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Time's up on Steve and DC. (AM/FM).

Morning radio is getting a shake-up this month, courtesy of mighty Emmis Communications. Details had not been announced by press time, but sources confirmed that the increasingly tiresome Steve and DC Morning Show is moving from K-Hits (KIHT 96.3 FM), possibly to The Mall (WMLL 104.1 FM). In its place former KSHE (94.7 FM) Morning Zoo colleagues J.C. Corcoran and John Ulett will re-team--they haven't worked together in 16 years but have remained friends.

John Beck, senior vice-president of Emmis' St. Louis operations, did not confirm the widespread rumors but acknowledged change may be ahead. "I can only tell you that we are looking into ways to bring the ratings back up on KIHT and the Steve & DC show. We have not hired JC but Rick Balis and I have known him for 17 years and brought him to town in the first place, so we have talked from time to time," he said.

If it occurs, the ouster of Steve Shannon and DC Chymes (real names: Terrence Trawick and Isaiah Wilhelm) is not solely based on the recent publicity stunt/classroom prank at Southwestern Illinois College. It's mainly due to dismal ratings.

Their morning show, once the highest-rated in St. Louis, has fallen dramatically out of favor with listeners since its move from the old country station KIX to the classic hits format, plummeting to ninth and 11th place in ratings periods over the past year. Don't necessarily blame the music. The KIHT playlist of mainly '70s and '80s hits has been sounding very good lately.

With their "just good ol' boys demeanor," southerners Steve and DC had built phenomenal success-- even a syndicated radio network, mainly in small markets--on juvenile humor, lots and lots of sex talk, practical jokes and pranks. While industry folks puzzled over the pair's appeal, the team built a loyal following who delighted in phone shams and other teenage boy behavior.

But in recent months, many of those listening to the morning show were not keeping the dial on K-Hits, so there was little bounce. The move two years ago was the result of the Emmis, Bonneville and Sinclair deal but it seemed to be an ill fit. While Steve and DC's ratings tumbled, original shock jock Howard Stem's syndicated broadcast on The Point (KPNT 105.7 FM) rose and surpassed them.

Emmis owns the music stations The Point, K-Hits, The Mall, and KSHE, which broadcasts the syndicated Bob and Tom Show, as well as talk station KFTK (97.1 FM).

Ulett, who joined KSHE in 1976, has been a part of that morning show as the newsguy, doing local segment cut-ins and then the 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekday block afterward. Ulett is also the sports director and host of KSHE's Klassics Show on Sunday mornings.

At presstime, it is unclear what duties he will keep, but crossover, as long as it's in the same family, would seem a possibility.

The coupling of Ulett and Corcoran should be interesting. Can they regain their once-loyal following as well as attract new listeners? Corcoran has been off the local airwaves since being let go from KLOU (103.3 FM) in February, a cost-cutting contract decision by Clear Channel. He will now go head-to-head with his former co-hosts Karen Kelly and Brian McKenna, who helm the SuperHits morning show with Smash.

If Steve and DC don't go to The Mall, will they bow out of the St. Louis market? With their highly publicized classroom crash earning bad marks, can they continue unscathed?

Desperate for ratings, Steve and DC's plan to disrupt a college history professor's class earned them massive publicity on local TV, radio and newspapers. So how apologetic are they, really? Did it work or did it backfire? Stay tuned ...

Posing as a student late for history class, Gerald J. Lange Jr., aka "No-Limit Honkey" on The Steve and DC Morning Show, burst into Professor Patrick McGarrity's classroom at Southwestern Illinois College on Aug. 21, and asked such ignorant questions as "Who was buried in Grant's tomb?" and "When was the War of 1812?"

He was being fed questions by Steve and DC through a hidden earpiece and the whole thing was being broadcast through a transmitter taped under his shirt.

Alarmed by this bizarre behavior, professor McGarrity and students thought Lange was mentally ill. Security came and whisked him away, handing him over to the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department. He was charged with disturbing the peace.

Pat Crowe, the college spokesman, was not amused.

In his apology, which was available on the Steve and DC website, Lange chastises the professor: "Sorry you had no sense of humor.

An impudent DC tried to rationalize the incident by calling it "stress relief" for the first week of school. He even went on Charlie Brennan's afternoon show on KMOX Aug. 23 to defend his show's actions, remaining unrepentant. (Although Steve and DC profusely fawned over the college president and law enforcement officials they talked to on the air).

"Charlie asked very tough questions and the callers did as well. I think having him on was a good thing," said KMOX Operations Manager Tom Langmyer.

The Steve and DC show team might have had some hearty chuckles over the incident, but ambush humor is no longer funny. After Sept. 11 and Columbine, we can't really feel safe. It is a different world. Those who cite "Candid Camera" need to be reminded that it was a popular TV program in much simpler, innocent times.

In local radio news, we finally have a horse race.

