In what was not exactly a secret in the radio business, Randy Cook is rejoining Spiff Carner, this time at True Oldies 106.7. Start date: Oct. 12. Fred Brooks, who has been doing mornings with Spiff, will move to afternoons.
Spiff has been at True Oldies since August 2008. Randy had been a morning host at news/talk WGST-AM until July. With Randy’s three-month, non-compete lapsing Oct. 10, he will be able to get back on the air that following Monday.
“I’m looking forward to taking some of the skills I learned form news/talk and transferring it over to a new way of doing our show,” Cook told me this morning. He admitted it was not exactly a secret since he telegraphed what was going to happen to me in July when he left WGST.
Throughout the 1990s, Randy & Spiff were the kings of oldies radio at Fox 97.1, garnering big ratings and revenues. They specialized in goofy characters and parody songs, with Randy as the straight man and Spiff cracking jokes.
But management shifted, the playlist got too small and revenues nosedived. Fox died in early 2003. The pair found work at three other radio stations (with much less success) until Spiff was cut from news/talk WGST-AM in the fall of 2007. Randy stayed on as a solo host. The team, which started at Rockford, Ill., in the mid-1980s, appeared to be kaput.
Atlanta appeared to be a goner as an oldies town. Conventional wisdom went like this: the format, which traditionally focused hits from the 1960s and early 1970s, drew too old an audience for most advertisers. And demographically, Atlanta skews younger than most cities.
Not everybody thought this was a dead format. Citadel Broadcasting early last year dumped country station Eagle 106.7 in favor of oldies. The company hedged its bets by doing it on the cheap, using New York legend Scott Shannon’s syndicated music mix and hiring just a single local DJ, Fred Brooks.
Shannon’s deeper, smartly eclectic playlist worked. The station did better than expected, often finishing top 10 in the ratings. Soon, they found the money to hire an unemployed Spiff – minus Randy, who was still under contract at WGST. Spiff teamed with Fred for an afternoon show while Don Imus did mornings. That was an odd fit to say the least and his ratings were poorer than that of the rest of the station.
Citadel finally did the right thing this spring and pawned off Imus to 1160/WCFO-AM. Fred and Spiff moved to mornings.
Randy said he was always the quarterback of the show, making sure everything ran smoothly but delegated most of the content to Spiff and character actors who did the voices such as the late Bill Hoger and Jerry Buckner (best known for his song “PacMan Fever”).
Now, given his experience reading the news and interviewing newsmakers, Randy wants to bring some of that to the Randy & Spiff Show, while continuing to highlight Spiff’s wise-cracking ways.
“I’d like him to be able to cut loose,” Randy said. “He’s a great comic when it comes to reacting to listeners. I’d like him to do commentaries and sports and funny stuff he used to do.”
Though the station tries to bring in 35-54 year olds, it does bring in a hefty numbers of 45-plus listeners, which makes sense given the music mix. Randy hopes to draw some younger folks by properly targeting interviews with TV, movei and music stars. He also wants to try out a local news segment. (Right now, they use a national feed.)
At appearances, Spiff gets asked all the time where Randy is. (Sadly, many folks never knew he was at WGST.)
Spiff said he loved parody songs but won’t be doing as much. And with Hoger gone, the old ’90s era characters are not going to be back either.
He also thinks the station will be stronger with two live dayparts, with Fred in the afternoons. “You can spread out the stuff you can’t do with Scott Shannon such as live contests,” he said.
And good news for Spiff: until now, he’d been working without a contract at True Oldies. The return of Randy may allow him a little more job security.