Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Bert Show’s Invincibility

Will anyone ever beat The Bert Show? Well yes, actually. V-103 and Kiss 104.1 do in the 25-54 demo, and V-103 does among 18-34’s. But of course those stations are not trying to beat The Bert Show; they’re trying to beat each other.

Okay, take 2. Will anyone who wants to beat The Bert Show ever accomplish that feat? Let’s peek at the October PPM. In morning drive, Q100 (WWWQ-FM) had 140% more 25-54 audience than Star 94 and 29% more than B98.5. Among 18-34 year olds, Q100 had 178% more than both competitors.

The obvious answer is no in the current competitive scenario. Bert, Jeff, Melissa and Jen are sitting pretty, and deservedly so.

Now I’m going to ask a slightly different question. Is there a show in another market that could come to Atlanta and defeat Bert and company? My answer to that is maybe not, but I’ve found a show that could compete well with Bert. In fact, it sounds a lot like The Bert Show, and its host started his radio career as an intern for Q100.

The show is “That Guy” Kramer on Panama City’s Island 106 (WILN-FM). The show’s anchor is a young, sharp, talented radio guy raised in Atlanta, Steve Kramer. You can tell he’s listened to The Bert Show. But, this no cheap imitation.

Kramer’s co-hosts are Holly O’Connor and Miguel Fuller. Both Holly and Miguel earn their keep. Holly handles middays on sister AC station Wave 100.1, and Miguel does afternoon drive on Wave.

The owner is Magic Broadcasting, which has had enough drama in the past several years to start a more spellbinding soap opera than Dallas. But Magic’s Panama City cluster has been relatively stable (as opposed to Dothan). Island 106 has been a good-sounding CHR station over the past several years. I’m glad to see that now that Spoon has moved to midday, Cupcake has replaced him in evenings.

I’ll Miss Dene Hallam
I am still a little shell-shocked about the sudden illness and subsequent passing of Dene Hallam.

When I lived in New York during the 1980’s, I constantly saw Dene’s name in trade publications, such as Billboard and R&R. He was the successful young Program Director of 50,000-watt Country station WHN-AM. After New York’s first country FM, WKHK, became established, Dene crossed the street to program it. Although WKHK eventually beat WHN, the ratings of both stations were low, and owner Viacom flipped WKHK to Soft AC, where it remains today as Lite FM (WLTW).

One day on my then favorite morning show, Z100’s Morning Zoo, “zoo master” Scott Shannon mentioned the WKHK format change and Dene Hallam. I continued to see Dene’s name through the years as a blue-chip programmer. He had perhaps his greatest success in Houston at 93Q (KKBQ-FM), where he created a Country station with Top-40 formatics. 93Q pushed longtime Country outlet KIKK-FM out of the format and beat powerhouse KILT-FM.

Dene was one of only two programmers to win Billboard’s PD of the Year award in two formats, the other being the legendary Scott Shannon. Dene won the award in the Top 40 and Country categories.

I first met Dene in person at the Kicks/Eagle offices. I had spoken with him by telephone and knew he was a reader of a radio column that I used to write. Shortly after he left ABC, Dene emailed me through the Radio-Info website to comment on a thread in which I was involved. We continued communicating, and he eventually suggested we meet for lunch.

Dene was a bit rough at the edges, not exactly a corporate type. I could see he probably was too strong-willed for some people. He admitted that he had both disciples and detractors at Kicks and Eagle. I could tell despite the gruff exterior, that he was good-hearted and cared about people.

Dene was definitely a guy who breathed radio waves and was very smart. His radio acumen was certainly intact. He shared his opinions of the on-air talent at Kicks and Eagle with excellent perception and objectivity. (I agreed with him on everyone except Garry Kinsey.)

The lunch, however, was a somewhat sad one. The combination of his recent separation from his wife and release from ABC seemed to have broken him. He had gone into a tailspin from which I wonder whether he ever fully recovered.

Approximately 9 months later, Dene got a plum job in Kansas City, where he had been so successful years earlier. WDAF-AM was still near the top of the ratings, ahead of its two FM Country competitors. Yet Entercom management had made a decision to move the station to one of the cluster's FM signals and replace the AM with Sports. Dene Hallam was tapped to handle the transition and turn the new station into a winner.

Dene unfortunately left for Kansas City in the wrong frame of mind. Before departing, he sent an email saying that being forced to move was going to separate him from his 3-year old daughter, who was the love of his life. I was not surprised that job did not last long.

About 2 years ago, Moby hired Dene to program his syndicated morning show. When I started writing this blog, Dene began emailing me again. He was grateful to Moby and his wife, and certainly helped make Moby’s show much better. Yet his email left the impression that Dene was still not the happiest man in the world. But, his love of radio was still evident in his continuing correspondence.

With the Moby in the Morning Network expanding to other dayparts, my hope was that Dene would earn more and eventually get fully back on his feet. And then came the very sad announcement that he had passed.

On to happier things…

A Cadillac at Every House
WKHX’s Cadillac Jack, named in our recent Atlanta’s Best issue, will host the afternoon show on Citadel Media’s Today’s Best Country network. The talented Kicks morning host will be heard on 108 stations for starters.

Caddy will voice track the program, and recycle interviews and phoners from the Kicks morning show. He estimates the ratio of new to recycled material will be around 70/30.

Kicks Morning Show Manager Matt Hoffberg, Cadillac Jack’s right-hand man, will be coordinating and producing the tracks. A producer in Dallas will plug the breaks into the satellite.

This of course is the Citadel version of Clear Channel’s Premium Choice. So we all know what adding marquee talent to Today’s Best Country is really about, saving bucks through job elimination. That said, no one deserves TBC’s afternoon show more than Cadillac Jack.

Thank you for reading. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/atlantaairwaves, and we’ll follow you back. Email your comments to roddyfreeman@bellsouth.net.

Link to Rodney Ho’s AJC Radio & TV Blog:

1 comment:

  1. Roddy, thanks so much for the remembrance of Dene. He was a class act, both loved and hated for his independent views, which were usually right. :-D

    The memorial mass for Dene Hallam will be at St Peter Chanel Church in Roswell, GA, Saturday, Dec. 5 at 10:00. In lieu of flowers, an educational trust for Dene's daughters is at Fidelity Bank. Contact Michele Owenby at 404-553-2175 to wire funds. To send a check, make it out to The Hallam Daughters Educational Trust and send it to Moby Enterprises, 1160-D Grimes Bridge Road, Roswell, GA 30075.

    See ya, pal...miss ya, pal.