Media Watch

Just how "stimulating" is the lineup at KNST?

There are a lot of moving parts in radio syndication these days, and as such it's not unusual to occasionally come across a tweak to the station lineup. Conservative news/talker KNST AM 790 found itself in that position after Andy Dean's Aug. 8 show.

"Andy Dean stepped down as host of 'America Now' to focus full-time on his technology company," said KNST Program Director and morning host Garret Lewis via email. "Details regarding a new host for the popular News/Talk program will be announced after the Labor Day holiday.  Joe Pags will serve as guest host of 'America Now' until a permanent host is announced."

What Lewis glossed over in that formal reply is that Dean's site is an attempt to use the Internet to monetize artistic content. Dean is making his content available through a subscriber only model and currently charging $1.79 a month. It's the latest effort to bring in revenue through what amounts to being a podcast medium, thus bypassing the traditional requirements of radio formatting along the way.

Different hosts have approached this in different ways. Clearly, Dean believes that by launching his own platform, and allowing content providers to try their hand on his site, he'll have enough of a financial stream to skip terrestrial radio altogether. Syndicated talk show host Glenn Beck, meanwhile, continues to use his radio show as a marketing tool for The Blaze, his subscription content service that also has television deals cut with some satellite providers. In July, Anthony Cumia of "Opie and Anthony" fame, got fired from Sirius/XM, and it took the tech junkie almost no time to launch a subscription based video podcast that is already generating a nice income stream.

Naturally, having a built-in national audience helps significantly for those who hope for success venturing away from the restrictions of radio. It's a much more difficult model without the safety net of a traditional paycheck. But it seems likely this is the direction numerous performers will travel, and if enough of them have success without syndication and radio format requirements it could be interesting to see stations scramble for a potentially shrinking talent pool as they try to fill time.

Meanwhile, KNST hopes Joe Pags is as "stimulating" as the other hosts on its top-rated news/talk roster. For those who may not be aware, KNST's tag line for its talk lineup, highlighted by heavyweights Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Beck, is "Tucson's Most Stimulating Talk."

Sounds innocent enough, but here's where the double entendre unfolds. Station promos feature a voice over talent reading a series of scripts that sound as though they were written by a 14-year-old boy. Ditties include "How does it feel walking around while everyone in town knows you're stimulated," or "Imagine how wonderful Tucson would be if everyone was ... (pause for effect) ... stimulated." Or the modern classic, "We'll give you a deep tissue massage for your brain. Keep listening for the happy ending."

You can almost hear voice-over talent guy conclude every promo with a guilty little chortle.

It seems an interesting marketing approach. After all, allegedly this is the format for social conservatives, and those church-going sorts aren't supposed to like that whole sex thing, or at least talking about that whole sex thing. Yet based on the way KNST flaunts its prowess—which goes beyond the typical Healthy Man ads broadcast incessantly in syndication spot blocks—clearly this has been a long-standing misinterpretation.

Even Lewis got in on the act on his Tuesday morning show with his willingness to discuss a specific political mailer that has been making the rounds. GOP congressional candidate Gary Kiehne has gotten his share of publicity for a flier that is supposed to show him commiserating with fellow ranchers, but instead accentuates a horse in the background in an aroused state of KNST.

The horse, apparently extremely interested in Kiehne's KNST-esque conversation about our border issues, or whatever it is ranchers talk about while leaning against a pickup truck for the purposes of photographing a political flier, was first noticed on this generation's new official outlet for all things journalism: reddit. From there, Henry Barajas at the Tucson Weekly picked up on the story, which was posted on The Range, the Weekly's website presence, under the headline, "Gary Kiehne Gets Biggest Endorsement of Them All."

His story included gems such as "Theodore Roosevelt once said 'speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far,'" and "It's obvious that Kiehne isn't dicking around." Shortly thereafter, Barajas' story received more Facebook attention from one of the city's most noteworthy liberal media voices, none other than Arizona Daily Star columnist Timothy Steller, who couldn't resist participating in the fun.

"He's been unable to mount a credible campaign," Steller contributed through the social media site.

So in a heated political landscape where candidates attempt to convince the voting base everything their opponent does is evil incarnate, and where members of the media gleefully perpetuate the same divisive allegations, it's nice to see that voices on the right and the left can bond, and even share a common appreciation for the dick joke.

There may be hope for us yet.

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