The big story of 18 months ago is the polar opposite of the big news of last week: Mark Thompson is gone form The Sound morning show, aka Mark in the Morning.
When he made his debut on February 2, 2015, it was with great fanfare. Sound programmer Dave Beasing and general manager Peter Burton were elated to convince the former half of Mark and Brian to come out of retirement.
“I wanted to make sure that they wanted what I do. That they were sure they wanted me, not something else,” explained Thompson before the show’s debut. That was always important to Thompson – being able to do the show he wanted to do.
To appease music fans, they added music. Four songs per hour, five if needed. And it worked pretty well; when Entercom bought the station from Bonneville just over a year ago, there was talk of syndication and other such deals. Personality radio was considered strong enough to move co-host Andy Chanley out of mornings in order to pair him with Christian Hand for an afternoon-drive personality-driven show.
Then something happened. It is uncertain when it happened exactly, but the buzz seemed to be off. It may be total coincidence, but I personally noted that the morning show lost something when Chanley left for afternoons in January of this year … it just wasn’t the same without Chanley keeping Thompson in line, though Gina Grad stepped up as best she could.
“We started to get rumblings, borne out by research, that our listeners wanted more music in the morning,” Beasing told me. “So we waited until Mark was in town (he normally did his part of the program from his home in North Carolina) and sat down with him.
Beasing confirmed what Thompson said in the air. Thompson was told of the research and that they needed to add more music. “Well, then you don’t need me,” said Thomspon. “That’s not the type of show I do.”
There was a lot of emotion leading up to the announcement, and when the announcement and goodbyes were said on the air, they made for a very touching show. “I love everyone here,” said Thompson. On Wednesday, August 3rd, after a tear-filled morning, he handed over control of the show to Chanley, Grad, and his daughter Katie Thompson.
So now mornings on The Sound are Andy and Gina; Joe Benson starts at 9 a.m. instead of 10 (presumably making the entire day live unlike the daily “best of Mark” that aired from 9-10 each morning ….a pet peeve of mine, by the way). Afternoons as of press time are still up in the air, though I am sure Beasing is dusting off my resume and aircheck I submitted to him last year. I better be ready. Just in case.
All in the Family
Michael Levine has been named program director of father Saul Levine’s Go Country 105, replacing longtime PD Tonya Campos who left the station in July. The younger Levine had been performing programming duties since Campos departed.
Michael began his radio career as Director of Marketing for the station back in 2004 and was there when the country format debuted in 2007. In making the move, Saul said “It is with a profound sense of confidence that I make the announcement.”
While I am sure there will be those who call it a case of nepotism — and perhaps it is — I personally don’t care. As long as he is competent, he will do fine (and his father won’t put up with bad decisions!). I sincerely want Michael to catch the same bug that Saul has, in order to guarantee that stations like Go Country and companies like Mount Wilson FM Broadcasters survive.
Saul could have sold KKGO (or any of his other radio properties) years ago and retired a very very rich man, but he decided to stay in it because he loves the business, and he loves offering programming that can’t be found elsewhere. He also likes sticking it to the big guys as well, which is a wonderful trait to have. He is one of the few remaining independent small broadcasters in the country, and I respect him highly for that.
No News is Good News
The Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB.com) has announced it will no longer report radio revenue data. In doing so a spokesman told AllAccess.Com that there are companies whose business it is to forecast and report those numbers, and they are leaving it to them.
The purpose of the RAB is to advocate for radio as a marketing tool, so perhaps the decision is sound. I can’t help but feel the same as a commenter to All Access, though, who wrote: “Better to not acknowledge the grease spot on the garage floor than to address it and clean it up.”