Thursday, April 01, 2010

1 APR 10: Boom Goes the Dialogue

When a man tipped me off Wednesday night about a big local change supposedly occurring Thursday morning, I was skeptical. After all, I know what day of the year this is. Pranksters and liars tend to abound. In fact, I was wondering which government genius first decided to have Census Day occur on April Fool's Day.

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: An era ended in Columbus radio Wednesday night, as WRCG gave up being "News-Talk 1420" and "Two-Way Radio." The talk shows are heading out, and the sounds of the old "Boomer 95.3" are returning. So the Beach Boys are back, and they're kicking sand in Neal Boortz's face.

"We've had lots of requests to bring back Boomer 95.3," PMB Broadcasting executive Joseph Brannan told your blog Wednesday night. Those requests now will be honored on "Boomer 106.9" FM and 1420 AM, in a mix which will include Atlanta baseball and NASCAR races. I assume on NASCAR Sundays, the song before the race will be "Tell Laura I Love Her."

Joseph Brannan also noted what we mentioned earlier this year -- WRCG failed to show up in the last Columbus radio ratings report [31 Jan]. "It doesn't help to not have any ratings," Brannan admitted. So that could be another oldies tune WRCG plays a lot - one Billy Preston made famous....

The change to oldies music at WRCG quietly began Wednesday evening. PMB Broadcasting reclaimed the syndicated "Mike Harvey Show," which Boomer 95.3 used to have. When that dial position became "The Ride," Harvey was picked up by WGSY "Sunny 100." Harvey is bouncing around so much, he might as well be a local DJ.

The end of talk radio on WRCG means Neal Boortz and Clark Howard will be off the air in Columbus. But fans with good AM radios still will be able to hear them from Atlanta's WSB -- and I'm sure Howard will be able to help listeners find a top-quality AM radio for less than 50 dollars.

But not every talk show on WRCG will disappear right away. Joseph Brannan told me B.R. Johnson's "Past Noon" sports show will stay on the air. And Duke and the Doctor will remain "for the time being" - perhaps until they become faith healers, so a Christian radio station will want them.

The old WRLD-FM "Boomer 95.3" had Alan DuPriest as its morning voice. Joseph Brannan says instead of bringing him back, WRCG is turning on the "True Oldies Channel" and Scott Shannon - a New York radio legend who worked in Columbus in the 1960s. This means Shannon is as "true oldies" as his music....

But as I said, I was skeptical about this breaking news - and I specifically asked Joseph Brannan if this WRCG change was an April Fool's Day stunt. One of my college radio stations switched from edgy rock to disco music on 1 April years ago, in a daylong prank. Most of the people in my residence hall weren't fooled by it - but then, they didn't listen to that station much in the first place.

Joseph Brannan admitted PMB managers realized what day on the calendar this is - but he insists the end of news-talk radio on WRCG is legitimate. Brannan didn't know how long AM-1420 had that format. If Richard Hyatt once hosted "TalkLine," it must have been a long time....

The big immediate winner from this change appears to be WDAK. "Newsradio 540" is now the only news-talk radio station in Columbus. Neal Boortz and Clark Howard might have trouble squeezing into weekend slots there. And Kim Komando might have to commandeer an Army platoon from Fort Benning.

A lot of other Wednesday news items could have been our main topic today - and remember, it's our policy NOT to make up fake news stories on this day:

+ A former Columbus firefighter sued the city, claiming he was wrongfully terminated. Joshua Alford's lawsuit claims Mayor Jim Wetherington and other city officials looked at "adult materials" on city computers. So?! How else is the vice squad supposed to determine what "vice" is?

(City Attorney Clifton Fay issued a statement to WLTZ, claiming Alford was fired for viewing pornography on a fire department computer. If so, there's a lesson here for all of us - a link to "hot video" does NOT always mean a mill fire.)

+ Columbus Police told WTVM someone sprayed graffiti at the entrance to Northside High School, including (ahem) an outline of a male sex organ. C'mon now, folks - I don't think they include sex education on the CRCT exam.

+ Columbus Police showed WRBL a fleet of ATV's, which will be used to patrol the new Fall Line Trace trail. The "bicycle patrol" will ride them - even though this seems more like giving someone training wheels to go with a bike.

+ The Georgia House voted to expand the definition of "textbooks" to include e-books and similar digital devices. The day may be coming when five-year-olds enroll in Kindle-garten.

+ The Russell County School Board voted 4-3 to release all non-tenured teachers. Some of them worked as coaches on sports teams - but in a major surprise, baseball coach Tony Rasmus did NOT announce plans to become son Colby's personal batting coach with the St. Louis Cardinals.

+ Columbus State University announced plans for a Benning Technology Park, on university-owned land in the area of Interstate 185 and Victory Drive. Take that, you skeptics! A C.S.U. football team could build its own stadium, instead of renting Kinnett Stadium every year.

+ The Great South League announced the Columbus Woodbats baseball team will NOT operate this summer. Attendance at Golden Park apparently was too small last year. But look on the bright side - Little League tournaments now have a nice new place to play, without requiring parents to bring folding chairs.

(I recalled a quote from last May - when Woodbats General Manager Jim White assured fans the baseball team never would be moved. He didn't bother mentioning all that wood might be processed into mulch.)

+ Columbus State whipped West Georgia 17-7 in college baseball, giving manager Greg Appleton the school record for wins. Hopefully Athletic Director Jay Sparks is taking basketball coaching candidates to these games, to show what's expected of them.

+ Instant Message to Alabama State Treasurer Kay Ivey: Did I hear it right on the news - you switched from the Governor's race to the Lieutenant Governor's race because you could be a "more effective candidate?" Is that some kind of political code phrase for "better-known?"

LAUGHLINE FLASHBACK: Until the news broke about WRCG, our main topic today was going to be the 2010 Census. Instead, here's what we wrote about the last Census Day for a national audience in the 31 Mar 00 edition of LaughLine:

It's census deadline time! The Census Bureau wants you to return your form by Saturday. For those of you with long forms, we suggest stapling the check for the $100 fine to the first page....

The Census Bureau is going to great lengths to make sure everyone is counted. Thursday's Atlanta Constitution reported staff members actually went to a BRIDGE - and counted homeless people sleeping under it! We wonder if the Census staff will go back -- so the homeless folks can pay back those "loans" for dinner?

Didya hear what Minnesota's prison system is doing with the census? Inmates are being paid a DOLLAR, if they fill out the forms! If the Census Bureau had offered money to EVERYBODY in the first place, they might have been able to avoid spending money on those commercials....

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