West Virginia Radio exec, Mike Buxser's, recent re-hiring of serial brand-killing, conservative talk show hypocrite, Michael Agnello, gives me a chance to ask a question I've been asking radio station owners and program directors everywhere I go: why would a radio station rather be the 3rd country station or the 4th oldies station or the nobody-ever-heard-of-us rock station in a market the size of Charleston, WV when there's an unclaimed format category they could have all to themselves?
Did these radio people not read Reis and Trout's bestseller, 21 Immutable Laws of Marketing? Law #2 is "the law of the category" which says "if you can't be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in."
What is that unclaimed category Charleston, WV station owners are failing to claim for themselves? Here it is: talk radio for talk radio fans who can't stand talk radio hypocrite Michael Agnello.
No, this category doesn't exist in other markets. In other markets the new category might have to be "liberal/progressive talk radio" but here in Charleston all you have to do to create a new category is be the only talk station in town where talk radio fans don't have to listen to MIchael Agnello.
I can think of several Charleston stations that could profit from Reis and Trout's Law Of The Category by making a format change.
First, there's WIHY radio at 1110 on the AM dial. WIHY is one of the few stations in the market that isn't owned by West Virginia Radio, Bristol Broadcasting or LM Communications. WIHY is owned by Big River Radio of Blacksburg, VA. WIHY doesn't even show up in some of the ratings books I've seen so their "Classic Rock N Roll" format doesn't seem to be working very well for them in this market. Seems to me Big River Radio has 4 choices: 1. they could simply turn off the transmitter. 2. they could sell the station. 3. they could double down on a format that isn't working for them in this market and keep doing what they're doing (and probably keep getting the results they've been getting) or they could make a bold format change. I suggest they consider becoming the talk show station for talk show fans who can't stand Michael Agnello.
Then there's LM Communications which owns a cluster of stations in the Charleston area. At least two of LM's stations - at 1300 and 1410 on the AM dial - aren't showing up in the ratings so, clearly, what they're doing isn't working from an audience size standpoint. One of those stations might make money, however, because it's a listener-supported Christian station which means the content providers actually pay the station for the airtime. The content providers, in turn, ask their listeners to support their "ministry". In case you've ever wondered how a radio station with a 1% market share can survive, this is how they do it.
People who have been around St. Albans for, say, 45 years or so, may know that radio station WKLC AM at 100 Kanawha Terrace in St. Albans was LM Communications' President, Lynn Martin's, first radio station. LM Communications owns clusters in Lexington, KY - where Martin now lives - and in Charleston, SC.
I think Lynn Martin should consider profiting from Reis and Trout's Law Of The Category by reformatting 1410 as the only Charleston talk radio station that doesn't have Michael Agnello.
I even know where LM Communications' Lynn Martin and Big River Radio's Edward Baker can get their first 3PM radio show to air opposite radio talk show hypocrite and serial brand-killer, Michael Agnello. Former Huntington mayor, Bobby Nelson, is already doing a civil, thinking man's talk from the Kindred Communications studios in downtown Huntington. As a former state senator and former Congressman Ken Hechler staffer, Bobby Nelson already has a fan base in Charleston so it would make sense for an enterprising Charleston station owner to simply license the show from Kindred and simulcast it in the Charleston market. Since Huntington and Charleston are only 50 miles apart and Bobby knows as much about the local politics and news in Charleston as he does about what's going on in Huntington, Bobby could easily adapt his show to the geographical expansion.
There's a new sheriff in town at LM's Charleston, WV cluster, cluster manager, Reggie Jordan. I think this is Jordan's chance to do something bold, something that would give LM a category in which they can be #1. They can't be #1 at rock or country or any of the other categories they compete in. Their situation is tailor-made for the Reis/Trout Law of The Category.
For readers who don't know why I call Michael Agnello a "hypocrite" and a "serial brand-killer", just go to Google and find the Charleston Gazette and Charleston Daily Mail articles about Agnello's numerous arrests for assault, drunk driving and driving on a suspended license. While you're at it, look up articles about how Agnello lost his job as a Charleston pastor when he had an affair with a member of the church staff.
On a recent show, Agnello was calling on the Boone County Board of Education to fire teachers they caught using meth even though this Bible-quoting former preacher has been the recipient and beneficiary of unprecedented grace on the part of West Virginia Radio, WCHS and Mike Buxser.
Perhaps Agnello should read the story of the "Unforgiving Servant" in Matthew 18 before he goes on the air and advocates the career death penalty when he only has a radio career because of the long suffering of his employer who has forgiven him numerous times after numerous arrests.