Radio & TV Talk

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2013 flashback: No more comedy at 92.3 starting June 3

Enjoy the laughs while you can at FM 92.3: the comedy station is ending its brief run at that signal on June 3, in favor of ESPN Deportes, a Hispanic sports talk format which is currently on AM640 (640 returns to news/talk WGST June 3.)

Comedy 24/7 debuted last October, mixing clips from emerging stand-up comics with established ones such as Bobcat Goldthwait, Jeff Foxworthy, Whitney Cummingsand Chris Rock.

In the end, its lifespan will have been shorter than a normal pregnancy - and just slightly longer than Cumulus rock station 98.9/The Bone, which lasted five months until February, when it became Christian country 98.9/The Walk.

Comedy channels are well established on satellite radio (e.g. Sirius/XM Blue Collar radio) but is relatively new on the AM/FM dial. This is certainly the first time comedy has ever been attempted in Atlanta.

The station's relatively weak signal limits its appeal but it did show up on the Arbitron ratings in March, drawing a 0.4 rating.

Matt Scarano, Clear Channel Atlanta general manager, wrote me to explain, "ESPN Deportes fits better with our overall market strategy." Why? Clear Channel operates the most popular Hispanic station, El Patron at 105.3, which has seen ratings accelerate upward in recent months. The two stations can be more easily paired together from a sales standpoint. (ESPN Deportes on 640 was getting zero Arbitron ratings but may do better on the FM dial.)

The comedy station, which is syndicated nationally, will still be available on the I Heart Radio app.

Clear Channel frequently fiddles with formats on its weaker signals. Recently, it swapped out Wild 105.7 (rhythmic top 40) with Radio 105.7 (alternative rock) and 640/ESPN Deportes with news/talk WGST (again). For 105.7, the current rock format is  the 7th change in 14 years.

Marshall Chiles, who runs Midtown's trendy comedy club the Laughing Skull Lounge, said he was disappointed by the move.

"It's a real shame," Chiles said. "The channel is very popular considering its signal. They gave it zero promotion."

When the comedy station first debuted last fall, Chiles jumped aboard as its first advertiser and benefited from the station promoting his annual spring comedy festival. He was even planning to help put together the station's website.

But now he won't even listen to the station, feeling like a jilted boyfriend: "It's like a girlfriend who says she's moving to Alaska in a month but says we can just hang out until then."

He hopes Clear Channel or some other radio company would find a signal to air another comedy channel. He even started a Facebook page yesterday: "We Want 24/7 Comedy Radio in Atlanta." You can "like" it here.  So far, he has 425 likes.

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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.