RIP: WGST

September 26, 2012 20:06 pm

by Buzz Brockway · 37 comments

UPDATE: After Rush’s show this afternoon(Friday 9/28), WGST switched to ESPN Desportes, Spanish sports talk.

It appears WGST is dead, at least as a talk radio station. The former home of Sean Hannity, Neal Boortz, local stars Kim Peterson, the late Keith Kalland, and many others will reportedly flip tomorrow from a talk format to possibly a comedy format (what?). For folks like me who spent years listening to WGST, it’s a sad day.

Afternoon host Rusty Humphries issued this statement:

“It is always sad to see a news/talk facility such as WGST change to another format but I am grateful for the time I had there and was able to spend doing local radio in Atlanta. The people at Clear Channel are fine people and I enjoyed working with them. For me, the good news is that I will have a lot more time to devote to my nationally syndicated TRN program which is growing by leaps and bounds.”

The death blow seems to have been caused by Rush Limbaugh switching his show to WSB. The new all news 106.7 surely hurt as well. Rodney Ho has more on new lineup at WSB. Our buddy Erick Erickson will move to the 5-7 slot and do more of a news show it appears. Rumors swirl that Glenn Beck’s show will land on WGKA.

Via Ho, here is the new lineup at WSB:

For WSB, Limbaugh’s arrival means several changes to its weekday lineup:

- Syndicated talk show host Neal Boortz, now based primarily out of Naples, Fla., will see his daily stint cut back an hour. He will be on the air from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Boortz is retiring in January and will be replaced by businessman and former presidential candidate Herman Cain, who had already planned to do three hours a day.

- Consumer advocate Clark Howard, who has been with WSB radio since 1991 and is now heard on more than 220 stations nationwide, is moving to the 8-10 p.m. slot from his current 1-3 p.m. time period. Howard — who recently began co-hosting an HLN TV news program from 5-7 p.m. weekdays called “Evening Express” — will still tape his Atlanta-based radio show from 1-3 p.m. because other markets will continue to run it live.

- Syndicated radio and Fox News host Sean Hannity’s program will air live from 3-5 p.m., but WSB will be adding a news program from 5-7 p.m. Erick Erickson, who runs the website RedState.com will be the show’s host/commentator. Hannity’s third hour, from 7-8 p.m., will be tape-delayed (Erickson has been hosting a talk show from 6-8 p.m.).

- Local talk show host Adam Goldfein gets pushed two hours later to 10 p.m. to midnight.

- Syndicated financial expert Dave Ramsey also gets moved two hours later and will start at midnight instead of 10 p.m.

WSB now has the top two political talk shows in it’s lineup.

seenbetrdayz September 26, 2012 at 8:42 pm

The former home of Sean Hannity, Neal Boortz, local stars Kim Peterson, the late Keith Kalland, and many others will reportedly flip tomorrow from a talk format to possibly a comedy format (what?).

This is a test of my personal restraint, really, I’m just dying to make a wise crack here.

Max Power September 26, 2012 at 8:53 pm

The only reason WSB signed Limbaugh was to kill WGST. I’m pretty sure Clark still beat him in the local ratings.

Charlie September 26, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Losing my friends at WGST and DaveFM in the same week.

It’s a rough economy and their industries don’t have the opportunities they once did. Here’s hoping they land on their feet elsewhere. If not, it is possible to reinvent. Not easy, but it can be done.

Hang tough guys.

rrrrr September 27, 2012 at 2:19 am

Friends yes and in this economy absolutely …

But DaveFM as a format? Really?

As to changes at 96.1, I wish they would retire it completely. Just print the frequency number on a jersey, hang it up in the GA Dome and let the great signal cease…

LaFayette Underground September 26, 2012 at 10:25 pm

WGST was the best radio home of the Braves, and provided hours of news and fun with the Kimmer back in the day. Many many years ago when we could get the FM signal up here in the Northwestern corner. ClearChannel is death to local meaningful radio.

– LU

Mike Hassinger September 26, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Poor WGST. I loved that station, from way back when they were the upstart against the mighty WSB. But no send-off is complete without a mention of Tom Hughes, who was the best radio newsguy in the business.
Hope all of the talent at that station finds a profitable way to make good radio.

