EXCLUSIVE: Star 94.1 dropped the program director ordered to get rid of Jeff Dauler

Star 94.1 dropped the program director who got rid of Jeff Dauler Ron Roberts

Originally posted Wednesday, June 19, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Ron Roberts, the program director for pop station Star 94.1, lost his job Tuesday just six weeks after he removed Jeff Dauler as morning host and revamped the show with Jenn Hobby as the lead.

Roberts on his Instagram page this evening posted a photo with him, his husband Ethan Smith and two Star 94.1 radio hosts he hired: Mike Kannon and Curtis Stone.

"Celebrating the end of an emotional day with some of my favorite people ever," Roberts wrote. "They say work isn't work when you work with good people. Okay, well I had to do a lot of work and under some duress but these two were effortless to work alongside. They're stars ... and they'll lead a station's resurrection. I'm already proud knowing they're not only capable but destined to do it. #noregrets. Oh also my handsome husband got a job at the Weather Channel today! Should be the lead story damn it! #proudhusband"

Roberts joined the station last year and quickly instituted changes to the morning show, including dumping Dauler’s prank call segment. He also adjusted the music, salting in a few hip-hop gold cuts like “Low,” “OMG” and “Just a Dream” that didn’t get much airplay on the station when the songs were new.

But the big moves came last month soon after morning show Kelly Cheese left with no explanation. Roberts dropped Dauler but kept  Hobby and show producer Jeannine Riley. He added Mark Owens, formerly of 92.9/The Game, and a friend of his from Myrtle Beach  Stone, an interior designer.

He also removed afternoon host Mike Marino while mid-day host Heather Branch left on her own. Amanda Kelly is now mid-days and  Kannon is afternoons.

But the transition did not go as smoothly as expected.

Reaction was so negative on the show’s Facebook page, management took the page down for a time.

When asked on air the first day after Dauler was let go to say something nice about him, all Roberts could come up with is that Dauler took him out to lunch when Roberts first arrived from Myrtle Beach, S.C. where he had his last radio job.

The show brought former producer Cheese (now on a syndicated show in Michigan) on the air and she said this:

“You knew what was going on behind the scenes and it was hard.” She said hi to Owens and added, “these four women you are sitting with got me through some of the toughest times I’ve ever experienced in a workplace. When I said I needed to leave for my own mental well-being, you were not only so supportive of that moment, you found out about this new opportunity, you Jenn especially, you said, ‘You have to take this!’ You pushed me for it. It gave me the confidence to say yes.”

Then Hobby did on air what was supposed to be an inspirational vitamin of sorts but it sounded more like a direct message to her long-time friend Dauler. In part, it went like this:

I promise you, you will get results. You will change. You will improve. But not until you stop playing the victim at every turn. There are some people in life who spend most of their their time improving themselves and there are others who spend time improving their carefully crafted insults at others and making their situation a woe-is-me scenario and playing a perfect victim at every turn. Beware those people and you don't have to be those people.

Dauler was not allowed to talk publicly about his firing, based on his severance package, but his wife Callie said during an emotional Instagram Story spilled some tea. While he knew things weren't going well, he didn't expect to lose his job midway through his contract, she said.

She added that it was “heartbreaking” that the station had been planning this while she and Jeff were dealing emotionally with a miscarriage earlier this year.

“There were things put in motion for Jeff to not be on that show anymore,” Callie said, getting tearful. “That cuts really deep... That part really hurts... That will take a minute to get over.”

Dauler, who was clearly hurt that Hobby had not warned him this was coming down the pike, posted a note on social media soon after saying: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”

Why Roberts was given the boot is unclear.

He was at the station less than a year and the big personnel changes happened all of six weeks ago. It's unfair to judge the results of his changes this soon. And I can't say how many of the changes were instituted above Roberts' head, as in his now former boss, Rick Caffey.

The station’s ratings have not budged much in recent months and remains in fourth place in most demos among the four pop stations behind B98.5, Q100 and Power 96.1.

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