Monday, May 27, 2013

Atlanta's Radio Icons - 1994 To Now - Part 3

In the past 2 weeks, we have recognized 20 Atlanta radio greats as icons.  In part 3, we name the last 11 from the FM band:

Moby - Moby (aka James Carney) was once a top-rated morning man on Rock stations in Dallas and Houston.  He was hired in 1991 by Kicks 101.5 and changed his act to Country.  He adjusted to the format quickly and led Kicks to its highest morning ratings ever.  Ten years later when, according to rumor, Moby's down-home schtick (i.e. "Mornin, peaches") was embarrassing the GM around his neighbors, Moby's contract was not renewed.  Then after a brief stint at Classic Rock Z93, Moby made lemonade out of a lemon by creating a syndicated morning show for small markets.

Cadillac Jack - Cadillac Jack came to the market directly from Myrtle Beach in 1994.  His first handled evenings on Kicks 101.5 and then moved to afternoon drive on sister station Y106.7.  Then it was back to Kicks in afternoons and finally to mornings, which he now co-hosts with Dallas McCade.  He has a unique sound that fits Country radio to a tee, and comes across as a family man and nice person.

Mike Roberts - Mike held down mornings on V-103 for 13 years, working alongside Carol Blackmon.  He has loads of radio talent, including voice, inflection and timing.  He was widely known and respected across the community.  Mike can still be heard as the voice of Macon's Majic 100, which he owns.

Frank Ski - Frank replaced Mike Roberts in mornings on V-103 around 1998.  While he may not have the natural radio talent of Mike, he was a good fit, especially with the changing direction of Urban music.  Frank dedicated himself to the show and his audience, and became a fixture in the community.  Last fall, he made the decision to leave V-103 in the hope of getting a national platform.

Ryan Cameron - Ryan was a comedy club performer when he started on V-103 in evenings in the early 90s.  As he polished his radio act, he moved to Radio One's WKYS-FM in Washington DC, returning to Atlanta in 1996 for mornings at Hot 97-5 and then 107-9, where he remained for almost 10 years.  Then it was back to V-103 for a morning show in afternoons, so to speak, and then on to morning drive this year.  Ryan just oozes with talent, and V-103's morning show has not missed a beat.

Larry Tinsley  - Larry has owned the most important daypart for Gospel, Sunday mornings, for decades.  He has been on V-103 for about 20 years and was on the radio in Atlanta long before that.  Among persons 25-54 on Sundays from 6AM to noon, he is #1 with twice the audience of the two stations tied for #2, Kiss 104 and 104.7 The Fish.  Larry has 2 and two-thirds times the audience on Sunday mornings as Praise 102.5, the only Atlanta station with a full-time Gospel format.

Kevin & Taylor - Kevin Avery and Taylor Scott have been the only morning show that 104.7 The Fish has had in its 12-year history.  The show, while holding true to the station's Christian tenor, is of major market caliber and mass appeal, and competes with the market's leaders in ratings.

Art Terrell - Art became known to Atlanta listeners in the early days of Hot 97-5 during the mid-90s.  He has held down afternoon drive on Kiss 104 for several years, with a great voice and charismatic personality.

Rhubarb Jones - Rhubarb came from Montgomery many years ago and became Atlanta's first big Country morning star on Y106.7, where he remained until 2008.  He is well-known and respected for his radio work as well as his charitable activities.  Still a dedicated radio advocate, Rhubarb teaches communications at Kennesaw State University.

Crash Clark - Chris Crash Clark has been a mainstay of Atlanta radio for many years.  He has reported traffic on many stations and altered his delivery--and sometimes his name--on each.  But he always sounds like he doesn't take life too seriously.  Several years ago, he was a 99X employee and got into a little misadventure at a station promotion in a bar.  PD Leslie Fram was not humored and fired Crash.  After a period of exile in Boston with former 99X personality Toucher, Crash came back to Atlanta and joined CBS Radio, where he now does traffic as Crash D on V-103.

