Newsflash: Clueless member of the media writes about media

Credit: WPSC-FM in Wayne, New Jersey.

McQueary’s piece on radio is a complete waste of time and space, as she is a member of the same political party who helped deregulate radio – leading to piped-in out-of-town voices in the first place. 

Every once in a while, you have those who work in the media who write about the media, proving how completely clueless they are about how the business works.

The latest example of this came Saturday in an absolutely inane article written by Kristen McQueary of the Chicago Tribune and an occasional guest host on WIND-AM about local radio targeting of all people syndicated host Bobby Bones, whose show airs locally over country station WEBG-FM, known as Big 95.5 and owned by iHeartMedia.

While she does have a couple of good points – particularly about syndicated shows replacing local shows, the article comes off as smug and elitist, acting like she is an all-around media expert, of which she is not (she is a member of the completely irrelevant Chicago Tribune Editorial Board, which gave us such gems as this.)

Even though she rightly gripes about syndicated radio programs replacing a local show, her article seems to be tailored to those living in smaller markets such as Tulsa or West Palm Beach where there is an abundance of syndication.

Believe it or not, there are actually very few syndicated morning drive programs in the Chicago market as stations here actually invest in live and local morning programming from Eric Ferguson on WTMX to Lin Brehmer on WXRT, whom she does praise. As you recall over a decade ago, WGCI replaced Crazy Howard McGee’s local morning show with Steve Harvey’s syndicated gabfest, which didn’t turn out well. When Clear Channel (now iHeartMedia) decided to move Harvey’s show to the more demo-compatible V103 (WVAZ-FM), WGCI could have replaced him with another syndicated show such as The Breakfast Club from sister station WWPR-FM in New York. Instead, WGCI  returned to a live and local morning show (since replaced by another local effort, hosted by Kyle Santillian and Kendra G.)

In addition to Bones, there are only three other nationally syndicated radio morning shows in Chicago airing on full-signal English radio stations: V103’s Harvey, ESPN 1000’s Golic & Wingo (though the station is live and local after 9 a.m.) and Power 92’s Rickey Smiley. I’m curious why McQueary didn’t target Smiley or Harvey in her pointless rant – or maybe “urban” radio to her doesn’t count as she doesn’t seem to have a lot of compassion for the Chicago area’s black population, as an idiotic piece she wrote from 2015 attests (Yes, Bill Maher and Joe Walsh aren’t the only ones who get a pass for racist talk.) McQueary is just another symptom of a lack of racial diversity in media, in Chicago and nationally – just look at CBS both behind the scenes and on-camera (Survivor, specifically) and tell me differently.

Kristen McQueary slammed Bobby Bones’ syndicated radio show, telling us what we already know – it sucks.

While she basically made the same point I made in 2007 regarding Harvey, there is a major difference – while McGee was beloved by his audience and scored high ratings, the show Bones replaced was a low-rated and pathetic local effort by Big 95.5, hiring a duo from the world’s worst media market in St. Louis (never mind what I said here about Chicago radio in 2015) in an effort to connect with Chicago listeners – something McQueary failed to mention in her piece. For the record, Bones isn’t faring any better, so Chicago listeners have made their choice, making her piece even more pointless.

But here’s the most interesting part: McQueary is a well-known conservative, and for years, Republicans on the FCC have pushed for deregulation in the media industry, which is still a hot topic. Radio was deregulated in the 1990s, allowing companies to swallow up one another, leading to the rise (and financial fall) of conglomerates Clear Channel and Cumulus. Local voices were replaced by naturally syndicated content and voice-tracking, leading to a bland, unspectacular product – a far cry from what radio used to be in the 1950s through the 1980s, when it was more free-wheeling and fun. Many people in radio lost their jobs and the workforce shrank.

And guess who supported deregulation of the radio business? Yep, Republicans – the same party she supports.

McQueary also throws in some lame jokes about liberal talk WCPT-AM (“being the opposition”) and Chicago being over taken in popualtion by Houston, never mind Nielsen Audio doesn’t measure market size by city population but by metropolitan area (Chicago is the nation’s third-ranked radio market nationally; Houston ranks sixth), proving her lack of knowledge about how radio works. McQueary’s piece comes off as hypocritical – no surprise coming from her elitist, wine-drinking suburban soccer mom bubble. Really lady, nobody gives a damn about what radio station you listen to. I certain the NAB types will eat this article up given they’re just as hypocritical as she is.

Look, you don’t have to know about radio in order to be on the radio – just be entertaining. But if you’re going to write about the medium (and this includes television too), you better bring your A game. If McQueary is talking about radio like if we Chicagoans are living in Roanoke or Youngstown, then maybe she should relocate to either of those two cities – then she would really have something to complain about. Anyone want to help pack her bags?


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