Radio is an industry infamous for continual change, but the numerous shifts occurring in local radio during the past week seem to have exceeded par for the course.
One station, KUTR, has ceased broadcasting and at least nine DJs have either switched stations or will be switching soon. There are also rumors of other changes coming.Are all these changes a trend?
"Yes and no," Robert Morrey, general manager of Orem's KSRR radio, said. "It's part of an overall trend to make things work on less advertising dollars."
Morrey said that even though Utah's economy is good, there are fewer national advertising dollars coming to Utah radio stations. He also said the No. 1 shake-up time in radio is between Christmas and the first of February.
Ken Bell, corporate marketing director for KSFI, had similar opinions.
"I think this is typical of a two-week period that follows a rating period," Bell said, explaining that the fall Arbitron ratings book came out last month.
Bell predicted more big changes are likely to occur in the next two weeks and then they'll drop off until after the winter book comes out.
KSL news director Rod Arquette expressed surprise at the many recent changes and attributes them to a struggle to survive in a tight market with so many stations.
Ernie Kovacs, general manager for KCPX and the now defunct KUTR, said it's probably true that the time of year has a lot to do with the flurry of recent changes.
"If this economy doesn't turn around fairly soon, you'll see more changes," Kovacs said.
KUTR, a contemporary LDS music station, died Friday, Jan. 31, at 6 p.m., according to Kovacs, because of a lack of advertising support. KCPX, a sister station with a format of continuous favorites, is now simulcasting on KUTR's old AM-1320 frequency and that will continue indefinitely.
KLUB died in the mid-1980s and started KISN simulcasting. This is a repeat scenario.
"We were proud of the format," Kovacs said of KUTR. "It had a very loyal following but we were never able to get the ratings to where they needed to be. It was an economic decision."
Kovacs said about half a dozen employees lost their jobs with the demise of KUTR.
Comings and goings in the radio scene
A rundown of some recent radio changes:
- Mark Van Wagoner, KMGR morning personality, has announced he will be leaving the station on Feb. 15 because he no longer feels comfortable with direction the station is moving. Morning co-host Clyde Lewis was taken off the air Friday - dissolving the Magic 107 morning team. Lewis' status is up in the air. KMGR was also sold last month.
- Gary "Wooley' Waldron arrived at KUTQ Saturday as part-owner, general manager and program director. He previously worked for almost a decade at KISN and at KCPX before that. He's considered a master programmer for hit music radio stations. Past program director, Jim Sumpter, is leaving KUTQ.
- "Tyler," a morning co-host on KRSP-FM, was taken off the air last week. He's been replaced by Teri Brown, who is also doing news to free up Steve Carlson for other duties.
- "Peter B," KALL-AM's midday personality, will be leaving the station Feb. 14. He'll be replaced by Rush Limbaugh's syndicated talk show from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. beginning Feb. 17. KALL will carry another syndicated show, "Dr. Dean Adell" (medical advice) from 1-2 p.m. Hans Peterson will follow from 2-6 p.m. and Tom Barberi's morning show will still be broadcast on KALL AM and FM.
- Jim Braden, newsman for KSL radio, is in the process of leaving the station to take a communications position with Salt Lake County.
- Mo Mellady joined Kerry Jackson on the "Radio From Hell" morning show on KJQ Monday. She replaces Bill Allred, who left the station last month. She is also doing morning news reports and is KJQ promotions direction. In addition, KJQ has also hired "Tattoe" to be its creative/production director.
- Dan Kennedy has been added to the 6-10 a.m. morning show with Jay Stevens on KZHT. Kennedy comes to "Hot 94.9" from KWOD in Sacramento, where he also handled the morning drive.