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Mara Davis celebrates final Radio Free Lunch today with theme: goodbye

Mara Davis's final day on 92.9/Dave FM is (partly by design) 9/29. But her final Radio Free Lunch was today. Final song: Kenny Loggins' "This is It." CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Mara Davis's final day on 92.9/Dave FM is (partly by design) 9/29. But her final Radio Free Lunch was today. Final song: Kenny Loggins' "This is It." CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Mara Davis gave a tearful farewell to her beloved “Radio Free Lunch” today on 92.9/Dave FM, which will run a fundraiser for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta starting tomorrow through Friday.

Her beloved themed lunch hour has lasted 18 years since Davis arrived at what was then Z93. She was the only jock to survive the transfer to Dave FM in 2004 and the lunch hour returned after a brief break. The format was simple: she’d suggest a theme e.g. songs which reference the seasons, songs which refer to other songs, songs that include a saxophone, et. al and play tunes mostly within format. She’d also throw in clips of cheesy songs that Z93  or Dave would never play for fun. (For a time, this segment was sponsored by McDonald’s.)

But now Dave is going away in favor of sports talk, something CBS announced two months ago. I just heard the likely name for the new sports talk station: 92.9 the Game. (CBS owns the website name www.929thegame.com, which isn’t active yet.)

Among the final songs Davis played: “Goodbye to You” by Scandal, “End of the Line” by the Traveling Wilburys, “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson, Dixie Chicks‘ “Goodbye Earl,” Squeeze “Goodbye Girl,” Ray Charles’ sardonic “Hit the Road Jack.”

[I had a lunch date and missed the very final song. According to Mediabase 24/7, it was Kenny Loggins "This Is It."]

The usually jovial Davis (who I couldn’t reach for comment) teared up on air after playing Billy Joel’s “Say Goodbye To Hollywood.”

Though it’s not a song she could normally play on Dave, she prefaced the intro by saying, “What can do? Fire me?”

The lyrics, she said, fit her situation well:

So many faces in and out of my life
Some will last
Some will just be now and then
Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes
I’m afraid it’s time for goodbye again

She said it was less about losing her job (I’m sure she’ll find another one, as I noted last month.) It was just saying goodbye to friends, regulars of the show who may or may not find her on a different radio station down the road. At that point, she choked up. She said it was like letting her baby go off to college after 18 years. (I was driving while she was saying these things so I wasn’t able to jot down notes.)

This wasn’t Davis’ last shift on Dave.

Starting tomorrow, the station will run a three-day radio-thon for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta from the cafeteria of Scottish Rite from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Anyone can stop by and say hello (or goodbye) through Friday.

On Saturday, all the regular jocks – including Steve Craig, Davis, Rich Sullivan and Margot Smith – will air a 92-song farewell countdown and then bow out.

After Sunday, the station will run jockless with lots of sports promotions. (Already, they’re airing sports reports throughout the day.) I hear the start date for sports talk is October 15. I have no concrete names yet. Word is they are opting to go all local, if they can, which is requiring a longer lead time to hire people.

This long goodbye is unprecedented in Atlanta radio. I’ve been covering the scene for 11 years and virtually every format change has been quick. Jocks were fired with no warning. The music just changed with no ceremony. What makes this one different, says Mark Kanov – who ran Star 94 for many years until 2008 and is now retired – is that CBS is changing the format to talk.

He said it’s such a drastic change, CBS has no expectation to keep all the music lovers around. So they are respecting the Dave FM fans, in a sense, by giving the jocks a real chance to say goodbye. It’s bittersweet, of course. But the bosses trust the DJs to be respectful themselves on air. “It’s a cool way to do it,” Kanov said.

Join my Facebook fan page and Twitter.

By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

38 comments Add your comment

Jerome

September 25th, 2012
5:53 pm

What about my Stews, Ho?

#fightthepower

JMac

September 25th, 2012
5:58 pm

Mara is finally gone….. She has been a bore for 18 years, and now she is gone. Atlanta radio will be alot better off without her!!!!!! Good-bye

TMac

September 25th, 2012
6:06 pm

CBS Names Its Atlanta FM Sports Outlet

September 25th, 2012
6:59 pm

[...] up on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Rodney Ho’s report that it would be “the likely name”, we can confirm that it will indeed be the brand [...]

