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WGST-AM bringing back local talk radio

[UPDATE on November 12, 8:24 a.m.: Rob Johnson informed me this morning he officially starts November 15 on Monday from 6 to 9 a.m.. But Rusty Humphries, due to some issues with current afternoon host Dave Ramsey, cannot start until January 1 from 3 to 6 p.m. although he is now based in Atlanta. He had expected to start yesterday.]

[UPDATE on November 12, 6:19 p.m.: Dan Persigehl, operations manager, confirmed to me that Johnson is starting Monday. But Dave Ramsey's contract requires a 90-day notice before he can be booted. He was not given that amount of time. The two sides ended up compromising: six-week notice so Rusty cannot take the 3 to 6 p.m. slot until January 3, 2011. In the meantime, Rusty will do a 6 to 7 p.m. show in the interim starting Monday. Ramsey's future? To be determined, Persigehl said.]

640/WGST-AM, which has been going all syndicated talk on weekdays the past 15 months, is bringing back local talk radio to both mornings and late afternoons Monday through Friday.

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Rob Johnson (right), a talk show host from Modesto, has arrived in Atlanta and is scheduled to start his live, local show in the mornings. He was last on KMPH-AM/840 in Modesto. Based on Arbitron measurements, Modesto is the 113th largest market in the United States with 426,000 people ages 12 and up in the area.

Rusty Humphries, a producer for Steve & Vikki on Star 94 back in the 1990s, became a popular syndicated talk show host with nearly 300 affiliates. He will be coming to Atlanta from Oregon to do his show from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.. I hear El Jefe, who had been part of the morning show at Project 9-6-1 until last month, may be involved with Humphries’ show as a producer. He will continue to syndicate his 9 p.m to midnight show.

rusty2“Some talkers are the iron men of the business,” said Michael Harrison, editor of Talkers magazine, which tracks the talk radio world. “He’s one of them.”

Harrison is a fan. He said Humphries has “paid a lot of dues. He lost his wife. His father died in Vietnam. He became very overweight, then lost 100 pounds and now runs marathons. He’s done some very exciting overseas broadcasts from war zones. He’s risked his life interviewing terrorists in their terrorist camps in the Middle East.  Atlanta is going to be getting a pretty colorful guy.”

He’s conservative, Harrison added, but not angry. “He’s a creative, fun guy,” he said.

Talkers estimates that he has more than 2.75 million listeners and is in the top 20 among most popular talk show hosts in the country.

Humphries, in an interview today, said he is well aware of GST’s woes over the years. “There’s a definite signal problem,” he said. “Some very smart, good radio broadcasters have had tough times there. I’m not coming in expecting to be the savior. But I still believe in talk radio.”

He promises to work with advertisers and “bring new ways of thinking to sell the station.”

Humphries, with his syndicated show, is not doing the local show for the money. “I don’t need the job. The syndicated show is doing fantastic. I’m doing it because I’m having fun. I love Atlanta.”

But Humphries, who left Atlanta just before the 1996 Olympics, said he won’t be namedropping Stone Mountain and the Varsity on the first day. “I used to live here but it’s been a long time. I’ll start off slow. We’ll talk more national stuff and terrorism, then catch up on local issues. I’m again a stranger in a strange land.”

Read more about him on his web page.

Michael Smerconish, a syndicated host out of Philadelphia, will be out as morning host after 15 months. Afternoon syndicated host Dave Ramsey out of Nashville, will be moved to evenings.

WGST’s numbers have slipped off notably over the years as its audience has moved further outside the Perimeter and its revenues declined. The last time WGST had a live and local afternoon show was Kim “The Kimmer” Peterson, who was dismissed in late 2006 and retired. Randy Cook, now on air with Spiff Carner on True Oldies 106.7, was let go last summer. The station is ranked 22nd in the latest monthly Arbitron ratings.

In its target demographic of 25 to 54 men for the four weeks ending October 16, Smerconish ranked 25th, Glenn Beck ranked 23rd, Rush Limbaugh ranked 14th and Ramsey ranked 23rd.

I’ll update this as I get more information from the bosses there at Clear Channel Atlanta. (UPDATE as of 11:04 p.m. 11/10/10: Though new operations guy Dan Persighel promised me a press release earlier today, I never saw it. Will try to get something from him Thursday.)

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97 comments Add your comment

U Gotta B Kidding

November 10th, 2010
11:24 am

Enter your comments here

U Gotta B Kidding

November 10th, 2010
11:25 am

Well, the ratings have no where to go but up. I wish them well. It might prompt WSB to start airing local talk once again.

U Gotta B Kidding

November 10th, 2010
11:26 am

BTW, 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

Mo Schriebman

November 10th, 2010
11:35 am

If you want local talk then they should hire my wife. I have heard it all already so someone else can listen for awhile or longer even. But do not get me started please.

North Ave Trade School Hater

November 10th, 2010
11:38 am

Too little too late. I never listen to WGST anymore, but I did all the time when The King & The Kimmer were on.

