The move by WMAL-AM (630) to begin airing Rush Limbaugh's show from New York earlier this month was a blow to talk-formatted WWRC-AM (980), which had been trying to get the show for several months. Up until the day WMAL management announced that the station would soon carry the conservative host, WWRC Program Director Tyler Cox expressed hope of landing Limbaugh at WWRC.
Cox, hired last month by Greater Media Inc. to bolster the station's anemic ratings, said he welcomed the added competition but expected to win the talk war. "We have been the talk station of this city and we will continue being the talk station of this city."
Meanwhile, Mark Davis, who grew up in Camp Springs and graduated from the University of Maryland in 1979, moved into WWRC's 3 to 5 p.m. weekday talk slot. At 32, Davis is probably Washington's youngest talk host. With the exception of Limbaugh, 39, and WJFK-FM's (106.7) Howard Stern, 36 (who coincidentally share the same birthday), most talk pros are in their forties before they get a Washington opportunity. The WWRC job has been open since late January when Mark Scott was turned away at the end of his first one-year contract. Until recently, Davis was afternoon host at WTKN-AM in Tampa-St. Petersburg. Cox described Davis as being "moderate to conservative depending on the issue."
Back at WMAL, complaints from longtime listeners about the switch to talk continue to roll in, although at a slower pace than during the days following announcer John Lyon's firing. One Chevy Chase listener, who asked not to be identified, said he had listened to WMAL since 1959, but the format change to talk has forced him to switch the radio in his place of business to easy listening WGAY-FM (99.5). "WMAL lost 265 listeners," he said. One WMAL staffer said that perhaps the most intriguing call received in the past three weeks was from a woman who described talk radio as "just so bourgeois."
Too Much Talk?
That's what Bill Scanlan thinks. Scanlan, program director at middle-of-the-road WWDC-AM (1260), has been inspired by WMAL's added talk programming to write a handful of new liner cards to read to WWDC listeners throughout the day: "The only station on the AM dial playing the music of the best years of your life"; "If you're tired of talk, keep your dial set right here for great music 24 hours a day"; "The alternative to talk radio is great music -- only right here on WWDC"; "We are the one station where the music does the talking -- WWDC"; and "For instant relief from too much talk, set a button on your car radio for great music on WWDC." The Silver Spring station expects to benefit from WMAL's departure from music by offering a steady diet of big band recordings and popular standards. Although morning host Eddie Gallaher is the station's only full-time live host, the station's switch last year to a much-improved satellite feed from Transtar now makes it hard to tell that programming doesn't originate locally. In fact, the entire package sounds quite good.
Harris: Live From London
WCXR-FM (105.1) morning man Paul Harris and cohorts Dave the Predictor, newsman John Ogle and Mark Lapidus will broadcast from Bill Wyman's Sticky Fingers Cafe in London on Wednesday and Thursday from 6 to 9 a.m. via satellite. Friday, the show moves to backstage at Knebworth Park where preparations will be underway for Saturday's concert featuring Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Phil Collins, Elton John and others. The Westwood One Network will broadcast the 11-hour concert live Saturday at noon; it will be heard locally on WCXR, WJFK-FM (106.7) and WWDC-FM (101.1).
Go West, Young Man
Staffers at WMZQ-AM/FM (1390/98.7) surprised Vice President and General Manager Paul Wilensky Sunday afternoon with an airborne banner that read "We love Paul -- your WMZQ family." The plane circled Wild World as several thousand country music fans saw Tanya Tucker, Restless Heart and Rodney Crowell in a free concert to celebrate the station's 13 years. Last Wednesday, Wilensky told staffers that he had accepted Viacom International's offer to run two San Francisco-area stations. Wilensky's move west is expected to be completed by the end of July. No word yet on Wilsensky's replacement at the cash cow country combo.