updated: Tue 4/6, 8:15 a.m.
Clear Channel owned soft rock WNIC FM 100.3 fired morning personalities Kevin O'Neill and Lisa Berry after their show today. In an e-mail, O'Neill reports that the move was, "Not totally unexpected but always an awful feeling when it happens. Ironically, my final break on air I mentioned that it was 30 yrs. yesterday (April 4) that I was first on the air in Detroit at WDRQ in 1980. Had no idea that would be my final break. The only thing I keep telling myself is that each time I've been let go I've gone on to something better. This will be the case, too, I'm sure."
With the recent departure of Dick Purtan from classic hits WOMC FM 104.3, this makes two very high profile morning drive slots currently open in Detroit -- and even with the area's poor economy, one would think these jobs would be filled on a permanent basis sooner rather than later. Understandably WOMC is moving slowly, naming Chris Edmonds and Stacey DuFord as interim hosts while listeners adjust to not having Purtan on-air.
Today's move by WNIC might be more startling to listeners than Purtan's previously announced retirement to many that might have been counting on hearing familiar voices during morning drive on other stations instead of even more changes to their radio dial. Consider that soft rock competitor WMGC FM 105.1 recently has run full page ads in local newspapers inviting former Purtan listeners to sample the Magic Morning Show hosted by Jim Harper.
Are bigger changes on the horizon for 100.3 in terms of either the station's programming direction or personality lineup? Is this an early move to clear the way for Jay Towers to return to the airwaves once his non-compete expires in July?
Clear Channel-owned WNIC (100.3) fired its "Breakfast Club" morning show hosts, Kevin O'Neill and Lisa Barry, after their airshift Monday morning. WNIC is replacing them with a "very music-intensive" show, according to station operations manager Todd Thomas. He says it was a move prompted by the Arbitron PPM (portable people meter). "Looking at how PPM operates, we're finding that a lot of music really moves the needle," Thomas said. "With the morning show, we were going up against some of the juggernauts that we have in town, it was like David and Goliath, so that was the reason for the decision." WNIC's morning show ranked No. 1 among listeners ages 35-64 over the holiday season, when it played Christmas music, but by February it was tied for 11th place in that demographic (for the overall, 12-plus demographic it ranked No. 14). Monday was almost exactly the 30th anniversary of O'Neill's arrival in Detroit. "The ironic thing was, without knowing what was going to happen, in the final break this morning I alluded to the fact that 30 years ago yesterday, April 4, was my first day on the air in Detroit," said O'Neill, who was still a bit dazed. "Ten minutes later, I'm being marched down the hallway." It was a year ago that O'Neill, then on afternoons at the adult contemporary station, was tapped to replace Chris Edmonds when he was let go from the WNIC morning show. Edmonds is filling in at CBS-owned WOMC-FM (104.3), since Dick Purtan's retirement last week.. WNIC drops morning team O'Neill, Barry (Tue, 4/6)
Detroit Free Press:
WNIC-FM (100.3) host Kevin O'Neill was celebrating a big career anniversary Monday, but things turned quickly sour when he and cohost Lisa Barry were fired soon after signing off from their morning "Breakfast Club" show. "I'm still scratching my head about this," O'Neill told Names & Faces on Monday afternoon. He was the afternoon host at the Clear Channel Detroit-operated WNIC before taking over mornings a year ago. He noted that on Sunday, he marked the 30th anniversary of his career in Detroit broadcasting. O'Neill thinks that the "Breakfast Club," which has dipped in the ratings in recent months, should have been given longer to bounce back, especially in light of the recent departure of popular morning host Dick Purtan at WOMC-FM (104.3). Barry, who has spent 25 years on Detroit radio, including stints at WYCD-FM (99.5) and WXYT-AM (1270), said she loved working at the soft-rock WNIC with "one of her best friends" and will cherish the fans who tuned in... WNIC morning hosts let go (Tue, 4/6)
CLEAR CHANNEL AC WNIC/DETROIT "Breakfast Flakes" KEVIN O'NEILL and LISA BARRY are out. The pair were informed this morning after wrapping up their show... Morning Change At WNIC/Detroit (Mon, 4/5)