Less is More was the name of a highly-touted Clear Channel initiative to get advertisers to purchase 30-second spots instead of 60's. The whole thing made little sense and pretty much died. But the concept of less is more can aptly be applied to Kicks 101-5 (WKHX-FM). The station has gone through two cutbacks. The first was the Citadel massacre of February 29, 2008, and the other happened a week ago following the Cumulus takeover. And both times, Kicks emerged stronger in one of its drive times.
The 2008 debacle meant the end of the line for the country format on 106.7. Eagle morning legend Rhubarb Jones left the business, but his co-host, Dallas McCade, joined Cadillac Jack on Kicks. The pairing made the Kicks morning show a formidable force. Last week, Kicks afternoon host Tim Michaels was caught in the downsizing. However, Mike Macho, a much more talented personality, was awarded the shift.
I have long wondered why Macho, the music director, was not used more on the air. I assumed his music chores left little or no time. But Kicks made a considerable upgrade as a result of its cutback.
The removal of Randy & Spiff from mornings on Atlanta's Greatest Hits 106.7 (WYAY-FM) can be read a few different ways. I wonder if the station in its current state has a future after management dismissed the guys synonymous with the format in Atlanta. Others see it differently, saying mornings needed fresh blood. Still another possibility is that Greatest Hits will stick around but on one of the cluster's lesser signals, where potential ad billings will not support a local morning show.
Tripp West has taken over mornings on 106.7, but I get the feeling that's temporary. Tripp's a blue-chip personality, but his show does not have the elements of a full morning program. I do predict Tripp will stay within the cluster.
I believe we are a long way from seeing what the new Cumulus cluster will look like 6 months from now. We do know a couple of things: Q100 and Kicks will remain at 99.7 and 101.5, respectively. With the rumored separation from SVP/Programming Jan Jeffries, Q100 could evolve slightly, but it's too successful for anything but minor tweaks. And 99X will likely stay put on the 98.9 translator. Anything else is anyone's guess.
Will Atlanta's Greatest Hits be eliminated altogether? Will it be moved to a lesser signal? Cumulus has a couple of options. AGH could shift to the 100.5 signal, where Rock is not succeeding. Or it could replace Journey on the 97.9 translator.
Journey could move to 100.5 or even 106.7, but it would be jumping into the thicket of an expensive AC fray on either frequency. And with the separation between Cumulus and Dickey Broadcasting as thick as the wall between two rooms at Motel 6, could one of those spots on the dial become a simulcast of 680 The Fan? Of course, if that happened, Dickey's 93.7 translator would be open to another Cumulus occupant.
The entire question of how to make money with translators is a challenging one. They give Cumulus more Atlanta FM's, but their small signals handicap them from competing at the same level as the full-power stations.
What about the management levels? Will both program directors, Cumulus' Rob Roberts and Citadel's Mark Richards, hold onto their current assignments? Both are seasoned PD's with long and successful track records, and they could certainly co-exist. But will the always-tight Cumulus budgets preclude that from happening?
How about the General Sales Manager level, where 3 GSM's--Chris Murray, Vickki Shelton and Mary Gordon--are in place? With Murray adding the Cumulus rock stations in the top 25 markets to his responsibilities, he likely will stay. There is room for all three, but what will budgets dictate?
More job cuts around the cluster will probably happen. With Citadel's Paul O'Malley now in place as VP/Market Manager, the staffers eliminated are as likely to be Cumulus as they are Citadel people.
What we do know is lots of surprises are in store. People, formats and signals are in play. Creating the end product will be a puzzle for O'Malley and his bosses. It will be thing of anticipation and fascination for the rest of us.
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Link to Rodney Ho's AJC Radio & TV blog: http://blogs.ajc.com/radio-tv-talk/