Radio & TV Talk

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TV/radio briefs: Cumulus still trying to get 99X back on air, new Star 94.1 PD, Meredith Vieira’s game show


Originally posted Tuesday, August 14, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Meredith Vieira has an accomplished journalistic career on CBS News, ABC’s “Turning Point and “The View” and NBC’s ‘”The Today Show.” 

She also spent 11 years as host of the syndicated version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” far longer than Regis Philbin did it on ABC. Then she tried syndicated talk show hosting for a couple of years. 

Vieira is now hosting another game show concept called “25 Words or Less” for three weeks on a select numbers of Fox TV stations, including Fox 5 (WAGA-TV). The show began last week and airs at 2 p.m. each day through August 24. Other markets are New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Orlando and Charlotte.

The show is based on the board game of the same name and was created by Lisa Kudrow (“Friends”), Dan Bucatinsky (“Scandal”) and Mary McCormack (“In Plain Sight”). The contestants play with celebrities trying to ascertain words with the fewest number of clues possible. All three actors participate, along with friends like Taye Diggs, Allison Sweeney and Loni Love

“They all kind of know each other,” Vieira said. “There was a warmth to their banter. They are also incredibly competitive.”

She said the show is rapid fire and “flies by. It’s much faster than ‘Millionaire.’ Some tapings [of ‘Millionaire’] would take an hour for a half-hour show.” 

If it does well, Fox will run it in syndication starting in 2019-20 season. Over the years, Fox has tested other shows like this as well. The two most successful: “The Wendy Williams Show” in 2008 and “The Real” in 2013, both which are still airing. 

“Whether it goes to series or not, I enjoyed it,” Vieira said. “I had a lot of fun. It was a great experience.”

Vieira said she does not really miss doing a topical show like “The View,” especially given the divisions in today’s society. “I just saw that Mr. Rogers documentary ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor,’” she said. “I’ve become very zen since watching it. I am not interested in yelling and screaming. I want to provide the world just a little joy. That’s good enough for me right now.” 

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Atlanta rock station 99X has been off  the FM dial since April after the Federal Communications Commission said it was interfering with a Carrollton-based radio station

But Atlanta-based Cumulus is not giving up. On Monday, the company filed with the FCC a revised plan that it thinks will enable the station to go back online and no cause issues with Great Classics 98.9 (WWGA-FM), owned by Gradick Communications

Sean Shannon, Cumulus Atlanta market manager, wrote in a text that “our hope is that with the engineering work we’ve done to mitigate the issues one consumer had at the fringes of WWGA’s signal pattern will convince the FCC to allow us back on the air. Stand by!” 

Gradick president Steve Graddick did not return a call seeking comment. 

Here is the request in all its technical glory

99X’s journey on the dial has placed it in five different places on the FM dial. It started at 99.7, moved to 100.5 and has been on three translators: 97.9, 99.1 and 98.9. For now, the station remains online as an HD-2 channel at 99.7

The station was an alternative rock mainstay in Atlanta from 1992 through the mid-2000s. It is now a jockless station focused on new alt rock music. 

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Star 94.1, which has been struggling in the ratings the past year, has finally landed a new program director, Ron Roberts, who last worked in Myrtle Beach, S.C. as the market SVP for programming for iHeartRadio. 

Roberts is a Georgia native from Harlem outside of Augusta who attended the University of Georgia. His first day at work was Monday, August 12. He is thrilled to be able to return in his home state. 

“Day one in the books,” he wrote on Facebook yesterday. “I officially have ‘major market’ radio experience and don’t THINK I embarrassed myself but then my perspective comes with bias. Hey, I’m allowed to go back tomorrow. #winning”

In July, Star ranked 12th overall with a 3.9 Nielsen Audio rating, behind Power (4.1), Q100 (4.2) and B985 (5.6). Among 25 to 54 year olds, the station is also in 12th place with a 3.4, well behind Power (4.5), Q100 (5.5) and B98.5 (6.3).  

The last program director Tony Lorino was let go in April. According to Lorino’s Linkedin page, he is launching something called Throwback Nation Radio this fall. 


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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.