Monday, February 27, 2012

Kicks, WYAY Studio Move Imminent

The new studios for Kicks 101-5 and WYAY-FM in the Cumulus complex on Johnson Ferry are nearing completion.  The air staffs of the two former Citadel stations should be in their new digs shortly after March 15.  All non-programming employees have been there for several months.

The complex was built by Susquehanna in 2001 for 99X and Q100.  It's now packed to the gills with Q100, Rock 100.5, 680 The Fan, Kicks 101-5, Atlanta's Greatest Hits WYAY and the translators, 99X and Journey 97.9.

Once all the Cumulus folks are together, we should start to get an idea of the company's plans for its expanded Atlanta cluster.  A rumor making the rounds is that Kicks will make changes to its evening lineup concurrent with the move.  Cumulus SVP/Programming Mike McVay seems to have his hand firmly affixed to Kicks, WYAY and Rock 100.5.

Some Bovine Creativity
It's great to hear some creativity in today's world of homogenized radio.  So kudos to 94-9 The Bull for coming up with a very clever promo for its Green Solo Cup party on March 16 at Wild Bill's.  It's sung to the tune of Toby Keith's Red Solo Cup, and I love hearing the promo as much as the song.  Of course, The Bull also has some ingenuity on the air in the form of the station's imaging by Cousin Deke.

Speaking of The Bull, a jock calling himself Boxer has been doing weekends, and filled in for Lance Houston in afternoon drive last week.  Boxer, whose full radio name is Joe Boxer, is the morning man for Clear Channel's Country station in Washington, WMZQ.

Boxer must be a model Clear Channel employee because he also voice tracks on several other CC Country outlets.  So if you're in Columbus (OH), Jacksonville, or any other Clear Channel Country market, you just might run into Boxer on the radio.  I like his unique sound for a morning show.  However, he's not my taste in other dayparts.  But he certainly earns his keep.

Patience the Byword at Cox Media Group
Since August 2010, News/Talk WSB has been simulcasting on 95.5 FM.   Long before that, the CMG/Atlanta engineering brain trust, led by Charles Kinney, had been skillfully moving pieces around to position 95.5 for a move to the New Street tower, home of B98.5, V-103 and Star 94.  The current 95.5 transmitter site is near Chateau Elan, far northeast of Atlanta.

Everything is set from Cox's side; the application was long ago filed with the FCC.  The delay is due to an FCC cross-ownership rule that states an owner of radio, TV and newspaper in a market cannot add stations that would increase city-grade contour service.  Initially, Cox requested a waiver, saying the station, then CHR/Rhythmic The Beat, did not target the same audience as the AJC.  Now, however, the FCC seems to be moving toward exempting the top 20 markets from the rule.

Although 95.5 will likely be cleared for the move, this is a change that would not normally be permitted by the FCC.  The station, however, is immune from the short spacing rules since it was on the air prior to 1964.  A local engineer has wondered aloud to me whether 95.5's relocation into Atlanta will cause reception problems for 94.9, 95.5 and 96.1.

Steve Harvey's Radio Future
Success in mornings with syndication has certainly spread to CHR, with the likes of Elvis Duran and Kidd Kraddick.  But Urban was the original format in which local stations found it difficult to compete with syndication.  Tom Joyner was the first to become a formidable force with a nationwide morning show.

About 6 years ago, Steve Harvey became a savior of sorts.  Already a big name in entertainment, Harvey's entree into the syndicated arena enabled stations getting creamed by Joyner to get back on their morning feet.

Perhaps the most notable example was longtime Urban AC giant V101.9 in Charlotte.  The CBS-owned station was blindsided by little WQNC-FM, which snagged Tom Joyner away during a contract dispute.  Despite a big signal advantage, V101.9 could not compete against Joyner with a local show.  A couple of years later, when Steve Harvey became available, V101.9 grabbed the program and quickly regained its domination.

Steve Harvey's show, like Joyner's, is intended for Urban AC stations yet some Urban (contemporary) outlets carry it.  Kevin Ross, editor of the newsletter Radio Facts, has been predicting for a few weeks that Harvey's new TV projects will soon make continuing his radio program impossible in terms of time.  This is strictly Ross' take, and whether he is correct will be interesting.  If Steve Harvey did end his radio show, the manifestations on Urban radio would be considerable.

Steve Harvey's show originates from his home studio here in Atlanta and is carried by Majic 107.5/97.5.

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