Published on Thursday, 07 April 2011 14:27
Sharks living in freshwater are very rare, but in Chicago today, one particular Shark will be happily jumping right into the Fresh pool. That "Shark" is Eric Austin, who begins this day as the new afternoon host on Fresh 105.9. Many Chicago radio fans may remember him best when he went on the air using his childhood nickname of "Shark."
Since May 2008, Austin, whose real name is Eric Olson, has been working at WTMX-FM as a weekend and fill-in personality, but since the "Shark" nickname didn't fit the station's image, and since there is already a famous person named Eric working mornings there, he used the radio name of Ric Stone. As of last weekend, he has left The Mix to be part of Fresh.
Fans of Chicago radio will remember Shark as a night/weekend DJ on WKQX-FM/Q101 in 1995 & 1996, then as the afternoon personality from 1998 to 2001 on WKIE-FM 92.7/WKIF 92.5 when it was known as 92Kiss-FM, and then when it was known as Energy 92.7 & 5. From there he worked weekends and fill-ins at WZZN-FM/The Zone in 2001-2003. Longtime fans of the Chicago Rush football team will remember Shark as the original PA announcer for the the first five years of the team.
Between the years of 2004 and 2008, Olson worked at WKLS-FM, WZGC-FM and WBZY-FM in Atlanta, GA before coming back home to Chicago. Over his long career in radio, he has also spent time at KROQ-FM in Los Angeles, CA, KOME-FM in San Jose, CA and KEDJ-FM in Phoenix. This is not even mentioning the tiny markets like LaCrosse, WI and Mankato, MN the native from Madison, WI had to work at starting out.
While he was at The Zone in Chicago, he was a 2002 Chicago A.I.R. Award Finalist for "Best Overall Talent on a Music Station." While he was working for KOME-FM, he was a finalist for Billboard Magazine's "1998 On-Air Personality of the Year - Alternative."
Officially, Eric Austin replaces Scotty Smith, who moved over to mornings as the interim morning drive host in late January after the release of Steve Fisher
. Smith was eventually named co-host for the morning show, now paired up with Rebecca Ortiz
. Ortiz herself was the interim afternoon host before getting the morning show co-host position.
Since then, former WTMX-FM evening jock Jeff Corder had been filling in for afternoons. Corder became available for WCFS-FM, after WTMX-FM forced out their talented radio host and thirteen year station veteran last December
. Corder has been hired to stay with the station on a freelance part-time basis for weekends and fill-ins.
Austin will have his work cut out for him. WCFS-FM has struggled since its inception in late 2007 to find an audience. It has suffered from low ratings and low advertiser interest, regardless of who was behind the microphone or calling the shots for the station. In the most recent Arbitron ratings, WCFS-FM was in lowly 22nd place in afternoons with only a 2.2 share of the 25-54 aged demographic. Over all, the station is in a tie for 21st place, again with a 2.2 share in the Persons 25-54 demo. The good news is that early indications for March show that the station is trending upward. CBS Radio Chicago hopes that this Shark can take a bite out of the competitor's audience and boost the station's standings.
Jim Ryan, CBS Radio Vice-President of Adult Contemporary Programming and WCFS-FM's Program Director said today: "We're excited to have Rebecca, Eric and Jeff join the staff. I'm confident they will help us to continue to grow our audience."