Update from Ken Leighton:
As was first suggested here July 5, the top-rated Dave Shelly and Chainsaw crew could not reach an agreement with Tegna, the Virginia-based TV conglomerate that took over the KFMB stations four months ago.
After their show last Friday, July 20, the six member-on-air crew were taken into a room and told they just had their last show on KFMB (100.7 FM) after six years of giving KFMB dominant ratings in the all-important morning drive.
They were not given a chance to say goodbye. The DSC crew will still get paid this week becasue of their contract but their fans won't get to hear them.
"We are still Tegna employees through August 1st," Dave Rickards wrote via email last Friday. "But they have taken us off the air for the remainder of our contract. It’s a shame that Shelly didn’t get her final day. But I am keeping the entire show together. In town."
Rickards has served as ringleader and key on-air talent since the show first went on the air in 1990 at KGB. Rickards came from Denver and news reader/sidekick Shelly Dunn arrived from a station in Phoenix. They both joined sports-dude and comedy utility man Cookie Chainsaw Randolph who was already at KGB. The three formed the core of the morning crew (fiirst known as the Dawn Patrol) which has dominated the morning ratings since then.
Only the now defunct Jeff and Jer and the syndicated Howard Stern shows regularly gave the gave the DSC crew competition in the morning ratings race in the sought after 25-54 age range.
Dunn announced July 13 that she was retiring and her last day with the DSC crew would be July 27. Rickards said during the next ten days the show would feature special tributes to Dunn. The DSC crew only made it through the first five. The DSC crew gave no indication on the air that they would be yanked off the air before their contract was over at the end of this month.
Here is what the general manager of the KFMB stations, Alberto Mier y Teran said in a statement released Friday afternoon July 20: "After extensive negotiations and a generous offer to the DSC team, we were unfortunately unable to keep the show here at KFMB. We are looking to the future and remain committed to our listeners in San Diego."
By phone on Friday, Mier y Teran said his offer simply was not as much as the team was offered by a different radio group. He assumed, but did know for sure, that would mean the DSC crew would end up either at Entercom which owns The Fan 97.3 or iHeart which owns KGB and Rock 105. It is thought by most insiders the DSC team would end up on on of those three stations.
The problem is that while DSC remains an attractive platform for many local advertisers, radio as a whole has significantly dialed back on talent expenses as overall ad income has decreased over the years. DSC was thought to be making $2-million a year. It is thought that iHeart, which is bankrupt and owes $20-billion to creditors, would have difficulty convincing a bankrupcty judge to fork out such a huge new expenditure. And Entercom is struggling with decreased first quarter earnings and tumbling stock price since it swallowed the CBS Radio group earlier this year.
Mier y Teran said he is looking for the replacement for DSC.
It should be noted that I asked Rickards if he had an agreement with another local station. He declined to answer. KFMBs "generous offer" could have been a fraction of what they were making. The consensus is that KFMB-FM without Rickards and Company will not be a compelling destination for local listeners.
San Diego’s most successful radio crew is being tossed aside through no fault of their own.
The Dave, Shelly and Chainsaw morning show has dominated ratings for most of its 28 years on the local radio airwaves. At the end of the month the show will be without a contract at KFMB-FM, its radio home for the last six years.
And discussions with other stations continue over a new radio home for the morning show that includes Dave Rickards, Shelly Dunn, Cookie Chainsaw Randolph, Ruth 66, Chris Boyer and Emily Maguire.
Tegna, a Virginia-based media group (formerly known as Gannett) owned 46 TV stations in 38 markets when it bought the KFMB stations for $325-million in December. That purchase included TV Channel 8, KFMB 760 AM, and Dave, Shelly and Chainsaw’s radio home since 2010, KFMB-FM.
But radio was not in Tegna’s portfolio. It is clear to key broadcast insiders that Tegna has no interest in staying in the radio business.
“Few believe that Tegna intends to keep KFMB-AM/FM,” said one reliable source who opted not to be named. “It’s a TV company and its management has shown no interest in running a competitive radio station.” That insider confided there was no offer for Dave et al to stay at KFMB-FM which has been the show's radio home for eight years.
As of July 1, Dave Shelly and Chainsaw are free to look elsewhere for a new radio home. Their current contract with KFMB-FM expires at the end of this month.
A source who did want to be identified says there has been no effort since Tegna took over the KFMB stations four months ago to communicate with the popular morning show.
One well-substantiated rumor is that Local Media San Diego (operators of 91X, Magic 92.5 and Z-90) is in talks to buy KFMB-FM if a price can be agreed on.
It has been reported that the Dave Shelly Chainsaw show gets in the neighborhood of $2-million a year for its services. It is also widely known that the members of the DSC crew negotiate on their own for their own contract after Dave Rickards secures his contract.
Rickards did not agree to speak for this article.