Published on Tuesday, 14 December 2010 22:02
A stunning surprise exit rocked Chicago radio this afternoon, as Clear Channel Radio parted ways with their superstar morning show host, WKSC-FM's DreX. It is possible there may be others gone from the station, as well.
Over the last few days, Clear Channel Radio has been making many cuts at stations nationwide. They spun the cuts publicly as they were only trimming down some back office staffers and smaller positions here & there. That they did, removing some HR staffers, a business manager, a Midwest-based traffic reporter, two dozen staffers from Clear Channel's Premiere Networks, and various support staff members across the country. However, Clear Channel did also quietly fire a veteran rock jock in Texas and two veteran DJs in New York, as a way to save payroll. Despite bragging about increased revenues this year, the company continues to cut employees repeatedly, especially veterans who make larger salaries than newer employees. It seems to have become a winter ritual with the company.
The biggest cut of all came today. DreX had been with WKSC-FM since January 6, 2003. (An aircheck of his very first show on the station can be heard on the CRM Audio Page at this link HERE
.) He had been brought here after a long & successful run as a radio host in Clear Channel's headquartered town of San Antonio, TX.
While Clear Channel was searching for a new morning show host for WKSC-FM in 2002, DreX was not their first choice. They initially made a valiant attempt to try and steal away Eddie & Jobo from rival WBBM-FM. Instead Eddie & Jobo re-signed with WBBM-FM. DreX was then brought up here and became Eddie & Jobo's chief rival for the same audience. WKSC-FM quickly rose up the ratings and was beating WBBM-FM in those ratings thanks to DreX's popular morning show. The morning show and the station were a top draw for their targeted 18-34 demographic -- and especially Women 18-34. WBBM-FM's Eddie & Jobo were eventually fired in November, 2008. In the spring of last year, Clear Channel renewed DreX's contract, rewarding him with a five year deal, reportedly worth an average of $400,000 per year.
In recent months, WBBM-FM's new morning show with J Niice & Julian have been beating DreX in the ratings, but the Kiss-FM morning show was still very strong in the ratings. Some insiders are careful not to talk about exact the reason for DreX's removal, but they say the slightly declining ratings were far from the main reason. His hefty salary and the cost of the morning show may have played a large factor in the move, since the radio company is constantly in the hunt for ways to cut costs, but even that was not the main factor. Most are saying there were more personal reasons for the surprising removal of the radio star, but declined to elaborate more on that.
Clear Channel representatives refuse to comment more about today's events, even though there is clearly more to the story. An acknowledgment that DreX is no longer with the station is as far as they have gone so far.
After word spread this afternoon about DreX's firing, rumors spread like wildfire about others from the station that may also have been fired. Among those rumored out were morning show producer Tommy Black, morning show co-hosts Mel Tovar & Angi Taylor, and even Program Director Rick Vaughn. Although confirmations are just not coming easily, it does appear that Tommy Black and Angi Taylor are still part of WKSC-FM. Although there are conflicting reports about Program Director Rick Vaughn, it does appear that he was not released today. That leaves Mel T, who reportedly has left the station on her own because of the firing of her longtime friend and radio partner, DreX. She may or may not return, depending on circumstances.
Both Mel Tovar & Angi Taylor re-signed with Clear Channel with three year contracts last year.
Clear Channel removed virtually all mentions of the DreX in the Morning program from their website this afternoon. That includes pages for the show, as well as for Drex, Mel, Angi & Tommy. The show's Facebook fan page, with way more fans & "likes" than any other Chicago radio show (almost as much as every other radio show in town combined), was also deleted.
Insiders are saying this move had been coming for a while and that Clear Channel had been already looking at possible replacement options for the show for many weeks. There is no firm decision on a new Kiss-FM morning show. Some feel strongly that Clear Channel will place an inexpensive syndicated show in its place to see how well it can do, pointing to the surprisingly decent ratings that the syndicated Valentine morning show gains on sister-station WLIT-FM. Others think that if they can retain Tovar, Taylor & Black and insert another familiar voice into the mix, that they may be able to retain much of DreX's audience. That familiar voice could be from another daypart on the station currently, or even a recently departed host, looking to return. It is likely that no decision will be announced until after the holidays.
DreX, whose real name is Kevin Buchar, has been in love with radio since he was a teen, listening to stars like John Records Landecker barely coming through on his AM radio while he lived in Pennsylvania. The nickname "DreX" started when he was 19 years old and a Program Director that hired him, forced him to use the fake radio name of "Mandrex the Magician." Over the years, the name evolved into "DreX."
A radio veteran, DreX has worked in San Francisco, CA, York/Lancaster/Harrisburg, PA, Philadelphia, PA, San Antonio, TX, Dallas, TX, Detroit, MI, and of course, Chicago, IL.