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Published: Monday, 1/23/2006

Jack Mitchell gets ready to say farewell

The end of an era in Toledo radio is approaching.

Jack Mitchell will retire in late March, bringing to a close the wildly successful 25-year run of Mitch and Mary Beth.

They have hosted the morning show on WRVF-FM (101.5) for the past 4 years.

Mary Beth Zolik will stay at WRVF and will be paired with a new co-host. Clear Channel is advertising nationally for Mitchell's replacement.

"I'm not sure the reality of it will hit me until the very last day," Zolik said. "It has been a grand time."

Mitchell's radio career began in 1963. He landed in Toledo a decade later, when he was hired to host the morning show on WSPD-AM (1370). It wasn't until 1981 that Mitchell and Zolik crossed paths on the air. He was the host of Mitch in the Morning and she was the news anchor. In 1986, they moved to WKKO-FM (99.9) and she became a full on-air partner on the Mitch and Mary Beth morning show.

Mitchell was consistently No. 1 in his 13 years at WSPD. Ditto for Mitch and Mary Beth in their 14 years at WKKO. They have been as high as No. 2 at WRVF.

"Jack has never treated me like a second banana," Zolik said. "We have always been partners."

Mitchell said: "I was 50 percent of a very good morning team. I don't think I would have had the longevity if not for her. She made it fun again."

Mitchell, who says he is in his "early 60s," wants to retire now because "I want to do other things while I'm still healthy." He plans to dabble in the stock market and perhaps do some writing.

Mitchell's final day on WRVF has yet to be determined. Chances are, it will either be March 29, which is the final day of Arbitron's winter survey, or March 31, which falls on a Friday.

In the meantime, Mitchell admits "there's a certain amount of emotion involved" as he nears the end of his career.

INSTANT HIT: WWWM-FM (105.5) unveiled Star After Dark in early October, and it quickly found an audience. The show is hosted by Kimmie, who discusses relationship topics and offers advice. Love songs from the late 1970s and early '80s are also featured. (Kimmie had two different co-hosts, Ben Coburn and Steve Marshall, during Arbitron's fall survey.)

In the ratings period before the debut of Star After Dark, WWWM was tied for ninth in the 7 p.m.-to-midnight time slot. It is now No. 3, with the number of listeners during a typical 15-minute interval going from 1,200 to 2,900.

RAPID GROWTH: Since changing owners and formats 10 months ago, WJZE-FM (97.3) has nearly five times the listeners during an average quarter-hour going from 500 to 2,400.

WJZE was No. 17 in its final full ratings period as an adult-oriented classic hits station. Now a youth-oriented "urban" station, it tied for ninth in the most recent ratings period.

FOOTBALL: The Cleveland Browns are moving from one Clear Channel station to another. WSPD will start carrying the NFL team's games in the fall. WIOT-FM (104.7) had been the radio home of the Browns for years.

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