Monday, March 8, 2010

B98.5 To Have A Locke On Mornings

The rumors were flying last week regarding the return of Vikki Locke, sans her 19-year on-air partner, Steve McCoy, to mornings on B98.5 FM.  The common thread running through all the rumors was that she will be back.  How long she will remain is a question.

The show she will do, however, will be quite different from what it was 2 weeks ago, before many observers were stunned when Steve & Vikki were abruptly dropped with 4 months left on their contract.  The new more-music shift will enable Cox Media Group's Bob Neil to sleep with pleasant dreams of B98.5's March PPM numbers.

One rumor was that Vikki's contract would be extended for a year at reduced pay, an effort to break up the Steve & Vikki team.  Since then, there have been indications that Cox might be rethinking that strategy.  A second rumor surfaced that Vikki would be on air through June under her current contract, and was told an extension would likely be in the offing.  A third little bit of gossip--and get this--is Cox was secretly doing research on whether to hire back Kelly & Alpha.

There are better music-intensive jocks available for less than what Vikki would be earning if they extended her for a year.  And I question having a woman in mornings followed by another in midday; with still another in the evening.  The River pulls it off successfully with Kaedy Kiley followed by Deborah Reece.  But Kaedy has always hosted a music-intensive show, albeit with much more talk time than she has on The River.  And as music-intensive as B98.5 is, the station and its hosts have much more personality than The River, which is without a jock voice at night and hopes no one will notice.

The Atlanta radio landscape is littered with failed morning shows; finding a successful one is no walk in the park.  Even B98.5, with its formatic limitations, has gone through a slew of them.  Since around 1993, B98.5 has served up Dale O'Brien & Kari Dean, Dale O'Brien & Trevor Johns, Gary McKee & Trevor Johns and Eddie Bauer & Christy Tanner, until Kelly & Alpha came along and lasted for 9 years.  No one had ever been able to handle the B98.5 morning clock, which was music intensive but allowed for limited talk, mostly over music, as well as Kelly & Alpha.

So we wait to learn what Vikki's deal will be.  If it's 4 months and a possible extension, B98.5 has a few options.  The first of course is to reward Vikki Locke with another year at reduced pay.  A second possibility is to bring back the famous shower scene from the TV show Dallas, in other words rehire Kelly & Alpha.  A third idea would be moving Kelly McCoy into mornings.  Like Kicks with Cadillac Jack, Kelly would give B98.5 an instant heritage morning show.  He is talented and creative enough to do the little bit of extra personality that the morning shift allows.  And hiring an afternoon host is much easier than finding a morning show.

Kelly McCoy Celebrates 25 Years
Speaking of Kelly McCoy, he has completed 25 years at B98.5, an obviously tremendous accomplishment.  Congratulations, Kelly.

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