Copy editor

September 25th, 2012
7:18 pm

Regarding your headline: “Final,” not “finale.” Final is an adjective; finale is a noun. Doesn’t AJC.com have a copy editor?

Rodney Ho

September 25th, 2012
7:21 pm

@Copy editor No. No copy editors for blog entries. That’s purely my bad. Thanks for catching that!

Dd

September 25th, 2012
7:38 pm

So you’re saying there’s no copy editor?

Lurker

September 25th, 2012
8:06 pm

Good one Dd!

salvatore

September 25th, 2012
10:31 pm

Mara has been a part of my daily life for the last 12 years. I will miss her personality and honesty on the air. Today at around 12:40, she explained what is wrong with radio today. You can’t put music in a box, the way CBS, Clear Channel, and the rest of the major station owners have done. If they were to put Mara and Margot in charge of a station and gave them free reign, I promise you it would be a success.

JK in Acworth

September 26th, 2012
7:53 am

Next up, which one of the AM sports talk station goes under first. There is absolutely no need for THREE sports talk stations in this town! There is barely enough listeners for TWO!

dick whiskey

September 26th, 2012
8:37 am

all we need is a bunch more old fat bald guys sitting around on their ass talking about stupid ballgames,are you listening you bald ass jew steak shapiro? just give me some tunes

Slaphead

September 26th, 2012
11:27 am

The loss of DaveFM prompted me to get a SiriusXM subscription. I’m not looking back. Good Luck Mara, Steve, and crew.

hotlanta linda

September 26th, 2012
11:29 am

AMEN, Salvatore!!! Atlanta has been home for 34 years, LOVE IT!!!, and not leaving….But our airwaves have never been worse.I`ve the radio on 24/7, and need it to be ALIVE w/ good people who love the radio for sharing good music too. Computer streams on air are soul-less in both meanings of the term. A new station could be: Dave FM `s djs could partner w/ 99X`s former djs and have a LIVING broadcast of people who love music – all of them w/ BIG hearts!! Were I monied, that would be my business.

Shannon

September 26th, 2012
11:39 am

Gee, I hope she show’s up somewhere in Atl. She’s a livin’ doll! 18 years in the same market – generally doesn’t happen by mistake.

Unless you count Moby – the man is a liar and a complete train wreck.

danish

September 26th, 2012
11:41 am

Mara, I have been listening to you and RFL for YEARS. I’m soooo sorry I missed your final show. I will miss your lovable cackle and hearing your rank on Elizabeth. Really hope to hear you again on the radio soon!!!

A Different Jeff

September 26th, 2012
12:00 pm

I guess I’m one of the few who’s actually looking forward to hearing the new sports talk format. Woot!

Luke

September 26th, 2012
12:23 pm

Oh well, she wasn’t very interesting anyway and she played crap for music.

david c

September 26th, 2012
12:49 pm

[I had a lunch date and missed the very final song. According to Mediabase 24/7, it was Kenny Loggins "This Is It."]
I think that sums up Dave FM and it’s over-rated mid-day schtick. I had better things to do.

Cowabunga

September 26th, 2012
1:07 pm

Radio in this town continues to go south. Thank goodness for NPR and 1690.

RFLover

September 26th, 2012
1:25 pm

Rodney, thanks for the update. Mara, thanks for the great entertainment! You’re a talent and I hope someone snatches you up quickly! And haters, just go away. No one is impressed with your need to be unkind. It’s easy to be unkind behind an “anonymous” posting.

Rob

September 26th, 2012
1:31 pm

@RFLover – People have different opinions. Just because you don’t agree with someone doesn’t mean they shouldn’t also be allowed to express their opinion. Personally, I think RFL sucked and that this DJ was not funny or interesting at all but I know that some people liked her. Whatever.

