Bill Tanner, the controversial morning personality and program director who was not able to duplicate at WASH-FM (97.1) his success as one of the country's leading programmers, resigned yesterday.
"I feel considerably healthier and wiser," said Tanner.
He emphasized that his departure was due to a job offer, not because of any disagreements with Metromedia Radio, the owners of WASH. Jim Smith, the station's general manager, said, "We did not in any way initiate this."
Tanner, who would not discuss his job offer, started at WASH in January 1983 after a highly successful decade as morning man and program director at Miami's WHYI. The Miami station dominated the market for nine years. Tanner's contract at WASH would have ended in January 1986.
He is reportedly negotiating to return to the Miami market and work at WEZI, a pop music station owned by the Fairfax-based EZ Communications.
"They have talked to me in the past," said Tanner, but he would not discuss his future plans yesterday.
Chuck Goldmark, the general manager of WEZI, said he and Tanner had talked recently but added that nothing had "been finalized."
Tanner said that after a job was offered, he went to the WASH management "and said we haven't been a 10-share station and here is an opportunity for everybody to call it quits. They urged me to stay, they felt like it had not been given a chance. I could not fault Metromedia management for even the tiniest of negatives," said Tanner."
Tanner had completely restructured the on-air sound at WASH to a format that was a mix of all-hits and urban contemporary that Tanner himself said was hard to pinpoint. He made a clean sweep of the on-air personalities, many of whom expressed public bitterness at how they were released or fired. The station had pumped substantial money into promotion, including a recent million dollar giveaway, but its advertising revenue had reportedly dropped drastically. Jim Smith, the general manager, would not discuss the advertising spots yesterday.
Though the station was highly visible through its contests and the reports of internal disarray, Tanner did not repeat the success he had enjoyed in Miami. In the winter of 1983, WASH had a 3.9 share of the market and was tied for seventh place, according to the Arbitron ratings. A year later the station had a 2.3 share, and in the latest ratings for the summer of 1984 it ranked 15th with a 2.6 share.
"The station is doing what it should be doing. The Washington market is a slow market to react," said Tanner yesterday. Smith yesterday characterized the Tanner term as successful. "He put us on a path that was predetermined with the complete approval of our corporation. Although the numbers do not reflect this we feel we have an awfully good-sounding radio station and we are not about to change the format."
Kid Curry, an on-air personality who recently joined the station from San Antonio, was appointed acting program director. Dude Walker will take over the morning show for now.