Last week, I was having a conversation with Norm Schrutt, the agent for the 2 Live Stews and Mara Davis. I was wondering what if the once popular sports talk duo had any other radio options beyond 92.9/The Game or (much less likely) 680/The Fan when their six month non-compete clause from 790/The Zone ends in June. (I thought originally that it would be up in March since the Zone took them off air in September but I was wrong.) Schrutt said they could do other things on radio besides sports talk. I was skeptical but after giving it some thought, I realized it's not unprecedented in this town.
I found ten examples of Atlanta jocks over the past decade who have tried other formats, with varying levels of success.
- Christopher Rude. From 96rock jock to sports talk morning host on 680/The Fan. He joined the Fan a decade ago after many years as a 96rock DJ. The Fan's boss David Dickey thought outside the box hiring Rude, who was not known for sports at all. But the demographics were compatible and Dickey wanted an entertaining morning show that happened to focus on sports. Rude was able to corral more sports-oriented talent and build a successful show that has certainly kept his radio career viable a lot longer than it otherwise would have been if he had tried to stay in rock. (96Rock took that stairway to heaven in 2006.)
- Christopher "Crash" Clark. From alternative rock 99X to 92.9/Dave FM to morning co-host on the Ryan Cameron morning show on V-103. I have already chronicled Clark's incredibly unusual career path, arguably the most varied of any radio personality in town. You can read some of his history here. He did traffic for the original Hot 97.5, the first hip-hop station in town, where Ryan helped shape his "Crash D" persona. Crash eventually founda full-time job at alt-rock 99X, which also included some time doing traffic at top 40 station Q100. He was fired in 2005 by 99X and worked with 99X alums Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb in Boston. In 2009, they moved to sports talk and he was out of work again. He came back to Atlanta in 2010 and landed a gig at Dave FM. He also began doing traffic for V-103, then became Ryan's sidekick in the afternoons, now mornings as of last month.
- Ray Mariner. From Star 94 morning host to mid-morning host on 680/The Fan. Ray had huge success on Star 94 with Cindy Simmons, first as an afternoon host, then a morning host. But for reasons still unsaid, he was let go last May from Star. A big sports fan, he recently signed on to be a mid-morning co-host on 680/The Fan. Like Rude, he sees a longer career path in sports talk than pop radio.
- Melissa Carter. From 99X to Q100's Bert Show to a reader on All News 106.7. She began in rock radio as the news reader on the popular 99X Morning X, then segued to become a full cast member of the new Bert Show in 2001. For a decade, she became an indispensable part of that show but she wanted to try new climes and resigned in 2011. A year later, she landed at All News 106.7, owned by Cumulus, the same company as Q100. She was always a big news person so this works well, though presumably, she took a massive pay cut for the privilege (but with much better hours.)
- Tim Orff. From 92.9/Dave FM to Star 94 evenings. Tim was a popular night jock at rock station Dave FM, who (twice!) filled in during mornings as well. But then Dave dumped him so he landed a gig at top 40 station Star 94 as the night jock. Ironically, given Star 94's Hot AC lean, it arguably stole away listeners from Dave FM, contributing to Dave's demise last fall.
- Jenn Hobby. From cast of Q100's Bert Show to mid-day jock on Kicks 101.5. I certainly didn't see this one coming. Jenn, who is currently pregnant in her third tri-mester, last fall decided to leave the Bert Show after nearly a decade. She quickly found a new DJ gig at the same company (Cumulus) across the hallway at country station Kicks 101.5. No more Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj but a lot more Keith Urban and Tim McGraw. Sure, it's a pay cut and a bit more solitary work, but her new mid-day hosting job will enable her to lead a more normal schedule with the baby forthcoming.
- C.J. Simpson. From morning host at Hot 107.9 and 95.5/The Beat to mornings on 92.9/The Game. C.J., a protege of Ryan Cameron on Hot 107.9, eventually co-hosted her morning show on 95.5/The Beat for several years with Murph Dawg (and for a couple more years, in syndicated form). Last year, with the music jock job gone, she landed another morning hosting job on the new sports talk station 92.9/The Game with Rick Kamla and Randy Cross. (For folks who are wondering, 92.9/The Game's ratings, after a slow start, are starting to pick up momentum.)
- "Southside" Steve Rickman. From 96rock to Eagle 106.7. "Southside" Steve, a long-time player on the Regular Guys on 96rock and now Rock 100,5, found a job doing mornings for Rhubarb Jones at Eagle 106.7 for a year while the Regular Guys were on hiatius in 2007. Given his Atlanta roots and Southern persona, the switch to country for a time wasn't a bad one for the time but I'm sure he's compensated far better as a member of the Regular Guys.
- Randy and Spiff. From oldies (Fox 97.1, Cool 105.7) and soft rock (Lite 94.9) to news/talk/640 AM, then back to oldies (True Oldies//Atlanta's Greatest Hits 106.7). This morning show duo has been on five different stations in Atlanta. The most interesting sidebar was working together for a few months on a news/talk station. For Randy Cook, it was a better fit but management didn't know what to do with jokester Spiff Carner except get rid of him nine months later, leaving Cook on his own for another two years until 2009. They reunited for a couple years on Atlanta's Greatest Hits until fall of 2011. Neither are in radio now.
- Moby. From country morning host at Kicks 101.5 to morning host at Z93. This was the most spectacular failure of any radio personality in town trying to switch formats. He was known in Atlanta as a country music guy for more than a decade until 2002. In 2003, then rock station Z93 management thought it would be brilliant idea to make him their morning host. It was not a good fit with the rock fans. Within a few months, he was relegated to traffic duty (it was a loophole in his contract.). The joke at the time was he was the highest paid traffic reporter in town for more than eight months. Eventually, Moby did land on his feet with his own syndicated morning show, where is now heard on outlying metro Atlanta country stations 106.1 WNGC, South 107 and 101.3/The Bear.