After a few sputters in its six-year history, KTRS (550AM) has a renewed commitment to news. Kent Martin, a former KMOX newsman who had been working in public relations, came aboard as director in May, and has been slowly rebuilding the news department.

The goal is to strengthen KTRS's reputation as a news source, Martin said. "There's a lot more options nowadays, with internet and cable. It's a bigger challenge than ever before," he said. Besides staying on top of breaking news, Martin wants time to add longer pieces and more in-depth features.

Martin intends to add staff so that there will expanded news coverage 24/7. First, he wants to add another reporter on nights and then an overnight news person.

"News never stops. We want some consistency, constancy. We're not done by a long shot," he said.

Additional programming on weekends is a possibility, such as a week-in-review segment and more conversations with newsmakers.

"A little bit of the old, a little bit of the new," is how Martin describes his current staff. John Curtis and Brian Kelly are full-time news reporters. Bill Addison, a veteran radio newsman from the old KXOK and WIL as well as KPLR-TV. was brought in for weekend work, but his role has been expanded after Scott Crowder's dismissal (see separate story). He's doing newscasts weekdays from 2-6 p.m. "I'm thrilled to have Bill on board. It has worked out great. He brings a wealth of expertise. He's coming up with good news angles," Martin said.

The newsday begins when part-timer Trish Muyco arrives at 4 a.m. and works for a few hours before heading off to her full-time job. "She's a great writer, really organized," Martin said. Then, Jeff Fowler arrives to handle early morning duties before he moves on to his full-time job at Saint Louis University.

Other part-timers include Tina Dalpiaz on Saturday and Darryl Lloyd on Sunday. They also do evening work.

"I feel really good with the talent we've got and the people we're going to attract," Martin said. "We're still building. It's close enough that we can go head to head with KMOX."

Competition is a great motivator, he acknowledged. "You come up with more angles, a fresher way to do the story. It gets people interested in what you're doing. That's where we want to go. We feel very competitive."

Martin feels comfortable getting back to his first love, radio news. "I'm thrilled just to have the chance. I've always loved St. Louis," he said. Martin was born and raised in Kansas City

Management intends to promote the news department, Martin said, but another way to get the word out is through highly visible partnerships. KTRS has a partnership with KSDK (Channel 5) on news sharing. "It helps out both stations," he said. "It doesn't really take away from either of us." They share news tips and each credits the other on air.

After four months, Martin is optimistic about the operation. "We're still a work in progress. I'm not saying we're there yet, but I like where we've been, what we've done so far, and where we'll be in the future," he said. "We are real serious this time about news."

News reporter Ollie Dowell has left KMOX to become public information director at the Metropolitan Sewer District. Operations Manager Tom Langmyer said he is currently interviewing for a replacement for Dowell as well as an assignment editor. The station recently hired awardwinning reporter Brett Blume from KWMU (90.7 FM) to beef up their newsroom, which has a staff of 14 people. Blume starts Sept. 9.

KMOX is adding some heavy hitters to its sports lineup. St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz began anchoring the weekday Budweiser Sports Open Line on Sept. 5. He's joined on Tuesday and Thursday evenings by co-host Mike Bush, the Channel 5 sports director. During hockey season, NHL Hall of Famer Bernie Federko will be on Friday nights. During football season, Langmyer plans to have a Rams player on Monday nights.

Sportscasters Mike Grimm and Tom Ackerman will continue to anchor afternoon drive sportscasts, report from local venues, and host Sports Open Line on Saturday and Sunday evenings, Langmyer said.

Program Manager Steve Moore has added sports director to his duties. Ron Jacober, longtime morning drive sports anchor who is in his 15th year at KMOX, has signed a two-year extension. His title is manager of sports operations.

KTRS newsman Scott Crowder was fired over an inexcusable incident of sexual harassment that received widespread attention, of all places, on the radio station.

Crowder admitted that he sent an inappropriate e-mail to a female coworker, apologized and agreed to discuss the matter on the Frank O. Pinion "AM in the PM" show.

Representing the female point of view was Francene, a producer and on-air weekend talent at KTRS. She was not the recipient of the e-mail. Francene decided to carry the torch for all womanhood and proceeded to loudly vilify Crowder. Depending on your point of view, it was either an unfortunate and upsetting airing of dirty laundry or compelling no-holds-barred radio.

Former Majic man Brian Anthony is the new morning host at Bonneville's Smooth Jazz, WSSM (106.5 FM). He started Sept. 3. "Brian brings a wealth of experience to the Smooth Jazz team," said Program Director David Myers. "St. Louis adults can look forward to a morning show that gives them topical information, local information and lots of great music!"

Lynn Venhaus is a St. Louis free-lance writer.
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Title Annotation:Steve and DC Morning Show; Steve Shannon and Terrence Trawick
Author:Venhaus, Lynn
Publication:St. Louis Journalism Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2002
Previous Article:Nuke train coverage sloppy.
Next Article:NABJ reflects problems of today's journalism.

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