WWDB 860: how does it work?
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Thread: WWDB 860: how does it work?

  1. #1

    WWDB 860: how does it work?

    At one point I saw an ad in a local paper for WWDB 860 saying they were looking for show hosts. Can someone tell me what the situation is with that station? Is it all brokered and one can buy themselves a show? I see it has a smattering or local political shows and Slavic music and cultural programming currently. Very eclectic mix; would like to understand it better. Thanks in advance to anyone that has input.

  2. #2
    Like most brokered stations, they barely keep the lights on. They have customers with deep deep pockets and will keep shelling out the cash until WWDB finally gives up and signs off. They tried to have an FM translator on 104.9 which was on for I think a week until WSJO knocked em off.

    WWDB is a heritage station nonetheless; they were famously 96.5 WWDB "The Talk Station" and were huge for a long time. The calls are famous in philly and it mostly stays on for the sheer sake of keeping the heritage alive. All in all, WWDB is a very interesting station to listen to, and I quite enjoy the slavic music they play, beings I can practice my russian while listening. Other than that, it'll sadly be gone soon I bet.
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  3. #3
    A person who wants a show approaches management. They negotiate a time and fee. Then the person sells ad time on his own. If you're doing an ethnic show, you appeal to business leaders in your ethnic group, grocery stores, restaurants, clubs, or maybe just a businessperson who want the pride and goodwill of supporting a show within his/her ethnic group. Or if its a religious group, the preacher will seek contributions on the air. Or if you have a service, financial advice, home mortgages, law, medical procedures, you advertise yourself and wait for folks to call you for an appointment.

    I think most people, even those in our industry, don't fully know how stations that would otherwise be bankrupt and off the air do this and stay in business. Who is listening to these AM stations that either have so-so signals or, like WWDB, are daytime-only? They actually patronize the producer/hosts, enough for them to make a profit for and the station owner to make a profit. I don't know how, but it seems to be working.

    WWDB is owned by Beasley, a major broadcasting company. It really isn't connected with the original WWDB talk station at 96.5. Beasley simply got those call letters when nobody was using them. Beasley also owns WBEN-FM, WMGK, WMMR and WPEN. But they are not above selling time to a dubious financial guy or miracle-worker doctor, to help WWDB turn a profit.
    Last edited by Gregg.; 07-07-2018 at 09:49 PM.

  4. #4
    Is the time for a show likely expensive? I have no context of what going rate in our market would be. I know they could tell me but I figured someone here has a sense of what rates would be in a market as large as ours.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by radiodx10 View Post
    Like most brokered stations, they barely keep the lights on.
    Not exactly. Some brokered stations make very significant profits, particularly the ones selling block time to different foreign language broadcasters. Many religious brokered stations do well, although apparently not as well as in the past.

    They have customers with deep deep pockets and will keep shelling out the cash until WWDB finally gives up and signs off.
    I don't think they are considering "signing off". While not the most profitable of the Beasley stations, it costs little to operate.

    WWDB is a heritage station nonetheless; they were famously 96.5 WWDB "The Talk Station" and were huge for a long time. The calls are famous in philly and it mostly stays on for the sheer sake of keeping the heritage alive.
    As Gregg mentioned, the station has essentially nothing to do with the FM WWDB. And the talk format on WWDB was active so long ago that there is no "heritage" value to calls that are, for 99% of the population, meaningless.

    All in all, WWDB is a very interesting station to listen to, and I quite enjoy the slavic music they play, beings I can practice my russian while listening. Other than that, it'll sadly be gone soon I bet.
    I doubt it. If they are getting an assortment of foreign language broadcasters, they will be around for a good while.
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  6. #6

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    To answer some questions: in my market there are 17 stations that do this. Some broker to one client while some sell by the hour or fraction of an hour. Most stations have rate cards. Rates depend on the market. In my market, rates are 50% of the other comparatively sized market in my state. Rates might be as low as $100 or maybe as high as $500 an hour. Most stations in my market lease for anywhere from $15,000 to $45,000 a month depending on coverage. The real trick on rates is finding that sweet spot where the programmer can make money. When we sold by the hour, my basic rate was $718 a month for an hour a week (15 years ago). If you wanted 4 hours each weekday we tried to match your audience potential to a rate that allowed you to make money. Generally speaking, a client had to pay about 4 commercials an hour they sold to secure the time based on rates most charged. I had one two hour a week show that made about $3,000 a month more than 15 years ago. Most charged about $40 a spot or so for a weekly show.

    Stations generally make decent money doing this. A station I managed made $100,000 to $200,000 a year profit. That big difference came from the ebb and flow of time buyers. We had months when a big buyer stopped and we had to sell the time all over again. We were staffed with board ops.

    Such stations are cheap to run. Your clients call you. You don't sell spots and you could care less about ratings. We even make programmers contract with the music licensing groups.

    The truth is people listen or the programmer never makes it. It might not be your cup of tea but it is someone's and many of our programmers provided the only programming for that ethnic group to hear music of their heritage and information they were interested in broadcast in their language of their birth.

    It's not easy street. If you need clients you have to wait for them to call you. If they use a language you don't understand, you need to know what is being aired. Some ethnic group cultures mean they just like to fight. With these groups the programmers tend to have little respect for laws and people will call you and threaten you with physical harm or death. Some groups' culture means the buyer controls the seller. All of this stuff has to be nipped in the bud by exercising power plays and no compromise conditions. Most are very decent and very appreciative to have the opportunity to do something for their community. Still people quit without notice. The big flaw is too many get just enough money to pay for the time and stop. Once a client doesn't renew the client usually crashes and burns.

    In that rare instance where you had the right line at the perfect time, an angry listener threatened to come over and kill me if I didn't remove a certain programmer. Very calmly I said "I'd hate for you to drive all this way and miss me. I have a bunch to do this afternoon so why don't you give me your address and I'll stop by your place when I'm done so you can kill me then." the guy hung up and never called again. It was something I had heard before.

    In another instance the programmer invited listeners to our cramped studios. After about 20 people had come in, I told the programmer to clear the building. He said he was the buyer and I would do things his way. Guests were going in to private offices and such. The station was out of control. We didn't mind guests but the number was too much. I returned to the studio and fired off the ID and hit the off button on the transmitter. When he came out of the programmer studio yelling, I told him I sold him the airtime and that he could no longer do his show from our studio. I said 'better get to building your own studio, pal, and I refuse to cancel your contract without full payment'. Suddenly he got really cooperative but I knew I had to make him beg a little while to rid myself of his attitude. Had I caved quickly he would have done this again and again.

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