Magazine article St. Louis Journalism Review

Local Radio Readies for Trade

Magazine article St. Louis Journalism Review

Local Radio Readies for Trade

Article excerpt

The cold wind whipping around the silent stadium seems especially cruel to someone who grew up listening to the Cardinals on KMOX (1120 AM). At 10:22 p.m. on Oct. 19, Yadier Molina flied out to Jason Lane in right field. It marked the end for Busch Stadium and, after 51 years, the end of Cardinal baseball on KMOX.

Station management is determined that the station will not take a hit when the Birds move to KTRS (550 AM) for 2006. Meanwhile, KTRS is also getting ready.

The Cardinals now own 50 percent of "The Big 550," and new management has tapped a programmer with an impressive track record to take over. Al Brady Law comes to KTRS with a pedigree that includes stints at WABC New York and KMPC in Los Angeles. Station Manager Craig Unger had been handling programming duties since Scott Wallace left the slot in 2004. It's been quite some time since someone with programming experience has held the job.

Chairman Bobby Lawrence will now oversee KTRS, hopefully insuring that Law will be able to program the station. Insiders predict an announcement on a new morning show within a few weeks. The combo of Wendy Weise, Bill Wilkerson and Jim Holder isn't drawing the kind of ratings to justify the salaries. More staff changes would probably follow.

Lawrence will have to address some issues regarding the afternoon show. Frank O. Pinion owns his time slot, selling his own commercial time and paying his staff. The Cardinals will pre-empt at least part of the show about 35 times next season. KTRS is obligated to give those spots to O. Pinion, so they will have to come to some sort of an agreement or write him a check.

No one is crying over at KMOX. The "Sports Voice of St. Louis" no longer has any professional teams on the air, and there is little interest in the Blues. Their ratings were poor in the old days on KMOX, and interest in hockey is at an all-time low.

There has been only minimal discussion with the Rams, who are in the middle of their deal with Clear Channel. KMOX would not be interested in any deal where the Rams also appear on an FM station.

Director of Programming and Operations Steve Moore vows that KMOX will strengthen its image as the place to turn for news and information. Moore, by the way, was recently promoted to vice president for the news/talk format for Infinity. He will continue his duties at KMOX.

Moore already has a new staffer in place who may cover the slot occupied by the Cardinals, but Moore had little say in the matter. Infinity is ordering several of its stations, including KMOX, to air Jay Severin's new show. Severin is a controversial host who pulled big numbers at WTKK in Boston. Aman who describes himself as "a radical libertarian" once referred to AM stations as "old fart radio."

The Boston Globe reported that Severin falsely claimed to have been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for online journalism. There is no such prize. The Boston Herald says Severin fabricated his master's degree in journalism from Boston University. A former MSNBC political analyst and GOP consultant, Severin has described right-winger Pat Buchanan as his political mentor.

In April 2004, he ignited a controversy when he said the vast majority of Muslims are not loyal to the United States. The Globe reported that when a caller recommended Americans befriend them, Severin responded, "I think we should kill them."

The "Jay Severin Has Issues" show makes its debut in January 2006. The Infinity press release says it will be a mid-day show, but no time slot has been announced on KMOX. The most likely scenario is that Infinity will decide to move the show to nights, or the three-hour show will be tape-delayed and aired sometime after the World News Roundup ends at 6:30 p.m.

Moore says no one at KMOX will be losing his or her job. As a matter of fact, the versatile Jon Grayson may become a permanent part of the John Carney Show. …

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