[Note: this story has been modified since its original posting to correct errors.]
Columbia lost two long-running local radio shows last week, but local voices can still be heard for now.
“The Trading Post,” a community buying and selling forum, and “The Columbia Business Times,” a business talk show featuring business community guests, went off the air last week. Both show were featured on KFRU/1400 AM. This latest move follows a lineup shift that replaced the local “Sunday Morning Sports Show” on the station this summer. The changes come as the news-talk station, taken over in March by Cumulus Media, shuffles its weekend lineup in preparation for elections and a ratings period.
Jack Miller, market manager for Cumulus Media, said these types of changes are common in the radio business.
“Trends and interests change,” he said. “News and talk are on the increase due to the election year. We need to look at what shows are delivering the highest ratings.”
Miller said the station is in the middle of a ratings period right now. According to the most recent Arbitron Inc. research, KFRU ranked fifth in the nation among news-talk stations in terms of local market share.
“The Trading Post,” whose classified ads are still available online at www.kfru.com, was replaced in the 8 to 9 a.m. Saturday slot by “The Pet Place,” a local animal-care call-in show. Occupying the former “Pet Place” slot from 7 to 8 a.m. on Saturday is the locally produced “Saturday Morning News Hour.” “The Columbia Business Times,” airing from 10 to 11 a.m., was replaced with the recently developed “The Women’s Show,” a local female issues talk show. “The Sunday Morning Sports Show” was replaced by the radio version of Tim Russert’s “Meet the Press.”
Miller said no other changes were planned in the near future at KFRU or Cumulus’ six other stations in the Columbia area.
Mark Farnen hosted “The Columbia Business Times” for five years. He said he enjoyed hosting the show and the discussion it created. Farnen, an executive at Woodruff Commnications, wasn’t paid to host the show and said he decided to call it quits rather than choose one of the new time slots he was offered. He will still be a contributor to KFRU news in their coming election coverage.
The hosts of “The Sunday Morning Sports Show” and “The Trading Post” could not be reached for comment.
Public reaction has been mixed. Miller said Cumulus has received some complaints, but the positive comments outweigh the negative.
“I think ‘The Trading Post’ had a very small audience, but I was sorry to see ‘The Business Times’ go,” said Mary Nell Porter of Columbia, a frequent KFRU weekend listener.
Dave Baugher, president of Premier Marketing, who previously owned Cumulus’ stations, said he is not concerned about the other local shows.
“Cumulus has an excellent reputation in the industry for maintaining local programming autonomy,” he said, citing the greater amount of control they tend to give to local markets.
The Atlanta-based Cumulus Media purchased the seven Columbia radio stations owned by Premier Marketing in a $38.75 million deal. The stations include KFRU/1400 AM, KLIK/1240 AM, KPLA/101.5 FM, KBXR/102.3 FM, KBBM 100.1 FM, KJMO/104.1 FM and KOQL/106.1 FM. Cumulus has operated the stations since March under an asset lease agreement until the sale, pending FCC approval, is made final.
Founded in 1997, Cumulus owns over 300 stations in 61 mid-size markets.