accessAtlanta

City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

2011 Atlanta radio year in review: Randy & Spiff, Jimmy Baron, Elle Duncan, Herman Cain

Randy and Spiff are seeking work after losing their fifth job in Atlanta in October. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com
Randy and Spiff are seeking work after losing their fifth job in Atlanta in October. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

I’ve covered Atlanta radio for ten years. 2011 was a relatively quiet one.

We lost a few morning shows but otherwise, there was not a single major format change, at least as of today. (We still have nine days left in the calendar year but the latest a station has changed format in a calendar year since 2001 is Dec. 18. That was in 2006, when Lite 94.9 dumped Christmas in a total bah humbug move and switched to country station 94.9/The Bull.)

Here are the biggest (mostly) Atlanta radio stories of 2011:

Big merger: Atlanta-based Cumulus Media closed a merger in September with Citadel in a $2.5 billion deal. This makes Cumulus the second-biggest radio company in America behind only Clear Channel Communications. Locally, Cumulus added Kicks 101.5 and Atlanta’s Greatest Hits at 106.7, along with 99X, Journey 97.9, Rock 100.5 and Q100.

For hire – again: Randy & Spiff has worked at five different stations in town: Fox 97.1, Cool 105.7, Lite 94.9, 640/WGST-AM and most recently 106.7/Atlanta’s Greatest Hits. The chipper morning hosts lost their last gig in October at 106.7 but expressed no bitterness and hope they can find another job in town.  A few days later, the pair was inducted into the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame, where the host Jay Thomas inadvertently read their biography as if they were still employed at 106.7. “How did you get fired?” Thomas asked. “We went to work!” Spiff cracked.

So where is 99X now? This once iconic modern rock station has been a wanderer on the FM dial, moving to three different homes this year alone. For 16 years, its spot was 99.7, from 1992 to 2008, when Cumulus pulled the station’s plug on the FM dial and moved it to the Web and HD after waning ratings. Sixteen months later, Cumulus placed the station on a new “translator” signal at 97.9 That lasted just over a year when it was moved to an even weaker 99.1 translator signal. Its already modest ratings evaporated. So Cumulus engineers moved it to a slightly stronger translator signal at 98.9 in September.

Jimmy Baron and Yvonne Monet worked together for more than two years but lost their morning gig in November. CREDIT: Dave FM
Jimmy Baron and Yvonne Monet worked together for more than two years but lost their morning gig in November. CREDIT: Dave FM

Shipped away: Jimmy Baron told a listener on Dave FM in early November his wish for his upcoming 50th birthday was to simply be employed. It wasn’t meant to be. Management let him go after two years on the air. The station’s desire to play more music clashed with his desire to be more of a personality. And ratings didn’t help his cause. His co-partner Yvonne Monet accepted a part-time fill in job. Steve Craig, another former 99Xer who lost his job in New York City over the summer, took over.

In the doghouse: The 2 Live Stews, after years of rising ratings and prominence, hit a roadblock this year. The Stews in June lost their Sporting News syndication deal. A month later, they shed an hour to their 790/The Zone show, from three to two.  The pair are now offering a more subdued show for the dogs and poodles out there, as their fans are called.

33% off! Clark Howard this month trimmed his hours from three to two hours a day on AM750 and 95.5 FM News/Talk WSB. He said he wanted time to do other things. Not that he’s on the road to retirement. Far from it. He still has his HLN weekend show and does stories for Channel 2 Action News. This move also allows WSB to air Sean Hannity live instead of delayed an hour.

A roller coaster: Herman Cain stepped down as the night host on WSB radio in February to start his presidential campaign. He briefly became a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in October before allegations of sexual harassment and the appearance of Ginger White forced him to suspend his campaign. He is now considering his next move, most likely in media again.

Only so many tries: Elle Duncan lost her job just before Christmas on V-103. She had two stints as Ryan Cameron’s sidekick, 18 months at mid-days and nine months as a sports/entertainment host with Frank & Wanda.

A new project: In May, Project 9-6-1 decided add a major personality show in May with Kidd Chris, who is the most aggressive attack by the station to go after the younger end of the Regular Guys audience over at Rock 100.5. So far, he hasn’t changed the ratings compass but new morning shows usually need 12 to 18 months to make a real impact.

