Listeners of WIYY-FM (98 Rock) have heard the morning drive team of Chris Emry and Erika Puzulis for the last time.
The city's leading rock station and the two announcers "decided to go our separate ways" following the end of their air shift yesterday morning, according to general manager Ed Kiernan.
"We feel the station can reach a higher level of success in the morning than we have done," he said.
But Mr. Emry, 42, a seven-year veteran of 98 Rock who took over the morning drive time period 2 1/2 years ago from Bob Rivers, said he was fired. Saying he was still in a "cyclone, hurricane frame of mind," Mr. Emry noted that his show outperformed its predecessors in the ratings and speculated that his dismissal was related to the recent departure of station manager Chuck DuCoty, who left three weeks ago to become general manager of two radio stations in Milwaukee, Wis.
Ms. Puzulis, who joined the morning show shortly after Mr. Emry took it over, was identified on the air only by her first name. She could not be reached yesterday for comment.
The two air personalities, who spiced their low-key delivery with suggestive humor, helped 98 Rock to its strongest ratings in years. In the most recent Arbitron ratings, the station ranked third in the market among listeners 12 and over in both the morning drive period and overall with identical 7.8 audience shares. (Each share point equals about 3,500 listeners in an average quarter hour.) It trailed only news/talk WBAL-AM (1090) and urban contemporary WXYV-FM (V-103).
But Mr. Kiernan said, "We have the opportunity to be the No. 1 station in town, and to do that we have to have the morning show be as strong as it can be."
Overnight announcer Steve Ash, known as Stash, will take over the morning drive slot for the rest of this week and next week, when the station will announce a permanent replacement, he said. News director Bob Lopez, whose segments are a key part of the morning show, will remain at the station, he added.
In another radio personnel change, Pat Gray, a sidekick to B-104 (WBSB-FM) morning personality Glenn Beck, left that station last week. His replacement is Larry Wax, a Baltimore native who worked most recently at radio stations in Rochester, N.Y. and Philadelphia.