JDavid September 27, 2012 at 10:52 am

I agree that Tom Hughes was the best radio news person in Atlanta. I still miss him in the mornings!

jason.ryan September 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Tom Hughes, ” The king”

Stefan September 27, 2012 at 12:46 am

I was an intern for WGST when I was in high school during the Newsmonster days. Before the all-sports stations at 680 and 790, WGST was the home of Hawks and Braves, and the NewsTalk + Sports format that was the AM ideal back then. The news room was always staffed by at least 4 people, night producers plus reporters, in addition to the board ops and hosts. You could walk in there at 3 in the morning and find 15 journalists working. You never see that in local radio anymore. Wade Medlock, Gene Blaine, Candace Peterson, Mindy Larcom, Heather Murphy, Dennis O’Hayer, Matt Cook (who was the News Director there last I checked) – I am leaving out a ton of people, but these were the mainstays of radio journalism in Atlanta for years.

Those people went on to improve journalism at other radio stations, TV stations, and as Communications Directors for various entities. Much of what I know about what media can and should be was learned on deadline at 3 in the morning from those people.

The decline into nothingness of WGST as a news first station (and the journalistic ethos it brought even to its sports coverage) is emblematic of the same trend that forced the AJC to shed reporters and Emory to cancel its journalism program. Many consumers do not recognize the value of strong reporting – instead preferring to hear only those stories and points of view which serve to reinforce their own views rather than stories that greater understanding and maybe change minds.

Stories that challenge the listener, viewer or reader, instead of drawing them in often are seen as off-putting to many consumers. Those ideas that are inconsistent with the previous held ideas or values must therefore be wrong, lies, and distortions of the mainstream (liberal, conservative, etc) media. This is the feedback that media outlets receive. So they move left or right, chasing the partisan or the spectacle, at the expense of good, strong journalism. Stories because they are relevant and important rather than vehicles for deliver of partisan talking points for the waiting adherents.

There are still places that value storytelling. There are still consumers that value news. WGST couldn’t find them in enough numbers, but maybe that’s on us and not them. Maybe we have to decide that news isn’t free. That we have to pay for the unswerving dedication to task, to stories.

Or maybe we just have to open ourselves up to points of view which we don’t already agree. Maybe we have to just listen to the radio instead of talking back to it or turning it off.

So here’s my commitment to you, my fine fellow consumers of news. The next pay wall or pledge drive that stands between me and a good story, regardless of its implications for my point of view, I will ante up. Get excited Tom Crawford, you are about to have a new subscriber.

Andre September 27, 2012 at 1:26 am

This format change ranks up there with Planet Radio as one of the most asinine moves made at WGST over the last 25 years.

Stefan September 27, 2012 at 1:36 am

truth. that was nancy zintak’s call, back when the station was owned by jacor. all the news people, kim peterson, tom hughes, gone in one fell swoop to chase the elusive opinion listener. oh, and whats zintak doing now? she’s at gpb. funny how that happens.

Napoleon September 27, 2012 at 11:05 am

And when they did that, I stopped listening to WGST for years. Rusty was slowly getting me back, but WGST did it to their listeners again. Time to break out the old Kimmer CDs for a trip down memory lane of the days when WGST was worth listening to.

John Vestal September 27, 2012 at 8:07 am

WGST has certainly had an interesting history…..including almost 20 years of broadcasting from what later became the WREK studios above the locker rooms of Alexander Memorial Coliseum.

Noway September 27, 2012 at 8:44 am

Guys, thanks for the Rodney Ho link. I was trying to find his blog over at the AJC but couldn’t find it. Since they’ve gone to listing everyone with their photo next to their blogs, I don’t see Rodney’s. How do I find him at AJC without hitting Buzz’s link?

John Vestal September 27, 2012 at 10:09 am

If you cursor-hover on the ‘Local News’ link at the top of the AJC homepage, ‘Blogs’ is listed near the drop-down menu that appears. Click on that, and you’ll be taken to the page which lists all blogs.

Noway September 27, 2012 at 12:26 pm

John, I could have searched 10 years and neverrrrrrrrr found that! Thanks!

John Vestal September 27, 2012 at 2:17 pm

that should read…”…listed near the bottom of the drop-down menu….”.

Noway September 27, 2012 at 9:01 am

I used to love WGST. Back when they had their FM signal they were competitive. Too bad. I loved the likes of The Kimmer and Brian Wilson back in the day. Although he was with WSB, I like Ralph from Ben Hill. He was hysterical. I understand he might have had health issues that took him out of play years ago.

Baker September 27, 2012 at 9:24 am

FWIW: Please don’t put Beck on WGKA. His rantings about gold and food storage and the end times are fun and all, but WGKA has some serious people over there and there’s no need to bring him on.

atlanta unfiltered September 27, 2012 at 9:48 am

Wait a minute. I thought WGST already had a comedy format.

