Long-time Chicago Sun-Times media columnist Robert Feder takes another shot at formerly Cleveland-based morning doggie Rover, known in the non-canine and non-radio world as Shane French.
It's not like Feder has ever been a fan of even the IDEA of Rover taking over morning drive on former Howard Stern Chicago affiliate WCKG/105.9, now sporting CBS' "Free FM" moniker for its FM talk stations. When it was announced Rover would get the gig after a successful stint at then-WXTM/92.3 in the CBS Radio Cleveland cluster, Feder reeled off a list of popular personalities with present or past Chicagoland ties and wondered why the CBS suits in Chicago chose "a dog out of Cleveland".
This time, Feder's aim is more at directly at Rover's bosses at his new flagship of WCKG. The Sun-Times media guru calls moves to install news WBBM/780's GM in charge of WCKG, and a similar move at adult hits WJMK/104.3 "Jack FM", "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic".
Though we don't mean to pile on the host Feder says CBS "foisted" on Chicago on WCKG, he's got a point.
Like with all the Howard Stern replacements, Rover's very early numbers in Chicago have been nothing short of abysmal. Meanwhile, a veteran Chicago radio name that was on Feder's list, Jonathan Brandmeier, was released by CBS into the waiting arms of Bonneville classic rock WLUP/97.9...and HIS early numbers were somewhat encouraging to that station.
Again - early numbers. Unlike the seemingly-destined-to-crash-into-a-wall David Lee Roth show, it's still early for both Rover and Los Angeles-based Stern replacement Adam Carolla. But it's probably not a stretch to take the obvious pun, and say Rover's on...uh...a short leash.
CBS Radio probably expected major losses in losing the Stern Money Machine to an unproven fill-in, but we're not sure how long they're gonna sit on the kind of numbers they've seen early out of their replacements...and Feder reports that the first full post-Stern book for WCKG is expected to be "catastrophic".
There's really not much the generally affable Mr. French can do about this. In a way, he's almost set up for failure in Chicago. Not only is he replacing a popular worldwide star in Stern, he's not really "Chicago" in a market which holds onto its media icons and hangs on their every word.
Oh, sure...the man we know as Rover was actually born in the Chicagoland area, and spent a bit of his early childhood in the region. But to radio listeners, he's not really a Chicago guy...for one, he's never been on the air in that market until this gig. To the "homers" of Chicago radio, he's some guy they brought in from Cleveland.
We're not saying he can't overcome that, and it has been done before there. But...it's another hill the WCKG/WXRK morning canine has to bound over...