Friday, August 23, 2002

WGRR fires Dusty Rhodes


The king has left the building.

By John Kiesewetter, jkiesewetter@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Dusty Rhodes, king of local rock "n' roll radio DJs, has been fired by WGRR-FM (103.5). He did his last weekly oldies show on Sunday.

        “It was a lot of fun, and we had some good times. I wish them well,” says Mr. Rhodes, who was two weeks shy of his 41st anniversary on radio here. He started on WSAI-AM on Sept. 3, 1961, and had worked 7 p.m.-midnight Sundays on WGRR-FM for 10 years.

        Dumping Dusty, up for re-election in November as Hamilton County auditor, is one of many changes made at the oldies station by Tim Closson, operations and program director for Infinity's country WUBE-FM (105.1) and WGRR-FM.

        Part-time weekend personalities Rodger Kay and Jack Stahl also have left the station.

        After 19 years, night jock J.D. Hughes has been demoted from full to part-time. So has overnight DJ Steve Mann. They will work weekends, do fill-in shifts, and host “traveling oldies parties,” Mr. Closson says.

        Beau Michaels, the former WKRQ-FM (101.9) DJ who has hosted WGRR-FM's That "70s Show on Saturday nights, has taken over the 7 p.m.-midnight Monday-Saturday. Joe Demma now hosts overnights.

        “This is nothing major. We're just making a couple of adjustments,” Mr. Closson says.

        The “adjustments” include airing some taped, or “voice-tracked” weekend shows, a money-saving technology used by local Clear Channel stations (WOFX-FM, WKFS-FM) for several years.

        Janeen Coyle and Chris O'Brien, the husband-wife morning team, began hosting a 6-9 a.m. Saturday Breakfast with the Beatles show earlier this month that isn't always live, Mr. Closson says.

        “Even as a (voice) tracked show, it sounds like it's live from their breakfast table on Saturday morning,” he says.

        Weekend middays are hosted by one of two weekday personalities, “Rockin' Ron” Schumacher or Jim “the Music Professor” LaBarbara. They also will be involved with the eventual replacement for the Sunday Dusty Rhodes show, Mr. Closson says.

        “We're putting the finishing touches on a really cool program that will involve Rockin' Ron and the Music Professor, that matches up well with our radio station,” he says.

        “We've been making some great strides in attracting young demos (listeners). This is not a doo-wop "50s station any more,” Mr. Closson says.

        Mr. Closson says Mr. Rhodes took the news like a real pro. “I've got nothing but positive things to say about him,” he says.

        Maybe he just doesn't want the Hamilton County auditor to increase his tax bill.

        Rhodes return? Word of Dusty's dismissal spread through Tristate radio stations quickly this week, but he's not looking to make a quick comeback.

        “A couple of stations have already talked to me, and I've gotten some e-mails,” Mr. Rhodes says. “But I think I'd like to take a little time off and regroup. I'm looking forward to having Sunday night off for the first time in 40 years.”

        He wants to visit son, Brian, in Chicago, and his mother in Syracuse, N.Y.

        “It's not as if I don't have something to do,” he says. And if he does return to radio, it might not be on Sunday nights, he says.

        Mr. Rhodes came to WSAI-AM from Syracuse in 1961. He was one of the “WSAI-AM Good Guys” who brought the Beatles to Cincinnati Gardens on Aug. 27, 1964.

        Except for a brief stint at CKLW-AM in Windsor, Ontario, he has spent his adult life here. When he entered politics in 1969, as a Delhi Township trustee, he became a stockbroker and worked weekends on WKRC-AM and WLW-AM.

        Ironically, this is the first time that Mr. Rhodes is campaigning for re-election and didn't have to step aside from broadcasting — because he's running unopposed.

        “Nobody is running against me, so there's no need to give anyone "equal time',” he says.

        Shelli gone: Shelli Sexton, half of the WMOJ-FM (MOJO 94.9) “Keith and Shelli” morning team, has been fired.

        Joining Program Director Keith Mitchell on Sept. 3 will be Laura Powell from Orlando, Fla. The move was made to boost ratings, he says. Ms. Sexton was part of WKRQ-FM's short-lived Shark & Shelli morning team.

        WNKU-FM news: Guitarist Bill Kanengiser from the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet will pick and play his favorite tunes with Brian O'Donnell at 10 a.m. Saturday on WNKU-FM (89.7).

        Around the dial: NBC repeats Crime & Punishment with Cincinnati native Garry Haehnle prosecuting a man for murdering his son (10 p.m. Saturday, Channels 5, 22).

       



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