Friday, January 28, 2011

28 JAN 11: Out of the Zone

When it comes to the routines of weekday mornings, I'm very old-school. I turn on the radio for breakfast, instead of television -- because a TV news anchor might say, "Look at these pictures!" and I'll spill my cereal hurrying over from the kitchen table.

One of my morning radio options has been missing for several weeks -- and as of Thursday night, I still had no explanation for it. WIOL-AM 1580 is silent. This January, Davis Broadcasting can get away with that. When Alabama played for a national football title last January, it would have been a scandal.

Yes, I know - WIOL has a simulcast of "The Zone" at 95.7 FM. But I can't pick up that station in my corner of Columbus. WRLD "Boomer 95.3" drowns it out - and that station has oldies music, but no old-timers' games.

So where is WIOL-AM? I've called Davis Broadcasting twice in the last couple of weeks seeking an answer. The first time I called, I seemed to stun the receptionist when I said AM 1580 was off the air. But then again, that woman probably is one of the reasons why WFXE "Foxie 105" tops the ratings.

Twice I've been transferred to the programming department of Davis Broadcasting with my question about WIOL-AM. My voice mail message Thursday was not returned. But at least that's an improvement from a week earlier, when the voice mailbox was full and I couldn't leave a message at all.

Perhaps it's just as well that WIOL-AM is silent these days. It didn't show up in the fall Columbus radio ratings, which came out this week. The FM station showed up for the first time in 18 months - which is strange, since that could mean more people listened to Alabama football games after the Crimson Tide started losing again.

Football doesn't seem to be the radio ratings magnet you might expect in Columbus. WDAK's fall ratings dipped a bit, despite Atlanta Falcons games. And WVRK "Rock 103" had the biggest ratings drop of any station, even though Auburn had a perfect football season. You simply don't tick off rock music lovers on the Georgia side of the river....

There's little change at the top of the fall radio ratings. Foxie 105 is in first place as always. WBFA "98.3 Da Beat" advanced from third place to second. WCGQ moved up to third - but please don't be confused. The billboard on Wynnton Road praising owner "Jimbo" Martin refers to 60 years of age, not 60 percent of the audience.

Only two of the six AM radio stations in Columbus showed up in the fall ratings. The switch of "The Ride" to WRCG's stations didn't provide... well, you know.... a booster seat.

WSTH-FM again lagged behind "country cousin" WKCN "Kissin' 99.3." If you asked me what radio station will make a change next, I'd guess it's "South 106.1" - perhaps adjusting its music to "classic country." That means older tunes, with a steel guitar you actually can hear.

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BLOG UPDATE: The target of Mike Gaymon's "tablecloth joke" finally spoke out Thursday. Tom Wyatt told The Courier after the 2008 incident at the Rivermill Event Centre, he was no longer invited to Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce administrative meetings. Wow -- who knows what Gaymon wore at those things?!

The Courier's crusade against Mike Gaymon continues in the latest issue, with four separate articles about the "tablecloth joke" and reactions to it. This tops the "Eco Latino" part of the paper -- which has two articles. Period.

I'm going to hold a couple of e-mails for our "Sunday Soapbox," and move on to the rest of Thursday's news:

+ Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren admitted to WRBL the Riverwalk is NOT safe after dark. Boren said a tight budget is delaying the launch of a Riverwalk patrol unit with ATV's. A tight budget - when the Local Option Sales Tax has a surplus of four million dollars?! How many fire trucks do we anticipate will break down?

+ WLTZ reported an early-morning fire damaged the downtown Columbus law office of Donna Nix. Thankfully, her office is next door to Fire Station #1. Well, maybe I shouldn't say "thankfully" - because with $85,000 in damage, Nix might sue the firefighters for responding too slowly.

+ A Fort Benning sergeant appeared in federal court on charges of taking explosives off-post to his home. But I was struck by the officer's attorney. Does it help the cause of a supposedly "clean-cut" soldier to have a male lawyer with a ponytail?

+ The SunTrust Bank branch near Cross Country Plaza celebrated the retirement of Mary Sue Battastini, after 56 years of service. Think for a second about that. When Battastini started working in banking, a dollar could buy you ten cups of coffee - instead of a quarter-cup at Starbucks.

+ A group of Auburn University students staged its annual outdoor display of the national debt. A few students walking by that huge number probably thought Cam Newton had signed a pro football contract.

+ Instant Message to all the people scoffing at the new ice rink in South Commons: Check the weekend sports schedule. The National Hockey League All-Star Game is in Raleigh. The U.S. Figure Skating Championships are in Greensboro. If North Carolina can become a national center of ice sports, why can't we?

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