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Published: Thursday, 12/27/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Radio station fires troubled morning host

BY KIRK BAIRD
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Radio personality Andrew Zepeda is sentenced in Wood County Common Pleas Court in Bowling Green, Ohio. Radio personality Andrew Zepeda is sentenced in Wood County Common Pleas Court in Bowling Green, Ohio.
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Andrew Zepeda, host of the weekday drive-time show Andrew Z in the Morning on WWWM-FM 105 (Star 105), was fired Wednesday afternoon from the Cumulus Media Inc. station along with four members of his on-air team including wife, Michelle Zepeda.

The station retained the services of Carlos Diaz, and a support staff member who had the option to remain at WWWM.

Matt Spaulding, Cumulus Toledo general manager, declined to comment on why the popular radio show host was let go. He said the station is "exploring all options at the moment" in finding a replacement of either local or syndicated programming.

"We haven't been looking," Spaulding said. "This came on suddenly. This wasn't something planned for long in advance."

Zepeda's attorney said Wednesday that neither he nor his client would comment.

Zepeda, 43, of Perrysburg was sentenced to 30 days in the Wood County jail and placed on probation for five years last week for charges relating to a 2010 break-in he orchestrated at the Levis Commons pizzeria he formerly owned.

He pleaded guilty in February, 2011, to theft, complicity to breaking and entering, and failure to remit sales tax, but Common Pleas Judge Alan Mayberry granted Zepeda "intervention in lieu of conviction," ordering him to undergo treatment for an alcohol problem and meet other conditions.

In October, the judge terminated Zepeda's intervention plan and found him guilty of the charges after learning Zepeda had taken part in a celebrity boxing match in September where alcohol was served. Zepeda had violated the plan when he went to Fat Fish Blue!/Funny Bone Comedy Club at Levis Commons, and was recorded drinking what appeared to be champagne in a music video shot at Quimby's at the Park in downtown Toledo.

In the summer Arbitron ratings Andrew Z in the Morning placed sixth in the 25-to-54 age demographic, an increase of four slots for WWWK from its 10th-place finish in summer, 2011.

Zepeda joined the Toledo market on Oct. 31, 2005, as the replacement to Johny D. at Clear Channel's WVKS-FM (92.5). His upbeat morning show thrived on the hits station, but his broadcasting status has been rocky the last two years, beginning with his suspension and then firing from WVKS in late 2010.

After seven months off the air, Zepeda and his Andrew Z in the Morning began broadcasting again on the Cumulus' low-watt WXKR-HD2-FM 1007 (The Vibe) as a test run. In March, 2012, his show was promoted to WWWM.

"No one has ever said anything, but the bottom line [the Vibe] was a test, a probationary period ... to see if any other top 40 station was going to be viable in the market and if I was still viable in the market," Zepeda told The Blade in June after signing a multiyear contract through 2016 with Cumulus Media. "We've been here since March 19 and they said they want to do this long term ... and that's kind of where we're at. I'll be here until December, 2015, at least, which will be almost 10 years in the market, the longest I've been anywhere."

Prior to Toledo, the Los Angeles native worked 10 months at KZPT-FM in Tucson, and at two stations in Michigan, Saginaw's WIOG-FM and Flint's WWCK-FM, where he worked with Spaulding.

In two years Zepeda has been fired by Cumulus and Clear Channel, which between them own and operate most of the Toledo market radio stations.

Contact Kirk Baird at kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734.



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