2007thru2010FMRadio and Music Industry News

WNIC drops morning team Kevin O’Neill, Lisa Barry, PD Cites PPM as the Reason

Clear Channel-owned WNIC (100.3) fired its “Breakfast Club” morning show hosts, Kevin O’Neill and Lisa Barry, after their airshift Monday morning.

WNIC is replacing them with a “very music-intensive” show, according to station operations manager Todd Thomas. He says it was a move prompted by the Arbitron PPM (portable people meter). “Looking at how PPM operates, we’re finding that a lot of music really moves the needle,” Thomas said. “With the morning show, we were going up against some of the juggernauts that we have in town, it was like David and Goliath, so that was the reason for the decision.”

WNIC’s morning show ranked No. 1 among listeners ages 35-64 over the holiday season, when it played Christmas music, but by February it was tied for 11th place in that demographic (for the overall, 12-plus demographic it ranked No. 14). Monday was almost exactly the 30th anniversary of O’Neill’s arrival in Detroit.

“The ironic thing was, without knowing what was going to happen, in the final break this morning I alluded to the fact that 30 years ago yesterday, April 4, was my first day on the air in Detroit,” said O’Neill, who was still a bit dazed. “Ten minutes later, I’m being marched down the hallway.”

It was a year ago that O’Neill, then on afternoons at the adult contemporary station, was tapped to replace Chris Edmonds when he was let go from the WNIC morning show. Edmonds is filling in at CBS-owned WOMC-FM (104.3), since Dick Purtan’s retirement last week.

“They’re good people at WNIC, I loved it there,” O’Neill said. He had hoped with the departure of Purtan from rival WOMC that he and Barry would have an opportunity to go after some of the veteran morning man’s listeners.

Radio stations increasingly are staffed by engineers pushing buttons to turn voice-tracked shows on, with few live bodies in the studio. “That’s radio, it’s changing by the minute,” said Breakfast Club co-host Barry. “They think it’s all about the music. I still believe in the power and necessity of local radio and connecting with people. Music they can get it from their iPod, their MP3 player. Can they get a connection from a human being who’s in their town, in their back yard?

“The thing I’m saddest about is, I’ve been on the air for 25 years. You connect with the listeners and make friends,” Barry said. She asks that her friends stay in touch with her online via lisabarry.net. Like most radio veterans, O’Neill is philosophical. He has worked at many stations over the years — WDRQ, Honey Radio, the old WMGC Magic Radio on 94.7, 102.7 Kiss Radio when it did oldies, WOMC in the ’80s, then Q95.5, WYCD, WDVD, and then WNIC.

“This has happened four times before, and I’ve always gone on to something better, so I’ll just stay positive,” O’Neill said. “I hope I can stay in Detroit because I love it here, but you never know.” [source]

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15 comments

KenM April 6, 2010 at 5:31 am

When Dick Purtan left the air, I was at a loss about who to tune into every morning. I was never a fan of oldies, I was just following Dick. My wife has followed Kevin for years across the dial and suggested I try him out.
Kevin puts on a show with content I don’t have to be embarassed to have my child in the car.
WNIC doesn’t understand. If I want music intensive, I’ll buy satellite or use an ipod. With personality driven format, I get local sports, local weather, local traffic and people talking about local issues in a way that promotes discussion instead of division like on the AM dial.
Good luck Kevin, I hope I find you soon somewhere else on the Detroit dial.

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Tammy April 7, 2010 at 6:39 pm

I have follow Kevin through all these different time spots, and stations. I’ve listened to music styles I normally wouldn’t have, just because he had switched to that station. I hope he finds a new opportunity in the Detroit area, if he does I’ll be switching there. I enjoy the local information, the talk, his personality. He knows how to provide a good balance of talk and music and he knows music,,,which I hope whereever he goes, is truly appreciated.

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Nina April 8, 2010 at 12:27 pm

I have listen to Kevin and Lisa for many years now. I love them. They make the ride to work so pleasant. They make you laugh. i will really miss them.Now, I have to find another radio station to listen to. i agree with Lisa, there is a connection with the listeners. It is more than music that people like to listen to.WNIC is making a huge mistake..

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Debi Paladino April 10, 2010 at 11:12 am

I am enormously disappointed at WNIC. First they dumped Chris Edmonds and now Kevin and Lisa. Get a clue Todd — listeners want a listening relationship with their announcers! Kevin, Lisa & Chuck (Gaidica) were a GREAT team. They were classy, intelligent, funny and family-appropriate. What were you thinking??? I know one thing for sure — when I find them on a new station, that’s where I’ll be. And you can forget about your 24-hour Xmas music — you’ve lost my loyalty. P.S. Perhaps Todd Thomas should be the person who gets dumped next??!!

