Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Lee Rayburn? Whodat?

Dane101 and I have at least one thing in common. Namely we both took curious notice when old articles about a former Madison talk radio host started getting a heavy number of hits, and most of them from Google with search terms such as "Lee Rayburn" and "Air America."

Well, there's a reason for that, since former WXXM Madison morning host Lee Rayburn has been guest-hosting Sam Seder's former show since last week, and will continue to do so until new permanent host Lionel takes over in mid-May.

Rayburn's tenure on WXXM (92.1 The Mic) ended last fall when the station announced a pending flip to a sports talk format. The outcry from angry listeners was massive, as they rallied to save the decently-rated station and even did something that local Clear Channel account executives evidently couldn't - they rounded up a ton of new sponsors. In the end, station management backpedaled and The Mic survived.

The station is still around, but management has yet to return most of the displaced local programming, they're still not overly confident in the format, and they even block off Friday and Saturday nights for music and programming aimed at a Mexican audience. Plus, while the station has attracted quite a few new clients in previous months, partly due to efforts from the station's supporters, management is still underwhelmed, as they want more big, national clients to buy airtime as opposed to local businesses. Let's just say that The Mic's format is on a tight leash.

But Lee Rayburn is still around. In recent months, he launched Willy Street Media and has been doing fill-in shifts for various Air America hosts, particularly Rachel Maddow and Sam Seder. And for the month leading up to the start of Lionel's show, he will be a full-fledged host on Air America Radio. WOIC in Columbia, SC even carries "Best of Lee Rayburn" on Saturdays. The network even gave him voice imaging for his show, and his own show banner on the website, which, in typical Air America fashion, is a link to a show web page that doesn't exist.

Rayburn probably won't get his own weekday show on the network following this guesting gig, but he'll likely be kept in a stable of frequent guest hosts, a list that also includes Stacy Taylor of KLSD San Diego, former KTLK L.A. host Cary Harrison and most likely Seder himself.

You can hear Rayburn weekday mornings from 9A-noon ET.


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