Howard Beale versus the Talkmaster, conspiracy guy versus FairTax guy, faux libertarian versus libertarian lite, Mormon convert versus an inactive Episcopalian (or am I repeating myself? I kid), Beck versus Boortz. Who will win the 10 - 12 time slot in the great Knoxville Talk Radio War of 2010?
WNOX 100.3 quickly signed Neal Bootz to its new talk station after his former home, Citadel-owned NewsTalk 100.3 (now 98.7) dumped him for Glenn Beck. Boortz has a loyal following in Knoxville. He should do well. While he can be grating, rude and express views that the typical social conservative finds heretical (legalize drugs, accepting of gay marriage, refusing to talk about abortion), his Atlanta-based show feels local to some. One of my favorite Boortz moments came when he pointed out Bill O'Reilly's duplicity concerning his outrage over an all white private prom and O'Reilly calling Boortz a "vicious SOB."
But 98.7 saw an opportunity to dump Boortz for the new king of all media and the latest, hottest name in TV commentary and talk radio - Glenn Beck. He dominates TV and his radio show is now second (maybe third) to only Rush Limbaugh while Boortz has been slipping nationally. (These ratings actually mean very little because Hannity is still in more markets than Beck. Besides, I would guess that Beck easily beats Hannity head to head in any city where they are on at the same time.) Beck's radio show has a more easy going conversational tone than his often one trick pony TV show. (We get it, Obama is a socialist.) Beck is a lot easier to listen to then Boortz due to his style and humor. His huge TV fan base will tune in daily even if that means jilting their old flame.
But who will win? This one is tough since Boortz has quite a local following. I think Boortz will do well for a few months but over time Beck will win out.
Round 2: Beck and 98.7