Si-Man - Silas Si-Man Alexander has been one of Atlanta radio's most resilient members.  He was in middays on V-103 in the late 90s when David Dickey, then running Kiss, brought him over for afternoon drive.  Si-Man fit in well and was sounding great when he had the opportunity to do a morning show on what was then Majic 102.5.  The lure of doing mornings attracted Si, but the station's small signal (equivalent to 6,000 watts) was not competitive with V-103 and Kiss.  When 102.5's partial transition to Talk occurred, Si shifted to evenings, and then moved over to the 107.5/97.5 signals 4 years ago.  He is still sounding terrific, and his famous "Si-Man BAby" cry remains in full effect.

That wraps up part 3 of our 4-part series.  Next week, we will reveal the last 11 Atlanta radio icons, all from the AM side.

Thanks for reading.  I would love to hear from you at  Follow us on Twitter at, and we'll follow you back.

Rodney Ho's AJC Radio & TV blog:
Atlanta Radio Insider:

Monday, May 20, 2013

Atlanta's Radio Icons - 1994 To Now - Part 2

Atlanta radio has had so many greats in the almost 20 years that I've lived here.  Last week's edition revealed 10 of these icons.  We now continue our list: 

Christopher Rude - Chris is a talented radio pro with a great voice and personality.  After many spectacular years in AM and then PM drive on 96 Rock, he changed formats to Sports Talk and adapted exceptionally well.  He's been anchoring mornings at 680 The Fan for 10 years.

Willard - Willard joined 96 Rock in its infancy in 1974 and did middays through 1999.  Then he was picked up by Z93, first as morning show producer and then as talent.  When Z93 ended and Dave-FM started, Willard moved seamlessly into sales.  He now lives the good life in the North Georgia mountains.

Kaedy Kiely - Kaedy was a superstar at 96 Rock in afternoons during the station's heyday.  She opted to leave for Z93 after Chris Rude and Willard were released at the end of 1998.  For the past few years, she has masterfully handled mornings at 97-1 The River and adapted beautifully to the station's limited talk time.

The Regular Guys - Larry Wachs and Eric Von Haessler, along with sidekick Southside Steve Rickman, have been in the Atlanta market since 1998.  They worked for Clear Channel twice, at 96 Rock and for a brief time at WGST.  Both tenures ended in misadventures, but Cumulus hired them when Rock 100.5 launched in 2008.  Some say the show is not as funny or edgy as it once was, but its longevity speaks for itself.

Emperor Searcy - For Dewayne Searcy, his radio career is second in importance to being a record producer.  But he has been a constant in afternoon drive on Hot 107-9 for 18 years except for a brief foray on the morning show.  He has a consistent and commanding air presence that serves him well.

The Morning X - Amazingly, the morning show that consisted of Steve Barnes, Jimmy Baron and Leslie Fram has been gone for almost 10 years.  Yet it's still remembered as the anchor of one of Alternative radio's most innovative and successful stations, 99X.  Barnes, who incidentally was the first person ever to unfriend me on Facebook, and Jimmy both later did mornings on 92-9 Dave FM, and are now pursuing other careers.  Leslie was hired by her former boss at 99X, Brian Philips, who today is President of CMT.  Leslie serves as CMT's SVP of Music Strategy.

Steve Craig - Steve was first on the air in Atlanta at the old Power 99 and then stayed when the station became 99X.  The "House of Retro Pleasure" during his midday shift became a huge fan favorite.  After a stint at New York's WRXP-FM working for Leslie Fram, Steve, who is a veritable music encyclopedia, replaced his former 99X cohort Jimmy Baron in mornings on Dave-FM.  After Dave-FM died, Steve joined 97-1 The River for weekends and fill.

Randy & Spiff - Randy Cook and Spiff Carner were a solid foundation for Oldies station Fox 97 during its years in Atlanta.  And when oldies moved, these guys moved with the format, to Kool 105.7 and then Atlanta's Greatest Hits 106.7.  They also did morning stints on Lite 94-9 and WGST-AM.  Randy was one of those real radio guys, and Spiff, well, was on the radio.  They had excellent chemistry and made mornings fun for a lot of years.

