Rover Loses A Kennel

UPDATE 5/21/09 11:40 AM: Our friends at AllAccess confirm the flip of Rover’s now former Memphis affiliate from alt-rock to sports as “ESPN 92.9”, now simulcasting Entercom sister station WSMB/680.

The station’s former website now takes visitors to a splash screen for the new format, then to the existing “ESPN 680” website.

Our original item is below…

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When Shane “Rover” French brought his doghouse over to Clear Channel rock WMMS/100.7 in Cleveland, he also kept his ties to two kennel…er….affiliates of his syndicated show – Rochester alt-rock WZNE/94.1 “The Zone” and Memphis alt-rock WMFS/92.9 “93X”.

Scratch that last one off the “Rover’s Morning Glory” list, apparently.

An OMW reader/Rover listener tipped us off that Rover actually talked on-air this morning about losing “93X” in a format change. And sure enough, Mr. French has details on his site:

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Last night I got word that 93X, our station in Memphis, was flipping from Alternative Rock to ESPN Sports.

They’ll be simulcasting an AM station that runs ESPN sports (that has a 0.4 share in Memphis, the equivalent of not even having the transmitter on). Unfortunately due to rules with when simulcasting two stations, they have to run the same programming on the FM and AM stations 24 hours a day – otherwise they would have been interested in running our show with the rest of the day sports programming.

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We’re not so sure those “rules” involve the FCC, though we don’t have the rules regarding simulcasts committed to memory.

Rover’s problem may be with The Worldwide Leader In Sports.

Those who’ve followed affiliation switches to ESPN Radio know that the folks in Bristol hope to clear a certain amount of programming when they bring a station aboard – most notably, the network’s morning drive show, “Mike and Mike in the Morning”.

We’re guessing ESPN Radio is holding the cards here, wanting to put “Mike and Mike” on the new FM signal in its new deal with Entercom in Memphis.

Anyway, be it FCC rules or ESPN Radio causing him to lose an affiliate, Rover is trying to push his Memphis listeners into action: telling them to “call Entercom Memphis and tell them to put Rover’s Morning Glory back on in the mornings”, or to call a Clear Channel-owned Memphis rock station (“Rock 103”) and ask them to pick up the show.

That last part leads us to a question.

With Clear Channel distributing some of its local personalities nationwide via the new “Premium Choice” program, and various morning shows getting more national distribution because of it (including Columbus’ “Dave and Jimmy”), could Rover rekindle his syndication that way?

Remember, Mr. French and company brought both the Memphis and Rochester affiliates from the show’s former deal with CBS Radio – even after Rover’s show decamped back to CBS’ WKRK/92.3 “K-Rock” locally after exiting Chicago. Both affiliate stations were once owned by CBS, and Rover built up enough of a base that they patiently followed “RMG” in its move to another company in Cleveland.

We believe – for now – that Rover may handle his show’s syndication in a separate deal from his local deal with Clear Channel’s WMMS. But since coming over to Oak Tree, Rover hasn’t gained any new affiliates…and we assume at least some of that was because of concentrating on building the show’s base at its new Cleveland home.

Off the top of our head, we don’t know how many alt-rockers Clear Channel has, or other rock stations with compatible formats that would be interested in taking Rover. And “Premium Choice” is solely within the Clear Channel universe.

The station Rover mentions in Memphis is classic rock WEGR/102.7 “Rock 103”, which, according to its website, carries local morning show “Bad Dog and Ric”. Though Rover’s show has been most at home on alt-rockers, we presume he’ll try to grab other even semi-compatible format stations wherever possible…

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