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WQYK Screwing the Pooch


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Clueless WQYK goes from bad to worse

By JOHN C. COTEY, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times

published July 11, 2003

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

No one would have thought that one of the lamest ideas in the history of sports talk radio - rebroadcasting Bucs games from last season - could ever be topped, but WQYK-AM 1010 outdid itself Thursday.

A loop of three bad Bucs fight songs?

Just over a week before the start of training camp and listeners get a loop of three bad Bucs fight songs?

After firing T.J. Rives and yanking the rest of the local talent off the air, WQYK came back Thursday with ... nothing worth listening to.

No Sporting News Radio Network. No Westwood One/CBS Radio Sports (both, by the way, already paid for). No sports talk. Nothing.

Believe it or not, that's the plan.

"It was just a decision to not play with that right now," operations manager Mike Culotta said of syndicated sports talk.

Culotta seems to think the Bucs loop will attract interest and create excitement at the prospects that something new is on the way.

"It definitely distinguishes what's next," he said.

On a day when people tuned in because of curiosity, WQYK gave them a reason to switch away again.

Brad James, the program director for rival (term loosely used) WDAE-AM 620, thinks the time has come for WQYK to hang up its microphones and move on. "Shut it off, man, shut it off," he said.

Those remarks are easy to dismiss as wishful thinking from a pseudo-competitor who stands to snag some of WQYK's advertisers, who had to be thrilled when their ads still ran Thursday, as if anyone would hear them.

After tuning in Thursday, it's hard not to agree with James.

What recourse is there? Can WQYK honestly fix itself?

No one seems to think so. If WQYK is really going to stick with sports talk radio, then it appears to have four options:

- Commit to nationally syndicated shows. But they probably would have done that already. Instead, they overreach on Bucs mania with rebroadcasts and Bucs fight songs.

- Lure top talent if an effort will be made to field a new lineup. Considering the knee-jerk, haphazard execution of Wednesday's moves, it's doubtful such a well-thought-out move is in the works (not to mention career suicide for any host stupid enough to take that gamble).

- Retool its current lineup, minus the fired Rives. The ReplacementChix? SportsArena Cowhead? Guess what - it didn't work the first time ... or the second time.

"You can put a dress and lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig," James said, in perfect sports talk form.

- Increase signal strength. Not gonna happen.

Add it all up, and what do you have? Country music? Religious talk? Bucs songs 24/7!

WQYK's failure is made more surprising by the fact it has the Bucs - the Bucs! - and gets blown away by WDAE. If you can't build a sports talk station around the mind-numbingly popular Bucs, not to mention NASCAR - NASCAR! - then your situation is hopeless, your cause lost.

Culotta said WQYK has a plan ... kind of.

On Monday, we'll all see what that was ... maybe.

"I think we know what were doing," he said.

Don't hold your breath.

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Guest wildrover

Looks like Mr. Cotey had something out for WQYK, anyway the station was lame anyway and they fired their only bright spot.  My question is this, if all the talent was yanked off the air how is it that T.J. is the only one fired.  Haven't they all been fired?  They're not on the air doesn't that mean they're done?  

And does anybody know just exactly what happened?  Something not mentioned is that they also had the Bulls, maybe if they had given them some more run and pimped them a bit they would have had more listeners, I know I would have tuned in a bit more.  

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The Replacements were the ONLY thing they had going for them, and they are now playing bucs 2002 games in THEIR time slot.  ::)

...typical 1010...

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