Garrett Davis

November 10th, 2010
11:43 am

Sebas is ready and available.

Jennifer

November 10th, 2010
11:44 am

What a great idea…changing to local talk when the daylight hours are the shortest of the year so no one outside the perimeter can hear it!

Donna

November 10th, 2010
12:15 pm

Now to get rid of Beck and Limbaugh. I’m tired of angry white men.

go jackets

November 10th, 2010
12:17 pm

If they really want a good local guy, they should go after Royal Marshal from WSB. He won’t be cheap, but he will bring a bunch of very loyal fans. I don’t care for his politics, but he is very entertaining..

Peter

November 10th, 2010
12:19 pm

Bring back The Kimmer! Bring back The Kimmer!

Kat

November 10th, 2010
12:31 pm

What time will Dave Ramsey be on in the evenings?

Vyper3000

November 10th, 2010
12:32 pm

Amazing – so Clear Channel finally realized what the legions of WGST listeners tried to tell them a few years ago: DON’T SCREW WITH THE FORMAT. If they REALLY want to make things right they’ll offer whatever it takes to bring the Kimmer back for at least a year. Bringing back Tom Hughes would go along way, too. WGST was the BEST talk radio in town, and they made the deliberate decision to ignore local listeners and destroy the station.

Rodney Ho

November 10th, 2010
12:33 pm

Not sure. Waiting for a call back from someone over there who can talk on the record.

Kim Huffman

November 10th, 2010
12:40 pm

Bringing rightwing nut dead zombies back to dead radio. A.M. radio?, what is that?, and who cares?

Dave in Marietta

November 10th, 2010
12:42 pm

I have a great format that I thoroughly enjoy. It’s called silence.

Talk Radio Listener

November 10th, 2010
12:45 pm

Wow bring in Talent from Modesto, that’s desperate, couldn’t find anyone that’s heard of the state of Georgia?

What about Mark Levine? He’s better than Dave Ramsey. They’d be stupid to take Levine off the air. Then again this is probably all cost cutting measures anyway.

Also if they had half a brain, they’d add an FM signal so it could be heard outside the perimeter. That or just turn off at night because no one can hear it anyway, that could save some money.

aieght den

November 10th, 2010
12:49 pm

The only good thing on WGST is Coast to Coast and they took that off from 10-12 for more right wing unlistenable crap. I vote republican but enough is enough…

Livin like no one else!

November 10th, 2010
12:57 pm

I will miss listening to Dave on my way home from work…he’s the best WGST has syndicated!

DW

November 10th, 2010
12:58 pm

So…. They had a winning formula (local hosts), ditched it, and want to go back. Who REALLY is in charge of WGST? Clear Channel should cut their losses and sell WGST to someone who actually CARES about quality AM talk radio.

Big Jim

November 10th, 2010
1:02 pm

How about more Art Bell and Phil Hendrie. Conservative talk has done enough damage to the paranoid side of our brains. Now that would be fair and balanced.

jungleland2

November 10th, 2010
1:03 pm

Dave Ramsey at night? I think that will hurt his ratings considerably as the suburbs lose their signal half way home anyway

Teach618

November 10th, 2010
1:06 pm

What do you think the chances are of Dave Ramsey being picked up by another station for the afternoon shift?

itpdude

November 10th, 2010
1:18 pm

WGS-Who?

Ever since that station canned The King and Kimmer, I haven’t listened. GS-Who? previously canned a lot of other talent or lost that talent. The Newsmaker guy (Fossett?) and Pete Davis added a lot but they got rid of them.

This ignores how much the signal sucks. I’m in the perimeter and that station is unlistenable due to poor signal.

I’ve since gotten on board with satellite radio and am very unlikely to ever return to Atlanta radio. WGS-Who? helped prompt my turn to satellite radio.

Evander "The Ho Chasin'" Holyfield

November 10th, 2010
1:26 pm

What a TERRIFIC idea. Bring back GI Jerk (wife beater and raging alcoholic) as he is such a great example of a conservative. LOL
You nutcase neocons out there still pine for this clown. Get a life fools!
How about bring back Ralph from Ben Hill instead?

Reverie

November 10th, 2010
1:28 pm

Bring back the Kimmer and convince Wayne to come back from Delta. WGST made an arrogant and stupid move turning their back on their audience. First they took away the FM Signal and I did not speak up. Then they took away Jim Gossett and I did not speak up. Then they took away the Kimmer and there was nobody left at the station that cared. Management by idiots does not win you the time slot…

Johnny Nam

November 10th, 2010
1:28 pm

You ain’t got the Kimmer, you ain’t got a talk show!!!!
I haven’t listened to your show since you dumped him and the King, and don’t plan to listen.
Now if you could persuade the Kimmer an the King back, that’s a different story. Looking for ratings again……there’s the 2 you need. Never heard of any of the new guys except Rusty, he’s not bad…..but no Kimmer by ant stretch of the imagination.

