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Thread: WMAL

  1. #1

    WMAL

    WMAL was my favorite radio station.

    I started listening to "Mornings on the Mall" when it was hosted by Brian Wilson and Larry O'Connor. The current hosts, Vince Colonaise and Mary Walter are a terrific.

    The station, unlike Cumulus in my local area, has a vibrant roster of local advertisers - Realtors, roofers, carpet and rug cleaners, dentists, etc - generally two or three of each category competing with each other. It reminds me of radio decades ago and I think proves that good programming and a good sales department can make a radio station succeed.

    But for the past several weeks, Cumulus has begun blocking the local ads on their stream. While I'm sad to see the local ads go, I don't disagree with that - in fact I've argued that streaming should be monitized through locally targeted ads.

    But the problem is, the local ads are being replaced by the most annoying, intrusive, and repetitive stuff imaginable.

    For instance, there's a Credit Karmam ad that repeates once, often twice, in each and every break. It's voiced by a little girl who sounds like she's delivering a junior high school commencement address. Given that WMAL's demo is at least 45+ (to be generous,) I don't think she's going to resonate with WMAL listeners.

    Then there are the Dr. Sange Gupta "features" that run over and over. Gupta is CNN's chief medical correspondent who I'd say violated his Hippocratic Oath by diagnosing candidate Donald Trump with physical and mental disorders without actually examining him. It's ironic too that Chris Plante bashes CNN every chance he gets - guess we can wipe Gupta off the favorites list of the WMAL audience.

    But the worst offender is the "It's All About The Conversation" promos. (Actually it's all about the money, but I digress.) These promos begin with an obnoxious squeaky-plopping sound and a voice-over that says, "Dub-Double-U_M_A_L, it’s all about the conversation." The promos are clips taken out of context and tend to make the hosts sound like jerks. They often run during the show from which the clip was taken. Do we really need to hear a promo for The Larry O'Connor show DURING The Larry O'Connor Show?

    So the bottom line for me is that's I'll still check out WMAL from time to time but listening for very long is just too painful. I know that audio can be used as a form of torture - now I understand how!

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by wadio View Post

    But for the past several weeks, Cumulus has begun blocking the local ads on their stream.
    Are you sure Cumulus is blocking the local ads? Or if it's something else?

  3. #3
    It's the same on their site, iHeart and TuneIn so I'm guessing it's happening at the source. The first day they tried this, about 3 weeks ago, the timing was completely off so the inserted content was cutting into the programming as well as covering only parts of the local spots. Then they stopped it for a week or so. Then one morning they ran nothing but the inserts non-stop, although I believe iHeart was not affected that time. Now they seem to have the timing right but it sure breaks the flow of the station.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by wadio View Post
    Now they seem to have the timing right but it sure breaks the flow of the station.
    I may have brought this up before, but some spots are not allowed on streams because of union rules. So they have to cover the spots with something.

  5. #5
    These days I think most audio streaming from the major station owners takes out the local ads and inserts ads just for the internet audience. Sometimes the breaks are targeted just to your region, according to your IP location. I'm taken aback when listening to a station on iHeart. I live in the NYC area and I hear NY-based advertisements even when listening to stations more than 1000 miles away.

    And the Wadio is right. The spot breaks are very repetitive, with the same ads heard in every break. But I guess if in our modern world, where we now have access to radio stations across the nation and the world, we have to accept that commercial sales have not kept pace with this new technology. It probably isn't a priority for iHeart or Entercom (Radio.com) to spend too much time making sure internet listeners don't hear the same spots over and over.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gregg. View Post
    These days I think most audio streaming from the major station owners takes out the local ads and inserts ads just for the internet audience. Sometimes the breaks are targeted just to your region, according to your IP location. I'm taken aback when listening to a station on iHeart. I live in the NYC area and I hear NY-based advertisements even when listening to stations more than 1000 miles away.
    Many if not most of the major agency accounts use AFTRA talent to record their spots. AFTRA agreements require additional payment if "radio" spots are used in a different medium, such as streaming. For the most part, agencies have not wanted to pay the additional charge, feeling it to be excessive for the small additional audience in the station's home market. So many agency broadcast orders (what many call a "contract") specify "no streaming".

    Cutting out specific ads is, of course, doable. But it is easier to simply arrange for streams to be entirely filled by a separate sales division or by a third party aggregator.

    I've always thought that AFTRA is slitting its own throat on this one. Much streaming business comes from accounts that purposely do not use AFTRA talent. Considering that the future will hold more and more streaming, AFTRA will find that its restrictions will keep clients in the future from using AFTRA talent, often recording in non-union markets or even in Canada or some other place where AFTRA agreements don't apply.

    Instead, AFTRA (now SAG-AFTRA) should have an "audio rate" for any audio only platform or combination. Agencies would not worry about jurisdictional matters and platform differences, and would likely use more union talent. As it stands today, AFTRA is positioning itself outside of the future.

    My "prediction" is in part reinforced by reality. In US Hispanic targeted advertising in Spanish, a huge proportion of production for the Southwest is done in Mexico now. Cheaper, good quality and no union restrictions. Campaigns for East Coast Hispanics may be done in Puerto Rico or Colombia, neither of which has AFTRA shops.
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  7. #7
    The WMAL ads I used to hear were mostly local and voiced by the show hosts or the by advertisers themselves.

    The AFTRA deal has been in effect for a long time. Does it apply to station personnel? I'm wondering what prompted the sudden change.

    I'm told that some stations offer local advertisers the stream for a modest additional fee.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by wadio View Post
    I'm wondering what prompted the sudden change.
    Several possible reasons: Policy change, a usage threshold was crossed, or a letter from AFTRA. Changes happen all the time.

  9. #9
    As has been speculated, they may have added AFTRA-voiced spots to the OTA inventory and made the change to the stream breaks to accommodate that. I listen to ad-free streams when doing things around the house and yard. If I'm listening to an ad-supported stream, I try to be near the computer keyboard/web radio remote mute button come break time. The stream-inserted ads are repetitive and annoying - aka unlistenable. It's bad enough that I'll pre-record appointment listening on ad-laden streams so I can skip by the annoyances. I'm sure I'm not alone in this behavior.

  10. #10
    It sounds to me as though this is primarily an issue if you listen in real time. However, all of WMAL's local hosts do podcasts, and those podcasts should have a different commercial structure. No specific ad window to fill. Have you tried the podcasts?

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