published Saturday, December 17th, 2011

Radio station WPLZ  to drop news-talk format after three years

Radio station WPLZ-FM will drop its news and talk format at the end of the year and lay off a half dozen employees, including news director Louis Lee, program director Gary Poole and talk show hosts Robert T. Nash and David Karnes.

Jim Brewer II, president of Brewer Media, said the NewsTalk 95 format would have required additional staff to be successful in the Chattanooga market. Brewer said WPLZ will adopt a new format with a new program director and other staff in January.

Brewer said technology has changed and the economy has remained sluggish since NewsTalk 95 was launched three years ago.

"I think we offered a good product and I will miss having NewsTalk in our building," said Brewer, whose family-owned company also owns and operates WJTT-FM Power 94, WMPZ Goove 93 and ESPN 105.1 FM and also publishes The Pulse magazine.

"Being a small, single market cluster," he said, "it's exceedingly difficult to compete against national broadcasting companies who have so much syndicated programming and infrastructure."

Cumulus Media Inc., one of the nation's largest broadcast companies which owns four Chattanooga radio stations, operates Chattanooga's top-rated news talk radio stations, WGOW and WGOW-FM

"I certainly respect the Brewers and the success they have had with other stations," said Chuck Wilkins, market manager for Cumulus in Chattanooga. "This is a business decision they had to make just as we and other broadcasters have had to make in the past."

about Dave Flessner...

Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...

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ldurham said...

Brewer is blaming his incompetence on a bad economy and new technology? How about a boring format that no one wanted to listen to? Brewer Broadcasting has a history of bad radio stations. WJTT is the only exception, and it succeeds despite of management, not because of it.

December 17, 2011 at 7:36 a.m.
BillS said...

Gary and Louis brought a fresh perspective to the news in and about Chattanooga...they kept in real. Plus, they're both great and generous guys. One shaving his head for kid's cancer research and the other spending his Sunday hosting that same event. My heart goes out to both of them, and the rest of the WPLZ staff that will be losing their jobs during this time of year.

December 17, 2011 at 9:55 a.m.
Reardon said...

What a shame.

How'd ratings compare to WGOW in the 1-4PM time slot?

I would've figured better.

But, yes, unfortunately, the rest of the local programming was bland.

Tough biz that's for sure.

December 17, 2011 at 10:53 a.m.
Salsa said...

So Robert T. Gnash comes on board in October and the format has already crashed by mid December. No real surprise there.

December 17, 2011 at 12:36 p.m.
hattieskipper said...

I had not heard of WPLZ until Jammer was hired. Now that Robert T. Nash has been fired, I have no reason to keep WPLZ as a preset. The Brewer's could have given RTN more time. Two months? Please!

December 17, 2011 at 12:36 p.m.
holdout said...

While not a fan of the morning I did enjoy the afternoon. It might have worked out better for them to keep both J Scott and Robert T. I really liked the early (4AM-6AM) programming better than WGOW. There are not a lot of local talk shows on the radio anywhere in the country and Chattanooga was really blessed with two stations of them. I hate to see the loss of competition in the market.

December 18, 2011 at 8:10 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

The Brewers are in a word INCOMPETENT when it comes to any format other than urban music...That is a closed market! WPLZ first signed on with non offensive, and bland hosts...when they tried to force Jammer into a situation that would not work, he is fired...bring in RTN, and no real effort is made to market his show...common sense would have dictated putting either in the same time slot as Jeff Styles, but Brewer was not intellegent enough and his selection of syndicated shows was just as bad...His ESPN affiliate is not fairing any better, the local show there is a yawn fest with far too much talk of the NBA, Hockey, and other things that are not of any interest to local listeners, with ratings in the tank of less than a 1 share, the only thing keeping that station afloat is national programming because every time someone local (such as Stump Martin, Randy Smith, and Sgt Football) other than the possum picker they are dumped...

December 18, 2011 at 9:13 a.m.
shoe_chucker said...

ding dong the witch is dead. All you good "Christians" will have to go to AM stations to get your vile right wing rhetoric now.

December 18, 2011 at 9:32 a.m.
chattanoogapaul said...

LDurham & OrdinaryGuy,

You are both idiots. The Brewers gave it a good run. Talk is hard and they are a locally-owned, small company that has to make good decisions. They have donated so much time and free advertising to almost every effort in in this town. To attack them for this is wrong.

They took a chance and gave a great group of hard working people jobs for over three years. They are not some "Ordinary Guy" that does nothing but complain about free radio. Get a life!

December 19, 2011 at 1:19 p.m.
Trouble said...

I just found Robert T now he's off the air again. Someone in the radio business please give this man air time from 1-4 in the afternoon.He doesn't talk out both sides of his head nor does he talk in a circle. I'll not listen to 95.3 business discussion or not they have lost a listener.I want a "Good" talk radio station to listen to and I thought I had found one until they took Robert T off the air.This past Friday. Give the people what they want to listen to and you'll have no problem staying on the air.Maybe it wasn't the afternoon group you needed to revamp......

December 26, 2011 at 3:57 p.m.
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