The talk of talk radio station WBAL-AM (1090) this week has been about the station's newest talker -- and he was getting a bum's rush from many callers.
That's Rush, as in Rush Limbaugh, whose nationally syndicated afternoon show premiered Monday on the local talk show leader, moving over from WCBM-AM (680).
Morning talk show host Allan Prell pleaded with his listeners yesterday to stop calling to criticize "The Rush Limbaugh Show." "Let's talk about this show, not somebody else's," he said.
Many callers criticized the addition of Mr. Limbaugh as disruptive to WBAL's position as a locally oriented public affairs station.
The station acknowledged a heavy listener response, including phone calls and letters.
"There are more from dissatisfied customers than from satisfied customers," said spokeswoman Laurie Fleischman. "We're asking them to give him [Mr. Limbaugh] a chance and to take him for what he is, to listen." Arbitron radio ratings are compiled quarterly, so figures will not be be available until spring.
She said all letter writers will get a response explaining the change. "The Ron Smith Show," previously heard in the afternoon, has moved to 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays. "The Dan Rodricks Show," previously heard evenings, now airs from 7 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
"I think the reaction has been predictable and expected. A number of people have been dissatisfied with the change," said Jeff Beauchamp, WBAL general manager. But he said other callers had expressed approval. "When you make a change, particularly at a talk radio station, you're going to hear from your audience."
WBAL announced it had acquired the "The Rush Limbaugh Show" last October.
Last month, WCBM filed a $1 million breach of contract suit against WBAL and EFM Media, the syndicator of the Limbaugh program. It contends WCBM had rights to the show through May 1994.
"It doesn't seem to be a happy marriage," said WCBM general manager Sean Casey yesterday, commenting upon WBAL listener reaction to the change.
He said WCBM has heard a positive reaction to its new talk show lineup.
The station on Monday added a morning show with host Alan Keyes, who has twice run as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Maryland, and moved "Les Kinsolving's Uninhibited Radio" into the noon to 3 p.m. slot vacated by the Limbaugh program.