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Top 10 Radio Stories of 2008

Dateline: 12/28/08


Bob Grant Publicity Photo

Bob Grant Publicity Photo

Each year I select 10 Radio stories which I believe either produced a surprising or controversial impact by their nature, drew the most reaction from others upon their reporting, or had the most potential for making a profound effect on Radio. Here are the 10 I've selected this year. Of course, it's just my opinion. Feel free to react or list your own in the comment area. 10 through 1 are in order of increasing importance.

10. Time Catches Up with Radio Icons

I have fudged on the first entry on my list and combined 4 separate stories which I feel are important because longevity in Radio seems to be as fleeting as the next format change. I often joke to people that 1 year in radio equals 7 years of any other job. So, you can imagine what it says about anyone who lasts 5, 10, 20 or more years in the business, at a particular station or even with a particular partner.

So here are the combined events for #10:

A. WGN's Spike O'Dell Did His Last Broadcast

A Chicago radio icon, Spike O'Dell, did his last broadcast on WGN-AM Friday morning, December 12. O'Dell started with the station in 1987 doing afternoons and moved to mornings in 2000 after the tragic and unexpected death of Bob Collins in an airplane crash. You can hear audio or see video of O'Dell's last broadcast at the www.wgnradio.com.

According to wgntv.com O'Dell was quoted as saying, "I've had fun. Thank you."

B. Chicago's WMJK-FM Removed Steve Dahl From Mornings

Steven Dahl has been working in Chicago radio since 1978. Friday, December 5, Dahl bid listeners farewell. Dahl had been receiving over $1 million dollars-a-year to do mornings at the station and will continue to receive payment for 2 1/2 years left on his contract.

C. 19-Year On-Air Partnership Ended for 'Mike and the Mad Dog'

On Saturday August 16, it was reported that sports-formatted WFAN/New York lost one of its longtime personalities. According to a story by James Callan at bloomberg.com: "Chris Russo, co-host of the 'Mike and the Mad Dog' sports-radio program on WFAN in New York, left the show after almost 19 years."

Several days later, SIRIUS XM Radio disclosed that Russo would be the main attraction on a new sports-talk channel. SIRIUS channel 123 and XM channel 144 will relaunch as "Mad Dog Radio" which will present sports talk, interviews, news and live remote broadcasts from sporting events.

D. Radio Trade Magazine Rescinded Lifetime Award to Bob Grant

In mid January, Bob Grant, a pioneer in talk radio, was embroiled in a controversy. Newsmax.com reported: "...Radio & Records magazine decided against awarding him a lifetime achievement award after receiving an e-mail that recalled remarks he made back in the 1990s."

Nydailynews.com added: "After R&R issued a statement saying only that it had reconsidered Grant's 'body of work,' there was widespread speculation that e-mails quoting some of his past remarks may have triggered the magazine's embarrassing pullback."

Grant told Newsmax.com: “It’s tragic because it’s a reflection, not on me. But a reflection on what is going on in this country today."

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