Monday, January 17, 2011

Talk Radio Plays Musical Chairs

Last week's snowfall was accompanied by a flurry of moves at Atlanta's Talk stations, WSB and WGST.  Joining the exclusive radio club whose members include New York's Harry Harrison, Cumulus' Rob Roberts and Salem's Hugh Hewitt, Erick Erickson debuted his late evening show on WSB.  Dave Ramsey, who was displaced when WGST hired a live and local host, Rusty Humphries, for afternoon drive, started on WSB at midnight.  Finally, Michael Savage, dropped by WSB in favor of Erickson, was picked up by WGST for 9PM-midnight.

With the addition of Erickson, WSB clipped Herman Cain's show by an hour to air 7-9PM.  Cain has been pondering a run for the U.S. Presidency and of course would have to leave the air if he officially announced.  Many people cannot get past Cain's diction, but I enjoy listening to him.  I find him intelligent and more reasonable than most political talk show hosts.  Maybe my knowing what he's accomplished in the business world has something to do with that.

My early impressions of Erickson are pretty good.  He has a very good radio presence, and is intelligent and well read.  His material during the first few shows, a litany of examples of bad actions by liberals and by President Obama, is kind of tired by now.  In fairness, I realize Erickson was still getting to know the lay of the land and was taking few calls.  Hopefully he'll move his debate onto substantive issues.

If Herman Cain does indeed exit WSB, the station could immediately move Erick Erickson into early evenings and Ramsey into late evenings with nary a blip.  The bigger question being bounced around, however, is whether Erickson could replace Neal Boortz if the Talk Master ever decided to retire, which he's shown no signs of doing.

Boortz is a highly compelling host, and finding someone to fill his shoes would be a challenge.  He probably gets away with saying certain things because he's Boortz; a replacement might not.  That notwithstanding, Erickson has displayed some hints that he has the talent to be a lightening rod in terms of personality and delivery.  His subject matter needs to improve, but at this point, I feel the jury is out regarding his ability to take over for Boortz.  I'm interested in hearing how he and his show develop.

Snagging Dave Ramsey was a sound move for WSB because he has a loyal and rabid fan base.  I'm not sure how rabid one has to be to stay awake for the show, but Ramsey will probably slide into 10PM-1AM before long.  Acquiring the controversial Michael Savage is not likely to affect the minimal evening ratings of WGST given the station's small nighttime coverage area.  The winner here is Talk Radio Network, which syndicates the show.  Despite his termination by WSB, Savage still has an affiliate in market #7, an important fact for national network media buyers.

Changes On The River
Without any fanfare, Kelly Stevens has moved into afternoon drive at 97-1 The River.  He of course was part of the Kelly & Alpha morning show on B98.5 FM for 9 years.  After a hiatus of more than a year, Kelly was hired back last summer for weekends at B98.5 as well as fill-ins on B98.5 and The River.  Kelly is a class person and talented radio personality, and I'm glad to see him back full time.

Royal Marshall Passes
The entire Atlanta radio community is saddened by the sudden passing of Royal Marshall.  Royal's talk show work on WSB and WCNN as well as his engineering and cameo appearances with Neal Boortz had made him a household name.  He was a loved figure at 1601 West Peachtree Street. 

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  1. What about the loss of the immensely talented Kate McCarthy over at the NEW 97.1 The River?