Monday, December 21, 2009


Citadel Broadcasting Files for Bankruptcy

In a move forecasted last week, Citadel Broadcasting filed for bankruptcy Sunday.

This is of interest for Knoxville residents because Citadel owns most of the radio stations in the area, including country giant WIVK, talk radio's WNOX, and the woefully disappointing sports talk network WNML.

Ad revenues are declining (and expected to stay that way), and it isn't hard for me to see why in terms of WNML's performance. I have personally spoken to businesses that contract with that station for advertising and told them that I wouldn't be frequenting their establishments as long as they continued to support certain shows on WNML ("The Sports Animal"), particularly the morning show with station program director Mickey Dearstone, Title IX-hire Heather Harrington, and former Vol Jeff Jacoby.

For me, my objection is aimed at the poor quality of their show and my view that Knoxville deserves a better brand of sports talk radio. Jacoby sometimes offers some decent analysis (as does Monday morning guest Pat Ryan), but Harrington often has no idea which teams are in which athletic conference, and Dearstone would never have survived in this market if he wasn't his own boss. How bad is the morning show? I know dozens of hardcore sports fans who have paid for Sirius/XM hardware and subscriptions just so they aren't exposed to this show; it's that bad.

I am in no way suggesting that the failure of WNML is the cause of Citadel's demise. However, it is a snapshot of how one failed network - carried out over several other markets - can bring down a huge corporation. I'm sure that WIVK is a financial success; the biggest country station in East Tennessee has driven competitor after competitor out of the market for decades. However, it's not realistic to expect for their gains to offset the losses of other failed ventures.

Will Citadel's filing have any lasting effects on Knoxville radio? Only time will tell, but we could see a few changes - hopefully for the good.

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