“Free FM”‘s First Month – Ouch

With the caveat that you can’t determine success by a single month’s extrapolated trend numbers, let alone the first couple or three full books…

The folks over at Radio & Records Online have taken apart some of the January numbers for the new “Free FM” hosts and formats, and it pretty much looks awful everywhere you look for those attempting to fill Howard Stern’s Big Shoes. WNCX/98.5’s David Lee Roth, who took over for Stern at flagship WFNY/92.3 New York City and a number of other stations, ranked 18th 12-plus in his very first month on his Big Apple radio home, down from number one for the departed “King of All Media”. Apparently, former “Loveline” host Adam Carolla fared even worse in Los Angeles.

And since Cleveland’s Winter 2006 Phase One trends aren’t available, we’ll look at how former WXRK/92.3 morning doggie Rover is doing at his new home base, WCKG in Chicago…not good, according to R&R Online, with a sub-1 share in pretty much every demo they list. Market veteran Jonathon Brandmeier, meanwhile, debuted in the top 5 in his return on WLUP. (We note here that Chicago hasn’t really ever been a strong market for Stern…his show regularly finished out of the top 10 in the Windy City.)

Again, we repeat. These are extrapolated numbers in a single trend. CBS suits are correct when they say that shows need time to establish themselves. A CBS Radio spokeswoman once again cited the company’s “12 to 24 month” time frame as far as getting a bead on their new shows. And there’s a natural listener shedding as changes take place, particularly in a slot ruled by Stern.

Our take – the experienced radio folks, like Rover and even Mr. Carolla – will find their place. That place may not be the rarified air usually occupied by Stern, but it’s too early to get a feel for their permanent prospects in just one month of one early trend.

But, we’re not all that convinced that one “Diamond Dave” is going to stick it out, though…of course, we say this in a week when he’s not even showing up for work. The former Van Halen frontman’s future may just be that he ditches the radio gig as soon as contracturally possible, and then he’d hit the road with his ex-bandmates…

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