Radio soap operas


I can only hope God spares me the drama.
I hope this post doesn’t hurt my career.

Researching the podcast episode “Beautiful music,” I read the Wikipedia articles about a number of Baltimore radio stations.  It reminded me that this can sometimes be a dog-eat-dog world, where drastic changes in personnel, format or ownership can occur abruptly and without explanation.

In 1987, WCBM (AM 680) won the contract to broadcast Orioles baseball games.  That lasted one season.  When they lost the contract, the station became unprofitable and its ownership went belly-up.  I really don’t understand that.  One Nick Mangione, Sr. bought the station.

At the same time, WFBR (AM 1300) also changed ownership and format.  It had had a talk format, including every major name in talk radio in Baltimore.  Every one.  The new owners changed the format to oldies, and dismissed all the talk hosts.

Mangione, in turn, hired them all — all but one.  Alan Christian went to WBAL (AM 1090) instead of WCBM.

The oldies format did not work out well for WFBR.  The station changed ownership and call sign many times.  Today, the sports station WJZ occupies that channel.

Apparently in 1992, Alan Christian went from WBAL to WCBM.  It’s hard for me to believe I listened to him on WBAL for only four years.  Upon this move, his accent changed and he suddenly became much more conservative.  Not long after that, he ran into legal problems.

Then there’s the story of the departure of the legendary Steve Rouse from WQSR (FM 102.7).  From Wikipedia – Jack FM:

On May 4, 2005 at 11 a.m., WQSR, an oldies station in Towson, Maryland which targeted Baltimore area listeners, changed its format from oldies to Jack FM. Listeners and staffers alike were surprised by the sudden change because many long-time DJs and on-air personalities were considered a Baltimore institution. WQSR received a large amount of negative publicity regarding the format change. Popular former WQSR personality Steve Rouse has since resurfaced as the new morning show host at sister station, the sift adult contemporary-formatted WLIF.

From 1982 to 1999,[1] Allan Prell was the designated liberal talk show host on WBAL.  He had the 9:00 a.m. to noon time slot, so I rarely heard him.  He had an abrasive manner, that I didn’t attend to much; this was years before I dreamed up The William Tell Show.  Toward the end of his time there, he did and said various things inconsistent with a desire to continue at the station.

He disappeared from public life for six years, re-appearing at KIRO in Seattle in January 2005.  His show was cancelled that September.[2]  Among other things, the station’s sales staff complained that they could not sell any advertising on his show.  In response, Prell organized demonstrations in which his fans picketed the station demanding his re-hire.  That failed.  He left the industry in 2005.[3]

Hopes and expectations

The difference between a hope and an expectation, is that an expectation makes one’s happiness contingent on the event.

Related: I will not be disappointed.

In my own career in broadcasting, I may best simply go where I am welcome.  If sudden change occurs, I hope to be resilient enough to bounce back, to land on my feet.  And I can also merely hope that my show is commercially viable.

============================================

[1]Baltimore SunAllan Prell, WBAL talk show host, dies at 79
[2]Seattle PI – On Radio: Former KIRO talk host Allan Prell aims for a syndicated show of his own
[3]Wikipedia – Allan Prell

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