It seems at least once a year, 790/The Zone fiddles with its lineup. Management can’t seem to help itself.
Starting April 30, “Mayhem in the A.M.” returns to a 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. time slot, the longest morning show in town with that extra hour from 10 to 11 a.m.
Mike Bell and David Archer move up an hour to 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. And John Michaels‘ “Football Night in America” will run from 6 p.m. to 8 pm. instead of 7 p.m to 9 p.m. (Yes, there is an appetite in Atlanta for football talk 12 months out of the year.)
“I’m happy with it,” Bell texted me. “Tough for Archer. He’ll be stuck in traffic on the way home. Now I get to games on time… or hit happy hour earlier.”
So what does that mean for Tony Barnhart & Wes Durham, as well as the 2 Live Stews?
Good question. The boss, Andrew Saltzman, told me today that he is not ready to reveal the details for what will become an 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. show. He hopes to square things away in the next day or two, presumably over contractual issues. I’ll either update this entry or create a new one depending on how the new mid-day show looks. “We have a lot of great talent,” Saltzman said. “It’s a question of how to utilize that talent.”
Barnhart & Durham, who have been on from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., have been getting the strongest ratings for the station. But they are contractually allowed to take two months off in May and June since the pair of football experts work long hours during the other ten months with other non-Zone obligations. Durham does radio play by play for several Georgia Tech sports teams. Barnhart travels to New York during the college football season to do commentary for CBS Sports. I reached out to Barnhart, who deferred questions to his bosses.
So the Zone, based on what I’ve heard, may blend the Stews in with occasional appearances by Barnhart and Durham and perhaps other members of the Zone lineup. Whatever it is, it’s clearly another sign the Stews are no longer the kings of the station.
For a time, the 2 Live Stews were hot, hot, hot. Their ratings were through the roof. They signed a syndication deal. They were regulars on ESPN. Then the syndication deal went away last summer and the Zone cut the Stews from three hours to two. A few months ago, the new program director Bob Richards asked them to tone down the sound effects and some of their shtick.
I called Doug Stewart to get some insight, but he demurred, saying he was about to go into a meeting and asked me to try again at 4 p.m. His agent declined to comment, too.
No matter what, don’t get too wedded to the revised schedule. It will probably change again in a few months.
680/The Fan has been beating the Zone during most time slots, especially late afternoons, where Chuck Oliver and Matt Chernoff has been drawing more listeners than Archer and Bell on the Zone.
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk