Originally posted Sunday, March 22, 2020 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Former Bert Show host Brian Moote has found a new job as the lead host of a new morning show in Dallas on the heritage country station 99.5/ the Wolf, owned by Atlanta-based Cumulus Media.
Brian Phillips, the Cumulus executive vice president of content and audience who helped make 99X the powerhouse alternative rock station in the 1990s, wants to give its country stations a more modern remake. It already has done so with Kicks 101.5 in Atlanta, which became New Country 101.5 last fall, emphasizing Georgia country artists and a personality-based morning show led by top 40 jock J.J. Kincaid and veteran Kicks host Dallas McCade.
New Country in February ranked 15th place overall with a 2.6 share, behind rival 94.9/The Bull at 3.5, ranked 12th. (I no longer have access to Nielsen demo breakdowns since Cox radio’s operations and the AJC parted ways.)
Phillips is following the same formula in Dallas, where the Wolf - tied for fifth overall in the ratings there - introduced a new morning show March 6 featuring Moote and Tara Ward, who had been part of the station’s morning show from 1998 to 2008.
The timing was good in one sense because Moote was able to land a job at all in radio - and before the COVID-19 pandemic has ground job hiring (outside of Amazon) to a sudden halt.
“I’m just glad to be on the radio again,” Moote said in an interview Saturday.
Moote left the Bert Show in early 2018 after two years to co-host a show at a top 40 station in Los Angeles called AMP 97.1 But that gig only lasted 18 months and he lost his job in July, 2019 after management changed and the station decided to focus on music, not personality.
Moote spent the next seven months hunting for a job and was thrilled that Phillips picked him for the Wolf revamp.
“I know I’m a content guy, a story teller,” said Moote, who is also a stand-up comedian. “I’m a country kid. I grew up on a farm [outside of Seattle.] They said they are long-term committed to help me grow this show.”
He officially began the “All New Wake Up Show” Monday, March 6 in what he called a “soft opening” but the COVID-19 virus was already becoming the big topic.
Moote had planned to fill out his morning team with a third host, a producer and others. But Cumulus put a hold on hiring so he and his co host Tara are doing the radio program themselves. “I run the boards and produce the show,” said Moote, who moved to an apartment three blocks from the studio.
He is starting with about 8 to 9 minutes of content per hour while playing 8 to 10 songs.
And given the seriousness of what’s going on, Moote has tapped into his news/talk roots to dive into how lives are being upended by the efforts to social distance.
“It’s not yet the show I envisioned,” Moote said, “but it’s an important time to do radio. We have to be real, be in the moment. We’re not doing bits. We have no structured features or benchmarks. We are trying to keep things grounded without being all doom and gloom.”
He admits it’s unclear how the short-term changes in commuting patterns (or lack of commuting) will impact or hurt radio stations.
Nonetheless, Moote is happy to be in the country format rather than top 40, no longer having to follow every aspect of youth pop culture. “I don’t want to pretend to care about Ariana Grande,” said Moote, who is in his 30s. He said his favorite current country acts are Luke Combs and Zac Brown.
Moote is currently in a long-distance relationship with a serious girlfriend, a realtor in Atlanta. As a result, he said he still comes back to Atlanta regularly.
Dallas is a market Moote’s former boss Bert Weiss also knows well. It’s where Weiss learned his craft in the 1990s with the Kidd Kraddock show and Weiss’ syndicated Bert Show was in that market for a few years.
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