In a potential good sign for how much stations could get in political dollars in the year to come, radio got more than a ten percent share of the millions of dollars spent during California’s gubernatorial recall election. Kantar’s Campaign Media Analysis Group says just under $55 million was spent in the state during the race, about half of which was placed in the Los Angeles market.
Kantar-CMAG VP/General Manager Steve Passwaiter says when the recall first materialized there were some predictions that its spending levels could approach the more than $400 million that was spent during the runoff elections for two Georgia seats late last year. But Passwaiter says the California recall never generated the same sort of energy as the deep blue state always seems to be out of reach for Republicans.
While the numbers were not as big as first forecast, there were some beneficiaries in radio, even though radio talk show host Larry Elder is not heading for a new job in Sacramento. Kantar-CMAG says iHeartMedia’s talk KFI (640) and Univision Radio’s romantica “K-Love 107.5” KLVE were two of the biggest winners in the recall election that saw incumbent Democrat Gavin Newsom hold onto his seat.
Even though Elder had the biggest number of votes among the challengers, his name recognition was a big factor. Kantar-CMAG says it was rival GOP candidate John Cox that spent the most on broadcast ads, although Elder was a close second. Former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer ranked third in the preliminary tally released on Election Day.
Kantar analyst Chris Sebastian said the Republicans had the bigger task. Not only did they need to convince voters to show up and reject Newsom’s bid to remain governor, they then had to sell themselves as the person to fill the vacancy. Its review found that the coronavirus pandemic had relatively few mentions in the ads, while California’s high tax rates dominated. It appeared in two-thirds of ads, said Sebastian. That compared to the pandemic that only got a mention in seven percent of ads.
Elder has not yet returned to his timeslot (6-9pm ET) on Salem Radio Network. Senior VP of Spoken Word Format Phil Boyce told Inside Radio that Elder has asked for some time to recuperate from the grind of a gubernatorial election before he makes a decision on when or how to return to radio. “I assured him we are keeping the seat warm for him, and I expect he will decide to return,” said Boyce.
Salem has placed Carl Jackson in Elder’s timeslot for now. Jackson, who serves as a regular fill-in host for Prager, hosts a Saturday evening program on Salem Media Group talk “950 The Answer” WORL Orlando.