The Post-Howie Era Begins

In announcements airing now on Media-Com talk WNIR/100.1 “The Talk of Akron”, the station says it’s about to begin the process of filling the open 10 AM-3 PM weekday time slot.

The station says it can’t “replace” legendary voice Howie Chizek, who died suddenly last month at the age of 65 while taking underprivileged kids and their chaperones to Walt Disney World in Orlando FL.

But the announcement – “a message from the Klaus Brothers (owners Bill and Bob Klaus)” voiced by WNIR production director Tom Cullison – acknowledges that the station does need to fill Howie’s time slot, and says a number of people will be auditioning for the job in the coming weeks.

Up first in the audition rotation the week of July 9th are a radio veteran and…a regular caller.

Jeff Kinzbach is best known for his long run with Ed “Flash” Ferenc (“Jeff and Flash”) in morning drive, on Cleveland rocker WMMS/100.7. Currently, Kinzbach is doing fill-in work at CBS Radio classic rocker WNCX/98.5. The announcement says Jeff will be heard on Tuesday, July 10th.

Thursday, July 12th, one of Howie’s most known regular callers tries his hand at hosting the show. He’s only been known as “Couch Burner”, but according to an Akron Beacon Journal article on Howie’s funeral, the 25 year regular Howie caller is known away from the WNIR call-in lines as John Denning.

The remainder of next week, 10 AM to 3 PM on WNIR “The Talk of Akron”, will be filled by regular fill-in hosts Bob Earley and Jim Isabella, who will continue doing so as the process continues. The announcement notes that both Earley and Isabella are also candidates for the permanent job.

Again, when your previous host was nearly cemented into the time slot for 38 years, not much seems permanent.

The process of replacing Howie is similar to, but not quite the same as the “Akron Idol” auditions to replace afternoon drive host Joe Finan. Finan “retired” from WNIR, then not long after, took the midday time slot at Clear Channel then-liberal talk WARF/1350 “Radio Free Ohio” (now “Fox Sports 1350”). He passed on shortly after his last show on that station.

This time, at least so far, there are no “waitresses and truck drivers” on the audition list…though the task is clearly more difficult than replacing Finan was. (Back then, at least a couple of readers encouraged your Primary Editorial Voice[tm] to throw the OMW hat into the ring, but it wasn’t to be. And, probably not this time, either.)

With that in mind, we wonder if there is another former Northeast Ohio celebrity who will read about this opening, and be urged by relatives to apply so they can return home. That’s reportedly how Bob Golic, the former Cleveland Browns/NFL star and actor (“Saved By The Bell: The College Years”), came to Broadcast Park…as the story goes, his mother saw an article about Finan’s retirement in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and urged him to apply so he could return to the area…


13 Responses to The Post-Howie Era Begins

  1. Gail from Barberton says:

    Please do not junk it up. Howard needs a class replacement. He was a class man and to do less would be a dishonor. Try to create another long time favorite.

  2. Joe says:

    I don’t see Flash fitting in… Seems like Earley or Isabellas make a lot more sense.

  3. Mark in Atlanta, GA says:

    Jeff Kinzbach? I could see him in the late afternoon slot currently occupied by Bob Golic.

    Stan Piatt, Bob Golic and Jeff Kinzbach on the same station? YES!!!

  4. Fedexgal says:

    I do hope the Klaus Brothers listen to the public opinions on the person who fills the 10-3 time slot. I for one, would like Mark Richards to be considered. I do not like Jim Isabella, no matter how much he needs a fulltime career. As we listen to the talents of those auditioning a “Diamond” may surface! We all loved listening to Howie and Couch Burner; such good friends, Howie would approve of John giving his best effort as a talk show host. We as listeners and callers have lost our best radio friend; but maybe, just maybe we will welcome a newcomer into our homes, cars and hearts.

  5. SWStark says:

    Agree with Gail and Fedex. The station needs to get someone whose personality is more “steady” than Earley or Isabella. I have only turned WNIR on a few times since Howie’s passing – but I’ve turned it off each time. I can’t stand the frantic nature of Earley and frequently the same with Isabella. The minute I hear Earley on there I feel unsettled, like when you’re in a restaurant and they are playing fast music to make you eat quicker and turn over tables for more money. Isabella isn’t much better. There isn’t another Howie, but WNIR should look for someone with at least a touch of his nature and steady control, even when he was riled up, lol. No hyperactivity, but alertness when appropriate.

    I frequently turned off Couch Burner when he started talking in those goofy voices when he called, but at least I could tolerate him. The few times when he didn’t try to act silly and was talking seriously, I was very interested in what he had to say. Maybe he would do okay.

    My family members don’t like Mark Richards because he always makes odd statements when doing the news, like Channel 4 news sensationalism news does – “the idiot ran away after committing the crime”, etc. How about just the news and not personal interjections until the talk time with the host? I like listening to Phil Ferguson when he fills in. Any chance he is interested?

  6. Gomar says:

    For a while I thought Early and Isabella were the same whiney person. They’re two personalities that really drive listeners away from radio. I’m trying to recall who Couch Burner is? Is that the guy with the cliched jokes and humor that Howie laughed off like a participant of a roast that kindly laughs at every bad joke? Hated that caller. I truly hope they find someone worth listening to, I love this station.

  7. Nancy Williams says:

    I have been a 30+ year listener to Howie and haven’t listened to WNIR since. Perhaps if Tom Erickson gets back I will listen again. I can’t stand Bob Early, he has a terrible radio voice, and I turned him off. I don’t like Jim Isabella at all! I don’t like Bob Golic because he’s too arrogant and is always bragging about what he has. He’s so arrogant he even brings his wife on the show. I believe he only got that job because he was somewhat famous.

    So far I haven’t heard about any good canidates but I do think they should be down-to-earth and caring like Howie was. I like Phil Ferguson and Stan. We all know there will never be anyone as good as Howie, but they will have to try harder than who they have lined up for the auditions, or long time listeners will turn WNIR off.

  8. nakattack says:

    I listened to Kinzbach today and to tell the truth was a little bored. I like Isabella, I agree Earley seems a little too hyper for the slot. I am interested in hearing Couch Burner on Thursday.

  9. I am listening to WNIR right now. John Denning (Couch Burner) is doing the show. Couch is very very knowledgeable,has a quick wit,and has a good voice for radio. John has my vote for Howies replacement,he is so capable. Best of luck (Couch Burner).

  10. Russ Czomba says:

    The couch burner so far, the best. All those others are marshmellows,and tell Isabella to stay away from comedy ……

  11. Ron says:

    I am a fairly long and frequient listner to NIR. I thought the first two quest hosts Kinzbach & Burner were bolth very good hosts.Couch Burner would probably be more informed on the local issues. But could listen to either & be informed and entertained. I agree with other post that Phil Fergason should be considered. Just my 2 cents..

  12. Jimmy P says:

    Isabella is an average fill in at best, not a long term solution.

  13. Dr@fty Beer says:

    Couch Burner Sounds like Dennis Miller….Maybe WNIR should rotate the hosts on the Howie show. I’ve heard people call in and say they can only listen to certain hosts everyday because of the way they work.Having someone different on every week would give everyone a chance to listen to all tthe hosts.But the hosts and WNIR would have to agree to work like a swing shift everyweek.Maybe the station could try rotating the hosts for a while or have the people vote if they want one person everyweek….Just a thought…..Take Care…Dr@ftyBeer

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