Cindy Simmons, long-time host at Star 94, now has a new morning partner: Jimmy Alexander from D.C.
Alexander comes from the Jack Diamond Morning Show in Mix 107.3, which is similar to Star 94 here in its adult pop music blend. He started as a producer in 1997 on the show and was promoted to co-host 11 years ago.
Cindy’s co-host for eight years, Ray Mariner, was unceremoniously dismissed in May, no explanation given. (In fact, even in the grinding rumor mill that is Atlanta radio, I have heard precious little why he was cut and he isn’t talking.)
Cindy’s gone solo for several months. While Star’s ratings have slipped a bit since his departure, it appears to have been the entire station, not just mornings, that has suffered.
The timing is interesting because Cindy is pregnant with her second daughter, due next week. That means she’ll be off the air for at least a little while.
Norm Schrutt, a long-time agent who represents both Cindy and Jimmy, said he isn’t sure when Star 94 is going to bring Alexander in. Scott Lindy, the operatioins manager for Star, said he could arrive in Atlanta in 30 to 60 days – or sooner if Mix lets him go sooner.
“He’s a perfect match for Cindy,” Schrutt said. “He’s very positive. He fits the demo.” The pair have spent plenty of time together, he said, and have great chemistry.
He also said Cindy is a workaholic and he expects her to return relatively quickly.
Alexander today signed an unspecified “multi-year” deal with Star 94. Given that Alexander is new to the market, that probably means two years with a third-year option.
Cindy has never talked to me for an interview all these years. I’ve heard she is fearful of the blog commenters here.
“I hope to add to the tradition of great morning radio at Star 94,” Alexander said in a press release.
Lindy said he talked to at least two dozen potential hosts. Cindy and Jimmy met about 60 to 90 days ago. (He couldn’t be more specific.) Cindy “wants someone as driven as she is,” he said. “She wanted someone she could get along with but not necessarily someone who thinks the same way.”
Bert Weiss of Q100 was hired from the Jack Diamond show in D.C. himself in 2001 so he worked with Alexander. Now they’ll be competing against each other.
Simmons came to Atlanta eight years ago as part of a personality-based afternoon show with Mariner, which did very well. They moved to mornings in 2009 after Star’s brief, painful foray into a more youth-oriented show called The Morning Mess, which lasted 15 months. The Cindy and Ray morning show struggled to break out against tough competition, including the Bert Show, but did respectably as the station itself revived from a torpor the past two years.
Mariner, by the way, did a try-out last Saturday with Sandra Golden on 680/The Fan.
Schrutt also represents the 2 Live Stews, who are still being paid by 790/The Zone through the end of the year and are under a six-month noncompete. They were last heard on air Sept. 12 so they couldn’t join a new station until March 2, 2013.
And Schrutt reps Mara Davis, whose gig with Dave FM ended last month. He is surprised that he isn’t getting more solid bites after talking with the River, Rock 100.5 and Star 94.
He also confirmed that Andrew Saltzman, who helped build 790/The Zone, the past 13 years as general manager (and for much of the time, co owner), is out. His departure happens just two days after 92.9/The Game launched. Conventional wisdom is that given the Zone’s relatively weak signal compared to the Fan and the Game, it is now the RC Cola of sports talk radio stations in this town.