COVER- Wake up call: Morning Show meets Greasy Breakfast
Regular listeners accustomed to hearing Jane Foy and Rob Schilling on WINA's Morning Show may have been surprised last week that one of the voices sounded like half of 3WV's morning show, "the Big Greasy Breakfast."
By the second time the "Morning Show with Rick and Jane" was mentioned, it became clear that former city councilor Schilling had left the building, while the man best known for spinning hard rock and spewing rants in his "Friday Freakout" had landed on a quieter news show that celebrates birthdays and anniversaries.
The shake-up at WINA AM-1070 and 3WV FM-97.5, both owned by publicly held Saga Communications, started when longtime radioman Dick Mountjoy got cancer.
"Initially, we were all optimistic something would happen with Dick," says Foy. "A miracle did happen– he's alive."
"When I took the job, it was on an interim basis," says Schilling, who joined Foy on the air last October despite having little radio experience. "At the time I took over, the hope was Dick would come back."
Sadly, that didn't happen. And when it became apparent that he would not return, local management for Saga, which also owns Lite Rock Z95.1, 106.1 The Corner, and AM 1450 Progressive Talk, began looking for a permanent replacement.
"Once it became clear Dick would not be returning, we started a search to find the best morning show host possible," says station manager Renee Quesenberry. "And it turned out that he was already in our building."
Quesenberry, head of Charlottesville Radio Group, Saga's name for its local stations, calls Daniels "the top-rated talent on FM for years and years.
"Like Dick," Quesenberry says in an email, "Rick has a passion for radio that is live, local, and totally committed to serving the community. Who better to carry on the WINA tradition?"
Daniels co-hosted 3WV's Big Greasy Breakfast for 13 years and has been that station's program director since 1997. "I feel very honored to have this opportunity on WINA," he says, "and I love 3WV."
Despite having co-hosted a show in which someone screams "Loser!" at least a dozen times each morning, Daniels suggests that there isn't that much difference between the raucous 3WV and the calmer AM talk radio world of WINA because both stations try to cover what their listeners are talking about.
"What I bring," says Daniels, "is more of a reflection of the average Joe who doesn't understand all that's going on. And I bring a different sense of humor."
Rob Schilling has left the building, so now half the "Big Greasy Breakfast," Rick Daniels, can join Jane Foy for AM radio's leading morning show. And Clear Channel has sold all its local stations for about half what the behemoth paid nearly a decade ago. Meanwhile, as the two behemoth companies compete, a small band of liberal activists hopes to score a little bit of bandwith of their own.
So what's the biggest difference at WINA? "The coffee is a lot weaker," answers Daniels.
The demographic of 3WV is 25- to 54-year-old men, a population that consistently lands 3WV in the winner's circle in the local ratings race, notes Daniels.
Originally, WINA also focused on men and women in that age group. "Over the years," says Daniels, "listeners have aged, and the station has aged with them. One of the reasons I'm incredibly excited is the challenge of serving older listeners while making news talk more acceptable to 20- and 30-somethings. WINA hasn't done a good job of doing that."
He mentions how the Daily Show with Jon Stewart has drawn younger viewers back to the news (or "news.") Daniels wants WINA to be one-stop shopping for news, traffic, weather, and sports, as well as providing a unique perspective to attract younger listeners.
Daniels, who adds program director at WINA to his job titles (he's also operations manager for all five Saga stations), envisions the Morning Show as a news magazine– "the Today Show for Charlottesville."
So more changes are upcoming? "It's a work in progress," says Daniels, noting that he's aware that listeners are now having to adjust to Schilling's absence so soon after getting used to Mountjoy's. And he has his own adjustments to make in going AM.
"The tone is the big thing," explains Daniels. "Jane and I are still trying to develop on-air rapport."
Says Foy: "You just have to get used to the idea you're 30 inches away. You have to learn each other's timing and each other's sense of humor. We're going to take our time and ease into this."
The first week went swimmingly, both say. And because both stations are in the same building– and there's a softball team– the two already knew each other. "He made me laugh from the day I met him," says Foy.
She's upbeat about Daniels getting top billing on the "Rick and Jane" show. "It sounds better," she insists, reminiscent of the classic children's reading primer as well as two movies about suburban crooks.
As for Schilling, who holds a real estate license and creates Christian rock music, his future in radio is still TBD. "I'm planning to have a little bit of down time," he says. "I've been in real estate for 20 years, and I just moved over to Roy Wheeler. I'm taking advantage of people knowing who I am in this community."
Over at the Big Greasy Breakfast, Max Hoecker reflects on the loss of his longtime partner: "I'm happy to see that sorry bastard out of the studio," he jokes, quickly adding, "No, it's bittersweet. We were partners 13 years."
Highway John– John Spangler– steps into Daniels' spot on the BGB. The 26-year-old has been at the station seven years, from early days answering the phone and doing traffic to earning his "Highway John" moniker. "We quickly put him on the air," says Daniels.
Big Greasy Breakfast listeners were already aware that Daniels was leaving. In classic World Wrestling format, there was a bet between Rick and Highway John, and the loser– there's that word again– had to leave town. "The fix was in," says Daniels.
Over at the more mature WINA, Daniels "is going to have to behave himself a little more," says Hoecker. "The show could use a little fresh blood to bring it into the 21st century... [Rick] played dumb on 3WV, but on WINA he'll show us how smart he is."
Hoecker also has some advice for Foy about her new on-air marriage to Daniels: "Keep his coffee mug filled, and don't ever steal his stapler."
From left, 3WV's Max Hoecker and Rick Daniels in the pre-Saga Communications days with former station owner Brad Eure.
FILE PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO