Fayette County

Clear Channel cuts hit Lexington radio

Radio conglomerate Clear Channel's nationwide cutbacks hit Lexington on Tuesday, as leading country station 98.1 The Bull is now without two morning DJs and WLAP-AM 630 has lost its only local news reporter.

"We heard that there was going to be something coming down ... about three weeks ago," said Karl Shannon, one of the members of the Mooo Crew on WBUL-FM 98.1. "We were just hoping it wasn't going to be us."

Shannon, who had been with the station two years, was cut along with Scott Wilson, who had been a host of the show since its inception more than six years ago.

"It's the economy. Our revenues have been down," said Shannon, who has been in the Lexington market about 18 years, primarily with 92.9 The Bear. "They let all those salespeople go at the beginning of the year. It's sad."

The move leaves the Mooo Crew as DeAnn Stephens, who joined the group last spring, and former member Dusty Dan.

"The show needs a female," Shannon said of Stephens. "If I was in that position, I probably would have done the same thing. Country really targets women ages 25 to 54."

The Bull is Lexington's highest-rated radio station. Last fall, during the most recent local ratings period, Arbitron said it earned a 9.3 rating, compared with 7.8 for second-place 92.9 The Bear.

Shannon said he plans to focus on his freelance voice-over work, which had provided more income than the show.

"I think this is the kick start I needed to really pursue that," Shannon said.

Wilson, who will continue to be the house emcee at Comedy Off Broadway, noted that he and Shannon received a "good severance" from Clear Channel.

"I enjoyed every minute of it," Wilson said of his time with the station. "If the opportunity ever rises again, I'll certainly be interested."

Wilson and Shannon said The Bull also lost program director Mark Grantin, who hosted a show during mid-day. Grantin could not be reached for comment.

The move of Dusty Dan to the Mooo Crew will end The Show With No Name, which he had been co-hosting with Jason Phillips on WLAP in the afternoons.

Wilson said Phillips will continue to work for Clear Channel in jobs including his gig as Monkey Boy on WKQQ-FM 100.1.

Clear Channel's local management declined to discuss the cutbacks, referring questions to a corporate spokeswoman who would only say the economy and advertising markets were the impetus.

Nationwide, Clear Channel reportedly cut nearly 600 people.

Going forward, the 3-to-6-p.m. show on WLAP will be hosted by Leland Conway, who previously had a 9-to-noon morning show. His former time slot is now home to a syndicated show by political commentator Glenn Beck.

WLAP also lost Karyn Czar, its only Lexington-based news reporter.

She had been with the station nearly seven years and said WLAP will likely continue to have news but it will come from workers in Louisville.

"I'm sad for WLAP and our listeners that there's not going to be quite an emphasis on local news," Czar said. "It's important for the community, and that's why I loved doing it.

"It's a corporate decision, and it's not just our market. It seems the direction radio is going."

Besides WBUL, WLAP and WKQQ, Clear Channel also owns Mix 94.5, 104.5 The Cat, Magic 105.5 and WGVN 1580 AM.

A Lexington television personality was also affected. WLEX's Alan Cutler said he was let go from his gig hosting various sports shows with Clear Channel radio stations in Cincinnati. He had been hosting shows related to the Cincinnati Reds, Cincinnati Bengals and other weekend sports shows for 700 WLW for eight years.

He also had been hosting a weekday sports show on 1530 Homer since October 2007.

His position at WLEX is not affected.