Monday, October 17, 2011

The Fan's Rude Awakening Is Anything But

Christopher Rude has long been one of Atlanta's best radio personalities.  When I arrived in the market during 1994, I was immediately hooked on his morning show on 96 Rock (WKLS-FM).  Adding to the show's depth were Beth Kepple and Jeff Hullinger, aka "the Hull Man."  I was incredulous when the station, newly owned by Clear Channel, suddenly axed the show while Rude was vacationing in 1996 and replaced it with the syndicated John Boy & Billy out of Charlotte.

I was happy when Rude was re-hired several months later, albeit for afternoon drive.  By that time, listeners had let 96 Rock know how they felt through the mechanism known as Arbitron.  96 Rock became great again, this time anchored by The Regular Guys in mornings.

After a few years, Rude was not renewed.  It was not the time within the Clear Channel system to be a high-paid personality, quality notwithstanding, in a music-intensive daypart.

In its second christening around 2000, 680 The Fan used ESPN Radio's syndicated Mike & Mike for its morning show during its early years.  The direct competition, 790 The Zone (WQXI-FM), proved surprisingly resilient at first.  The Zone had a local morning show.

Persistent rumors that The Fan would bring in a local morning host came to fruition when Christopher Rude was hired in 2002.   He was not a sports guy by trade, but he immediately added a terrific presence to morning drive with that great voice and personality.  And he now knows enough sports to be a very effective anchor, tossing the mic to experts who surround him for more in-depth analysis.

Rude's hiring was a win-win-win.  It gave Rude a stable place in Atlanta radio in a marketplace that is not kind to top talent beyond their youthful years. It gave listeners an entertaining local morning show.  And it gave Dickey Broadcasting a blue-chip morning man at probably a nice salary but one that likely does not break the bank.  Rude and The Fan have since flown past 790 The Zone in the ratings.

Living life well is a matter of balance between work and play, tasty and healthy, expensive and frugal.  Morning shows are like life in that regard, balancing such aspects as male and female, funny and serious, music and talk.  But I can't help but wonder if 680 The Fan tries to balance The Rude Awakening between good and bad, meaning the host is really good so the co-host should be really bad.

That was a little harsh; I would not say that Perry Laurentino is really bad.  He does know his stuff.  But he somehow grates on me, and some of his logic leaves my head spinning.

One classic example happened about a month ago.  The Braves were sinking quickly, but the prior night, an off-day for the Braves, the Mets had come from behind in the 9th inning to beat the surging St. Louis Cardinals.  Laurentino proclaimed, "The Mets have just given the Braves a berth in the playoffs."  Rude, sounding somewhat skeptical, said what I was thinking: "But the Braves still have to win."  "But they will," insisted Laurentino, citing how the loss had injected energy into the Atlanta team that would thrust them to the League Series past what had to be a deflated Cardinals squad.

Sandra Golden, another member of the cast, does a decent job reading the hourly updates and occasionally puts forth an opinion.  Former Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone chimes in with a few words now and then.  But Rude is the man who makes the show a great listen.

Need A Morning Show?
Pete & Brenda in the Morning is heard on 93.5 Life FM (WSRM-FM), a Christian Contemporary station in Rome, GA, owned by Rome Radio Partners.  But the show actually comes from the West Coast.  Pete & Brenda is family-friendly, as the couple lives "life and marriage out loud."

Pete & Brenda is perfect for medium and small-market stations that cannot afford a local show in this challenging radio economy; and is very reasonably priced.  It's syndicated but doesn't sound like it.  Pete Michaels and Brenda Bissett have years of experience in major markets.  In fact, Brenda handled middays on Atlanta's B98.5 for 2 years.

Pete & Brenda can be contacted at; or by calling 503-762-1723.  Of course, their website is

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

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