Swap meet: John Kincade and Buck Belue have been a stable force at 680/The Fan for a decade. Much to their surprise, they were moved from afternoons to a noon to 3 p.m. slot, swapping places with surging talk-show team Chuck Oliver and Matt Chernoff.

rusty
Rusty Humphries is now a local host on WGST-AM while continuing a separate syndicated national show. CREDIT: publicity head shot

Back to local: WGST-AM earlier this year added a local afternoon host for the first time since it got rid of Kim “The Kimmer” Peterson in late 2006: Rusty Humphries (right). Humphries has his own syndicated show but chose to do an additional local show as well here in Atlanta. He took over for syndicated Dave Ramsey, now on WSB.

Zoned out: David Pollack left his Zone afternoon job for a more high-profile ESPN gig. Co-host Mike Bell is now with another Dave, as in Dave Archer.

Delta is ready when you are: Sports update guy Chadd Scott was fired from 680/The Fan after he posted complaints on his Twitter page about Delta Air Lines, a major radio station sponsor.

Believe this: One brand-new station joined the Atlanta dial on modest translator signal 97.9 in June: Journey 97.9, which plays songs from the 1980s to 1990s. The ratings have been on par for the signal and there are no local personalities but if you like your Sheryl Crow mixed in with your Billy Idol, this one’s for you.

Two tickets to paradise? Rock station 97.1/The River in October moved Kaedy Kiely to afternoons and inserted rock star Eddie Money into the morning role. Money for now is doing his show on the West Coast though he said he loves Atlanta and is enjoying the challenge.

Postal savior: Q100’s Bert Show convinced more than 400,000 people to send letters to military personnel overseas and received a call from Michelle Obama for their efforts.

Bye, bye Melissa Carter: In a major departure of a top-rated morning show, Q100’s Bert Show lost one of its early members Melissa Carter in April. Carter made the rare move of leaving voluntarily to seek other pursuits, yet undetermined. She was an integral part of the team for nearly a decade and the first openly gay jock in town with a regular role on a radio show. She was replaced by Kristin Klingshirn. So far, ratings have held up just fine.

He leaves, he comes back: Weekend Spotlight Gold legend Youngblood left Kiss 104.1 in a huff in April over a pay cut. A few months later and after much protest from fans, he returned in August.

Royal Marshall with Neal Boortz in December, 2010. CREDIT: Boortz.com
Royal Marshall with Neal Boortz in December, 2010. CREDIT: Boortz.com

Rest in peace: Neal Boortz’s universally well-liked sidekick Royal Marshall died way too young in January at the age of 43. In an interview I did with Cain after Marshall’s funeral ceremony, he admired Marshall’s level-headedness. “He added this calmness to the room,” Cain said.

Other major losses: humorist and local talk show host Ludlow Porch (1934-2011) and the voice of the Dawgs, Larry Munson (1922-2011.)

Alternative on the rise: Pandora, comparing itself as a growing player against traditional radio, goes public, expands its footprint, draws millions, many in Atlanta.

King of Not-So-Many-Hours of Media: Howard Stern signed a new contract with Sirius/XM and cut back to three days a week. Now, he’s off to judge “America’s Got Talent,” too.

Big support: National Public Radio had two black eyes, first in the fall of 2010 with the Juan Williams firing, then in the spring of this year with a fundraising director caught on camera mocking conservatives. Alas, local NPR affiliate 90.1/WABE’s ratings slipped in 2011 vs. 2010, but its fundraising remained strong, hitting record pledge numbers and donors in the spring and fall.

Music shifts: While there weren’t any major format changes this year, there were at least seven format nudges, some going younger, some going older:

-92.9/Dave FM in November started playing deeper cuts from the 1970s and scaled back a bit on songs from the 1990s.

- Star 94 in February began an all-1990s weekend, subjecting the world to the Spice Girls, Chumbawamba and M.C. Hammer again. The weekend became a massive hit, propelling the station’s ratings skyward. In the fall, the station program director Scotty Lindy sensed a little burnout so he scaled the weekend back so a 1990s song is heard four time an hour.

- B98.5 in late spring started playing current songs for the first time in its history. The groundbreaker: Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” Ratings improved sharply throughout the summer.

- Rock 100.5 earlier this year virtually ignored rock songs from the past 10 years. Recently, the station has begun salting more recent hits by Seether, the Foo Fighters and Chickenfoot.

- Kicks 101.5 in October began spinning more songs from the 1991 to 2005 era, meaning far more Garth Brooks, Clay Walker and Vince Gill than they’ve played in years. It’s too early to say what impact this will have in ratings.

- Kiss 104.1 in May received a more youthful facelift, adding more songs from the past 20 years. The average age of its songs was 1986 before the change. Now it’s 1997 with current songs by KEM, Musiq Soulchild and Jill Scott. The result so far: higher ratings.

