Sports Radio 950 KJR continued their shake up in March, juggling their hosts time slots and naming a new morning team to fill in following the temporary run of Dick Fain. Fain himself had filled in admirably for the departed Mitch Levy since August.
The new lineup includes Chuck Powell, moving from the morning midday show, and former Mariner Bucky Jacobsen in the morning drive. Powell’s co-host, Jason Puckett remains in the 10am-1pm time slot, joined by former KJR stalwart Mike Gastineau on a temporary basis until the recently retired Seahawk Cliff Avril joins Puckett in July. Ian Furness maintains his 1-3pm afternoon midday show, while Fain joins Dave Mahler in the afternoon drive.
Additionally, Terry Blount, once ESPN’s Seahawk beat reporter, recently started a Saturday, two hour midday show. Weekend programming for sports radio stations provide ample opportunity to experiment with local shows, hosts and topics, in an effort to establish a niche, grab listeners and as a test run for weekdays.
This string of changes at iHeartMedia’s Elliott Avenue studios began with Levy’s highly publicized, low brow departure. Not so coincidentally, at the same time The Seattle Times banned their staff from appearing on KJR. Along the way, the station picked up Sounders broadcast rights, added a secondary channel in 1090 AM (formerly CBS Sports Radio The Fan) in the acquisition of some CBS stations and at the same time switched South Sound Sports 850 AM to political talk, though keeping the Rainiers on there due to that station’s strong south sound signal. The long time Seattle sports talk station seemingly did everything but reintroduce an FM simulcast. All this while iHeartMedia filed for bankruptcy.
KJR’s ratings have generally lagged rival 710 ESPN. Time will tell whether these changes help. If so, it may next be 710’s turn to shake things up. With an NHL expansion team likely on its way in a couple of years, expect both stations to make a play for that club’s radio rights. The preparation to impress is under way.