio program, which is now based in Phoenix.
This brings to an end Richards' third stint in Tucson.
"The stations here at Clear Channel Tucson are incredible," said Richards via e-mail. "The brands have evolved over the past several years, and I believe we have the best stations in Southern Arizona."
Under Richards' guidance, Top 40 KRQQ FM 93.7 has remained among the market leaders. So-called rhythmic/contemporary hit radio format KOHT FM 98.3 is No. 5 in the market, and KNST AM 790 maintains its ratings lead in news/talk. However, adult-alternative station KWMT 92.9 FM, "The Mountain," is hovering just outside of the Top 10, which is not as good as Clear Channel would like, despite the success of its "Studio C" concert series. The oldies format on KWFM AM 1450 recently flipped to comedy, a reasonably unique move among Clear Channel clusters.
"Right now, KRQ is on top in the market, and Hot 98.3 is right behind KRQ (among the) 18-34 demographic," said Richards. "We are also excited about what The Mountain has in store and expect big things this year."
Richards replaces John Peake, who has taken over as operations manager of Clear Channel's Seattle cluster.
Johnjay and Rich is syndicated in five markets, including Phoenix and Tucson. However, the show was recently removed from two markets.