Brian Casey doesn't know if his radio career ended on Sept. 22 -- his final day as morning host on WWWM-FM (105.5).
He hopes it didn't. After all, he has 30 years invested in the business and, he says, it has been “a spectacular ride.”
But as a self-professed “student of the game,” he knows his options are limited. Corporate Radio, a byproduct of the industry's consolidation that has taken place since passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, has altered the career paths of countless broadcast veterans across the country.
“I wanted to be on the radio until I was 80,” said Casey, who started his radio career at age 18. “But the business has changed so much that it's changed me. ... How could you not be [jaded]?”
In some respects, the Toledo radio market is the epitome of Corporate Radio. Two companies dominate: Cumulus owns seven stations, including WWWM, and Clear Channel owns five.
And no Toledo station exemplifies the bottom line-driven expectations of Corporate Radio better than WWWM. Since mid-1998, the station has had four “permanent” morning shows. (During that span, Star 105's morning show has, in Arbitron surveys, ranked as high as No. 4 and as low as No. 9 among listeners age 12-plus.)
Casey was Star 105's morning host for a little more than three years. He said he was offered a two-year contract in late July, “but we never sat down to talk about it.” He said he was asked to sign the contract within two days. “I didn't know what the rush was,” he said, noting that it's not uncommon in the industry for contract negotiations to last for months.
Cumulus market manager Kathy Stinehour declined comment.
Fast forward to Sept. 22: Stinehour told Casey that he was going to be replaced. Jeff France started the following week.
“It stung,” Casey admitted.
After having worked at 13 radio stations in 13 cities, Casey said he is reluctant to move from the area until after his son, currently a sophomore, graduates from high school.
So that means finding a source of income here. He is developing ideas for three business ventures, the details of which he would not divulge, and hopes to launch them by February.
“I'll reinvent myself,” he said.
MOVING ON: WTVG-TV, Channel 13, reporter Jason Martinez is going from one ABC-owned station to another. He has been hired as a morning news anchor at KFSN in Fresno, Calif. He is expected to leave WTVG in late December.
NEW HIRE: “Kramer” now covers the 7 p.m.-to-midnight shift on WVKS-FM (92.5). He previously worked weekends at another Clear Channel station, WFLZ-FM in Tampa.
TOY DRIVES: Again this year, several local radio stations are holding day-after-Thanksgiving toy drives. For times and locations, listen to your favorite (participating) station.