Monday, August 29, 2011

Are Mornings In Play At Dave FM?

Dave FM Program Director Scott Jameson must have the weight of the world on his shoulders.  Ratings for the Adult Album Alternative station have been on a roller coaster.  Just when it looked like the station had realized its potential, with decent ratings made up of the upscale types that most advertisers crave, the numbers toppled back down.  In the high-stakes Atlanta market, PD's tend to fear their own shadow when ratings dip below the top ten.

I'm guessing Scott is conflicted over two things, and both involve mornings.  Since its launch, Dave FM (WZGC) has gone back and forth between a personality and a music-intensive morning show.

The AAA format typically draws the most avid and meticulous music fans in commercial radio.  The kind of morning show that Scott Shannon started at Q105 in Tampa and made famous at Z100 in New York is not the standard in the Triple A format.  Triple A morning shows are somewhat more music intensive and feature some intelligent conversation in understated tones.

Dave FM mornings have about the same mix of music and talk as their AAA counterparts around the country.  The talk, however, tends not to be of the caliber that one might hear on KINK/Portland or KGSR/Austin, for example.  Dave FM has also had two periods of music-intensive mornings hosted by Tim Orff.  And Orff's stints got ratings similar to the ratings peaks and valleys of the more expensive personality show.

Which type of morning show is right for Dave FM?  While Dave could save money with a redux of an Orff-style show, the station would never get to the next level with it.  In my opinion, the current mix of music and talk is the right one.

Jimmy Baron, one of the market's most beloved figures, has been at the helm in mornings for the past 2 years.  Jimmy's co-host is Yvonne Monet, with the popular Chris Crash Clark handling traffic.  I enjoyed Jimmy in his 99X days and thought he contributed mightily as a co-host.  But, I never felt he had the voice or broadcast talent to be a main host.  I love listening to Yvonne, but I find her a little too bright and cheery for the AAA format.  Crash is a fun listen but also a little too upbeat for Triple A.

While the less expensive music-intensive versus more costly personality tug-of-war might be going on in Scott's mind, a second conflict could be playing into this.  Radio junkies tend to have been infatuated with certain stations in the medium's modern history.  For me, WFIL, KFRC and CKLW fall into that category.  From seeing Scott Jameson live at the semi-annual CBS Radio luncheons and listening to Dave-FM, I get the idea that Scott is infatuated with Atlanta's 99X in its heyday.  It was Scott who reunited the Morning X team of Steve Barnes, Leslie Fram and Jimmy Baron on the Dave FM morning show.

A scenario has played out a couple of times already at Dave-FM.  A few years ago, when then-morning personality Zakk Tyler was on vacation, former 99Xer Jimmy Baron filled in.  Of course, not long after, it was Jimmy's show.  About a year ago, former 99Xer Crash Clark came back to town after leaving WBCN in Boston.  At the time, Dave FM's morning traffic was done by (Rob) Carter.  One morning, Crash came in for a "visit," prompting over-the-air paranoia from Carter.  Jimmy and Crash assured Carter, also over the air, that his worry was ridiculous.  Days later, Crash became the morning show's traffic reporter.

Now an even more interesting situation has arisen.  It's only rumor, but I have heard that Jimmy Baron's contract ends on August 31.  And what do you know?  Another prominent former 99X personality, Steve Craig, just lost his job at Rock 101.9 (WRXP-FM) in New York following an ownership and format change.  And guess what.  Craig has been filling in on Dave FM for the vacationing Mara Davis.

Craig's availability might be causing an even bigger conflict for Scott Jameson.  Here is a former 99X personality ripe for the picking, but doing so would involve axing another former 99Xer.  This could be a great opportunity for the right therapist.

Steve Craig has a lot of music credibility and would be a great addition from that standpoint.  But would he do a music-intensive show while sprinkling in artist facts like he did in middays at 99X and has been doing at Dave-FM during his fill-in?  Or would Dave-FM pair him with a co-host?  Just thinking about that decision makes my head feel like it will explode.  Now I have my own conflict: Excedrin or Tylenol?  I guess we'll know more soon.

Happy Labor Day.  We will be back in 2 weeks.

I would love to hear from you at  Follow us on Twitter at, and we'll follow you back.

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