You could call it "from Cleveland to the world". Well, OK, maybe from Cleveland, to Chicago, to a handful of other midwestern cities...as long-time morning doggie Shane (Rover) French has expanded his empire this week as one of three major replacements for now-former CBS Radio morning star Howard Stern.
Though Rover's antics may be old hat to those of us in Northeast Ohio, he's new to big markets like Detroit and Chicago. And some of the early reviews are already in. Writer Susan Whitall in the Detroit News wasn't impressed...saying Rover "practically (played) dead" in his Tuesday debut on WXRK/97.1, one of CBS' "Free FM" branded talk stations. Whitall unfavorably compared Rover to a local morning drive mainstay there, "Drew & Mike" on rocker WRIF/101.1. (OMW's wondering if any local wags compared Rover to, say, WMJI/105.7's "Lanigan and Malone", when Mr. French started on 92.3 here.)
Chicago media sage Robert Feder hasn't yet taken to reviewing Rover's first utterances on CBS Radio talk WCKG/105.9 "Free FM" in Chicago, his new home base...while he still airs locally on the station now known simply as "92-3", with new calls WXRK(FM).
When it was first announced, the Chicago Sun-Times media beat writer was not at all happy with Rover's ascension to the WCKG morning drive throne...all but questioning the sanity of CBS' Chicago radio executives for passing over a laundry list of known quantities in that market. Chicago is, from our own experience, one of those towns where local personalities rule the roost. The fine folks of Chicagoland should feel lucky that we didn't send them Mike Trivisonno instead...
While we're on the "Stern Replacement" topic, we forgot to note that the Cleveland Plain Dealer's own Julie Washington weighed in on David Lee Roth's entry into that sweepstakes, saying the former Van Halen frontman had "no clue" what to do on the radio in his first hours on CBS Radio classic rocker WNCX/98.5...calling the debut "mostly excruciating, sometimes funny". The headline on Washington's column suggests listeners would be "likely to jump" if Roth doesn't get his act together.
We have the first couple of hours of Roth's show still sitting on our iPod, and we're afraid to listen. For one, it may be painful. But seriously, we also don't want to judge Roth's entire radio career, or attempt at one, from his first show. We'll visit him on 98.5 again sometime next week for a better "first impression".