Washington Post Radio: NPR On Tranquilizers?

Unlike television, where network executives can detect and cancel a lousy show after only a few episodes (and never make a mistake), radio formats take time to come together and build audience. So we expect that the powers behind Washington Post Radio (WTWP AM-FM) aren’t going to panic over their first 3-month rating survey.

Still, it has to be disappointing that, in the “money demo” of 25-54 year old listeners, the station only managed a 0.9 audience share in the just-released Spring ratings. Among the overall 12+ listening audience, the station is tied for 21st place in the market.

The Post’s partner in this project is Bonneville, which owns WTWP as well as all-news powerhouse WTOP and classical WGMS. Bonneville Radio programming VP Jim Farley promised Post Radio would be like “NPR on caffeine”. (Did someone slip some Sanka into the coffee machine?)

Maybe something in the Washington Post radio mix just isn’t working. Is the execution of the format (with many tape-replayed segments) too repetitious? Is the absence of some key Washington Post personalities (Tony Kornheiser) hurting them? Or is the Post just overexposed in this market? Do we not want to hear more about stories that we’ve already read in that morning’s Post?

Again, it’s early in the game. Maybe the audience will catch on. Maybe a war in the Middle East will give the station compelling stuff to talk about and juice up the ratings. Maybe.

>UPDATE: A reader writes in with his thoughts:

    I don’t listen because I don’t get it. I don’t mean I don’t understand it; I mean I literally don’t get it. In my Loudoun/Frederick/Howard counties commute, the FM signal is constantly stepped on by some country station, and the AM signal just has too much interference to be listenable. They’ll never have decent ratings if their audience can’t get it.