Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Dismal ratings put Rover in doghouse

BY ROBERT FEDER Television/Radio Columnist
It's over for Rover.

One of the biggest bombs in Chicago radio history -- the morning show hosted by Shane "Rover" French -- is about to be replaced by the New York-based syndicated duo of Gregg "Opie" Hughes and Anthony Cumia.

CBS Radio is expected to pull the plug today on "Rover's Morning Glory" after eight months of microscopic ratings on WCKG-FM (105.9), the "Free FM" talk outlet.

Although today will be his last day on the air in Chicago, French is expected to continue in about a dozen other markets, including his former home base of Cleveland.

Duo fired over church sex show

French came here to replace Howard Stern, the self-styled "King of All Media," who signed off at the end of last year to move to Sirius Satellite Radio. French never caught on with the young male audience he was hired to attract -- or with anyone else, for that matter.

In the latest Arbitron quarterly survey, he plunged to a 0.3 percent share of men between the ages of 18 and 34, and was largely responsible for WCKG's finishing dead last among every major station in the market with an all-time low 0.9 share overall.

The ouster of Mancow Muller from Emmis Communications' alternative WKQX-FM (101.1) earlier this month offered French a brief glimmer of hope. Despite running print and television ads to capitalize on Mancow's demise, CBS Radio bosses ultimately concluded that the situation at WCKG was hopeless.

Starting Tuesday, WCKG will revamp its lineup throughout the day: From 5 to 6 a.m., highlights of Steve Dahl's show from the previous day will be followed by "Opie & Anthony" from 6 to 9 a.m.; Stan Lawrence and Terry Armour from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; the syndicated Penn Jillette from 1 to 2 p.m.; Dahl from 2 to 7 p.m., and Jim Cramer's syndicated financial show from 7 to 8 p.m.

"Opie & Anthony" made headlines in 2002 when they were fired for airing a couple having sex in a vestibule of New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral as part of a contest.

They resurfaced on XM Satellite Radio.
(Source: Chicago Sun Times)