Friday, December 18, 2009

The Ticket's Lousy Signal – And What to Do About It in the Short Run

The Ticket is one of the radio monsters. It is the envy not only of sports radio stations across the country, it is a pearl in the necklace of Cumulus that other radio corporations would love to have.

Michael Rhyner grumbles about Cumulus, and it isn't an act. The failure to nourish the station is a scandal. And it starts with the awful signal. 104.1 is 6200 watt; 1310 is, as nearly as I can tell -- and I'm having some trouble getting info off the the FCC website -- a 5000 watt directional signal. That ain't much. A big FM signal is in the 100-300,000 range, a decent AM signal is at least into five figures. I note that they're now on 1700 AM at times, which I think is 10000 watts during the day and 1000 at night. Now, it is the case that one can't just go to the FCC and say "I want more power." The Ticket is stuck with what they've got on those frequencies.

And it is poor. I travel north and south in Dallas daily, and the signal is dreadful in some of the most desirable North Dallas neighborhoods. AM or FM, doesn't matter -- it sputters and pops and goes in and out. 104.1 is routinely kicked off the air by some East Texas religious talker, I think it's KKUS in Tyler. I can't help but wonder if the Ticket's abysmal coverage had anything to do with the Cowboys taking their act elsewhere. It has to be a problem for their ad sales staff.

But Cumulus is a big boy. When WSCR ("The Score") in Chicago started to get huge, its owner moved its signal to another one that they owned that boosted their power immensely. (Moved it twice, as I recall.) Let's take a look at what Cumulus owns in Dallas, in addition to KLIF:

KDBM-FM, 93.3 (The Bone) -- 50,000 watts
KPLX-FM, 99.5 (The Wolf) -- 100,000 watts

Those are decent wattages. If we look at the ratings, we find The Ticket doing pretty well (approximately 13th overall), but doing spectacularly well – like, the best – in the 25-54 male demographic. We find The Wolf at or near No. 1 in the market overall. We don't find the Bone doing that well, 37th or so overall, but there are lots of ties in this list, so it's actually somewhat further down in the public estimation.

What does all this mean? I dunno, but I suspect it means that the Ticket is a helluva lot more valuable than its overall ratings rank would indicate. And yet it's got this crappy pair of cobbled-together signals. It probably also means that The Wolf is bulletproof. And it probably also means that The Bone is . . . nothing special.

So, I propose that Cumulus give The Ticket KDBN's FM signal at 93.3 FM.  No reason it can't keep broadcasting on 1310 AM. You may think that it would be a sacrilege for The Ticket to broadcast on anything other than 1310, but I am here to tell you that people would forget about it in no time. I'm not a radio technician and I don't know how to measure the improvement that putting The Ticket on 93.3 would work, but I'll bet it would be considerable. (The coverage map for KDBN is not available on Radio-Locator for some reason.) And when I say "improvement," I mean (1) better signal in the DFW population areas, and (2) wider coverage for the signal as a whole.

In the meantime, it's amazing that this station with this weak. spotty signal is gaining national attention and honors. Cumulus can milk the poor little Ticket for all it's worth, I suppose, but wouldn't it make more sense to do something to make it a DFW station of the first rank? Wouldn't it be a profit-maximizing decision?

Michael R is right – someone should come in and buy this thing. Or at least Cumulus should throw up a couple of billboards.

8 comments:

Steven said...
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The Plainsman said...

I am reliably informed that the 1310 AM signal is 9000 KW during the day and 5000 at night.

Steven said...
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The Plainsman said...

Well, I'm obviously not up on things. 93.3 isn't "The Bone" any more, it's something called i93hits and, to judge from the ads, plays mostly heavily ProTuned hits by people whose voices you wouldn't recognize them of you heard them with out digital manipulation. So unlikely Cumulus will heed my respectful suggestion that they dump whatever's on 93.3 and give it to The Ticket.

Of course, I got "The Bone" information off the Cumulus corporate site, so they're apparently also unaware of the new format of their Dallas property at 93.3.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

The Plainsman said...

Thanks for the challenge. Keep an eye out for a major multi-parter on The Hardline. Can't tell if anyone reads this thing, so your note was most welcome. (Spread the word.)

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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