Sacramento talk radio lost another local voice today when Phil Cowan left the air.
Cowan's conservative talk show (10 a.m. to noon) on KSTE (650 AM) had struggled for ratings. The big problem is that Cowan went against the mighty Rush Limbaugh on sister station KFBK (1530 AM). Cowan had hosted the call-in show for several years. He's best known, of course, as part of the morning duo on Y92.5's Paul and Phil show, which Cowan voluntarily left a year ago.
Replacing Cowan in the 10-noon spot will be syndicated consumer talker Clark Howard.
His departure makes Bruce Maiman (KFBK's evening guy) as the lone local talk-show left. Remember, KFBK's Tom Sullivan has moved to New York and been syndicated.
The past year has seen a procession of departures -- Mark Williams, Eric Hogue, Christine Craft, Enid Goldstein, Scott & Sims. (KSTE's lone local voice now is the morning team of Armstrong & Getty, more variety than overtly political.)
"As we've been working to realign KSTE to counterprogram KFBK, we realized we had to make this move to provide the listeners something different," says Jeff Holden, general manager of Sacramento's Clear Channel stations, which includes KSTE and KFBK. "Rush is such a dominant force that it was hard to break through."
Holden said Cowan's low ratings did play a part in the decision to cancel the show. "If it had shown a dramatic increase (in the last ratings period), it might have made a difference," he said.
But he had nothing but praise for what he termed Cowan's "professionalism." Holden says the station plans to stream Cowan's last 15-minute segment, during which he said goodbye, on the KSTE Web site later today.