Dialing Down the Talent Budget

In 1986, Mike Halloran moved to San Diego from Detroit to work at the new “cutting edge” TJ-based rock station 91X. Its DJs had to drive to the Tijuana “bunker on the mountain” studio, which was next to the 100,000-watt transmitter. “I got shook down [by Mexican police] twice in my first week. They would take all the money you had on you. I learned that you had to ask to be taken to the police station to pay the fine to avoid losing all your money.” Halloran says Yankee rockers would come across the border to get interviewed on 91X before they played at Iguanas, the Tijuana venue that hosted Rage Against the Machine, Nirvana, the Ramones, and Jane’s Addiction. “They arrested the Butthole Surfers because the bass player assaulted someone who was harassing them onstage. They kept them in jail until they paid the fine.”

After ten years at 91X, Halloran moved to now-defunct alternative stations such as 92/5, KUPR, and 92/1. His ratings success at 92/1 prompted 94/9 management to switch its station to alternative in 2002.

After seven years at 94/9, Halloran was shown the door last week. The station blames the bad economy for Halloran’s dismissal. It is rumored that Mikey Esparza (formerly of Rock 105.3’s talk-heavy Mikey Show) will arrive as the new 94/9 morning host.

Halloran, who has also worked in the record industry, has not ruled out a return to either radio or records. He says he and his new business partners have made a $6 million offer to buy a local motel and turn it into the “Rock and Roll Motel.… I also just finished a movie script with one of my buddies from Detroit. It’s a movie about Jesus. I was told by a local entrepreneur he wants to option the script.”

The same day that Halloran left the airwaves (January 4), Clear Channel–owned KGB/101.5 pulled the plug on the Dave, Shelly, and Chainsaw show. The highly rated morning ensemble would have celebrated its 20-year anniversary in a few months. Clear Channel management stated that it offered the morning team “a lucrative contract to stay,” but the money offered was not enough to keep the team onboard.

A radio exec outside of Clear Channel explained his take on the DSC termination: “In 2009, KGB grossed $9 million [in ad revenue]. They were paying DSC $6 million. When you add in all the other expenses, KGB lost $2 million last year.”

Meanwhile, Jeff & Jer, another local-radio morning team with two decades on the air, remains unemployed after getting tossed by Clear Channel–owned Star 94.1 in August. They were also reported to get $6 million a year. Jeff & Jer were replaced by A.J.’s Playhouse, which has performed better in the ratings than Jeff & Jer at a fraction of the cost.

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