In dozens of markets across the country, radio listeners have been discovering that their favorite talk show has moved. It has gone from the AM dial to the FM dial. In city after city, talk stations are flipping to FM and that could be a signal that a new radio trend is taking hold.
Our research shows, that this “switch” began slowly, without much notice, about three years ago. Salem Communications Corporation, the leading radio broadcaster focused on Christian and family-themed programming announced the launch of FM news-talk in Sacramento, California. On September 19, 2005, KTKZ began to simulcast news talk programming on 105.5 FM and 1380 AM. At the time, the program director of KTKZ, Chris Squires was quoted in Business Wire, as saying, “This is a first for Sacramento. We’re offering the only FM talk in Sacramento.”
A little more than a year later, sports talk stations started moving in the same direction. WXYT-AM in Detroit, one of many examples, found its fans straining through the static of late night games. The station was the home of Detroit Tigers and Red Wings and wanted to provide superior fidelity to its listeners. So, WXYT-FM was born, and today, along with at least a dozen other sports stations, provides live and local sports talk programming around the clock.
News-talk stations have their sights on FM as well. In the fall of 2007, WIBC in Indianapolis moved its news-talk format to FM to build late night audience, coverage it couldn’t get with AM radio. WTOP in Washington, D.C., KTAR in Phoenix, and WBT in Charlotte, are all examples of news-talk stations simulcasting on both FM and AM to have better reach into their respective markets.
For media representatives this is great news because it means having access to a bigger audience day and night. It also means better sounding broadcasts. And it means reaching late afternoon and evening audiences, who stay tuned-in and don’t have to put up with annoying static and signal interruptions.
Right now, our contacts show 780 AM stations with talk formats, and only 94 FM stations running talk formats, but from all indications, these numbers are shifting. So don’t be surprised to hear your favorite talk show on FM, soon!