Clear Channel Cleans House at The Beat
UPDATE: Olivia Fox faxed a statement on her situation to the Times this morning. It reads:
"95.7 The Beat and Clear Channel Radio informed me on Monday morning, after my show, that my services would no longer be required at the station. I have truly enjoyed working at 95.7 the Beat, and have truly enjoyed being involved in the Tampa Bay community and working with youth here. This is a great place to live and work.
"I want to thank my many loyal fans for all their passionate support over the last few years. It has been a terrific time for me. I am now looking forward to many new opportunities, and anybody who is interested can keep in touch with my career by consulting my Web site."
If you're a fan of Olivia Fox and her freewheeling morning show on WBTP-95.7 FM (The Beat), you awoke to a very different reality this morning.
When you last heard Fox on Monday, it was a typical start to the work week. Today, you're listening to comic Steve Harvey's nationally syndicated morning show and wondering what happened.
You're not the only one. WBTP officials benched Fox for Harvey on Monday, notifying her then that the station would be presenting the comic's show -- which is syndicated from New York City -- in her timeslot starting this morning. Which only leaves one question: Why?
Even the station's program director admitted Monday it wasn't about low ratings; though I couldn't get detailed daypart fIgures last night, it was understood that her ratings were strong and WBTP placed ahead of prime competitor WLLD-98.7 FM (Wild 98.7) in the fall Arbitron figures I saw at the Radio and Records web site. See the station's history at a glance here.
Which leaves the distinct impression Fox got canned for doing her job too well. No wonder commercial radio is on the verge of vanishing.
Fox hasn't yet returned my calls and WBTP's program director isn't saying much, so all that's left is scurrilous speculation. So let's get to it:
Theory #1: Because Harvey's show is syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks, which is owned by Clear Chanel Radio, which also owns WBTP, it was cheaper for Clear Channel to bring in Harvey than keep paying for Fox's local crew.
Theory #2: The station is targeting a slightly older audience by bringing in the 50-year-old Harvey, leaving the younger audience to corporate sister WFLZ-93.3 FM.
Theory #3: This is a radical attempt to boost revenues at the end of a particularly tough year, advertising-wise.
I know enough to know that any or all of these explanations might be true. If you know as much or more, dear reader, feel free to express yourself here.
This also means that the first 100,000-watt FM station in Tampa Bay focused on urban -- meaning, black -- listeners now has a non-local morning show. For Fox's former competitors at WLLD, it's got to feel like a reprieve -- acing out their biggest competition for young urban-oriented listeners with a 50-year-old guy who still makes jokes about going to church.
Seems a step backward for a station which was doing a good job of challenging WLLD for dominance in the morning.
First Fall Shows Canceled Already?
I noted in my Fall TV Preview that the sitcom Happy Hour was likely to be the first shows canceled by the networks. But who knew it would happen so soon?
The Futon Critic reported Monday that the fox series Happy Hour and Justice are both going on "hiatus" before the network's fall schedule is disrupted by baseball playoffs. Of course, shows that are pulled so quickly often never find their way back onto the schedule again.
Even when the networks bench a show, they sometimes don't have the guts to say it's been canceled.