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Kicks 101.5 lets go program director Mark Richards

kicks logoMark Richards, one of the longest-running program directors in town, is out at country station Kicks 101.5.

He survived two regime changes. He joined the station early 2003 when ABC owned Kicks, survived the switch to Citadel in 2007, then lasted another 16 months under the latest Cumulus ownership change. While the station has been the dominant country station in Atlanta for much of the past decade, 94.9/The Bull has given Kicks a serious kick in the rear the past six years. For a brief time, the Bull even pulled ahead of Kicks. But for the most part, Kicks had kept an edge among older listeners while the Bull does better among younger country music fans.

That makes sense, since Kicks is the longer-established player and plays more 1990s music.

Based on Arbitron calculations I just did today, Kicks averaged a 3.7 share while the Bull averaged 3.3 in 2012, excluding the final three weeks of the year. Among 25 to 54 year olds, Kicks averaged 3.9, ahead of the Bull at 3.5. Among 18 to 34 year olds, the Bull averaged 3.94, just barely edging Kicks’ 3.9. Cadillac Jack and Dallas McCade at Kicks won the 25-54 battle in mornings in 2012, but Jason Pullman and Kristen Gates at the Bull won among 18 to 34 year olds.

John Dickey, who runs programming for Atlanta-based Cumulus, was a little more exuberant about Kicks’ performance vs. the Bull: “We’re smoking them. We’re playing better music. We’re a bigger brand. The Bull s in the rear mirror.” (He said he didn’t know Richards very well but will find a replacement soon.)

Richards declined to comment, citing confidentiality agreements he signed with Cumulus while exiting the door. He did apologize for his general avoidance of me the past decade, saying he worked for companies that restricted his ability to say much to the press.

“One of the smartest programmers in the business,” wrote Bill Celler, who worked at Kicks as a jock and online expert for many years, via Facebook. “Had his finger on the pulse of what it took to create and maintain a successful brand, not to mention just a great guy to work with and for.” (Celler, by the way, is now quality control manager for International Security Management Group, which staffs places with uniformed guard service. He also does Sunday morning traffic on All News 106.7.)

“He lasted longer than I thought he would,” said Steve Mitchell, a former radio jock who worked under Richards for five years until 2008, when Eagle 106.7 was blown out. Mitchell now runs his own video production company. “They probably kept him around for the transition.”

Prior to his time at Kicks (and for a time, Eagle), Richards ran oldies Fox 97.1 from 2001 to early 2003, when that station changed to an R&B format for three years.

Other Kicks-related news items:

1/5/10: Bill Celler leaves on-air job

10/11/11: Tim Michaels out at Kicks 101.5

10/22/11: Kicks adds more 1990s songs.

6/20/12: Kicks 101.5 brings back Country Fair with Alan Jackson

11/30/12: Jenn Hobby of Q100’s Bert Show replaces Sari Rose at mid-days

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13 comments Add your comment

Wink

January 9th, 2013
11:48 am

Mark Richards is a class act. I wish him the best of luck.

TheLazyComic

January 9th, 2013
1:50 pm

Ahhhh… sweet.

jimbo722

January 9th, 2013
2:04 pm

John Dickey’s comment about the Bull really comes across arrogant. No wonder he’s in management.

Michelle

January 9th, 2013
2:29 pm

I am not sure what Kicks is thinking…. I mean I switched from the bull because Jason of Jason and Kristin is very arrogant. I cannot stand him, and I would not listen to him if he was the last DJ on this earth! I am not a Dallas fan their…. Sorry…. I am however a Tug and Caddy fan. Recently Kicks has moved Tug out of the picture. Now the morning show has fallen flat! I miss hearing tug, and his laugh is contagious…… I wish they would make Kevin Steel the midday DJ. He has a great personality, and I find myself even chuckling… Apparently Kicks is like where I work…. They put people in charge of process (change) when they have no clue about the back ground. I am not sure who they are going to replace Richards, but I hope the “new” person does some research before the ones that are at Kicks stay, and not go to satelite….. #prayingkicksgetssomebrains!

Jakebelle

January 9th, 2013
3:05 pm

Michelle – I couldn’t agree more. I miss Tug and the morning show has gone flat. I miss the conversation, I miss more of Caddy and Dallas. If I ONLY wanted music, I have Cirrus or CDs. I have a very long commute, but I now I find myself listening to WSB once I get close enough to town, which I swore I would NEVER do. Not a fan of the Bull. Don’t try to fix somthing that isn’t broken!

missnadine

January 9th, 2013
4:30 pm

I started to listen to Kicks when I took a job in 2011 that required a one-way commute of over an hour. I liked their morning show much better than the others such as Q100 and Star94. The jocks are pretty personable and they play a loy of music during the morning, as opposed to the other stations. I also liked that they added some songs from the 80s, 90s, and 00s. I wonder about the motivation behind this latest move.

Nana

January 9th, 2013
4:34 pm

Maybe Tug will get to talk again. I miss him somethin’ aweful! And I agree with Michelle & Jakebelle, I miss the banter…..I can listen to music the rest of the day.

Fred ™

January 9th, 2013
6:55 pm

I kicked Kix when they kicked Moby for being too “Country.”

EG

January 9th, 2013
9:38 pm

I, too, started listening to Kicks when I started a long commute…I have noticed less chat in the mornings lately, and I’m also one of those people who would actually prefer to listen to the Kicks morning show than the music.

TH

January 9th, 2013
10:18 pm

Rod, congrats on a well written headline. Great command of the English language.

Steve

January 9th, 2013
10:34 pm

Can’t listen to the BULL anymore…too much sex talk…”popping the popcorn” and Jason perving on every women on the show…can’t stand them! XM is the way to go…

Former Kicks Listener

January 10th, 2013
5:55 am

I quit listening to Kicks when the new person (10-3) started introducing songs. “Kicks 101.Fiiiiiiiiiive.” What an easy job, yet the little she speaks is so …. grating.

Billy

January 10th, 2013
8:06 am

I like the 1990s songs; it’s what made me like country, a music I didn’t care for in era of Steve Miller, Bee Gees, and Van Halen. The John Anderson song, “I Fell in the Water,” and other fare, ala Vince Gill and Alan Jackson, helped me make the transistion when Kurt Cobain hit the airwaves. (LOL, I liked most of his music, but not the grudge movement of anti-lead guitar snobs that followed in his wake; thanks, Brent Mason, BTW…). The country that’s out now is a bit too harsh, so I listen to 97.1, which is also harsh. It’s a big difference from the late 70s and early 80s, when everything on the radio was primo stuff. Now, it’s crumbs and tid bits, not the main course. I feel sorry for kids these days; no quality music to listen to, plus losers like that Minaj creep. How far down can you fall?