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CK Is Out at Hot 98.3

While Journal-owned KMXZ FM 94.1 (MIX-FM) garnered headlines over the confusing dissolution of the Bobby and Brad Show--which was the top-rated morning show in the market--Clear Channel-operated KOHT (Hot 98.3 FM) just made a similar, less-publicized move, pulling the plug on morning host CK after a two-year stint at the hip-hop format station.

Whereas Bobby and Brad had strong numbers, the same can not be said for CK, whose morning show suffered, ratings-wise, on a station that otherwise pulled in solid numbers.

"I think ultimately, the decision was made because we wanted to take the show in another direction," said Clear Channel Tucson operations manager Tim Richards. "When you look at the Arbitron (radio ratings system), it was not stellar for that show. We tried it; we had maybe a (ratings) book, a book and a half where the show spiked, but it just never performed at a level we'd like it to."

Morning shows are radio's money makers, and one of the signs of a good morning show is when its numbers surpass those of the station as a whole. KOHT had nice numbers in some key demographics, but it suffered in the morning drive.

"Hot 98.3 had a 4.4 share, up from its previous 4.0, but CK as a morning show pulled a 2.5 share, down from a 3.3 and a 5.3 in the book before that," Richards said. "That gives you a little bit of a taste as to where we're coming from."

In another key demographic--the station's core target audience of 18-34--KOHT had a 9.7 share, good for third in the market. The morning show drew a 6.2, which was sixth in its time slot.

"It just didn't work out. The show just didn't pop," Richards said. "We had one book where it kind of popped, but it went back to subpar ratings."

The move to pull the plug on CK occurred two weeks after Clear Channel decided to part ways with Dee Cortez, who had teamed with CK in addition to handling other on-air shifts and tackling news duties for some of the other stations in the Clear Channel cluster.

Efforts to reach CK were unsuccessful, and Cortez did not want to discuss the situation.

Meanwhile, Clear Channel's local flagship, KRQQ FM 93.7, hit a snag in the latest ratings. It's certainly something of which Richards is aware, but he's far from pressing the panic button on the market's Top 40 leader.

"This was one bad book, but you can't just say it's a bad book and it's a fluke," Richards said. "You have to evaluate all the things you do, but there are also greater aberrations in Arbitron. We're seeing things that have never happened before, and some of that, I think, has to do with their methodology, a byproduct of not using cell phones for diary purposes."

Even with the slide, the KRQ morning show and overall ratings example illustrates the situation that plagued KOHT.

"If you look at a station like KRQ (and) the benchmark of a good morning show: Even with a bad book like we had this summer, does the morning show outperform the station as a whole entity? (KRQ morning show hosts) Johnjay and Rich consistently have done that, even with a bad book for KRQ. The same is not true for CK and Hot 98.3.

"In 12-plus (years old), KRQ as a station pulled a 6 share, which is clearly off from our past few books. Johnjay and Rich pulled a 7.4 share. That's 1.4 ahead of the rest of the station. That's off from the 11.5 and 11.6 from their last books, but outperforming the rest of the station."


AS IF ONE SAVAGE WASN'T ENOUGH

Across the hall from KRQ, AM ratings leader KNST AM 790 is in a contract squabble for the rights to air syndicated talker Michael Savage. On Nov. 7, Journal-owned KQTH (104.1 FM The Truth) started airing Savage from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays. That's the slot where KNST has broadcast the show for the better part of six years.

On the surface, it looks like simple pilfering: Radio station makes better offer to syndicate; syndicate grants rights to broadcast program on that station.

But Clear Channel isn't relenting. It has moved Savage to 7 p.m. until the contract issue gets squared away.

KQTH has pilfered shows from other stations in the market since the day it changed formats, and many of those shows are syndicated by the Talk Radio Network, which also holds the rights to Savage. That list includes Laura Ingraham, who aired in morning drive on KVOI AM 690, and Jerry Doyle, who aired previously on KJLL AM 1330 The Jolt.

"Recently, Jerry Doyle was taken from us by TRN," said KJLL operations manager Kimberley Kelly. "This happens quite often where networks aren't always honest with us. They say they're taking a show from us to give to a station that airs them live. The only way you can have a program taken away from you is if someone offers you a better deal. We weren't airing him in a live spot, but they said they were giving him to The Truth, because they were going to air him live. The Truth has not one live (syndicated) show. The networks play that game a lot. It's a lot of, 'You do me this favor, and I'll do you that favor.' We're not very happy with TRN."

Journal certainly isn't the only entity to woo syndicated shows away from other stations. Sean Hannity (airing on KNST), Glenn Beck (now airing on Citadel-owned KCUB AM 1290, where I do UA pregame and postgame shows) and Bill O'Reilly (now on KQTH) are among the programs that made their Tucson debuts with KJLL.

But in the meantime, if you need an extra fix of obnoxious, egomaniacal, self-important, grand-standing talk, you're afforded six whole hours split between two local stations.

Enjoy.


IT DOESN'T PAY TO BE GOOD AT JOURNAL

Apparently, Tucson isn't the only market where Journal displays an interesting way of rewarding success.

Dan Tooker of KFDI FM in Wichita, Kan., was recently named Country Music Association Medium Market Personality of the Year. He beat out, among others, Buzz Jackson of KIIM FM 99. 5 for the award.

Journal decided not to renew the contract of the morning show host days before the nomination.

More by John Schuster

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