I wrote about Kim "The Kimmer" Peterson less than a month ago, just to catch up with him. (Read it here.)
Within two weeks, while I was on vacation, All News 106.7 had given him a job from noon to 3 p.m. starting Nov. 4 to revive his WGST-AM show with sidekick/sports man Pete Davis and "man of a 1,000 voices" Jim Gossett.
Coincidence or correlation?
While I'd love to take credit for the move by inspiring the Cumulus executives with my blog entry, that was not the case. The Kimmer thought when I called him a month ago that I knew the job was coming when in fact, I did not. It was just a nice coincidence. I called him only because my readers wanted to know what he had been up to.
For the past seven years, he's been in retirement, splitting time between Massachusetts and Florida. He's played a lot of golf, took care of his horse, rode his motorcycles and bided his time, always hoping he'd find a way back onto the radio. He had some interested parties over the years but no deals ever came to be - until now.
"I’m overwhelmed with the response," the Kimmer, 63, said in a follow-up interview this week. "My Facebook page has been exploding. I'm getting a lot of good feedback. I keep thinking, 'It's just me coming back to do a little radio show!' I can't believe people remember me!"
He said the biggest adjustment for him will be social media. When he was let go from WGST in late 2006, YouTube was still a toddler, Facebook a mostly college-oriented affair and Twitter a mere four months old.
"I'm not as up to date as I should be," he said. "But I'm learning quickly."
After All News debuted last year, the Kimmer contacted Jim Mahanay,Cumulus news/talk/sports corporate programmer, who told him they were interested but the time wasn't right. He'd check back with Mahanay every three months and finally, this past month, they were able to hammer a deal. (I reached Mahanay today but he was in a meeting and promised to call me back. I'll update this if I get any additional insight from him.)
The one-two punch of Kimmer's arrival and the Atlanta Braves moving to 106.7 from Rock 100.5 means at least 1,300 hours a year will now be devoted to talk or sports, not straight news. That means about one-sixth of its hours will no longer be all-news product.
But Mike Rose, a radio producer and program director at WGST-AM from 1985 to 1999 who knew the Kimmer well, said most listeners don't break down what "news" is so strictly. "A lot of folks think listening to Rush is listening to the news," he said. So it's likely the station will keep the "All News" moniker despite being "Not Quite All News."
Michael Harrison, who runs Talkers magazine, which covers the news/talk business, said some all-news stations stick to that format 24/7 but many blend in brokered paid programming (which All News already does on weekends), sports and talk. WCBS-AM in New York, which touts itself as all news, ran the New York Yankees games for many years, for instance, he said.
All News 106.7 has generated consistent ratings of around a 1.8 or 1.9 in recent months, placing the station at about 20th in the market. Clearly, the change in strategy by adding the Kimmer and the Braves indicates Cumulus wants more than that. The Kimmer could generate additional income for the station by doing endorsements.
"Nobody does a better live commercial than the Kimmer," Rose said. "He will sell for them."
Plus, the Kimmer has a straight news background, having worked at WSB for many years. In fact, Rose said when they hired him, they didn't expect him to be such a colorful presence. "He became a crazy man," Rose said, admiringly. But he said the Kimmer is capable of doing straight news if a big breaking story hits.
There are benefits to moving the Braves to 106.7 as well. The signal is stronger than 100.5 (especially on the North side), which provides greater coverage for Braves fans and potentially higher ratings and ad revenue. And sports ties together better with a news product than rock, Rose said.
Rose also said airing the Braves means they don't have to staff the news desk as heavily while the games are airing, which could save some labor costs.
Eric Seidel, a media trainer who ran WGST-AM for many years during its more popular days in the 1980s and 1990s, hired the Kimmer two decades ago and is happy to see him back. But he thinks the Kimmer, whose fans skew heavily male, would do better in his old afternoon drive slot of 3 to 7 p.m. For now, 106.7 is keeping afternoon drive pure news.
The Kimmer said he's over traditional political talk radio. "I'm sick and tired of everyone shouting about Obamacare, ramming it down my throat," he said. "Honest to God, after 20 minutes, how much more can you say? Everyone's on notice that's not what I'm going to do. I don't take myself seriously. I'm not auditioning for a job up in New York. I just want to do a fun, entertaining show."
He has moved to Atlanta but is keeping his pad in Palm Beach (his mortgage there is still under water.). He has brought Jack the Good Boy, his horse and his two Harley choppers back to town as well.
He's glad Davis and Gossett are re-joining him. But he didn't even try to get Wayne "No Offense" Kitchens to be his producer because Kitchens has a great-paying job as a Delta mechanic. "His wife would put a contract out on me if he took a job with me," the Kimmer said. "I'm not kidding!"
You can hear the Kimmer on the Regular Guys on sister station Rock 100.5 Friday morning to promote his new show. The Regular Guys, since Eric Von Haessler was let go last month, has been using a rotating set of guests to read the news.
Kim "The Kimmer" Peterson with Pete Davis, noon to 3 p.m., All News 106.7, starting November 4.