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Marti April 13, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Can’t believe it! I’m turning the channel. Kevin, Lisa and Chuck started my morning. Funny, appropriate….what are you thinking? I just moved back to Detroit and was excited to be listening to the breakfast club. I’m finding some one else except what you have now. You should be ashamed.

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former WNIC listener April 15, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Bad move on WNIC’s part…you’d think they would have learned their lesson when Jim Harper left. They keep making stupid decisions that are costing them long-time listeners. I hope we get to listen to Kevin O’Neill on another station in Detroit.

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nancy wegienek April 15, 2010 at 7:06 pm

I have been flipping stations and couldn’t find the one I listen to on the way to work, (Kevin and Lisa), so I blamed my 16 year old! Now I finally understand the problem…it’s Todd! I agree with the the other posts, people like to have “real” people to feel like they have a connection, not just music,( which I can hand pick with my ipod!) Also, whomever WNIC has screaming on there now, I turn off!

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Mary Lynn April 19, 2010 at 12:10 pm

I still can’t believe it. At first I thought maybe they were on vacation. I will be looking for another station. I am SO disappointed. I enjoyed my ride into work because of Lisa, Kevin and Chuck. They were funny, appropriate and they relaxed me. This is a very bad move on the part of WNIC and I bet you lose a lot of listeners. You lost me.

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Kate Brooks April 25, 2010 at 5:31 am

WNIC has really gone downhill. I miss the interaction with Kevin and Lisa. I miss Chuck too. The station is boring now – cold. Time to switch it up. Corporate needs to listen to the people on this one. They will be losing advertisers as their listeners leave. That’s the bottom line – ratings and money coming in. They lost my 26 years of loyalty.

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Linda April 27, 2010 at 12:56 pm

I am so disappointed that WNIC let go Kevin & Lisa…. if I want to listen to all music… I’d play CD’s or my Ipod…. I want to hear my local DJ’s with talk and news. Why do you mess with something so good. I’ve listened to Kevin for several years and hope to find him on another station very soon.

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jewels May 9, 2010 at 10:14 am

I have to agree with all the comments above. I did not understand where the breakfast club went…and for the lasts couple weeks no explanation by the station. So I just looked it up on the internet…so disappointing. I will too be swiching stations. I so enjoyed the breakfast club. I loved hearing all the stories about Lisa, Kevin and Chucks’ families and their advice and them just plain being silly. It made me feel like a part of their lives and it sure did keep me listening in the morning. So very sad for me and the thousand others out there. I wish Lisa and Kevin and the crew the best…I will be following them to their next station. WNIC you stink!

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Dorothy June 2, 2010 at 10:34 am

I really miss the true Breakfast Club – Lisa, Kevin, & Chuck. My alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m. every morning and I was able to listen to the crew for half an hour before I made myself rolled out of bed. I looked forward to my drive to work at 7:00 a.m. anxious to hear what the subject was going to be. They ALL made it such a pleasure to listen to. I’ve always wished I worked with people with the likeable personalities that came over the air. I admire Lisa so much, and wish I was as well spoken as she is. Words just roll out of her mouth. I feel I knew them all, Lisa wanting to dress her boys the same, always wanting to be connected on the phone or computer with modern technology, and living the experience she had with her sister. Kevin is funny with his stories especially when he talks about driving the garbage truck and finding shirts. I still want to know about his son’s wedding! Then there is Chuck, who goes to Chicago to visit his daughter that’s in college and always has the correct answers when questioned about his wife. I LOVE THEM ALL, from the advice, the intelligence, the joking, the thoughtfulness, the friendship. They made my morning, they made me smile, they kept me cool when a vehicle pulled in front of me (mostly). I pay for SirusXM, but I didn’t listen to it in the morning. I do now though. The personal touch is gone from 100.3 and I hope to find all three together again somewhere. I will remain a follower. What a loss this was!

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Ginny Z June 22, 2010 at 12:27 pm

So listeners – where can we turn – has anyone found a good alternative to the breakfast show…my morning drive just isn’t the same!

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Kristen July 29, 2010 at 5:36 pm

I am so dissapointed! I loved listeneing to them. Like above they were a part of your family. I am going to miss finding out about there lives. I hope they all go to another station and blow 100.3 away! as above I will listen to another station for Christmas music. WNIC YOU SUCK!! Please bring them back. This other guy he’s cold and has no personality. 🙁

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Anonymous November 5, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Taking Kevin Oneill’s voice off the air is the stupidest thing wnic could have done. Especially during the Christmas music season.

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