Atlanta-based Cumulus Media merged last month with Las-Vegas based Citadel Media, creating the second-largest radio company in the country. Cumulus in Atlanta already owned Rock 100.5, 99X at 98.9, Q100 and Journey 97.9. Cumulus added country station Kicks 101.5 and Atlanta’s Greatest Hits 106.7 and wasted no time snipping staff. (Mergers = cost cutting.)
While I was on vacation last week, my colleague Jennifer Brett was kind enough to cover for me and inform the readers here that Randy & Spiff were cut. I plan to talk to them soon and will post an interview. Good news there for fans of the morning team: they do not have a non compete so if another station is seeking a show, they are available immediately!
But there were other notable cuts as well:
- Tim Michaels, the afternoon host at Kicks 101.5, was let go, replaced by Mike Macho, the music director. “He’ll be a great personality for them,” said Steve Mitchell, a former jock at Eagle 106.7 until 2008.
- Traffic guy Greg Talmadge, who worked for both Kicks and Atlanta’s Greatest Hits.
- Bill Celler, the former afternoon host at Kicks 101.5, had been digital content manager for the two stations the past couple of years after Michaels took his slot.
- Christy Ullman, the long-time promotions director for Kicks, who also did work for 106.7
And curiously, Kicks 101.5 has not added a new song since August 25. Why? This is a fallow period for country music releases but that is an unusually long stretch to go without a new song.
Cutting the likes of Randy & Spiff may have been a simple economic business decision on Atlanta’s Greatest Hits, which had seen improving ratings for much of 2011 until a bumpy September, when the station fell from 13th to 17th with a 2.4 rating, down from 3.0 in August. (Market manager Paul O’Malley declined to comment, referring all questions to Cumulus corporate.)
But it has fueled speculation in radio circles that the Atlanta’s Greatest Hits format may not be long for the world, or could be moved to one of Cumulus’ lesser signals. The station, since it changed from country in early 2008, had originally been Scott Shannon’s 1960s/70s-oriented True Oldies format. A year go, the station shifted to Atlanta’s Greatest Hits, with a bulk of its songs from the 1970s (62% over the past month) and 1980s (25%).
Kicks had a very strong first half of the year but fell off sharply over the summer. Ranked fifth overall in April, Kicks was tenth in September with its weakest 25-54 demographic numbers this year.
Q100 and Kicks are the powerhouse stations in the cluster. Rock 100.5 has been struggling of late. 99X will probably stay as is now at 98.9 after several moves. Journey 97.9 has done about as well as it could so far with its limited signal.
And though Dickey Broadcasting is a separate company from Cumulus, its sports station 680/The Fan could potentially go on 106.7 as well. It’s currently simulcast on 680 and 93.7 FM, a weaker signal than 106.7. The two companies, though separate, have some common management.