â€śRadio is taking it on the chin in the economic downturn,â€ť says Mark R. Fratzik, Ph.D., senior vice president at BIA. â€śWith Steve Harveyâ€™s show being syndicated by Clear Channel-owned Premiere Radio, thereâ€™s always that incentive to air your own programming versus licensing other programming.
Even though Mr. Joyner is popular, Clear Channel probably had a reasonable alternative to his show that costs less.â€ť In fact, upon sending Mr. Harvey to V103, WGCIâ€™s new morning show is a locally-focused program hosted by Chicago radio veteran Tony Sculfield. â€śTom is one of the classiest guys in the business,â€ť says Earl Jones, president and market manager for Clear Channel Radio-Chicago. â€śBusiness drove our decision,â€ť he adds.Â To Jonesâ€™s point, Clear Channel clearly has not been exempt from the industryâ€™s woes. Its radio revenues fell 7% in 2008 to $3.3 billion and declined 13% for the fourth quarter of 2008.Â Jones would not disclose any estimated cost savings attributable to replacing Joyner.
By charting his own course back to Chi-Town, Joyner assumes the risk that would otherwise be absorbed by the station owner; he therefore is charged with not only creating a good show but also selling the advertising inventory, a daunting task given the economic climate Joyner likens his new Chicago business model to television deals in which a company buys time on an independent station to carry a show, which an affiliate station will not carry. While such a strategy is not unheard of in radio, according to BIAâ€™s Fratzik, the scale and size of the Chicago market makes Joynerâ€™s situation unique.
Speaking on the merits of Joynerâ€™s move and acknowledging the stationâ€™s weak signal, Fratzik says, â€śI think heâ€™s putting his money where his mouth is and itâ€™s admirable that heâ€™s willing to take the risk. It says that heâ€™s confident that he can attract enough listeners.â€ť
Joyner is banking that the popularity of his show—which based on Arbitronâ€™s most recent PPM (portable people meter) ratings ranked as the #4 morning show (before the WVAZ cancellation) in the city in the 25-54 demographic group to Harveyâ€™s No. 14—will garner him favorability with listeners and thereby win over coveted advertisers; Joyner had 292,200 listeners to Harveyâ€™s 268,100 for listeners six and over.
â€śWe stepped out on faith,â€ť says Joyner, who found out he was being pushed off the air after returning from vacation.
â€śIâ€™ve been fired a lot of different ways, but this ranks as one of the coldest,â€ť he said recently. â€śI had to find some way to get back into the Chicago market. The station doesnâ€™t have the greatest signal, but itâ€™s on the South Side. And it gives us an opportunity to super-serve the community.â€ť
As a part of Joynerâ€™s strategy and commitment to the city, he will establish an internship program for media communications students at Chicagoâ€™s Kennedy-King College and when in the city will air from the campus.