The FM Talk Watch Finally Hits Ohio

Regular OMW readers know that we’ve kept an eye on a growing trend – talk radio stations moving to, or starting up, on the FM dial. Ohio has not had one of these stations…but it looks like that’s about to change.

Cumulus Media in Cincinnati is apparently close to putting a talk format on the 96.5 signal being abandoned by country WYGY “The Star”, which is moving to the former home of the “Mojo” format on 94.9.

How close?

So close that Talk Radio Network apparently couldn’t hold it in, and announced the upcoming Cincinnati FM talk station as one of three new affiliates for Erich “Mancow” Muller, the Chicago-based syndicated FM morning host.

Trade website AllAccess reports that despite the presence of the Cow’s hot talk morning drive show, the rest of the future 96.5 FM talk lineup in the Queen City is expected to feature more traditional talkers…such as Westwood One’s Bill O’Reilly, and two Nashville-based syndicated talkers – afternoon driver Phil Valentine, and money advice guy Dave Ramsey.

In effect, aside from Mancow (who does political talk regularly on FOX News Channel), the lineup looks a lot like Cumulus’ standard FM talk lineup. That format is featured on Cumulus stations like WWTN/Nashville, which just so happens to be the home base for both Valentine and Ramsey. Though Cumulus does not syndicate either show, it runs them on a number of its FM talk stations…particularly in the southeast.

Our take: This could show what kind of strength the FM signal brings to the format.

Cincinnati is a very, very crowded talk radio market, with most of it served up by Clear Channel. That company runs four talk stations of various sorts, from full-time local talk (WLW) to mainly syndicated conservative talk (WKRC) to mainly syndicated liberal talk (WSAI) to sports talk (WCKY).

Is there room for another talk radio player in the Cincinnati market, particularly with a lineup that may not really be the strongest talk lineup in the area…even considering stations only running syndication?

We noted the presence of the WCKY sports format in our list of Clear Channel talk outlets for good reason. One other thing Cumulus tends to do with its FM talk stations in the southeast – it adds a decent sports presence, with the station usually running an evening local sports talk show.

They’ve moved away from that on the company’s original large market FM talk station, the aforementioned WWTN/Nashville, but only because Cumulus started an FM sports talk station in the same market.

This could be a very good test to see how a relatively weak FM talk lineup does in a market dominated by another company’s AM talk stations…

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