Monday, April 30, 2012

Cumulus/Atlanta Set To Make News

Bread and butter, bacon and eggs, peanut butter and jelly, peaches and cream, love and marriage.  They all go together.  Cumulus and All News?  Not so much.  Yet Cumulus is about to launch an All-News operation in Atlanta, one of the few major markets that does not have one already.  So it sounds pretty logical at first.

Getting to the point of making last Friday's announcement was quite a journey.  (No, not that Journey.)  From day one of Cumulus ownership, I have suspected "Atlanta's Greatest Hits" would be short-lived on WYAY-FM (106.7).

My suspicion started with the firing of Randy & Spiff, the two guys most associated with oldies in Atlanta.  It continued when Tripp West filled in during mornings, and Cumulus made no attempt to develop a morning show; and when Tripp's afternoon drive shift was held down by Fred McFarlin.

WYAY seemed to be in a holding pattern.  The word around town was Cumulus would flip the format after the move to the Johnson Ferry complex in March.  The station's air staff was told absolutely zilch, of course.

As the supposed studio completion date approached, the jocks learned that only a new Kicks studio had been built.  WYAY's air talent continued to be the lone wolves at the Interstate North facility.

Cumulus Corporate announced to its Atlanta management that Rock 100.5 (WNNX-FM) would be moving to 106.7.  Rock 100.5 salespeople then repeated this to agency buyers.  A 680 The Fan simulcast seemed a likely possibility for the 100.5 signal.

Meanwhile, SweetJack call handlers moved into the Interstate North space.  ABC Radio Network's operations people were rumored to be relocating from Dallas to the facility as well.

About a month ago, I received a call from a friend who is an Atlanta radio veteran.  He related that Cumulus had been talking with news people from WABE-FM, the market's NPR station.  I dismissed this as being simply rumor.  Then a salesperson at News/Talk WSB commented, "We know they're coming after us.  I know for a fact they've talked to all the former CNN Radio people."

I wondered what was going on but still thought plans for Rock 100.5's move to 106.7 were intact.  But at some point, they apparently changed.

Next I heard that the Cumulus/Atlanta engineering team of Mark LeMuth and Tim Stephens showed up at the Interstate North complex and were hurriedly working to refurbish the former Kicks board, which had been slated for the morgue.

Two weeks ago,'s Lance Venta announced that Cumulus had purchased the domain ""  Later that week, Cumulus reserved similar domains for each of its Atlanta frequencies except 97.9.  The company in all likelihood was blindsided by Venta's acumen and not ready for the word to get out.

Like another Radio-Info poster, I felt reserving the domains had been a head-fake in preparation for the move of 100.5 to 106.7.  In reality, I was the one being head-faked.

Columnist Jerry Del Colliano wrote that Cumulus was thought to be building a news hub in Atlanta, and that an Atlanta staff would replace local personnel at Cumulus news/talk stations around the country.  So that was the reason for talking with the former CNN Radio anchors, I thought.

Suddenly, stockpiles of new equipment and a throng of workers started showing up at Interstate North.  Word leaked out that the pressure was on to have everything up and running by May 1.  And of course, WYAY was still pumping out Atlanta's Greatest Hits.  I had wondered why the format flip had not yet occurred.  I finally came out of my trance and realized this All-News thing was really going to happen.

Next week, I will tell you how I expect the new All-News 106.7 to perform and why.

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


  1. I think that we all thought that this was 92.9.... It seemed the most logical choice. Then the "News & Information KGO" happened, and I openly speculated on RadioInfo the possibility of it happening in Atlanta. I can be put on the record as saying that the Celeb, pop news will do WYAY in.

    BTW, I am suspended from R-I Boards because i published a full article. Darn.

    Bill Bradley

  2. It will be interesting how this station fares. As morning drive is the most important part of a station's day and helps to keep listeners all day long, does WYAY (hopefully they get new call letters) need a morning drive host? The most obvious, Tom "The King" Hughes probably will not come out of retirement.

    Hopefully, the morning and afternoon drive times will be traffic heavy, similar to when Metro Traffic leased Dickey's WFOM/1230 in late 1997 and 1998 with INFO/1230 - news updates with lots and lots and lots of traffic reports.

    Captain Herb is never where he should be when there are major traffic tie ups.

  3. Forgot to add:

    As for Bill Bradley getting banned on R-I, to quote the great Howie Chizek of WNIR in Akron, OH, "They can't do that, it's un-American, and besides, it's not a very nice thing to do."

    1. Well, Thanks. I thought in America, we could distribute information freely.... not suspended because I presented an article from ATLBizChron. It is quite sad! But, I will be back!