Do you know the steps to the Cumulus/Atlanta Shuffle? Not many people do because it has been shrouded in secrecy. I can only take some educated guesses.
The former Citadel programming department is set to move to the Cumulus complex on Johnson Ferry Road next week. At that point, the entire expanded Cumulus/Atlanta cluster will be under one roof. The odds are good that some significant fireworks will follow the move.
First, what I do know: Q100 will be left alone; it's too successful to mess with. By the way, Cumulus' recent divorce with Billy Bush was a positive development. A voice-tracked Adam Bomb is light years better than a syndicated Billy Bush.
Kicks 101-5 will stay pretty much as is subject to tweaks. Rumors have been swirling that evening personalities Kim Fitz and Rob Lee will depart. We now know Kicks will carry the syndicated CMT Radio Live with Cody Alan.
That is about all I know. Everything else is subject to the shuffle. I have some thoughts about what could happen, however.
Last October, shortly after Cumulus closed on the Citadel deal, Randy & Spiff were let go as the morning show on Atlanta's Greatest Hits 106.7 (WYAY-FM). Ever since Cumulus terminated the two guys synonymous with Oldies in Atlanta, I have wondered how serious the company was about keeping the format. Then again, economizing could have been the firing's objective.
Tripp West then moved from afternoon drive into mornings. Tripp is one of the market's best jocks, but Cumulus has not given him the support to do a morning show. Mornings became music intensive, which made me feel another shoe would eventually drop. But so far it hasn't. Is this an indication that Cumulus envisioned a format flip? Or was the company waiting for the move to Johnson Ferry to embellish mornings?
Concurrent with Tripp's move to mornings, 106.7 brought in Fred McFarlin, a journeyman personality, for afternoon drive. In this case too, I sensed that something was not quite right, or not quite permanent.
When I put all these things together, I have to wonder whether Atlanta's Greatest Hits will get lost in the Cumulus Shuffle. On the other hand, Cumulus SVP Mike McVay has made adjustments to the 106.7 music mix, which could suggest a desire to get it right. We will soon know.
The next question is what's in store for the other underperforming Cumulus signal, Rock 100.5. Since its 2008 debut, the station has had two constants, rock music and The Regular Guys in mornings. The rock music, however, has been all over the place. For the past few weeks, following a strange weekend of Active Rock, the station has settled in as Classic Rock, which of course has been tried before.
I see this as somewhat different from the 106.7 situation. Morning ratings for The Regular Guys have been respectable. Moreover, the TRG cast was recently signed until 2014. That all suggests that Larry, Eric, Southside and Tim are bringing in some nice bucks.
I've heard it theorized that The Regular Guys could do mornings on a 680/100.5 sports simulcast with Christopher Rude shifting to afternoons. I do not think this is a likely scenario. The Regular Guys are not sports people, and Rude, while he has learned a lot during his tenure at The Fan, is not either.
I think it's more likely that Rock 100.5 will stay around in some shape or form. I am just not sure what that shape or form will be.
If Atlanta's Greatest Hits did get shuffled away, my math tells me that one frequency would need a format. If that were the case, several options come to mind. Among them are a 680 simulcast on FM, a promotion of 99X from translator to full FM status or an AC leaning a little soft. I doubt Cumulus would consider Journey 97.9 ripe for a promotion to the big leagues. In fact, the presence of Journey would seem to make an AC an unlikely choice for a full FM.
This will be interesting to watch. My gut tells me to get braced for a shuffle. How the cards will be dealt is far from certain.
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Link to Rodney Ho's AJC Radio & TV blog: http://blogs.ajc.com/radio-tv-talk/