Media Watch

GOP debate viewers would like to put most of the establishment in a bbq pit

The Republican version of the anti-establishment uprising was in full effect during last week's debate conducted by the Fox Business Channel. That is, if a Tucson viewing event is a true indication of voter discontent.

Debate season has brought more than just good ratings results for cable news channels; that phenomenon has trickled down to significant traffic for local businesses hosting debate-viewing parties.

Conservative news talk radio station KNST AM 790 has teamed with Dickey's Barbecue locations, and if the turnout for last week's debate—it marked the fourth time Dickey's and KNST had collaborated for a viewing party—was any indication, this promotion has been a win-win tie-in for radio station and business.

The Oracle and Magee roads location was packed. And while a cursory observation of the crowd demographic is likely not that surprising—about 80 percent white, the largest age representation (in the 40 to 50 percent range) AARP (or since it was a GOP crowd, AMAC) eligible—there was one clear universal sentiment.

Establishment discontent is in full bloom.

As a result, it was probably not at all surprising that GOP frontrunners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz were among the most popular with those in attendance.

"(Trump) says what they've been thinking," said Garrett Lewis, the host of KNST's Morning Ritual. "Before it was (President) Obama. Now it's (John) Boehner and (Paul) Ryan and the establishment. Fool me once, shame on you ..."

And this crowd is not about to be fooled twice. As a result, they are less than enamored with the likes of former governor Jeb Bush and current Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the latter referred to in less-than-flattering RINO terms (Republican in Name Only) by a gentleman in a plaid shirt, who called the former an "empty suit."

The crowd also responded in predictably favorable terms to a number of catch phrases that are part and parcel of any political campaign. When there was a spirited discussion about China's role in regards to tariffs, tax regulations and trade deals, most of that went right over the head of a woman at the bar, but she was all in when Cruz said he'll abolish the IRS. And they loved when Trump said the police were being mistreated.

Whether this small sample size is indicative of the Republican electorate version of disenfranchisement and discontent will obviously be dictated by virtue of how they vote as the primaries loom, but at the very least, on this night, in this location, it provided a forum for like-minded folks to get together. Anti-establishment can be good for business. That was good news for Dickey's. And KNST.

KIIM registers third troubling ratings book of the year

The radio ratings system in Tucson is outdated. It's archaic. It's still conducted by a diary format, meaning folks selected are asked to physically write their listening habits in a little booklet, then mail back the booklet so the company, in this case Nielsen, can compile the numbers for a specific ratings period.

In markets 48 and above, this process is now handled electronically, and radio stations can get often-overnight feedback on how they performed. Since Tucson—market size 62—is below that threshold, it continues to receive the Stone Age treatment.

But since it's always been that way, station sales staffs have long since crafted their pitches to advertisers. When a book is good, they're the first to celebrate with advertising agencies and prospective clients about the benefits of spending on their signals. When the books are bad, well, that's just a glitch in the ratings system.

For years, country music format KIIM FM 99.5 mastered the advertising agency celebration pitch. Within the last year, that sales staff has honed its now all too familiar "glitch in the system" speech.

KIIM had consecutive down books earlier this year, but bounced back in dramatic fashion during the summer of 2015 period. While it's always good to be loved, advertisers don't view the summer ratings period with the same importance as the others because of Tucson's migration factor. There are fewer people here in the summer, so summer results have less overall impact.

Which means, in the last three ratings books that matter: winter 2015, spring 2015 and the most recently released fall 2015, Tucson's country music leader has spiraled. In 2013 and 2014, KIIM routinely delivered 12-plus numbers in the 9-share range. It has now failed to top 7 in the spring and fall book. And even though that's still good for third overall in the market, the news was worse for the Max (Herb Crowe), Shannon (Black) and Porkchop (Brett Miller) morning show, which saw its overall standing deteriorate significantly.

Before iHeartMedia starts taking credit for KIIM's downturn because it has provided quality alternative programming, its country format, KWYD 97.1 FM, was the second lowest rated station in the market. iHeartMedia owned top-40 format KRQQ 93.7 FM placed first in the market for the third time in 2015, followed by Scripps owned KMXZ 94.9 FM. However, Spanish language music format KCMT 92.1 FM, owned by Lotus, experienced a significant bounce and finished fifth overall. It was also a good book for iHeartMedia owned rhythmic CHR format KOHT 98.3 FM.

News/talker KQTH 104.1 FM had its strongest ratings numbers in some time and moved within a half point of long-time market leader KNST (2.7 to 2.2). KFFN AM 1490/FM 104.9 took a nice jump on the sports side, while locally, the Zach Clark Show, which airs weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m. on the Scripps owned station, delivered its best numbers since he took over the program from Jody Oehler almost two years ago.

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