- Atlanta’s Greatest Hits in late 2010 had dropped its True Oldies name and most of the 1960s songs while upping the 1980s quotient. As ratings failed to pick up, the station in October brought back the 1960s hits by the likes of the Beach Boys, the Temptations and the Grassroots. This past Monday, about 27 percent of its music is from that decade compared to 13 percent before the shift.

Cross-over hit of the year: Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.” It’s the rare song that was heard over the summer on Dave FM, Star 94 and V-103.

Arbitron ratings trends for 2011: a good year for pop, R&B and hip hop, a tough year for rock

Stations that gained listeners this year: Star 94,news/talk WGST-AM, news/talk WSB,  B98.5, Kiss 104.1, Hot 107.9, Majic 107.5/97.5, Q100, 680/The Fan, Wild 105.7/96.7, J93.3

Stations that generally lost steam this year: 90.1/WABE-FM, 92.9/Dave FM, Rock 100.5, Kicks 101.5, Fish 104.7, Atlanta’s Greatest Hits 106.7, 97.1/The River, 105.3/El Patron

Join my Facebook fan page and Twitter.

By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

67 comments Add your comment

[...] more 2011 Atlanta radio year in review: Randy & Spiff, Jimmy Baron, Elle Duncan, Herman Cain at Radio & TV Talk… /* * * CONFIGURATION VARIABLES: EDIT BEFORE PASTING INTO YOUR [...]

Joe Mason

December 22nd, 2011
5:33 am

If you like Rock 100.5’s music, no need to listen in the morning–the irregular guys just can’t shut up!
How long before someone figures out that it affects ratings? Add 162+ baseball games, and you have a part-time music station, with part-time ratings.

Randall Bloomquist - ex WGST PD

December 22nd, 2011
6:27 am

And I’m still cleaning the toilets at the Walmart on Bankhead Highway instead of running radio stations into the ground!

atlantaradiosucks

December 22nd, 2011
8:35 am

my one wish for the new year is that Randy & Spiff get another Atlanta job. Nothing says Atlanta radio like those 2 wacky guys.

Tex

December 22nd, 2011
8:41 am

What a huge, huge loss regarding Royal Marshall.

Much love the family and I miss you more than words can say my brother.

Miss The Thrash

December 22nd, 2011
8:43 am

Don’t forget about the Atlanta No-Spirit, in their infinite wisdom and extremely poor management style, costing Atlanta to lose it’s 2nd NHL franchise!!! 680 The Fan, as the flagship, was just getting into a real groove with the broadcast of the games, only to see it vanish into thin air!

Outstanding sum-up, Rodney.

December 22nd, 2011
8:49 am

Very informative; thank you, man.

Real DJ

December 22nd, 2011
8:53 am

It was a very good year for those listening to AM 1690; more music, interviews and features not found anywhere else!

1690wmlb.com

We miss those who have passed on…

Evander Holyfield's Last Remaning Brain Cell

December 22nd, 2011
8:58 am

I saw Ryan Stewart of thr 2Live Stews was suing the NFLnalong with three other former players, Rodney do you know if this is a money grab or legit?

He claims in his lawsuit he suffers from from memory loss, headaches and sleeplessness as a result of multiple traumatic brain injuries. Insert joke here.

He was acting in plays, going to strip clubs, and hosting a radio show last I heard. Is he sure his ailments are not a result of watching “shoe modeling” and drinking Crown Royal all day?

SuzyQ

December 22nd, 2011
9:05 am

Sure do miss Randy and Spiff – they were like your wacky cousins that were always fun to be around. Merry Christmas you two!

Brisket Shapiro

December 22nd, 2011
9:07 am

What about the deal I brokered to get your playoff bound Atlanta Falcons on my 50,000 watt blow torch The Zone? If I am not the Master of Atlanta Radio I don’t know who is.

Hey Ho, how come we never have lunch at The Palm?

david tanner

December 22nd, 2011
9:14 am

jimmy baron is now working as the door greater at the north peachtree wal-mart,seen him the other day,that is a job that is right up his alley,

Bubblegum

December 22nd, 2011
9:16 am

I am sorry Elle lost her job.

jojo

December 22nd, 2011
9:22 am

TOO MANY STATIONS SOUND THE SAME, THATS WHY I LOVE 106.7

Jai

December 22nd, 2011
9:24 am

Still missing Royal Marshall. After is death, I could never turn it on that radio station again. He added a little balance to Neal’s “ignorance”.

