Two things are clear from reader feedback I’ve been getting this week about two stories I wrote for this week’s print edition of the Indianapolis Business Journal. First, fans of WNDE-AM 1260 are much more vocal than those of WFNI-AM 1070. Second, Indianapolis Colts fans are not pleased with Lucas Oil Products Inc. officials’ request not to call the new stadium The Luke. You can read both of these stories and read some of the comments on our Web site, www.ibj.com.
A couple of other things also came to light. John Michael Vincent, host of WNDE’s afternoon drive show has an ardent following. That’s evident from reader responses I’ve received this week. Sports/talk radio listeners also seem to be tiring of the happy talk of WFNI afternoon hosts Bob Kravitz and Eddie White.
Even Tom Severino, local vice president of Emmis Communications, which owns WFNI, raved about JMV. So naturally, I asked him if he would consider trying to hire JMV away from WNDE. I asked the question shortly after Severino said he wanted to add more local on-air talent to the WFNI line-up. There was a pause on the other end of the line. But in the end, Severino wouldn’t bite. He didn’t dismiss the idea out of hand either. No doubt WNDE would counter any WFNI offer for JMV. While many readers assumed Emmis’ WFNI has deeper pockets than WNDE, I suspect that has more to do with WFNI’s highly visible posh headquarters on the downtown circle than anything else. San Antonio-based Clear Channel, which owns WNDE, has plenty of resources, and will be eager to protect this profitable enterprise. So stay tuned.
As for Lucas Oil, and it’s owner Forrest Lucas, he’s taking a beating by our readers after his request that they not call the Colts’ new stadium The Luke. Lucas pointed out that one of his competitors is LukOil, a Russian-owned New Jersey based firm making a big push in the U.S. He’s concerned The Luke nickname would give his competitor a boost. Lucas may have double trouble. An IBJ reader also pointed out that there’s a Hobart-based Luke Oil Co., which has 15 retail gas stations and other enterprises in northwest Indiana and southwest Michigan.
I was surprised at how much backlash there was against Lucas personally over his request. Isn’t his $121.5 million naming rights deal with the Colts going to help the team remain competitive over the next 20 years? And those who are calling Lucas an elitist, I think they have him all wrong. This is a guy who takes his own calls and never shies away from answering a single question. Heck, he’s even given me his and his wife’s cell phone numbers in case I need to reach him in a hurry. That’s pretty unusual access for a corporate CEO these days. If Lucas has made any mistakes since signing the naming rights deal, it’s probably that he’s been too open and honest—at least from a marketing perspective. Those are the kind of mistakes I can live with.