Ratings eat Leafs Lunch at AM640
It's the oldest story in the radio business: Death by ratings.
That's the story behind AM640's decision to axe its daily Leafs Lunch program starting next month. So says program director Gord Harris.
``Leafs Lunch was a good show, but it wasn't performing as well as it should," Harris said Friday, a day after notifying staffers that the talk station was cutting back from four hours of sports chat a day to three by dumping the noon-hour show -- at least for the summer.
Harris said the move was made to provide a more consistent diet of news talk.
``Nobody lost their job and this wasn't about saving money," Harris said. ``It's about giving the audience what it wanted."
He said that host Darren Dreger will continue to do freelance work for the station and that producer Bryan Hayes will stay on. Bill Watters, naturally, will remain on the drive-time Bill Watters Show, with Dreger and Hayes possibly contributing.
``We can now focus our sports content on the drive-time show," Harris said.
The new people-meter ratings system seems to have played a part in the show's demise. Under the old diary system, Leafs Lunch appeared to be challenging the FAN 590-Rogers Sportsnet hybrid HockeyCentral at Noon. But the new system showed that not only was Leafs Lunch trailing the FAN, but it was scaring off audiences between Mike Stafford's morning show and Charles Adler's afternoon gig. Now Stafford will be on air from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., with Adler providing a Toronto-focused segment at 1 and a national two-hour slot at 2.
Harris wouldn't elaborate, but indicated in a memo to 640 staffers that we may not have seen the last of Leafs Lunch.
``The Leafs Lunch brand is not going to die," he wrote, ``It will live on -- in a modified form -- beginning in September."
Since ratings are the lifeblood of radio, wild rumours about big changes at the FAN don't seem to make a lot of sense. The station scored very well in the spring ratings, but with a new program director on board anything is possible.