Jai

December 22nd, 2011
9:25 am

WSB will probably let Herman Cain return after the first of the year since he’s out of the Presidential race (as if he had a chance in hades of winning!).

BINKS

December 22nd, 2011
9:26 am

Don’t forget Orff on Star94!!! So glad to hear him back on the air!

Nancy Hanson

December 22nd, 2011
9:34 am

And, of course, February 2011 saw the loss of one-of-a-kind Ludlow Porch. There will never be another one on radio like him.

Bring back...

December 22nd, 2011
10:10 am

…Gary McKee….

Tyrone

December 22nd, 2011
10:20 am

I hate the 2 Live Stews lost their syndication.I find them very entertaining and knowledgeable.Wish 790 would move them back to drive time and extend their airtime.THEY ARE THE BOMB!!!

Jeff Woolverton

December 22nd, 2011
10:23 am

Is something going on at 680 the fan? Sounds like Rude Awakening got canceled and Sandra Golden joined Chuck and Chernoff.

Gooddawg

December 22nd, 2011
10:27 am

And Larry Munson didn’t even get a mention or did I miss it?

Gooddawg

December 22nd, 2011
10:30 am

Gary McKee is a friend of mine and I would love him back on the air but I think he’s having too much fun playing golf and the stock market.

Give Me a Reason to Leave XM

December 22nd, 2011
10:35 am

2012:

Bring Back THE KIMMER to Atlanta Radio!

TG

December 22nd, 2011
10:46 am

Aww, remembering Royal now. I’m still in shock sometimes that he’s gone. Major loss. Oftentimes he was the only thing that made Boortz’ show listenable, the only one who was able to reign him in. Now he is just off the deep end, he might as well be wearing a sheet and a pointed hood in my opinion.

I feel bad for the Stews, but honestly I’m not surprised at their relative fall from grace. I still like them but I don’t listen anymore. I wish them the best though.

Mostly what I wish for Atlanta radio is the total dismantling of V-103, meaning the immediate dismissal of the ghetto crew from Baltimore, and the installment of real, intelligent, home-grown talent. As the strongest signal in Atlanta, that station is extremely sub-par. I dont’ really listen anymore, but I know from others that the same cast of characters are there, and that’s a shame.

Rodney Ho

December 22nd, 2011
10:46 am

@gooddawg. Added Munson and Ludlow Porch’s deaths. Thanks for the reminder!

JimBo

December 22nd, 2011
10:57 am

I agree with BINKS. Glad to have Orff back on the air. He actually sounds like he is having fun while broadcasting. Now if we could just get him on one of the “drive time” slots.

Astropig

December 22nd, 2011
11:05 am

Boortz:

The most unprepared talk show host on the dial. He’s mailing it in and it’s not pretty to watch (hear).

His show would benefit from having a real producer (not a call screener with the title) that would tell him the truth- That skimming the Drudge Report while on air and taking a few calls from ignoramuses is NOT GOOD RADIO. Part of the problem is that he’s just dropping by his job for a couple of hours from Florida so often that it seems a bother to him to be current on what is happening in politics,business and government. A good producer would sit down with him and air check him critically and point out that his on air flubs and miscues are not charming-they’re a major tuneout.Someone at Cox with the horsepower should tell him that show prep is part of the job description.

I guess that all of these on air issues are a big part of the reason why he has a slice of the south and is dead to every other part of the country-unprofessionalism on air.

Boortz fans- Please note that I am not talking about his opinions-just his lazy,unprofessional presentation.

Ron Burgundy

December 22nd, 2011
11:09 am

South Side says YEAH COME ON!!

Ron Burgundy

December 22nd, 2011
11:10 am

2 live Stews are tewrrible. Doug is an angry petty person. I cannot beleive that Ryan Stewart is suing the NFL. I mean thats like a Nascar driver suing another for a wreck.

Richard Sangster

December 22nd, 2011
11:36 am

“Yeah, er, uhhh, that’s right Scott, eh, errr, uh, yeah, that’s what uh, the police chief, er, uh, er, er, uh, said.” “Keep working your sources Richard” – freakin amateur hour on that 750 morning show. Between fumfering Sangster, slow-witted Slade and gravel voiced Chris Camp, it’s a hysterical train wreck to listen to. Throw in a few “American Family Insurance” commercials (what are they doing in that song!? Why are they so wound up?) and it’s as irritating at nails on a chalkboard.

Susan in Buford

December 22nd, 2011
11:42 am

All I want for Christmas is Randy and Spiff back on radio in Atlanta. I miss them so much. :(

Rizzo

December 22nd, 2011
11:45 am

I bet in your 2012 recap you’ll be talking about the return of Steve McCoy.

