While BlatherWatch was careering through Oregon with a deadweight laptop on a wine country press junket and foodie glutfest, the first shoe, that is to say, talk host, was dropped like a peach pit in the upcoming the KIRO see-change.
As the story unfolded, (and the hopelessly unplugged Blathering Michael was blithely mange-ing his way through oregonic cheeseries, orchards and wine chateaux) readers wrote to tell us that Allan Prell (KIRO m-f, 9-12) had gone missing, and that his photo had been expunged overnight from the KIRO website like that of a misbehaving Bolshevick from Stalin's high school yearbook.
This was no surprise to those who read BlatherWatch or have an ounce of Seattle intuitive talk radio sense. Prell's schtick was that of the playful ass-hat; the self-deprecating fool with a smart mouth. He was liberal, and did his homework, but his style was too quirky for Seattle to swallow in one bite, especially in the hallowed space left by the infinitely reasonable and absurdly mature Dave Ross (KIRO m-f, 3-6p).
Prell was an acquired taste; and there was evidence he was beginning to wiggle his way into audience hearts just as he was frog-walked off the air. Perhaps if he'd been gently shown in through the side door of evenings and given a longer run at winning the hearts and minds of Seattleites, more of them might have acquired a taste for what he did.
Instead, he was pushed out into the glaring kliegs of KIRO's key morning slot, the one that should provide an anchor for the rest of the day. Prell was no anchor. As a matter of fact, says a now-former colleague, "He killed the momentum for the rest of the day." Ross's listeners fled in droves finding Al Franken and Thom Hartmann just around the corner at KPTK; or discovering anew "Weekday," KUOW's local NPR wonk-fest.
Staffers are as baffled as you and we--not that he was fired, mind you--he'd never done well since he started in January and got only a pathetic 2.3 share in the last book.
They're surprised he was fired on a Wednesday; when Fridays, with their weekend padding is usually the day to off somebody. They were surprised he was fired just two days before the Arbitron trends were coming out-- it's more logical to boot somebody after bad numbers. They were amazed he was fired so soon after a major promotional event, the "Battle of the Talk Show Hosts." Did management know his days were numbered, employees wonder, as they shamelessly promo-ed him?
Some claim there must have been something else which speeded Prell's quick demise, but no one can guess what that might be.
Some were surprised that Tony Ventrella (m-f, 6-9p) or/and Mike Webb (m-f, 9p-1a) hadn't been booted first, they with their 1.9 share, the lowest numbers at Eastlake.
Staffers were surprised to hear Don O'Neill's voice filling-in Prell's vacancy. Described by one Entercomer as "a Neanderthal weightlifter," O'Neill is a former morning shock jock whose "Ron & Don Show" failed abysmally a few years ago on Entercom's The Buzz ("Radio For Guys," KQBZ-FM, 100.7) After leaving Seattle, he blew up quickly in a job in Grand Rapids and eventually got to a New Orleans Entercom station. Lately, he's gotten some corporate attention by doing "hits," (short on-location news spots) from the hurricane disaster area.
O'Neill and his homey, Ron used to drive around Seattle in a white truck with painted orange flames and "Chick Chaser" written on it, yelling "hola!" at wenchola. That this guy is sitting in the Dave Ross Chair is a sad marker of how far down KIRO has fallen.
We can only pray to our Deity of Choice that Program Genius Tom Clendening is the next to go. That's the only way to be absolutely sure that another loser like Prell, O'Neill, Mike Webb or Frank Shiers won't be put into Prell's spot.
Rumors, as always, are rife. A KIRO staffer who's privy to not much of anything, says Ross is coming back to the 9-noon. A KOMO exec, privy to even less is sure that Rush Limbaugh is waiting in the wings to be moved in from KTTH, Entercom's other failing talk station. We've heard that before, and if it happened, it'd cut KTTH off its life support and put the station into free fall.
Meanwhile, Clendening is running this hurry-up ad on Craig's List Seattle--who the hell runs an ad for a talk show host on Craig's List?
Seattle’s number one radio station is looking for a talk show host with a ratings track record. Must be passionate, creative and entertaining. If you have a sense of humor, a wide breadth of knowledge and can debate people with an opposing point of view send application/tape/resume to:
1820 Eastlake Ave East
Seattle, WA 98102
No phone calls please. EOE
Of course he's lying through his teeth about KIRO being the No.1 radio station--even in its glory days back in the '90's, it was No. 3. KIRO has slid to an overall 19 in the 25-54 money demo.
Stayed tuned, as always it promises to be, if nothing else, entertaining to watch.