“When they said my name, there was a chorus of boos. It really hurt my feelings, but I understand it.”
Mikey Esparza, the anchor of The Mikey Show on FM 94/9, was reflecting on the air December 14 what it was like to be dissed at this year’s station-sponsored Holiday Hootenanny at UCSD’s Rimac Arena. The booing highlighted an ongoing disconnect between the station’s music-loving fan base and the all-talk Mikey Show, which debuted on 94/9 in February 2010 and airs weekday mornings from 6 to 10 a.m.
Station manager Rick Jackson doesn’t seem to buy into the station’s slogan that “It’s about the music.”
“We are not in the music business,” says Jackson, “we are in the radio business.” He says that though he has no plans to tinker with the music part of the station’s format, “If I could run an entire cadre of shows that had nothing to do with music, I would. People can get their music from Pandora and from many other sources.”
Jackson credits The Mikey Show for turning around the fortunes of 94/9. “Our bottom line has tripled.” He says 94/9 continues to lose money as it has for two years, but he predicts the station will be back in the black in 2011. The latest Arbitron ratings show that among listeners aged 18–34, The Mikey Show is in 9th place; among those 25–54, it’s in 11th place. Overall, 94/9 is in 20th place.
Garett Michaels, program director of 94/9, defended his morning host on air: “What really pisses me off is that a couple of jerks in the crowd booed and made it really hard to enjoy [Holiday Hootenany headliners the Black Keys].... If you’re not down, fine, shut your mouth. The Mikey Show isn’t going anywhere.”
Jackson says “[Esparza] is important to the majority of listeners, regardless of what a whining few have to say.” Before Mikey, Jackson says, “Mornings on 94/9 were like the Sahara Desert.”