Bill Virgin's Radio Beat August 16, 2007

Includes archive of Bill Virgin's columns fromJ une 2006 - March 2009

Bill Virgin's Radio Beat August 16, 2007

Postby radiofan » Wed Aug 15, 2007 6:18 pm

On Radio: The plug is about to be pulled on 'talk radio for women' network
By BILL VIRGIN
P-I REPORTER


GreenStone Media debuted with a splash a year and a half ago, with ambitious plans to target what was perceived to be a potentially huge market -- talk radio for women -- and high-powered financial backers.

The ending will be considerably quieter. Unless executives of GreenStone can cobble together a last-minute financial rescue, the network will sign off Friday.

That won't make much of a dent in radio schedules. GreenStone has just 11 affiliates, seven carrying all of its shows. Although GreenStone's organizers included two longtime Seattle radio executives -- Edie Hilliard and Jim LaMarca -- none of the affiliates are in Seattle.

And although FM talk has long been predicted to be radio's coming format, only one of the 11 was an FM station.

"We didn't get penetration into the bigger markets," LaMarca says. With just 11 affiliates, "that's not enough to prove the concept for a lot of broadcasters."

Therein lies one of the reasons for GreenStone's threatened demise, he adds. GreenStone was trying to persuade radio stations to try a new concept in an industry not prone to try new things, especially when it's under increasing pressure to show immediate results.

Talk radio takes longer to build a following than newly introduced music formats -- such as Jack or Movin' -- have in Seattle. "The marketplace never took the chance," LaMarca says.

Talk radio also is a more expensive format than music, what with hosts, producers and other support staff, he adds. That hastened the burn rate for GreenStone, which had announced initial backing from Jane Fonda, Rosie O'Donnell, Billie Jean King and Gloria Steinem.

Did GreenStone also limit itself by defining its format as specifically aimed at women? LaMarca says that label was adopted so that potential affiliates "understood what they're getting," and to specify that the network wasn't offering just another lineup of political talk shows. "Listeners in the markets we're in got it," he says.

LaMarca still thinks the concept of talk radio oriented toward women can work, although it's likely to be driven more by a specific personality hosting a specific show (such as Oprah, who does a satellite-radio show) than as a slate of programs.

Although GreenStone's approach wasn't enough to entice them, radio programmers probably haven't written off the concept of finding a way to reach women listeners who don't listen to traditional talk radio, LaMarca adds. "That's where the advertising dollars are."

In other radio notes:

King County Executive Ron Sims takes listener calls on "Weekday" at 10 a.m. Thursday on KUOW-FM (94.9).

Trumpter Roy Hargrove performs in the studios of KPLU-FM (88.5) at 12:20 p.m. Friday.

Cytosoul performs on "Sonarchy" at midnight Saturday on KEXP-FM (90.3).

Jim Wilke's "Jazz Northwest" at 1 pm. Sunday on KPLU-FM features a recent Seattle Art Museum performance by the Dave Peck trio.

The Sunday edition of Jim French's "Imagination Theatre," heard at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on KIXI-AM (880), includes a new Sherlock Holmes adventure.

P-I reporter Bill Virgin can be reached at 206-448-8319 or billvirgin@seattlepi.com.

Bill Virgin's Radio Beat Thursday in the Seattle P-I
Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who couldn't hear the music.
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