Monday, December 04, 2006

Springer to end radio show

The writing was on the wall.

As part of an on-going shift in the liberal talk radio landscape, and three months after a schedule alignment at Air America Radio that saw him scuttled off to the secondary syndicated feed, mid-morning host Jerry Springer announced on his show today that, due to a heavy schedule of outside commitments, he is leaving his radio show effective Friday December 8.

Springer has offers of a movie role and a possible Super Bowl commercial, partly thanks to his exposure on Dancing With The Stars. "These things are not going to come around again, particularly at my age, so I might as well take advantage of them," said Springer, 62.

He's filming a Bud Light commercial next week, which may air during the Super Bowl. And he recently taped a guest shot on ABC’s George Lopez sitcom, as a boyfriend for Lopez’s mother, and was asked to become a recurring character, he says. In February, he’ll play a rabbi in a feature film called God Only Knows. With all of that, a daily radio show, and a still-popular daily TV show, fitting everything into his schedule proved difficult.

"Radio is a full-time job, and I just couldn’t do it," Springer said.

He will be live on the air through at least Wednesday, but scheduling conflicts may result in best-of shows on Thursday and Friday.

Springer's departure was rumored last week, as one of his few remaining affiliates, WCPT in Chicago, announced that they were dropping his show, effective December 8. No word on what his other high-profile affiliate, WSAI in Cincinnati, will slot in his place, though an announcement regarding the station's future will be made later on this week. Recently, the website for his radio show was taken down, and now redirects to AAR's official site.

Springer, the former Cincinnati mayor most known for his outrageous, trashy TV talk show, made his radio debut on January 17, 2005 on WCKY in Cincinnati (eventually moving to WSAI), with the intent of taking "Springer on the Radio" into national syndication. A month later, he was on WDTW in Detroit, and a couple more stations followed, most notably WTAM in Cleveland, which airs mostly conservative talk. By April 1, Air America took over syndication of his show, and added him to their daily schedule, replacing Unfiltered.

Things went well for Springer. Though his lack of radio talk experience was initially noticeable, he added more affiliates, particularly stations that were airing the straight AAR feed. But there was a new presense to be dealt with, namely the rapidly-rising Stephanie Miller, whose breezy, humorous take on the liberal talk genre was quickly winning her affiliates, listeners and ratings in the same time slot. Springer's show hardly stood a chance.

As time went on, more and more affiliates began replacing the morning AAR programming with Miller's increasingly successful show. And AAR was looking to make even more changes. Following a turbulent August 2006, which saw the firing of night host Mike Malloy, the departure of evening co-host Janeane Garofalo (due to outside demands of her own) and rumors of a pending bankruptcy, AAR announced a revamp of their on-air roster, which saw Garofalo's co-host Sam Seder moving to the network's mid-morning shift. Springer, rumored to be dropped by the network, was shuffled over to and buried in a secondary syndicated feed, available to any affiliate that opted to carry the show. As a result, many of Springer's affiliates were gone, leaving WCPT, WSAI and perhaps a few other stations still carrying his show. The outcome of this was that Springer seemed to rebel against his syndicator, enlisting exiled hosts like Malloy and Mark Maron as vacation fill-ins. But with the loss of his affiliates, and the conflicts with his other gigs, the demise of Springer on the Radio was inevitable

Radio was certainly not Springer's main job. Initially, he fit in the radio gig with tapings of the TV show on Mondays and Tuesdays in his home base of Chicago, and commuted back and forth between there and Cincinnati. In recent months, he was in Cincinnati only once, due to his hectic schedule. "I did one show in three months from Cincinnati. That’s absurd. That’s not fair," said Springer.

He also recently appeared in Season Three of the hit ABC show Dancing With The Stars, which he took on in part so he could learn how to dance for his daughter's upcoming wedding.

Springer's name was practically a household word due to his long-running television show (provided, of course, that the household in question was either a single or double-wide). And he was an actual former politician. While a mere two years in radio is hardly enough time to create a legacy, Springer did manage to accomplish a few key things. First, he helped bring a more mainstream, commercial feel to the genre, as his show was produced by Clear Channel and syndicated in partnership with AAR. Predominantly conservative talk stations like WTAM briefly picked up his show, then unheard of for AAR. Fill-in hosts consisted of unpredictable choices like longtime Cleveland radio morning host/recovering Republican John Lanigan and Clear Channel-Cleveland exec Kevin Metheny (a.k.a. the venemous boss "Pig Vomit" of Howard Stern's book and film "Private Parts"), who was, surprisingly, not bad (though I kinda expected him to sound like Paul Giamatti). He also sought to prove that the 'ringmaster' of trash TV was indeed capable of serious thought.

The Jerry Springer of radio was considerably different than the Jerry Springer of shlock TV. And believe it or not, he was more outspoken on his much more toned-down radio show. Keep in mind that on his TV show, Springer often just steps back and lets the chairs and fists fly. He doesn't really inject a whole lot of opinion during the course of an hour. In the radio studio, it was all him, talking about the liberal and Democratic issues he was concerned with, and speaking his mind freely. His goal was to distance himself somewhat from his rather silly TV show and prove that he does, in fact, have something to say. And he did.


Anonymous said...

Clear Channel has been firing people in Cincinnati (and most everywhere else). Maybe this is just another Clear Channel lay-off.

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