Some changes at Cumulus Media’s local CBS Sports Radio affiliate and iHeartMedia’s local cluster of stations have kept both entities humming in this new year.
At WSEA-100.3 “Sports Radio–The Team,” local programming continues to go in new directions. Earlier this month, the start time for “The Drive” was shifted one hour later, so the show airs 7-9 a.m. Mondays-Fridays, freeing up the host, Aaron Marks, more for his other daily duties, especially play-by-play work for Coastal Carolina University sports.
That lost local hour, though, has been made up with a member of Marks’ team branching out into new turf this week with the debut of the hourlong show “Sound Off,” 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, with Lewis Woodard. He had spent the past year and a half as the sports update anchor for “The Drive.”
Marks, also program director for WSEA, and WHSC-AM 1050 and FM 101.9 — a simulcast signal carrying mostly Fox Sports Radio programming — said with his local programming role expanding at WSEA that continuing to produce a three-hour morning show every day would be difficult, but “I used to do two hours, so it made sense to pare it back.”
Play-by-play “has always been a passion of mine and a big part of what I do,” said Marks, reiterating his need to watch “my work-life balance,” and by not having to be on air until 7 a.m. weekdays, “that makes my life a bit easier.”
Listeners hear Marks at the microphone on WSEA for CCU men’s basketball and CCU baseball. He also was the game-day host this past fall for CCU’s Chanticleer Football Network, and he has done work with the Sports USA National Radio Network as a sideline reporter.
Woodard has been calling games for CCU women’s basketball on WHSC, including the game Tuesday at home against Campbell University.
Even with Woodard moving his voice to afternoons, Marks still has a partner on “The Drive,” with Patrick Paone, its executive producer.
Also on Mondays-Fridays, “Gio and Jones” — with Gregg Giannotti and Brian Jones — airs 6-7 a.m., to lead in to “The Drive,” which is followed by “Tiki and Tierney,” with Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney, 9 a.m.-noon weekdays, both from CBS Sports Radio.
“The Drive,” which began a few years ago with a two-hour slot to close weekday afternoons, and later added a third hour, shifted to morning drive last February. Asked how the switch provided a new perspective and angle in covering sports news locally and nationally, Marks called it “a lot of fun” and covered the vast differences.
“The afternoons,” he said, “lend itself to a much more caller-driven show since listeners have had all day to hear the news, and I would literally have callers call in before the afternoon show ever started so they could throw their opinions out there.
“In the morning, you are breaking news for almost everyone. So much happens overnight that we get to be the first ones to talk about it, and I can’t tell you how many times news breaks during the show. It happens far more often than it did in the afternoons.
“We probably have taken a more national approach to the program because of all the breaking news, but we work hard to keep its local flare, making a point to highlight CCU, Gamecocks, Tigers and the Carolina Panthers before anything else, but if it’s breaking news, and we’re the only ones available to bring it to you, then we have to talk about it, regardless of where it is in the country.
“Also planning has been very different. I can go into a show with blank segments knowing something is going to break, and we’ll run with it. In the afternoon, we would pretty much stick with what the plan was for the entire show for the duration.”
Other local staples on WSEA include “Sports Talk with Phil Kornblut,” 6-8 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, and “Southern Anglers Radio,” 7-9 a.m. Saturdays.
Also on WSEA, Atlanta Braves gamecasts will continue, as have the national feeds this month for the NFL playoffs, culminating with the Super Bowl on Feb. 1. Marks said the station also will carry broadcasts throughout the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and increase attention to professional golf’s four major championships, with live coverage on those weekends.
Also donning a few hats
At iHeartMedia’s Myrtle Beach group of five stations — all on the FM dial — Zac Davis continues three positions he began this past fall.
As operations manager, Davis oversees WLQB “La Que Buena” 93.5, WWXM “Mix” 97.7, WYNA “Bob” 104.9, WRXZ “Rock” 107.1 and WGTR “Gator” 107.9. He also balances program director duties for country station WGTR and finds time to host its morning drive show 6-10 a.m Mondays-Fridays with Beth Walters and Adam Dellinger (more details at 293-1079 or www.gator1079.com).
Before moving to Myrtle Beach, Davis was based at iHeartMedia’s WDCG-FM “G” 105.1, a contemporary hit station in Raleigh, where he was program director and afternoon drive host since June 2011.
Last week, Davis said he was pleased with “great ratings” in Myrtle Beach from Nielsen Audio’s fall survey of the market, and he said WGTR, WWXM and WYNA “all did phenomenal.”
See autumn data measuring general listenership for ages 12 and older, 6 a.m.-midnight Mondays-Sundays, from Nielsen Audio diary surveys taken Sept. 11-Dec. 3, and posted Jan. 12, at ratings.radio-online.com, and key “Myrtle Beach” in the search engine.