Talk 1410 becomes Team 1410

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Vancouver radio listeners suddenly discovered on November 6 that they had one less talk radio station, and Simi Sara, Dave Brindle, and Nikki Renshaw learned the previous afternoon that they no longer had jobs. Instead, the Vancouver market now has two all-sports radio stations. Most of the content on Team 1410 will be national sports talk hosts such as Jim Rome.

I can't find anything good about this development. There are a lot of things going on in British Columbia that could stand more attention from the citizens: the Virk/Basi trial, disappearance of salmon runs, privatization of rivers and electric power, loss of civil liberties related to the 2010 Olympics, government unwillingness to prosecute polygamists, to give a few examples. Consider this: the takeover of Burlington Northern Santa Fe by Warren Buffett last week could have a significant impact on transportation and employment in the Lower Mainland, but local press coverage consisted of a wire service story in the back pages of the business section of the Vancouver Sun.

We now have fewer sources of information about what's going on than we had a week ago.

What brought this on? The latest ratings for the Vancouver market gave Talk 1410 AM a 1.8% market share. To put this in perspective, CBC AM got 11.6% and CKNW got 11.5%. (CKNW's share was in the 17-20% range in their heyday.) The 1.8% even compares unfavorably with Jim Pattison's geriatric "all time favourites" CISL (650 AM), with a 3.4% share. Low ratings mean low ad revenue, which means less money to pay Sara, Brindle, Renshaw, and the rest of the hired help.

There's another side to this, however. That 1.8% is the highest share that Talk 1410 AM had in over a year. And what short of listenership do they expect to get with reruns of Vancouver Canucks games and (this isn't a joke) radio coverage of golf. They also lose ad revenue for Coast to Coast and (ugh) Laura Schlessinger, syndicated programs carried at low cost.

The owners of CTVglobemedia, who also own Team 1040, The Beat 94.5 FM, and 103.5 QM/FM, had other options available to them. The nearby Air America Radio affiliates, KBAI-AM 930 in Bellingham and KPTK AM 1090 in Seattle, both carry some live sports programming to bring in some additional ad revenue. There was nothing obvious to stop CTVglobemedia from carrying BC Lions games and other live sports coverage, continuing with Coast to Coast, and keeping Sara and Brindle, whose programs were growing in popularity, on the air.

Was there something else going on here? Did somebody in CTVglobemedia's management get a phone call from Gordon Campbell or Stephen Harper's office, expressing displeasure with the subject matter under discussion on Sara's and Brindle's programs? One thing's for sure; if nobody asks this question, we're not going to hear any answers.

Article by Monte Paulsen for The Tyee: Talk 1410 gone, Brindle vows return