Wednesday, February 17, 2016

2.17.16 Bee-otch of the Day: Townsquare Media

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Name: Townsquare media
Age: 20
Occupation: media giant
Last Seen: Greenwich, CT
Bee-otched For: taking the bleu cheese away from Free Beer and Hot Wings 


I remembered when Jam Master Jay from Run DMC was murdered, the group broke up. Their reason was simply that the group wasn't really Run DMC, but rather Run DMC with Jam Master Jay.

Now, the same thing is happening here in Grand Rapids with Free Beer and Hot Wings, WGRD's popular morning radio show. Despite his name not being featured in the show's official title, it was really The Free Beer and Hot Wings Morning Show with Eric Zane. Zane was a part of the program for 15 years and was a humongous factor when the program moved from New Jersey several years ago to Grand Rapids. For many, Zane was humongous reason for the show's consistent success for the past decade.

And now, he's gone.

Yesterday, the program made it official that Zane was fired from the show a few weeks ago. Many are wondering why he was dismissed, but neither the show nor Townsquare Media are responding. Some people speculate that Zane was canned because of comments he made about Joel Langlois, the real estate developer who ownThe Deltaplex and The Intersection, two popular venues for live music in Grand Rapids. Reportedly, Zane - who is or was the PA announcer for the Grand Rapids Drive basketball team - verbally bashed the person running the shot clock during one of the games which was busted. Some speculate that Zane's comments angered Langlois, a very powerful man. It's also worth noting that GRD's GM and one of the owners of their studio building in downtown GR are also pals of Langlois.

Since GRD sponsors concerts at the 'Section and Deltaplex, Zane's comments could have ruined their relationships. However, some speculate that the rift between Zane and Langlois wasn't really the reason for his dismissal. I was reading Reddit and one person claimed that he/she knows somebody at GRD and claimed that Zane was busted for sex crimes against minors. Now, if it was true, it would have been all over the media by now ala John Balyo.

Of course, a radio personality publicly bashing a station partner or advertiser is nothing new. When I was growing up in northern Michigan 20 years ago, there was  morning man Tim Murphy at WKLT. While he was there, the rock station was #2 in the ratings. However, Murph was canned. Why? It was because one morninghe was talking about the poor service he got at Arby's. At the same exact time, a local manager of the chain was buying up $200 worth of spots to air on the station. He told them that if they didn't get rid of him, the $200 was gone. So, KLT's GM took Murph to his office and told him "I just heard your last show and it was your last show". Yep, the #2 morning host in Traverse City was shown the door because he almost cost the station a mere $200. Then again, in KLT's mind, every morning host and jock the station has ever had is replaceable, from Murph all the way to Finster. Thankfully, Murph is doing well as the morning man and Operations Manager for a rock station in Oregon and has even written a series of cookbooks.

OK, so Zane *maybe* deserved to get fired, so who knows? But let's not forget that Townsquare is far from a perfect company. Yes, their stock price is way higher than that of local rivals iHeartMedia and Cumulus, but let's face it: when a radio company puts corporate over people, it shows. True, I think Free Beer and Hot Wings will survive the storm, but if Zane gets rehired at another station in town ala Finster now going up against Omelette in Traverse City, it could make for good radio. Speaking of Cumulus, maybe they could resurrect WKLQ by flipping one of their stations back to their old format and put Zane in the morning (bear in mind that the WKLQ call letters are now parkeon 1490 in Muskegon). 101.3 The Brew just broomed their entire (cyberjocked) airstaff. Zane in the Morning?

(Note that I'm more of a Howard Stern guy and I only listen to GRD when my alarm goes off in the morning. But, I think it's sad when a radio company screws over a popular jock yet keeps assholes like "Huge" Bill Simonson.)

All I can say is stay tuned.


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