Engineer September 27, 2012 at 10:18 am

*rimshot*

SmyrnaSAHM September 27, 2012 at 10:45 am

This is too bad. I typically have children in the car with me in the afternoon, and while my radio is typically nominated by Sirius/XM Channel 78 during this time, I like to check the headlines and traffic at the top of the hour. I don’t do this on WSB while Hannity is on because I don’t think he is developmentally-appropriate listening for small children, and Limbaugh certainly isn’t developmentally appropriate (as it were) for anyone, IMO – but Clark Howard is absolutely kid-friendly, and I have no qualms whatsoever about having him on the air when my kids are listening. NPR or AM 1690 it is, I guess, and I need to check out 106.7 – which I honestly had never heard of until I read Ho’s piece this morning.

I don’t know if there are a ton of carpooling parents here who edit what their children hear, so my comment may not resonate or be applicable to y’all, but I know I’m not unique among WSB’s listeners.

Harry September 27, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I know a lot of national advertisers are shunning the conservative talkers, but running those commercials for male enhancement items seems a bit desperate. Unfortunately conservatives have lost the generational battle, at least in the media.

Noway September 27, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Harry, are major advertisers really bailing on Rush, Sean and the others? Who has left?

Harry September 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Yes, they pulled out years ago. Just look at who are the advertisers. No majors. It’s due to a couple of reasons. Yes, the Democratic party leaning groups have worked behind the scenes. Equally important, the listener demographic is not good. The young people have disengaged or they get their information and disinformation from the i-net.

Stefan September 27, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Sports talk took their demographic.

John Konop November 1, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Harry,

I read that John Stewart and Colbert Report is the number 1 place people under 30 get their news now. I have an 18 year old and his friends and my son do watch the shows. The style of the show is way less heavy handed and way more light than Rush, Beck…….Finally the younger generation do not want to listen to a long talk radio show over a quick show that is fast and funny from what I have seen.

Harry November 1, 2012 at 10:43 pm

I have read that the really young (22 and younger) cohort is actually far more more conservative than the Gen XYZ crowd. They are worried about their future.

Stefan September 27, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Rush lost a ton of support after the comments about the Georgetown Law student. That Mad Lib will service was one. LegalZoom I think it’s called.

Harry September 27, 2012 at 1:39 pm

She’s a real cause célèbre isn’t she?

But Rush is popular as ever with his demographic. It’s just that they’re not getting any younger.

SmyrnaSAHM September 27, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Stefan, his comments about that law student, along with the endless (as it were) male enhancement ads, were what I was thinking of when I commented that, IMO, Rush is not appropriate to have on the radio when I have kids in the car. I am far from a prude and those who know me know that I can cuss a blue streak – but I can’t have a car full of grade schoolers hearing that nonsense.

Conservative talk isn’t losing younger listeners because we get all our news from Teh Interwebs. It’s because many of us don’t want our kids listening to that crap when we’re in the car together. Which now means no WSB in the afternoon.

Daddy Got A Gun September 28, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Is anyone else freaked out about the change on WGST.

This afternoon I was happily driving down 400, hit the 640AM button and there is some guy talking about Mexican soccer in Spanish.

They replaced talk radio with Soccer? WTF!

Cobb County Gal October 17, 2012 at 9:56 am

The Ralph from Ben Hill Show was a treat back in the day on WGST as well.

Buzz Brockway October 17, 2012 at 12:34 pm

I forgot about him. Anyone know if he’s back on the air anywhere?

I found this from last year.

12. Ralph From Ben Hill’s comeback gets shortchanged: Ralph From Ben Hill was a brazen presence on WGST-AM in the late 1970s and 1980s as a regular caller. The station hired him in 1989 for his own show, where he espoused a volatile mix of black nationalism and social conservatism before getting canned in 1994. In late 2001, he was embarking on a comeback at WAOK-AM, which was news/talk at the time. One week in, though, he sounded incoherent on air, battling terrible headaches. Doctors found a blood clot in his brain and he was never the same, unable to get back on radio on a regular basis again. It was sad and the timing most unfortunate. I have not heard if he’s still around. Anybody know?

griftdrift October 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm

He’s still around but not doing well from a health standpoint. I’m friends with one of his friends. He gives me occasional updates.

Buzz Brockway October 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Too bad. I actually enjoyed his radio show.

Harry October 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm

If you’re trying to improve your language skills, the new GST is actually a pretty good. The content is decent and it’s good quality Spanish.

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