Monday, May 18, 2009

The McCoys of Atlanta Radio

They both have the last name of McCoy, at least on the radio. They both have been on the air in Atlanta far longer than the radio life expectancy of talent in any major market. They both have handled drive time over their entire Atlanta career. According to their friends, they both are quality people off the air as well as on. They both also were Georgia Radio Hall of Fame nominees in 2008. Needless to say, they both have considerable talent. And, they now work at the same station, B98.5 FM.

Radio stations once in a while make news by stealing a major talent from the competition. And occasionally, disc jockeys relieved of their duties turn up on another station, sometimes smaller, in the same market. However, Steve McCoy is the only air personality I know of who has done mornings on four leading stations in the same market. Moreover, each one was at or near the top of the ratings while he was there. His first stint in Atlanta was at then CHR powerhouse Z93.

After 5 or so years at WZGC, Steve moved to the new Top 40 ratings king, Power 99. He left the market for a year in 1989 for afternoon drive at legendary KVIL in Dallas. Not finding Dallas to his and his family’s liking, it was back to Atlanta and Star 94, which was emerging as the new CHR giant. Steve suggested Star bring over Vikki Locke, one of his former cohorts at Power 99, which of course they did. Having witnessed Steve & Vikki’s stellar 17-year run at Star 94, B98.5 grabbed the radio couple last year to break the longtime Cox AC mold of a music-intensive morning show.

John Young was Program Director at Atlanta’s Z93 in 1981 when popular morning duo Ross & Wilson left for WABC in New York, creating a risky void. The competition was Gary McKee, and John needed a morning show with star potential. He had come to Atlanta from Nashville and was familiar with Steve McCoy’s work on that market’s 92Q, a 3,000-watt FM station making inroads against 100,000 watters.

John tells the story of meeting with Steve and his wife in the lobby of Nashville’s Doubletree Hotel, trying to convince them to move to Atlanta. The couple was comfortable in Nashville. Having come from Spartanburg radio, Steve had already done more than he had imagined. His wife worked on Nashville’s Music Row. Little did Steve McCoy know what he was to accomplish in Atlanta over the next 25 years.

I asked John what made him so confident that Steve would succeed in mornings at Z93. John answered, “It was not just what he did on the air but the relentless availability he had off the air. Clients loved him. But what I noticed was he loved people. Anyone willing to be that available to people stands a chance of being heard and remembered. All I remember was his consistency, his likeability, his willingness to stay at it, and his ‘presentability’ to clients and listeners.”

Still one of Steve’s biggest fans, John added, “He’s a student of radio…he’s a good example of what a broadcaster, citizen, husband and father should be.”

I first heard Kelly McCoy shortly after arriving in Atlanta during 1994. My initial thought was this is a gifted guy in terms of having one of those special radio voices that sound great.

Kelly grew up in the Atlanta area, breaking into radio at a small station near Lake Hartwell. His first Atlanta radio experience was at Quixie (WQXI-AM), where he entertained for 6 years, from 1978 through 1984. In January, 1985, he jumped to B98.5 in afternoon drive, and the rest is history, history that’s still being written.

Kelly works the B98.5 AC format just fine. Yes, he is restricted by Cox CEO Bob Neil’s ultra-strict talk limitations. Yet Kelly handles his shift with aplomb, always speaking with just the right inflection. And he manages to get in some comments within the format. All in all, he’s the perfect fit for afternoons on B98.5.

I’ve met Kelly, and I can tell you that he’s very capable of excelling in a less restrictive format. But why mess with a good thing for both Kelly and B98.5?

Steve & Vikki (as a duo) have been nominated this year for induction into the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame. I have no doubt that both Steve McCoy and Kelly McCoy ultimately will be enshrined. They both continue to contribute big time to Atlanta radio and the community, and hopefully will for years to come.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to email me at

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1 comment:

  1. I got to know both of the McCoy guys working at the Cox Radio cluster in Atlanta. Both of them are good guys, talented, and total pros, and I'm glad that I had the chance to work with them.