JJ Jackson - JJ did the afternoon drive show on Fox 97, and his love and knowledge of music were evident.  His disc jockey background goes back to the 80s on the legendary Quixie, and the great stations on which he plied his craft include CKLW-AM/Detroit, another legend.  After years in radio, JJ is enjoying a new career that incorporates his second love, cooking.

Bert Weiss - After co-hosting with legendary morning hosts Kidd Kraddick in Dallas and Jack Diamond in DC, Bert felt he was ready to play lead fiddle.  He was brought to the attention of Brian Philips, who hired Bert for mornings at Q100 when it signed on in 2001.  Bert quickly proved he was right about being ready.  His show has been a huge hit, bringing in big ratings and billings.  The Bert Show is now syndicated in several markets.

That's it for this week.  But more icons are coming in our next edition.  Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading.  I would love to hear from you at  Follow us on Twitter at, and we'll follow you back.

Rodney Ho's AJC Radio & TV blog:
Atlanta Radio Insider:

Monday, May 13, 2013

Atlanta's Radio Icons - 1994 To Now - Part 1

We all complain about Atlanta radio.  But since I arrived here in 1994, Atlanta radio has had some greats on the air.  Some are icons because of their talent, others because of their resiliency or longevity.

I'm taking a risk by doing this because it's all coming from my memory; I'm bound to miss someone.  Also, the personalities on the list were in their prime in 1994 or the years following.  I do not have the knowledge to salute those who were big in the 70s or 80s.

Here are my choices in no particular order except from the left to the right of the FM band and then on to AM:

Mara Davis - Mara is the personality's personality.  She is engaging, interesting and funny.  She was able to stretch WZGC's formatic limits in middays to accommodate her act, and it was a highly entertaining one.  In the era of the PPM, finding another perfect platform will be difficult.

Art Mehring - Art was not always "Mad Man."  In the late 90's, he was the morning sports reporter on Z93, and he has very successfully reinvented himself doing traffic for Clear Channel.  His radio career goes back to the 80s in Memphis.

Steve & Vikki - Steve McCoy and Vikki Locke were such a team on Star 94 for 17 years that when they were no longer on, it was hard to believe.  They were one of the most well-oiled morning shows this market ever heard, and both are true talents and professionals.

Craig Hunt -  Craig was one of the market's most talented jocks ever.  He was so smooth and handled afternoon drive on Star 94 just about flawlessly.  After a 10-year run for Craig, Star 94 made a decision to go with a 2-host show, Cindy & Ray.  But Craig was immediately hired by one of Star's sister stations in Denver, KYGO-FM.  Craig is still doing radio at Country station U.S. 103.5 in Tampa.

Rob Stadler - Rob has been News Director at 94.1 since the 94Q days and is the station's only constant from then until today.  He still sounds great delivering the news in the morning, and it's a testament to Star 94 management that they recognize his value in this day and age of running lean.

Sandy Weaver - Sandy is one of the most talented people to grace the radio.  She was amazing as the late evening personality at Washington's Q107 during the glory days.  She moved to Atlanta in 1994 after IBM relocated her husband here and has worked at Peach/Lite 94-9, Kicks 101-5, Eagle 106.7 and B98.5.  She is still on the air as Moby's co-host on his syndicated show.

Dale O'Brien - When I came to Atlanta, Dale was doing mornings on B98.5 with Trevor Johns.  Out of all the morning shows that followed him on that station, I have never heard anyone who did it as well and sounded as good as Dale.  I have listened to him on airchecks doing Top 40 at Z93, and he sounded just as terrific.

Kelly McCoy - Over the years, B98.5 has seen a lot of changes.  But no matter the turmoil elsewhere on the station, most notably in mornings, Kelly was a steady presence in afternoon drive for 27 years.  He has a great voice and fit in so well at the Cox AC.

