HEY, IT WAS ONLY A SLOGAN: Just when you think the morning-radio airwaves can't get any worse, J.C. Corcoran gets hired. For those of you who want to avoid him, stay away from KTRS (550 AM). For those of you who love the guy, be ready to share him with Dan Dierdorf, Wendy Wiese and Donn Johnson, because that's the morning drive-time lineup.
Lost in the item that was planted in Jerry Berger's Friday column about Corcoran's reappearance after seven months off the air is the exit of two newsmen from the station: morning news anchor Jim Bafaro and afternoon anchor Al Stevens. Gone, too, are local newscasts from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., after 8 p.m. and past noon on weekends. Also, the station has ended its affiliation with the Missouri Net statewide news service.
So much for the on-air promo describing the station as "24 hours a day, seven days a week, news you can depend on, news from the KTRS 24-hour newsroom." With the changes, it's more like the nine-hour newsroom.
Listen to Steve Moore, KTRS program director, and he spins it both ways. The station, welded together by Tim Dorsey as a sort of posthumous homage to KMOX's Bob Hyland, hasn't really changed, but maybe it has a little.
"We're a talk station. We claim we're the big 550 and we're a talk station, and that certainly hasn't changed whatsoever," Moore says, before admitting that something has changed:
"It's a slightly lessened focus on news and a greater focus on personalities, which is what the strength of the radio station is. We still have the same number of people working in the newsroom, the same amount of staff on the street. What we have done is try to put people who are more versatile in positions and strengthen our news department that way."
Guess that means Johnson, formerly of KTVI (Channel 2), will be reading the news, and after that the four will wrestle over airtime. The uncharitable might say -- because Johnson left Channel 2, Dierdorf was about to be let go from ABC's Monday Night Football and local radio stations had resisted the temptation to hire Corcoran for the last seven months -- that the new crew represents a sort of elephants' graveyard for local electronic media. But that would be unkind.
And will one microphone be enough for all those voices? Moore thinks so.
"It's Dan's show; that's the primary thing," says Moore. "J.C. understands that he has a role to fill as executive producer, and he helps provide the vision and the 'creative' behind the show. This allows him to get into talk radio, which he hasn't done before, to try something new, something different."
Of course, when did music matter much to Corcoran? (From his track record, it's obvious Corcoran hasn't heard of Copernicus: The sun does not revolve around the Earth -- or, in this case, J.C. -- it's the other way around.) To think Corcoran can keep his ego, or his mouth, in check is optimistic at best. Sooner or later, his arrogant, vapid persona will push somebody past tolerance.
Maybe that's the solution. If Dorsey and KTRS are looking to increase revenues, they should get former football Cardinal lineman Dierdorf really agitated, have him beat the crap out of Corcoran and put it on pay-for-view. Although it'd admittedly be a regional draw, those cable boxes would be flyin' off the shelves at TCI. But Moore thinks that J.C., a man with his own Web site, will stay humble.
"I don't think J.C. thinks this show is about him; it's a team deal. He accepted his role on those grounds."
Maybe so, but already on Tuesday, Dierdorf, offensive tackle that he is, was raising his voice on-air to say, "Let him talk, J.C.," and half-kiddingly referring to himself as "J.C.'s sidekick."
Let's see how long this thing lasts. At least KTRS has something going for it -- Paul Harvey. (DJW)
GET YOUR KICKS: In the age before fax machines and e-mail, producers of Broadway musicals raised money the old-fashioned way. For example, in Mel Brooks' 1968 classic The Producers, Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder cajole checks from wealthy dowagers to invest in the goose-stepping extravaganza Springtime for Hitler. With a sure flop on their hands, Mostel and Wilder scheme to make off with the numerous 50 percent shares they've collected. But Springtime for Hitler turns out to be a hit and the swindlers end up in the clink, where they begin work on a new musical, Prisoners of Love.
OK, this isn't the way David Fay does it at Fox Associates, and neither is it the way of Reto Wieland of Bern, Switzerland. Wieland made use of the fax machine last week to send his own funding request, bearing the heading "HELP HELP HELP HELP," to The Riverfront Times. "My name is Reto and I'm from Switzerland," the fax begins. "I created a project to keep the famous Route 66 alive."
Wieland's method of historic preservation is a musical, which he wrote one year ago with "the storybook, the stage set, line-up and all the other stuff." But after writing to more than "200 productions companies, producers and agentcies (sic)," he received only 10 replies. "I don't know what I make wrong!" Wieland laments. "I feel me so down!
"But now I need your help," the enterprising Wieland continues. "Untill (sic) I found someone who can help me I'm an old man." Wieland proposes an "advwertisement" in the paper, to be placed for free ("I don't have the money to pay it") with the number of his Swiss bank account and the invitation to all who want to help realize Wieland's dream "to bring the musical about the Motherroad to the Broadway in New York" to "spend $1 for it."
Maybe he's seen the old Mel Brooks movie, but for some reason Wieland felt the need to add, "This is not a joke!!!!!!!!" (ES)
FLOTSAM AND JETSAM: Here's an addendum to last week's idle speculation that Francis Slay may run for St. Louis mayor in 2001. Conventional thinking has it Slay won't make the move unless there is a commitment from Freeman Bosley Jr. or Rep. William Clay that Bosley or a significant African-American candidate with Clay's backing will stay out of the election. If that scenario did happen, with incumbent Mayor Clarence Harmon and Slay dividing up the South Side, a Bosley could step in and have a shot at getting the 35 percent or so needed to win the primary. Does anybody remember Tom Villa and Tony Ribaudo? So more than a few stars will have to align properly for Slay to do the deed.... Memo to the crackerjack P-D sports-page staff: The San Antonio Spurs eliminated the Portland Trailblazers from playoff contention on Sunday, June 6. In the "On the Air" listings of Tuesday, June 8, under "Pro Basketball," the P-D listed "Portland at San Antonio, KSDK (5) 8 p.m." Guess it's a bit much to ask the sports jockeys at the paper to keep track of the NBA conference finals. If this were a trial and the prosecution had to submit evidence that the P-D either neglects or abuses NBA basketball, this would be Exhibit Q, or R. Meanwhile, back on the court, the highlight of the Knicks-Pacers series -- or the lowlight, for David Stern -- came when Indiana fans chanted, "Choke, choke," with Latrell Sprewell at the free-throw line. He stood at the line waving his arms, in essence gesturing, "Bring it on." Even though Spree did what many of us would want to do -- choke the boss -- it's hard to pull for the NBA's highest-paid team. So stick with the ABA: Go Spurs.... Yes, we know gambling is legal, but these billboards are so tacky. Next time you drive on the Vandeventer Overpass headed west, look at the Harrah's billboard. It features two people laughing, skipping, throwing cash in the air. Did they just win a bundle and are now throwing their winnings in the air, or are they entering the casino, throwing their own money away? You make the call. (DJW)
Anyone out there with any information, please e-mail "Short Cuts" at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do, we'll try never to write about J.C. Corcoran again. Thank you.
Contributors: D.J. Wilson, Eddie Silva