Sandy

September 26th, 2012
1:57 pm

radioparadise.com

Mark

September 26th, 2012
2:13 pm

Actually, the music mix over the last couple of weeks has been better than ever. Not the same songs over and over.

Penny Henritze

September 26th, 2012
2:17 pm

GOOD BYE DAVE FM, Good Bye Mara – It’s been a pleasure for many years listening to you. I have admired your encyclopedic knowledge of music. I’ll miss Acoustic Sunrise – sure will. I wish you a happy future on a radio station close to me! Thanks. Penny

maxman

September 26th, 2012
2:23 pm

last song should have been queen’s another one bites the dust

Jani

September 26th, 2012
2:26 pm

I have so enjoyed Radio Free Lunch. I am really sad it is gone. I love the music and love Mara. I hope the AJC will keep her fans updated on her next move. I miss her already.

TheLazyComic

September 26th, 2012
2:30 pm

Running sports apparently is a much cheap way to go for CBS. After all, you don’t have to pay for all of those pesky music licensing fees. (BMI / ASCAP / SESAC)

ATL RADIO INSIDER

September 26th, 2012
2:39 pm

A

September 26th, 2012
2:50 pm

After the demise of Dave FM, the only reason I will turn the radio on in my car is to listen to NPR. Sad state of music in Atlanta radio.

Luann

September 26th, 2012
2:58 pm

Meh, no big loss. There is really no point to having DJs anyway, plus that station’s music was terribly repetitive.

PTC DAWG

September 26th, 2012
4:10 pm

Agree with some above, the last few weeks, the station has been very enjoyable to listen to. Loosened up for sure. Too bad…

DPalmer

September 26th, 2012
5:04 pm

This is totally messed up…I cannot believe they are taking away the only decent radio station in the Atlanta area to replace it with a sports talk show!!! Really? Who’s brilliant idea was that? Save the Dave!!!

Patrick

September 26th, 2012
5:23 pm

I think the most fitting song for the station to play, as its last song ever, should be Tom Petty’s “The Last DJ”.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Tiger86

September 27th, 2012
9:46 am

I’ve been listening to Dave FM since they began in 2004. They will be missed for sure. I’m hoping Mara ends up on Rock 100.5 at 10 am! That way I won’t have to turn my dial after The Regular Guys show. I met Mara at Music Midtown and she was just as friendly in person as she is on the air. The best of luck to her and the rest of the DJ’s there.

DB Cooper

September 27th, 2012
12:18 pm

I love Margot’s taste in music and hope she gets a job in Atlanta where they will let her truly program the music. Her “Best of the Desk” shows were my favorite in Atlanta. Also, Dave’s show with Eddie Owens along with their Sunday Morning programming will be greatly missed by those that get tired of the same old radio programming. Now, Atlanta is left with a bunch of country stations, bunch of urban stations, bunch of classic rock stations, and pop stuff. No new music for the 30-55 crowd who fill The Variety, Smiths, Eddies Attic and other concert venues around Atlanta. I would think this is a very valuable audience for advertisers to want to connect with.

cms

September 28th, 2012
1:47 pm

I can’t believe they’ve decided to kill ALL the rock stations in ATL. What the heck can they talk about regarding sports 24 hours a day 7 days a week??? I was happy to give up the music for broadcasting games when they happened, but really? No music and all talk? ATL already had the worst choice for variety of music I’ve experienced in my travels of the US, and I guess they are giving up on music altogether. I like the idea of the DJ’s from all the closed down stations forming a new station – with great variety!

Rock

September 30th, 2012
6:46 pm

Atlanta Radio is DEAD.
In 1 week, Atlanta lost THREE rock radio stations; 99X, Project 96.1, and the anouncement of the end of DAVE-FM. As a fan of great music, we need to fix it and give people who have enjoyed Atlanta radio over the last 20 years an option. EX99 Online Radio will debut this Thur at 7 am via Live 365 and you will be able to listen on your computer, iPhone, iPad, Droid, etc. EX99 Radio will feature personalities like Barnes, Jimmy Baron, Steve Craig, Jill and more to be announced soon with invitations out to Leslie Fram, Will Pendarvis and Sean Demery.