Friday, February 12, 2010

12 FEB 10: Off the Roost?

As the late Paul Harvey might have said, you know what the big local news today is. But when we find breaking news, we want to break it first. We might need duct tape to repair it later, but we want to break it first....

An alert blog reader tipped us off Thursday to a potentially big confession by a Columbus radio manager. A major change could come this weekend:

Richard - saw this posted on an online radio community, pretty interesting....

The "this" is a claim that WSTH-FM will move away from country music Saturday or Sunday, after 22 years. The station known in recent years as "Rooster 106" may have decided to chicken out.

The man who posted this statement is a former DJ at WSTH's arch rival, WKCN-FM "Kissin' 99.3." So I'll assume his history lesson is accurate, and the country music stations have been competing for 18 years. Columbus radio listeners apparently have decided they'd rather be kissed than henpecked....

I remember WSTH changing its nickname from "South 106" to "Rooster 106" several years ago. I don't remember anything else changing when that happened -- but the Rooster years were marked by the departure of Bear O'Brian. He reemerged triumphantly at WKCN, and the Bear has been feasting on the Rooster ever since.

The most recent Columbus radio ratings indicated Kissin' 99.3 had twice the listeners of Rooster 106. In fact, that long-term trend has made me wonder if WSTH was the top contender to change formats -- because Roosters can lay eggs for only so long.

(Perhaps it's only fitting that a format change come at Chinese New Year - since the next "year of the rooster" doesn't occur until 2017.)

We told a blog focus group Thursday night about this reported change at Rooster 106. One woman said it didn't seem to make much sense, considering "Columbus has only two country stations." She assumes most people in town prefer country music - which tells me her circle of friends stops short of the local housing projects.

We left a message with WSTH Thursday, to confirm the report of a format change. It was not returned, perhaps because Rooster 106 is in the middle of its annual fundraising drive for St. Jude Children's Hospital. Some radio stations would have also dropped hints about becoming a station member, to receive a free tote bag when you pledge.

The online admission by a Clear Channel manager stunned a manager at PMB Broadcasting, which owns WKCN. But he was reluctant to comment on it publicly, and actually seemed a bit suspicious about it. Radio stations sometimes pull stunts to throw their competition off the track - somehow forgetting they're confusing their listeners in the process.

The Rooster 106 web site gave no hint of a format change Thursday night. But it's curious that morning host Alan Quin is nowhere to be found, and a search for his name turned up practically a blank screen. I hope the Chick-Fil-A cows aren't holding him for ransom.

While we were scanning the Columbus radio dial, we learned some other things....

+ NASCAR races such as Thursday's "Duels at Daytona" have moved from WKCN to WRCG. A PMB Broadcasting manager explained it's due to the news/talk station's new FM simulcast. Well, OK - but I think Tim McGraw is performed at Sunday's Daytona 500, not Clark Howard.

+ Longtime Columbus radio voice Val McGinness has left PMB, and openly is wondering if age discrimination is behind it. But he has a web site where you can hear highlights from his career. Why he hasn't done a commercial for Guinness ale, I have no idea.

+ I'm hearing the "major concert news" being promised by "95.3 the Ride" today is a ZZ Top show at the Columbus Civic Center. The band's web site doesn't mention that - but does mention several recent concerts in Canada. It must have sounded weird to be introduced as Zed-Zed Top.

SNOWJAM 2010: By the time you read this, the snow may be falling in Columbus. Forecasters expect two to four inches of.... well, WTVM's Kurt Schmitz called it "white stuff" a couple of times Thursday. Some women might misunderstand that as padding for a bra.

(Oh, did you notice our special title? My years in journalism have taught me you simply MUST have that sort of label, for a big news event like this. In fact, I'm taking a chance with this one - because the Winter Olympics already may have it trademarked.)

Columbus Public Services workers mixed salt with sand Thursday, to spread on major roads during SnowJam 2010. One key road they'll monitor is Macon Road. Drivers could slide downhill from Forest Road to Cross Country Plaza - and I get the feeling one-third of them actually are looking forward to trying that.

Some people are calling Muscogee County Superintendent Susan Andrews a genius, for making this a scheduled school off day several months ago. But I doubt any of those people are teachers -- because Thursday's "Winter Break" by any other name is still an unpaid furlough day.

But some people were annoyed with Phenix City Superintendent Larry DiChiara Thursday - because he hopes to have a half-day of class, instead of canceling school completely. He may be the biggest believer in "global warming" in Russell County.

I made my own preparations for SnowJam 2010 Thursday - pulling this winter hat out of my drawer. It has the logo of a bank in my hometown. This tells you how old the hat is - from way back when banks gave you gifts for a deposit, instead of trying to charge a handling fee.

A couple of guys who seemed drunk people wanted to play with this hat, during my Thursday night poker game. One even asked for the ball on top. I explained the entire hat was attached together - and if I get trapped in a snowbank today, that fluffy ball could be a rescue signal.

Did you notice this big snowstorm is reaching Columbus on the day the Winter Olympics begin in Vancouver? WLTZ couldn't have planned this any better. Perhaps Calvin Floyd will take the next step, and set up a luge run from Front Avenue to the Riverwalk.

Let's see what else happened Thursday, while people prepared for SnowJam 2010:

+ Columbus Council candidate Nathan Suber used a WRBL interview to offer an apology to public safety employees. Suber may have lost his Council seat in 2006 for suggesting public safety workers leave, if they don't like their jobs. Suber was reminded those workers outnumber him - and they didn't like HIS job.

+ The National Black Farmers Association held a rally at the Columbus Civic Center. Members hope to be paid settlement money, from a case against the federal government. Shouldn't they have held this meeting at the old State Farmers' Market - to gain a little money from selling peanuts and pecans to each other?

+ A new skin care salon opened on Macon Road, offering a special for "eyebrow waxing." OK, I'll admit it - I'm a guy, and I don't understand this. Is this how women recycle melted wax from scented candles?

+ Aflac unveiled a new commercial, showing the duck going downhill on a snowboard. The ad features NASCAR driver Carl Edwards - which makes me wonder why Aflac doesn't illustrate the need for insurance by showing his crash into the fence at Talladega last year.

+ Columbus State University students celebrated homecoming week with a parade of golf carts. This is how you can tell which students are members of fraternities - or at least have memberships at Maple Ridge Golf Club.

+ Phenix City Central's girls advanced in the Alabama basketball playoffs by entrapping Enterprise 60-36. WRBL showed the location of this game as "Red Devil Palace" - which simply confirms what critics of the school system have said privately about it for two years.

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: Our blogging may be sporadic over the next couple of weeks, due to necessary road trips.)

Today's main topic was the result of a blog reader's tip. To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, make a PayPal donation or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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