Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Rover's Affiliate Future?

Mark this one mainly as "speculation", please.

Though it would seem that Clear Channel rock WMMS/100.7 Cleveland morning star Shane "Rover" French has returned to earth from the high sampling he got after his station debut, he's presumably still miles ahead of previous occupants of the WMMS morning drive time slot.

But there could - we stress "could" - be some trouble for "Rover's Morning Glory" in one of its two remaining syndicated markets.

Rochester NY alt-rocker WZNE/94.1 "The Zone" stayed with Rover and company even after the show parted way with its original Cleveland flagship, CBS Radio alt-rock WKRK/92.3 (once "K-Rock", now "Radio 92.3"). The show's Memphis TN affiliate also kept the show after it moved to Oak Tree locally.

We haven't mentioned it yet, but Rochester's "Zone" became the latest over-air affiliate to dump CBS Radio/XM morning drivers "Opie and Anthony" from their delayed afternoon drive clearance, effective December 29th. The move apparently leaves O&A with just one terrestrial affiliate outside of flagship WXRK/92.3 "K-Rock" in New York City - alt-rock WROX/96.1 "96X" in Norfolk VA.

In Cleveland, former "Rover" home WKRK dumped the O&A show last month in the change to jockless "Radio 92.3".

O&A continue their XM Satellite Radio program, now available to Sirius subscribers as well in an extra cost package.

(We suspect Sirius XM Radio boss Mel Karmazin, father of Cleveland sports radio owner Craig Karmazin, is happy with this...the content sharing agreement between XM and CBS Radio was done before the satellite services merged.)

Anyway, back to Rochester.

Long-time Friend of OMW Scott Fybush sends us a link to a message board post he saw on a local board...the post's author purporting to copy an E-Mail response from Nik Rivers, program director of WZNE. Quoting the alleged Rivers E-Mail:

At this time, it wasn’t in the company’s best financial interest to continue airing the (O&A) show in afternoon drive. With the show not willing to accept a move to morning drive, and a great amount of listener feedback asking for more music and less talk on the station, we felt that this was the best decision for the Zone.

We thank you for your support of the O&A show, and hope that you remain a listener of the Zone. If you enjoy talk, may I suggest that you check out our Morning Show “Rover’s Morning Glory” weekdays from 6-11am.

Assuming this is legit... it would appear that WZNE asked O&A to move to morning drive, which, as noted, is where Cleveland's own "Rover" is heard now. We have no idea why the show would decline such a schedule upgrade.

Add to that the "more music and less talk" phrase, and it doesn't sound like "Rover's Morning Glory" has much of a future at Rochester's "Zone"...again, assuming that is indeed out of Mr. Rivers' keyboard.

Again, that's our grain of salt the size of one of Rover's sidekicks. We can't verify the posted E-Mail. It "feels" legit to us, reading it (i.e. it looks like the kind of E-Mail a radio PD would send in reply to a listener).

But we felt it odd, considering that the general question has been whether the Rochester station would even keep its alt-rock format at all. Oklahoma-based Stephens Media Group is not really known for the format.

Locally, we're not sure how Rover and company feel about the syndication these days.

It's certainly an ego boost, and they get some consideration out of it (we assume), but there doesn't appear to be a concerted effort to ramp up the syndication, either by Mr. French or by Clear Channel... which is likely just thrilled to have a local morning show with ratings...


Chris said...

Opie, of Opie and Anthony, considers Rochester's Brother Wease as a mentor. It's been said many times on the O&A show that they would never go live in Rochester out of respect for Wease. The Rochester Affiliate edited O&As three-hour show and added in music to stretch it to four hours.
Quoted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brother_Wease:

When the FreeFM portion of The Opie and Anthony Show was syndicated to Rochester in the summer of 2006, Hughes refused to allow the show to compete against or replace Wease's show in the mornings. The Opie and Anthony Show is therefore broadcast in Rochester during the afternoon via tape delay.

74WIXYgrad said...

"More music and less talk," huh? Sounds contrary to what is read on locaal message boards.

Sounds like more music and less payroll.

Anonymous said...

Good point 74Wixy.

These continued headlines for Opie and Anthony are perceived as them "failing." But when you look at their last books in Boston and Buffalo, they were doing extremely well, with continued growth.

I think it has more to do with the economy and realization that you don't have to pay anyone to run an ipod on the radio with limited jock interruptions.

My guess is that Howwwy would have started to lose markets across the country as well. But that's just speculation

Ohio Media Watch said...

Chris, thanks for the reminder. I knew that in the back of my head, but forgot it.

I'm not sure if it still applies in 2008/9, but yes, Wease is back on the air on WFXF "The Fox". If O&A still felt that way, then they'd refuse the move.

Still, it appears that for whatever reason, WZNE is (if this is all accurate) interested in reducing the talk, and was willing to - it would appear - send Rover packing his doggie toys out of Rochester.

And yes, WIXYgrad, I agree. Sometimes, "more music" is short for "fewer pesky people".

But even Mr. Rivers presumably knows that "More Music Mornings" don't work out most of the time (people looking for service elements go elsewhere, even if they're sprinkled in a music-based show). It is the same problem former Rover home WKRK/92.3 faces as jockless "Radio 92.3" now.

Thus, the move to try to nudge O&A into mornings on WZNE, and with the stated goal to open up the music collection in afternoon drive, Rover would be out.

He's still got some leverage in that market, I suspect, so he may have dodged that bullet for now.

-The Management

Ohio Media Watch said...

Oh, I forgot to mention that Opie considers Wease a mentor for a very good reason - he started his radio career as an intern for Wease.

Someone else also sparked their career out of Wease's show - Dial Global syndicated liberal talk show host Stephanie Miller was "Sister Sleaze" on Wease's show many years ago.

From what I've heard, Wease maintains a friendly relationship both with Opie and with Ms. Miller, and they speak highly of him.

-The Management

andrew727 said...

The problem when a station goes without DJ's, it sounds more like 'Elevator Muzak', and less like a show. 74WIXYgrad has it right, less payroll. Of course the only problem with that is the station is virtually surrendering its audience to the competition. I'd hate to be the 'time' salesmen there...they really have little to sell.
- Andrew, MALL727.net -

Matt said...

Contrary to the assumption made in the post, Rover's numbers actually are actually higher now than when he first moved there - his highest since coming to WMMS. #1 P 18-34 and #2 P 25-54, making him the highest of all the shows in that building.

Personally I wouldn't read too much into the Rochester thing, as it sounds like it was sent to someone complaining about O&A being yanked. In those scenarios, you kind of tell them what they want to hear, such as "Yeah, it was their choice not to move." I seem to remember reading Rover re-upped his contract there not too long ago, so that like would have been when they would've made a move, not now.

As far as O&A, failure is the only way to describe it. Dropped from 20+ radio stations in about a year.

I'm glad I got out from WKRK when I did!

Matt said...

High numbers don't make it good. Rover's success in Cleveland is a unique and mystifying situation.

They're (Clear Channel) working on launching him back into syndication....where he will fail again.