Great Station

December 22nd, 2011
12:01 pm

Everyone should just stop wasting time and listen to WXPN.

http://www.wxpn.org

Van Dammit

December 22nd, 2011
12:14 pm

Chuck & Chernoff are not cutting it. Bring back Buck and Kincaid!

C. Tampa Ironworse

December 22nd, 2011
12:19 pm

I really liked the Stews, but it got too heavy on “fight the power” after a while. Ryan’s businesses didn’t do well and Jamal Anderson has run out of money to do more coke off toliet seats, so I assume that’s why the lawsuit is going forward. And I’m gone! alright, alright, alright…

C. Tampa Ironworse

December 22nd, 2011
12:21 pm

Van…they MOVED Yuck and Jerkkaid becuase they were doing SO poorly for the drive home hours, which is second to morning drive as the most valued spot. C&C are MUCH better. Kincaid hates ATL and all things southern.

StottsEra

December 22nd, 2011
12:24 pm

I assume nothing is going on at 680, just the holiday lineup

C. Tampa Ironworse

December 22nd, 2011
12:27 pm

You are correct, Stotts. So just know if Buck Belue is talking….NOTHING is going on at 680.

Billy

December 22nd, 2011
12:54 pm

I listen to 106.7, sometimes to 98.5. The good music was in the 70s and 80s. There’s some good before that, but anything after Nirvana is just noise, with very few exceptions.
LOL, I hated country, (I had to endure Hee Haw before the Bionic Man came on in the mid seventies), but started listening to it in 1991. Thank the Almighty they mixed a boatload of rock into it, but even that didn’t last.
I’m a musician, so I have a wide palate for different music, but rock died, despite all the “it’s going to last a 1000 years,” comments.
It wasn’t the musicians or the fans; it was the music execs who took a big p*ss on the industry. Everything on the radio in 1981 sounded perfect. I don’t know of any song in the last five years that sounded passable.
106.7 plays the good stuff from way back. I thought as a kid that I would never dislike whatever was current, but the music execs made a lie outta that, real quick…

rod

December 22nd, 2011
1:36 pm

interesting the self proclaimed ‘Great One” Melissa Carter is not missed and cant find a job.

I quit Boortz when the call screener turned Queen Belinda sued. If it werent for Neal she wouldnt get any of the commercials. Every show they gave her failed and she better save her money because when Neil retires its over

Ron Burgundy

December 22nd, 2011
1:49 pm

Suck Belue is a total joke. If you do not like UGA you will not like Buck. The guy is famous for handing off to Hershel and winning a national title in which their average opponent was 4-7. Guy is a fraud who lives off his Al Bundy legacy.

hank swift

December 22nd, 2011
2:00 pm

whats up with the FISH,, they keep swimming downstream

Tom Roche

December 22nd, 2011
2:15 pm

A shame you can do such an admirably thorough overview of the year in Atlanta radio and not mention 1690 WMLB. They are not only the best station in town musically and in general listener enjoyment, they are certainly one of the best stations in the country. Or any country. A gem like this should not be ignored.

SAWB

December 22nd, 2011
3:24 pm

Hey ROHO thanks for the year end rundown it’s actually pretty good.

When you look at this material it strikes you how sad the Atlanta Radio market really is. I remember when there were multiple stations to listen to and now it is a constant battle to just find something that doesn’t make me crazy. Maybe I need to consider renewing my satellite radio account…

Bluto

December 22nd, 2011
4:23 pm

You forgot to mention Ryan Stewart is trying to supplement his lost income by suing the NFL. Funny thing is he is claiming that concussions shortened his playing career…… Yeahhhh Riiiight.

mack

December 22nd, 2011
7:34 pm

Elle, I can’t belive she lost her job, she’s Verry good looking , funny, and I love her wit, if no one else will I will miss her a lot, she gives Ryan a female touch thats needed after a hard day at work, they have me cracking my side, Good luck Elle hope to see and hear from you soon.

Gail

December 22nd, 2011
8:43 pm

Enter your comments here

Gail

December 22nd, 2011
8:49 pm

Please, somebody put Randy and Spiff back on the air. They remind me of the fun days of radio back in the 60’s listening to “Skinny Bobby Harper” – my all-time favorite Atlanta dj!

Jason Turner

December 22nd, 2011
9:12 pm

99X still plays great music, just have a hard time hearing way out in the burbs. Please make 98.9 stronger.