Swanton Rockmore

November 10th, 2010
1:30 pm

What ever happened to Super Handyman Al Carroll? He would have been great for the early morning show. A lot of us old retired folks need tips for doing the ole “honeydews.” And will they ever bring back “Sixty at Six?” Come on Wgst?

Producer

November 10th, 2010
1:35 pm

Rodney,

Any chance WGST can land an FM station? They rocked when they had 105.7.

ATL Gator

November 10th, 2010
1:52 pm

Go find the Kimmer…he’s in the mountains of western Massachusetts….back up the money truck to his door and bring him back. Its the only way to make WGST relevant again…

Gretchn

November 10th, 2010
1:54 pm

Modesto to Atlanta, that’s quite a market jump! He’s not going to know what to do with himself here. Even the computer in his photo looks like it’s from 1991

TechRon

November 10th, 2010
2:12 pm

What a joy it was to listen to the Kimmer. What a bunch of stuffshirts they must have been to get rid of him. GST was SO good when they had Kimmer, Clark, Boortz and so on. I loved Tom Hauck and Dick Williams also. Loved Hauck on the restaurant cutting board!!

TechRon

November 10th, 2010
2:12 pm

What a joy it was to listen to the Kimmer. What a bunch of stuffshirts they must have been to get rid of him. GST was SO good when they had Kimmer, Clark, Boortz and so on. I loved Tom Hauck and Dick Williams also. Loved Hauck on the restaurant cutting board!!

Monica

November 10th, 2010
2:21 pm

Leave Kimmer right where he is. Kimmer is a windbag, just full of hot air.

David Stivers

November 10th, 2010
2:24 pm

Thank goodness that insufferable Dave Ramsey has been banished to evening broadcasts. He makes Rush sound humble by comparison. The Kimmer is the only one that would lure me back.

Snoopy

November 10th, 2010
2:26 pm

Please bring back the Kimmer. He made the long ride home so much more bearable.

Carole

November 10th, 2010
2:31 pm

Bring back the Kimmer.

Snake Davis

November 10th, 2010
2:35 pm

Holy crap! It’s Sports!

Chris

November 10th, 2010
2:35 pm

Great news, i miss local talk

jv

November 10th, 2010
2:36 pm

I would immediately turn to WGST full time if the King, Kimmer, Wayne, Pete Davis, and Jim Gossett back…otherwise NEVER

Scotto

November 10th, 2010
2:42 pm

How about Paul Harvey rebroadcasts? ‘and now you know the rest of the story – Gooood day!’

BriteHue

November 10th, 2010
2:43 pm

Does this move make sense to anyone? No name guy from Modesto to Atlanta?
If WGST was smart, they would hire someone whose familiar with Atlanta… someone who can stimulate the audience and bring in new listeners. Looks like nothing has changed at GST.

Daryl-Atlanta

November 10th, 2010
2:44 pm

All good, but not the same as the “golden years” back in the day with Forrest Sawyer, Tom Houck and Dick Williams.

Harlanway

November 10th, 2010
3:05 pm

I won’t be listening unless they bring back The Kimmer and his crew

dre

November 10th, 2010
3:07 pm

Can I bash Steak here or do I need to wait for another blog?

rod

November 10th, 2010
3:10 pm

Except for Rush, I dont listnen and I was a devoted listener until they dumped everyone. They should have crawled across glass to bring back Tom Hughes for the AM drive time. Dave Ramsey is crap. His solution to life is live in a cave, use a flashlight and bath once a month to save money. How many folks can afford to save enught CASH to buy a house or car. Michael Smirkinwhatever was terrible. Why cant they find in a area if 5,000,000 a talk show host? Mitch Evans did a good job and they dumped him. I aint coming back.

Glen

November 10th, 2010
3:14 pm

I can only take talk radio in small doses, especially when I listen at work, banker’s hours. Dave Ramsey is the highlight of my afternoon, so if he goes, I guess I can listen to music or podcasts.

I live in Lawrenceville, and can’t pick up WGST at all in the evenings.

Bring Back THE KIMMER !!!!!!!!!

November 10th, 2010
3:20 pm

Atlanta needs THE KIMMER back on WGST !!!!!

Kimmer’s last day on the air at WGST was the last time I listened to that station, my favorite, all-day listening choice at the time.

I dropped WGST for XM Radio after that, but there is no substitute for what Kimmer & Wayne brought to us daily.

We love you and need you, KIM PETERSON !

Bruce

November 10th, 2010
3:29 pm

WGST has a way of destroying talent and it doesn’t matter who it is! Dorky 640 says it all.

Semper Fi Kimmer!!

Kimmer

November 10th, 2010
3:34 pm

Give WGST a home on the FM dial, and then I will come back. No FM…..no Kimmer.

JM

November 10th, 2010
3:36 pm

They should dump those twin wind bags Beck and Limbaugh.