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Corcoran back on the airwaves with KTRS.

Where you have J.C. Corcoran, you have controversy. That's the way it's been since Corcoran landed here in May, 1984. Having acquired the nickname "Twister Boy," derived from his interest in tornado-spawning severe storms, he continues to have a cloud of turmoil swirling around him with no "all clear" in sight.

How much of this hand-wringing is valid? Corcoran had been off the air since the Thursday before Thanksgiving, 1998. Two hours after he was informed his contract wouldn't be renewed, the phase-two Arbitrends showed him in second place in the 25 to 54 demographic. And this was on a shipwreck of a classic-rock station that had become an orphan in its group owner's stable, so much so that the during the first two months of ownership there was neither stationery nor business cards.

During his seven months off the air, he pursued every opportunity to move his act to a market which needed a locally based high profile morning talent. Personal circumstances, however, did not allow him to take offers from stations in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, and he redirected his efforts to land locally.

Just prior to accepting a position as executive producer and morning personality on KTRS, he was very close to returning to WVRV-FM and was also in discussions with his first St. Louis employer, Emmis Broadcasting. With a self-imposed deadline of June 10, he went with his best "live" opportunity and joined Tim Dorsey's station. Had a meeting between his west coast-based agent and Emmis Broadcast Group president Doyle Rose and Group Program Director Rick Cummings resulted in a definitive offer, he may have made it full circle to either KSHE or another of the expanding list of Emmis stations in St. Louis. The offer from WVRV was held up because of uncertainty surrounding the Sept. 8 deadline for Barry Baker to pick up his option on Sinclair's St. Louis broadcast properties.

What is now the RFT's excuse for media coverage, "Short Cuts," engaged in unabashed Corcoran bashing right out of the gate. Then, to its credit, the paper published two letters pouncing on the RFT for what amounted to a breach of their "no ink for Corcoran" policy. One writer expressed bewilderment with the "vituperativeness endemic in D.J Wilson's latest diatribe against Corcoran." The other said she was glad Corcoran was back on the air. writing," think there's room on the airwaves for him or anyone else who has a sharp-enough wit to cut through the bureaucratic tape that proudly wraps this city with a tight red bow."

Lots of venom appearing on regional online discussion groups takes Corcoran to task for labs taken at morning team colleague Wendy Wiese early in his St Louis career Corcoran told S JR that he has had extremely cordial encounters with Wiese both on and off the air and that It's fiction that there's any hostility. He went on to say that she had also made flattering comments to him about his work during his brief few months at KMOX in 1993 and had received a nice card from her when his mother died last year.

He recounted that any comments he made about Wiese just after she joined KMOX at age 22 were purely competitive and related to his efforts to ridicule the "youth movement' at KMOX in the mid-80s. He said he did everything he could to counter the "vicious, dirty, under-the-table creepiness that was perpretrated both by Robert Hyland himself and his Program Director, Bob Osborne." Specifically, Corcoran cited a weekly taped digest of airchecks of his KSHE morning show that Osborne forwarded to the FCC under Hyland's direction, along with an explanatory letter pointing out alleged infractions.

Corcoran added that he'd never actually met Wiese until he began work at KMOX, and stopped remarks about her after she announced her first pregnancy. "It's all deep in ancient history," he says, "It's taken two weeks for us to tell as a team and it'll resume when Wendy returns from vacation."

Wiese was unavailable for comment as this issue went to press.

Regarding the show and its first three weeks on the air, it seems to have great potential for growth, though it may not look anything like it does today several months from now, especially if Dan Dierdorf becomes less available With veteran news anchor Donn Johnson on board, along with Wiese and Corcoran's entourage which includes New York Daily News TV Critic Eric Mink and KMOV (Channel 4) reporter Jamie Allman making occasional appearances, the variety and crosstalk should be a good formula for building audience shares.

KTRS has had its problems finding an identity in a market which has always been and always will be dominated by KMOX. Now, according to station sources, the emphasis will be on talk and personality, while discarding those elements which were clones of KMOX mainstays. This may have begun with the gutting of the sports department several months ago. Tom Casey, John Cooper and Brian McKenna were fired leaving Jim Holder as the remaining sports person.

Another weak point at KTRS is the almost complete absence of women who have show billing. Clearly, bringing an outstanding air talent like Diane Raymond in from Philadelphia in January and then firing her after three days on the air for ridiculously stated reasons was a huge mistake. I recently listened to airchecks of those few shows and can only conclude that if she were still in the shift she was hired for, she'd be at cruising altitude today, giving the station no cause for regrets.

And as far as the love-hate relationship listeners have with J.C. Corcoran is concerned, I'll go with what colleague Tripp Frohlichstein always says when a new show or talent configuration hits the air. It's too early to draw any conclusions. Wait for a few rating periods to make any assessment. Good advice.

Larry Hoffman has been a freelance contributor to Billboard and wrote several chapters of Dick Clark's First 25 Years of Rock and Roll.
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Title Annotation:radio commentator J.C. Corcoran
Author:Hoffman, Larry
Publication:St. Louis Journalism Review
Date:Jul 1, 1999
Previous Article:Teamwork: Post reorganizes newsroom.
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