Chicago Sun-Times media columnist Robert Feder is reporting that formerly Cleveland-based morning host Shane "Rover" French is losing his slot on his flagship station, CBS Radio talk WCKG/105.9 Chicago "Free FM".
UPDATE: Billboard Radio Monitor confirms that Rover and his crew will indeed be headed back to Cleveland, and will once again be based at CBS Radio alt-rock/talk WXRK/92.3 "K-Rock". Updated quotes from Rover, and from WXRK management, are below.
Feder reports that newly re-crowned CBS Radio bad boys Opie & Anthony will take the morning slot at the station where Rover has been doing his syndicated morning show since early January. AllAccess reports that the change starts tomorrow morning, with O&A also netting a new clearance at another CBS "Free FM" talker, KIFR/106.9 San Francisco.
French will continue doing "Rover's Morning Glory" on his other current affiliates.
In Cleveland, WXRK VP/GM Tom Herschel is about as close to jumping for joy as you can get in print, telling the Billboard Radio Monitor folks:
"We're excited to have Rover and his crew back in the building. His audience in Cleveland has been incredibly loyal and has supported his show since he first went on the air almost five years ago. I couldn't be happier about their return."
And no wonder. Sources tell OMW that Rover continues to do well in Cleveland, and a return to the former show mothership can only help.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Julie Washington covers Rover's move back to Cleveland, and says the show will continue to air from a Chicago studio for "the next few weeks", with a return to Cleveland expected in mid-August. Washington says Rover's cast is expected to come to Cleveland intact.
In addition to talking to Washington, the returned WXRK morning doggie himself dishes quote to Radio and Records Online about his move back to Cleveland, and the demise of the show in Chicago. Rover says "K-Rock" a "great home base for the show":
"We have a great working relationship with management there — they really understand the show. We've enjoyed our time in Chicago, but the station just wasn't a good fit for us. That's not an indictment against them, it's just that they're skewed to a much older audience than what we target. We were also concerned that they wanted to focus exclusively on Chicago, which was detrimental to our affiliates. It was a mutual decision, and there is no ill-will between us whatsoever."
Back in Chicago, Feder calls "Rover's Morning Glory" "one of the biggest bombs in Chicago radio history", and notes the show's "microscopic ratings" helped WCKG to finish "dead last" among every major Chicago station.
Of course, Feder hasn't been a fan of Mr. French and company since day one... when he listed just about every out-of-work Chicago radio personality he felt would be a better fit to replace Howard Stern on WCKG.
And though he's been harsh on Rover and the gang, he had a point in that Chicago seems to nearly violently reject any personality that has no local ties or background.
Being born and spending his very early years in Chicagoland wasn't enough for Shane French... the market's listeners reject "imported" talent, and Rover had no on-air history in the market. Embracing the market, by doing such things as putting on a Chicago Cubs baseball cap (see above), didn't overcome that at all.
If he'd have come in and worked his way up on Chicago radio, it may - or may not - have been a different story.
For what it's worth, Chicago wasn't Stern's strongest market...his show did OK there, but it wasn't dominant like it was in New York or Los Angeles. For that matter, O&A are also imports...from the same New York studio which once was Stern's home.
We're not saying Rover would have owned the market if he had long-time Chicago radio history...that just didn't help his cause.
As if losing the Windy City to O&A isn't bad enough, Rover will have to endure listening to incessant promos for the CBS/XM duo on his once and future flagship station.
"K-Rock", of course, airs O&A in afternoon drive, and is bringing the duo to town September 23rd at the Tower City Ampitheatre...