Thursday, July 16, 2009

Will Star 94 Replace Seacrest with Daniels?

It was announced this week that Chase Daniels will be joining Star 94, but his role has not yet been revealed.

Daniels is a 6-year veteran of Cox CHR WAPE in Jacksonville. He did afternoon drive until getting caught in a budget cut a few months ago. He has an excellent reputation as a jock.

Star 94 PD JR Ammons certainly knows what he’s getting. Ammons programmed The Big Ape until rejoining Star earlier this year.

So what duties will Chase Daniels perform at Star? If you’ve been reading AAA over the past few months, you’re aware I think Ammons has done a great job bringing Star 94 back on track; and that the one weak spot in my opinion is afternoon drive, featuring “On Air with Ryan Seacrest.”

I have always assumed a major reason for airing the syndicated Seacrest is saving money. And frankly, his ratings have not been bad. Star gets high marks for producing the show; it sounds as good as a local station has the ability to make it sound. Maybe it’s just that I’m into radio, but to me the show sounds boring and cheap.

Since my uncle used to say that to assume “is to make an ass out of you and me,” I’m going to guess that Ammons has roped off the afternoon drive spot for Daniels.

Traffic reporter AC has been let go, and station vet Chris Carter has been filling in. This has led observers to predict Daniels will take AC’s place. And with Daniels being out of a job combined with a bleak outlook for seasoned radio people, that’s not impossible. But somehow I still feel he would have held out for something more substantive, and that Ammons would have considered him too overqualified for traffic.

I don’t know the politics inside of Star 94 and therefore am not aware of why AC was axed. (He did a weekend air shift recently and was not bad.) Is it possible the money freed up in letting go AC as well as Creative Director Danny Wright will be used to fund slotting Chase Daniels in afternoon drive?

Whether or not this comes to fruition, the hiring of JR is proving to be the right decision. In addition to being a real radio guy with a terrific programming mind, he has a keen understanding of Star’s heritage.

During the Dan Bowen salad days in the late 90’s, Star had huge ratings and billings to match. The reason for its ratings success was that the station had young people by default; there was simply no place else for youthful Caucasian listeners to turn except the urban stations.

In October, 1999, 95-5 The Beat signed on and started siphoning off the lower end of Star 94. At that point, Star was in a slight bind; if it added younger, rhythmic product, it would take the chance of ceding its primary target audience to B98.5. So it wisely stayed with its Adult CHR approach and made some adjustments through the years. Although ratings eroded somewhat over time, Star 94 continued to bill huge. The station stayed on track until taking a serious wrong turn in 2008.

Now That Randy is Gone
That WGST did not renew Randy Cook’s contract for morning drive came as no surprise. After all, Clear Channel does not seem to have money to spend. David Hull, the station’s top-notch morning news voice, met the same fate months ago.

This is obviously no reflection on Randy Cook. He is a terrific person and talented radio professional.

The station says Mike Stiles is temporarily filling in until someone is hired. Stiles is a talent, and I would not be disappointed if he continued to do the shift. After all, who could CC afford as a permanent hire? Would the station “hire” a syndicated host? If so, why not just shut off the transmitter?

As many of you recall, I suggested in a recent post that Clear Channel move El Patron to 105.7, put the underperforming Viva on the shelf, and use 105.3 to simulcast WGST. While 105.3 would not be the perfect signal coverage-wise for WGST, it seems the only chance to free the station from being a waste of electricity and would give it an opportunity to rekindle ratings and billings.

Braves on Dave-FM?
Last week, I brought up the possibility of the Braves landing on a 680 The Fan/100.5 simulcast next season. Commenting on the same subject, a couple of Radio-Info posters brought up the possibility of Dave-FM picking up the team.

My feeling is that will not happen within Dave’s current Triple A format. The station places too much emphasis on its music, and baseball would be a deterrent. Yes, Dave-FM carries the Falcons, but that’s one day per week.

Some have posted about the fact that CBS has introduced FM Sports stations in Dallas, Detroit and Baltimore, and is about to do the same in Washington and Boston. The posters wondered whether Dave-FM might follow suit.

That’s not implausible, but I doubt it will happen. For the most part, CBS Radio’s new FM Sports properties are somewhat signal challenged, and the company also owns highly profitable music outlets in those markets.

Sports is a viable format for stations with signal problems for a couple of reasons. First, sports fans will seek out the stations even if the signals are weak. Second, Sports can bill well even with low ratings because of the pure audience that these stations deliver; the format is perfect for beers, cars and other male-oriented categories.

Dave-FM is a full-power signal and has the potential to bill huge with music. Of course, 92.3 has not been able to find a music format that has realized that potential since its CHR days in the 80’s.

For a long time, I felt the station should go Urban AC and be a real companion to its sister station, V-103. (Of course, that might have slightly cannibalized the upper end of V.) But that opportunity was lost when Radio One started the 107.5/97.5 Urban AC simulcast which, together with Kiss 104.1, created too formidable a competitive situation for a third Urban AC.

Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear from you at roddyfreeman@bellsouth.net.

Roddy Freeman

Link to Rodney Ho’s AJC Radio & TV Blog:
http://blogs.ajc.com/radio-tv-talk/

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