Video killed the radio star. Did Clear Channel kill the Cleveland DJ?

By Cathy Thurber

It began as a slow process, I believe, and probably started more than a few years ago.  I’m not sure who was let go first, but I remember the day when suddenly Brian and Joe were no longer the DJ’s for my morning radio station, Mix 106.5 (now known as “The Lake”).  I was furious.  While Brian and Joe might not have been everybody’s cup of tea (or early morning shot), they filled my daily drive in to work with laughter and information about Cleveland’s happenings.  Sure, they would talk about stuff that was going on world-wide, but what I really enjoyed was the fact that they knew Cleveland and its surrounding suburbs.  And, if I recall, they had a lot of listeners.

Brian and Joe believed in Cleveland and had a history here.  They were involved in many fundraisers around the community, most notably their telethon for Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.  If I wanted an idea of what to do that weekend, or what was going on around me, all I had to do was listen to their morning show because they always had the info.  I liked that – the feeling that these people were invested in me and my community.   

This was the same with Jim Mantel, who handled WGAR’s morning show for years.  And some fan favorites on WTAM’s Trivisonno Show.  Clear Channel axed them, more than likely because they just had too large of a salary or were considered “fat” in the budget.  Either way, Cleveland has slowly been losing individuals who actually cared about our city and what’s going on.  I know that in the case of Brian and Joe, the company brought in a new national DJ that was not from here.  I never heard the information I needed anymore.  Was there a local fundraiser going on for Rainbow Babies….or Susan Komen Foundation?  I couldn’t tell you because they couldn’t tell me.  Did the House of Blues have a great act coming in town?  I wouldn’t know, because these DJ’s didn’t know what was going on in Cleveland.  I don’t want national shows.  I want someone that is involved in my city!!

Well, now with “The Lake,” we don’t even have a national DJ.  What we have is the future of radio, apparently.  At first I thought, “Cool, this station will probably have fewer commercials.”  That’s a big NO, by the way.  There’s still a ton of commercials, but nobody telling me what I need to know (other than the weather and traffic) on my way to or from work.  I really thought that I would like this – that it would be like Sirius radio with hardly any breaks.  Not true!  At least before, in the breaks between songs, I might get something to laugh at from the DJ. I’ve got nothing now…no “Beer Song” or “Wiper Blade Song” – or my ultimate favorite, “Cows with Guns.”

And – my husband’s reason for anger at Clear Channel – they got rid of the Buzzard at WMMS.  People from all over – even into Canada! – knew the Buzzard logo.  So, he had a 70’s haircut….he was iconic!! 

Clear Channel what are you doing?  You’re taking Cleveland – the home of Rock and Roll, for God’s sake – and turning it into elevator music with a different beat!  Cleveland is the type of city that likes to have home-grown people involved in our lives – be it a radio disc jockey or a television anchor.  We are not Los Angeles and we are not New York.  Stop messing with a tried and true formula that works for our great city.  Don’t kill the DJ!!

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