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Radio station adds Dennis Miller in conservative-talk battle

November 27, 2013

News-talk junkies were even more peeved than usual in January, when Entercom Communication’s WXNT-AM 1430 switched formats to sports talk.

Gone were Michael Smerconish, Alan Colmes, Glenn Beck and the pugnacious comedian/commentator Dennis Miller.

At least one of those talkers—Dennis Miller—is coming back to local airwaves starting Dec. 3. But this time it will be on Pilgrim Communications’ WXLW-AM 950 in Indianapolis and WFDM-FM 95.9 in Franklin.

WXLW, which last year began simulcasting content airing on WFDM, will put Miller on during the midnight-to-3 a.m. slot, however.

Miller used to air on WXNT in the afternoons, when many listeners were driving home from work. Although Miller often goes on political rants, his show adds balance with non-political content such as movie trivia and humor from guests such as Norm Macdonald and Dana Carvey.

“I know some people would prefer [Miller] in an earlier slot,” concedes Dan O’Brien, marketing operations manager at WXLW/WFDM. The stations are singularly branded as “Freedom 95.”

The challenge, O’Brien said, is that Freedom 95 is already booked with popular shows from hosts such as Sean Hannity, Dave Ramsey, Mark Levin and Michael Savage.

“Who would we remove?” O’Brien said, adding that he was sure everybody had opinions on that. 

Currently, the closest stations carrying Miller are WGCL-AM 1370 in Bloomington and WBAT-AM 1400 in Marion, according to Miller’s website. It lists Miller as airing on Freedom 95 at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., but that is a misprint, said O’Brien.  

Pilgrim’s use of WXLW to reach Indianapolis listeners–-particularly those in more conservative and wealthier northern suburbs–-has made it a strong talk rival to Emmis Communications’ WIBC-FM 93.1.

To what degree Freedom 95 might ding WIBC is hard to say, however, because WFDM/WXLW doesn’t pay to participate in ratings services.

WIBC airs conservative talkers such as Rush Limbaugh, the firebrand Dana Loesch, and Indianapolis attorney Greg Garrison. WIBC recently bolstered its lineup by adding local political commentator Abdul-Hakim Shabazz and the "Chicks on the Right" show.

One downside for WXLW in the Indianapolis market is that, like most AM radio stations, it must dial down its power a bit at night.  

So O’Brien said the show also will be delivered through Internet streaming, for those who can’t pick up the weaker nighttime signal.

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