Talk radio: Barefoot jumps WINA ship for FM-- and TV
Something was missing for listeners of WINA's "Charlottesville Right Now" tuning in to the AM station since late last week: Coy Barefoot, the show's longtime host. Here's a hint. Try FM on your dial.
Barefoot announced he was leaving the show he created in 2006 and going to an FM competitor— WCHV 107.5 FM— on his Sunday morning Newsplex show, Inside Charlottesville, which is also the name of his new radio show.
His new boss, Monticello Media Group, has a partnership with the Newsplex television stations. "The partnership between the Newsplex and Monticello Media is what really drew my attention, and the opportunity to contribute to that and build on it is what really prompted the move," explains Barefoot.
The goal is to expand that partnership and ultimately broadcast his radio show on TV, "like Howard Stern without the strippers," he says.
"The TV/radio combo is part of the big vision, trying to make content available any way possible," says Steve Gaines, Monticello Media general manager.
That's down the road. For now, Barefoot is in his old 4-6pm drive-time slot with a much bigger FM audience. "I know there's a much broader reach with the signal into Fluvanna and surrounding counties, and I do lots of statewide issues," he says.
That means a broader audience for the local, state and national political leaders who are guests on his show, as well as the authors, scholars, and journalists. For instance, Barefoot-regular Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling was a guest on his inaugural WCHV show. (Hook reporters also regularly discuss local issues with Barefoot on air.)
It was Barefoot's on-air connections and his love of central Virginia that attracted Gaines, along with the potential for cross-branding with the Sunday CBS19 show. "Coy is an excellent talk show host," says Gaines, who admits that it took quite a few discussions with Barefoot to lure him away from WINA.
Locally owned Monticello Media was formed in 2007 when Clear Channel jettisoned its six local stations. The station at 107.5 FM started out as "Tom," playing hits across all genres. Tom was tossed in January 2011, and the FM station became "News Talk" radio with the WCHV call letters, which also airs on 1260 AM. The station features conservative stalwarts Joe Thomas, Glen Beck, and Rush Limbaugh among its hosts.
In the six years since it purchased the stations, Monticello Media claims Arbitron ratings for the top three area stations. Number one is WCYK Hitkicker 99.7 country with a 7.9 percent market share; WHTE Hot 101.9 is second at 7.2 percent share, and Barefoot's new station, WCHV 107.5 News Talk, is number three with a 6.2 percent share, edging out his old station, WINA, which comes in at eighth place.
In other Arbitron rankings, Lite Rock Z95.1 and 3WV 97.5, both owned by Saga Communications, which also owns WINA, tie for number four. And at number 12 in the 12-and-older market, is 106.1 the Corner.
Like Monticello Media, the Newsplex is a relative newcomer on the Charlottesville broadcast scene. Owned by Gray Television, it went on the air in 2004, taking on long-established NBC29, which just celebrated its 40th anniversary.
Newsplex general manager Jay Barton was pleased with Barefoot's Inside Charlottesville debut in May on the last Sunday of the Nielsen ratings. "With minimal promotion, that debut did better than anything in that time slot the entire month," says Barton. The 30-minute show airs at 11:30am on WCAV CBS19 following Face the Nation.
A two-hour radio show is long in television time, and putting Barefoot on TV would eat into Judge Judy and CBS19 News. Barton isn't quite sure how he'll handle televising the radio show. "Does the entire show migrate?" he asks. "What form will it take? I'm very much invested in how to do it right the first time."
Those details are still to be worked out. "We spend a lot of time telling people what won't work," points out Barton. "With the right product, the right content— content being king— and the right person involved, I say, why not?"
"Charlottesville is a hub of innovation in high-tech, in medicine, and in education," observes Barefoot. "Why not media as well?"
Barefoot listener Gary Grant looks forward to the move. "Coy will be great on WCHV," he enthuses. "A more open format, I presume, will allow Coy to do what he does best— extended interviews."
Grant describes what he wants from the show: "I hope Coy keeps the focus of his show local, local, local, local, local. Personally, I'm also not interested in an NPR-type show full of features. Hard news is what I'm looking for, and, of course, also host and callers and commentators' takes on the hard news of the day and the week."
Notes Grant, "This is a big loss for WINA. I hope WINA finds a local voice to fill Coy's slot rather than falling back on some national syndicated show."
Calls to WINA's operations manager Rick Daniels and sports director Jay James had not been returned at press time.
"I have the greatest respect and admiration for everyone I have worked with at WINA and at the Charlottesville Radio Group," says Barefoot. "There's not a person in that company to whom I don't owe a debt of gratitude. I leave with many fond memories and treasured friendships. But the time has come to build something new."