WBSB replaces Emry with Kelly in drive time

October 14, 1992|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Staff Writer

Baltimore's morning "drive time" radio waves have a new voice this week. Onetime ratings powerhouse WBSB-FM (104.3) has abruptly dumped Chris Emry and hired Bruce Kelly in an attempt to capture a larger share of the morning market.

Mr. Kelly, Billboard magazine's 1990 Air Personality of the Year, was on the Variety-104.3 airwaves for the first time Monday on the 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. shift with news director Schelby Sweeney.

For the past eight years, he was a top morning voice in Phoenix, Ariz., including three years at KOY-FM and before that at KZZP-AM/FM. Some local listeners may remember Mr. Kelly from 10 years ago when he was on Washington's WPGC-FM.

hTC Mr. Emry, who was hired by WBSB just over a year ago after being fired by WIYY-FM (97.9), was informed of his dismissal last Friday.

"I've been fired before. As long as you're in this business you know you'll be fired again," said Mr. Emry yesterday, adding he hopes to stay in the Baltimore radio market.

He complained, however, that the station never sought to promote his morning show, nor to allow it to develop as a program that did more than play music.

"They wanted me to play tunes. . . . I had wanted to do something more fun and entertaining. Then I got the boot," he said.

When he joined WBSB (then known as B-104), the deejay added, he knew its Top 40 format would change soon and thought a classic rock sound was among the possible formats. Instead, the station switched in February to its current "adult contemporary" orientation and became Variety-104.3.

"I thought I could do either format," Mr. Emry said. He added that clauses in the two-year contract he had with WBSB mean "I'm not hung out to dry, and have no intention of leaving Baltimore."

Spokesman John Pavlos said yesterday the station had no comment on the reasons for the deejay change, saying "we want to concentrate on the new show."

But the change coincided with the arrival of the summer Arbitron ratings, which showed Variety-104.3 making only small ratings gains since last winter.

In the winter Arbitron book, WBSB ranked 11th in the drive-time slot, with a 2.7 share among listeners 12 and older. In the most recent ratings, it had moved up only to 10th in that time slot, with a 3.5 share. (Each share represents about 3,600 listeners in an average quarter-hour.)

One local radio source said the station apparently felt Mr. Emry was "just not AC enough," referring to the new WBSB format in February.

Mr. Kelly, 36, has spent his career broadcasting for Top 40 outlets -- "at least until now," he said yesterday.

He left station KOY in Phoenix because he was unhappy about a slow shift in the format there.

"They were a little too dance [music] oriented for me, leaning toward a lot younger audience than I wanted to be involved with. This is a business for fun, and of fun, and I wasn't having much fun," he said. "I'm just real psyched to be back playing music I can relate to."

The recently divorced father of two is a native of Alexandria, Va. Other stations he has worked include WHTT-FM in Boston and B-94 in Pittsburgh.

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