Saturday, November 22, 2008

Eddie & JoBo out at B96

Note: This is a longer version of a story posted yesterday at 7:01 p.m.

Not exactly a shocker (as some would claim), given how the radio business has changed since these two signed a multi-year deal in 2002, but with high-salaries becoming a thing of the past in radio - as well as TV - and so is Eddie & JoBo's radio show on WBBM-FM (B96), who were unceremoniously dumped from the rhythmic/Top 40 outlet after 18 non-consecutive years today.

Also out were co-host Erica Cobb and producer Jeff Owen.

The duo - better known as Ed Volkman and Joe Bohannon - were first paired in 1988 at B96 - at a time when vinyl albums and cassettes were still being sold, the Internet barely existed, and the major chart action came from artists like Steve Winwood, Taylor Dayne, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston - all of which got significant airplay at the station at the time.

The duo were successful during their first run at B96, but a few years later a false story they concocted about a former WMAQ-TV anchorwoman fathering a baby by a Chicago Bull led to their firing in 1994. After two years in Philadelphia, Eddie & JoBo returned to B96 in late 1996, joining Frankie "Hollywood" Rodriguez (he was later dropped.)

While Eddie & JoBo were never really a overall ratings winner (especially in recent years), it has always been a demo hit - the program often topped the ratings in young adult demos and among teens.

In 2006, the duo added Erica Cobb as a third host.

Ratings for the program have eroded over the years, but managed to stay in the Top 10 among key demos. But the decline in those same demos accelerated with the introduction of the Portable People Meter system earlier this year. According to RadioCrunch analysis of PPM ratings, Eddie & JoBo finished eleventh among adults 18-34 in October, while rival WKSC's morning show (DreX) finished third. In female 18-34 demos, Eddie & JoBo finished ninth compared to DreX's third place finish.

Eddie & JoBo were contracted through July of next year and will earn a handsome $1 million - for not doing anything. Volkman talked about the firing and its aftermath to a WBBM-TV reporter.

B96 has stated they plan to launch a new morning show in January, but declined to elaborate. For now, midday jock J Nice will fill in on the morning shift, while Rebecca Ortiz takes over the midday shift.

Thought: Yours truly is torn. While I thought it was time for Eddie & JoBo to hang up their tired act - which was cool years ago mind you - the firing by CBS was just dumb headed. What CBS could have - and should have done was let them finish their contract, or let them leave on their own terms. Instead, CBS decided to fire them and incurring a PR nightmare. And the reason tough economic times our country is facing is nothing more than a lousy, convenient excuse.

Another claim is Eddie & JoBo were too old to connect with their younger audience, with Eddie Volkman already 50 years old. While that may be true, they still did well with the station's younger audience. Dick Clark and Casey Kasem still connected with younger listeners (and viewers) back in the day with their respective shows and both were over 50.

One thing that bugged me about Eddie & JoBo was their dissing older musical acts -Prince and Tom Petty performing at the Super Bowl halftime show, for example - just to impress their younger audience who they think aren't interested in those type of acts. The disses came across as contrived and phony, which hurt their own credibility. Another problem were the lame, recycled jokes the two kept using on the air. Adding Erica dragged down the show even further, with her inexperience.

On the other hand, both men should be commended for their community service throughout Chicagoland, from broadcasting from Cabrini-Green for a whole weekend a few weeks after Dantrell Davis was shot to broadcasting live from Dunkin' Dounts a year or so ago to raise money for a Chicago Police officer who was paralyzed from the waist down after getting shot in the line of duty.

With the end of the Eddie & JoBo, one could speculate about the future of B96 - the station has been leaning more pop than hip-hop and rap lately - the biggest shift since 2002 as ratings have softened. While a format change isn't likely, a ratings drop is, and it now puts them squarely behind rival WKSC-FM.

Though Eddie & JoBo often weren' t my cup of hot cocoa, the two should be commended for staying on as long as they did - nearly 20 years - just about as long as Rick Dees lasted at the morning shift on KIIS-FM in Los Angeles (22 years), and becoming a part of Chicago's radio heritage. But what Clear Channel did to Dees in 2004 (for Ryan Seacrest, no less) is the same thing CBS just did to Eddie & JoBo - and with no successor named. We all know it's a business, but come on. CBS could have gave them some options - to stay for a lower salary, to retire, or some other way.

But no... CBS gave them only one option - hitting the door without them saying goodbye to their fans - the ultimate kiss-off. And with just eight months to go on their contract. And if CBS let them renegotiate their contract, it would mean on their terms - meaning they would've been pulled off the air again - just like they were in 2002 - the last time their contract was up for renegotiation.

This proves once again radio conglomerates don't care about their listeners or their on-air personalities - just the bottom line. Ask former B96 jocks Roxanne Steele and Candi Gomez, who were also given similar treatment. Or better yet, ask Howard McGee.

And you wonder why radio - like television and newspapers - is a dying medium.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

B96 will never be the same!!!!!