Jordan Graye - Jordan is not the stereotypical AC jock and sounds great.  She has anchored B98.5's most-listened-to daypart since 1994 with the exception of a couple of years at the turn of the new millenium.

That's all the room we have for Part 1.  Our list of icons will continue in next week's Atlanta Airwave Action.

Thanks for reading.  I would love to hear from you at  Follow us on Twitter at, and we'll follow you back.

Rodney Ho's AJC Radio & TV blog:
Atlanta Radio Insider:

Monday, May 6, 2013

Power 96-1 Not Hitting On All Cylinders

I'm happy Power 96-1 came to Atlanta.  I was one of many bemoaning the absence of a true CHR in this market for a long time.  I do not, however, think it is one of the better CHR's in a major market.

Power 96-1 does have some facets I like, including the music and the imaging.  And a lot of what I do not like is being caused by limitations put on the station by owner Clear Channel.  Some smart formatic elements are incorporated into the regular music hours.

A great station starts with a local morning show, a feature that Power 96-1 sorely lacks.  And yes, Elvis Duran is successful not only in his home market of New York, where he is local, but in many of his piped-in markets.  I thought the show would find the sledding tough against Q100's Bert Show, but it's been getting by.  It's one of the factors, however, holding back Power 96-1 from greatness though not the biggest factor.

I suppose it's hard to criticize Power 96-1 for carrying On Air with Ryan Seacrest when great stations such as Z100/New York and Kiss 108/Boston air it with no damage to their ratings.  And perhaps I could more readily accept it if morning drive were local, as it is on those two stations.  Radio's primetime is weekdays from 6AM to 7PM, and Power 96-1 has non-local programming in 8 of those 13 hours.  Maybe it's just me, but the content and formatics of Seacrest seem so out of phase with the station's other music hours.

Then there's the little matter of Mami Chula.  Since her days on 95-5 The Beat, she always sounded to me like she was auditioning for the world's worst disc jockey competition.  But I understood her act given the stations she was on, first The Beat and then Wild.  She managed to attract a following, which won her the 10AM to noon slot on Power 96-1 when Wild was blown up.  I recognize that her act is what earned her the fan base so maybe she was wise not to change it.  But she sounds so unnatural and languid to me.

Sonic, who now holds down 4-8PM, is good and has broad appeal.  It would be nice if he would do just a bit more than send shout-outs and promote appearances.  Yet Power 96-1 sounds its best when he's on.

Maddox, now on 8 to midnight, has the stereotypical CHR sound that permeates a lot of Clear Channel's CHR FM's.  It's a niche sound that relates to the young end of the demo that likes today's pop music.  I much prefer a traditional night slammer, such as Z100/New York's Mo Bounce.  It's interesting that Mo Bounce sounds so good on Z100 yet just average on his voice-tracked weekend shifts on Power 96-1.

The biggest reason for Power 96-1's mediocrity is its overall slow pace, it's lack of energy.  It just does not have the forward momentum of a Z100, for example.  It misses the excitement that has always been a hallmark of CHR architecture.  While Q100 is a more adult CHR, and Star 94 is a Hot AC, both move at a rate consistent with their format.  As a CHR, Power 96-1's momentum should be even greater.

The market's hunger for a pure CHR has made Power 96-1 successful in ratings and billings during the early going.  And ending the cannibalization from Wild 105.7/96.7 was a move that could boost Power's metrics.

Maybe I'm never satisfied.  I got a CHR and now have the nerve to want greatness.  As I said, part of the problem is Clear Channel forcing Elvis Duran and Ryan Seacrest onto Atlanta listeners.  But it seems the even bigger issue of a lethargic pace could be solved by PD Rick Vaughn and the Clear Channel braintrust.

Thanks for reading.  I would love to hear from you at  Follow us on Twitter at, and we'll follow you back.

Rodney Ho's AJC Radio & TV blog:
Atlanta Radio Insider: