Merlin COO Walter Sabo Defends New Format At FM News 101.9/New York
August 18, 2011 at 3:57 AM (PT)
MERLIN MEDIA COO WALTER SABO responded to criticism of the newly-launched News format at WEMP (FM NEWS 101.9)/NEW YORK in an interview with the NEW YORK DAILY NEWS' DAVID HINCKLEY that the station sounds "pretty good" for its first week on the air. SABO told HINCKLEY that the station is "redefining both the definition of news and the presentation," explaining that, "To our listener, a story on the economy is not about a trillion-dollar deficit. It's 'Will I get fired?' or 'If my car breaks down, can I afford the repair?' We want to move every story immediately to what it means for the listener. We're sharing, not preaching."
Defending the station's topic selection and news credibility in the face of criticism that the station airs light "lifestyle" stories ("We have top news people here. If a story is important, we will cover it"), he asserted that listeners want the lifestyle items along with traffic and weather ("We don't put traffic on a clock. We give it as long as it needs. Our listener has to get the kids to school and make the meeting at work").
"Spoken-word formats take time to build," SABO said. "But this company knows that and will be patient. We expect that ultimately we will be a top-five station among 25- to-54-year-olds." He pointed out that he was "called 'insane' when we launched NEW JERSEY 101.5. No format was ever more ridiculed when it started than WFAN -- and for years, they were the highest billing station in AMERICA."