Radio can get messy at times…
It’s pretty much a bloodsport anymore with kickass air talent having to work for pennies on the dollar with precious little support.
And if you think the nearly 1,500 people that have bought the farm at the Kansas City Star in recent years is an anomaly, think again.
Stroll through the ghost town headquarters of local radio stations here and count the empty desks.
But let’s move on, shall we?
To the under-reported mess at the Entercom-owned station at 1660 AM.
You may know it as classical radio station KXTR-FM. Or the hastily conceived Radio Bach (a name change enacted last year so Entercom could prevent its legendary call letters KUDL from being pirated by the competition.
That after Entercom somewhat foolishly blew up KUDL FM last spring in order to simulcast KMBZ News Radio 980 AM on the FM dial to try and pick up the more affluent, FM listeners.
Just one problem…
Not only did Entercom kiss hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenues that KUDL was billing goodbye, the combined ratings of KMBZ on both AM and FM not only failed to increase – they declined!
In short, the move backfired because not only did Entercom lose revenue, it lost listeners.
In its latest gamble, Entercom announced recently it would kill off Radio Bach and launch an all-business, KMBZ sister station March 5th on 1660.
However, in one of the most under-reported local business stories in years, the poster boy for KMBZ’s new business station – Mike Shanin – reportedly refused to go on the air hours before the launch. Placing Entercom in the embarrassing position of having to find a new lead host and delaying the station’s official launch an additional month when Krista Klaus steps in for Shanin. Klaus will debut Monday, elevating the station out of its current "soft opening" status.
After Entercom can locate and hire a producer for her show. Radio Bach and KXTR main man Patrick Neas had reportedly been offered the producer job at the new KMBz biz channeled but had turned it down after being offered only a fraction of what Entercom had been paying him on Radio Bach.
Entercom was able to do damage control by getting a local media blogger to gloss over the mess.
Allowing KC Confidential to share with you now what radio insiders have been saying about Shanin’s puzzling behavior for weeks.
"Supposedly two hours before Mike’s show was scheduled to launch, he said he was not going to go on the air," says one source.
The reason being?
"Well, it wasn’t because he wanted more money, he wanted Entercom to hire a producer for his show to do show prep and schedule guests, freeing him to come in, read the prepared news and banter with callers."
In other words, rather than do the leg work, the stodgy septuagenarian reportedly only wanted to show up and showboat.
Cutbacks in radio revenues had largely forced KMBZ and other stations to eliminate the producer position leaving only what in the trade they call "board ops" to answer, screen calls and make sure commercials, news and the like are properly embedded.
Prior to Shanin’s recent demotion from co-host of KMBZ’s embattled afternoon drive, his partner Scott Parks was the dude mainly responsible for acting as the show’s producer, sources say.
As part of Shanin’s new gig he was to do morning, mini business reports on KMBZ.
Shanin also was reportedly pissed because the first two VIP guests he’d book were unaware that Entercom hadn’t really promoted the show – opting for a soft opening – and Shanin was embarrassed they’d be going on the air with fewer listeners than I have IQ points.
And as might be imagined, Entercom head Dave Alpert was reportedly furious with Shanin and checked with Entercom’s lawyers about firing him. However with large advertsing cutbacks in the wake of Rush Limbaugh‘s stunningly sexist blunder a few weeks back, KMBZ could ill afford to risk pissing off and losing Shanin advertisers, so it reportedly decided to keep him on for the time being at KMBZ, says another source.
"So they cancelled Mike’s contract with KMBZ and kept him on on an hourly basis," says the source.
The odds of Entercom keeping Shanin on for long now that he’s bitten the hand that feeds him?
"Not very good," says the source. "When you know you’ve pissed off Dave Alpert, the odds of Mike hanging onto that job very long are slim and none."
Now here’s a little reward for readers who waded thru this long and wearisome mess:
"If this new KMBZ business station works, the tentative plan is to move it from 1660 AM to KMBZ 980 AM’s signal which is much stronger. So it will be KMBZ FM’s business partner and Entercom will leave the main KMBZ on FM."