By RODNEY HO/ firstname.lastname@example.org, originally filed Thursday, March 3, 2016
In conjunction with a new logo and adding a 1 at the end of its name, Star 94.1 introduced its long-awaited new morning show Thursday morning featuring two familiar faces: Jeff Dauler and Jenn Hobby.
"We feel the love," said Hobby this morning during the first live break. "We feel the support from friends and family... Our families decorated the studio and sent flowers and notes. All your comments, your well wishes have been well received. We're going to do our best to make you happy."
The Jeff and Jenn Show will normally air from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. daily but started today at 7 a.m. The Drex, Cassiday and Tingle morning show, which has been on Star since early last year, is now on in the afternoons. They volunteered to start at 5:30 a.m. instead of 6 a.m. because so many people are up at that time (and it was what the Bert Show used to do as well.)
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"Everything here is new," Hobby said. "The name of the radio station is new. The studios are new. The computer system is brand new. The web site is new. Everything is new!"
Dauler and Hobby worked for a decade together on the Bert Show from 2002 to 2012. Hobby, pregnant with her first child at the time, moved to sister station Kicks 101.5 as a mid-day host for three years.
After his contract was left in limbo, Dauler left in early November to go to rival Star, surprising Bert Weiss . Immediately, rumors floated around that he and Hobby would reunite.
Three weeks later, Hobby put in her resignation at Kicks, fueling even more speculation.
Hobby couldn't negotiate with Star until Feb. 15. A week later, it happened: Hobby and Dauler were back together with today the start date.
Here's my Periscope video while in studio at 9:40 a.m. this morning. It includes a short interview with market manager Mike Fowler and Dauler and Hobby gabbing with mid-day host Heather Branch and program director Tony Lorino.
During their first live opener, they took several calls from fans. They emphasized the fact that the callers were from cities in metro Atlanta, something they couldn't do on the Bert Show when it went into syndication in 2010.
They then played a special song for Dauler: "Best Day of My Life" by American Authors. He had listened to it every day during his break. Then coincidentally, the bosses flew the show to New York to meet with advertisers and had that band play that very song during a cocktail hour. (Dauler choked up when he talked about this.)
Hobby joked after a few minutes that she had just talked more than she did at any time on Kicks 101.5. (Mid-day hosts at most music stations generally can't talk much.)
"We're like giddy little kids," Hobby said. "I have this perma-grin on my face. This is so much fun!"
They also played clips from a comedy show Dauler did Tuesday night before 400 people at 37 Main in Johns Creek where they made their first official appearance together as a morning show. Kim Zolciak Biermann was there with her "Don't Be Tardy" reality show cameras.
"I have substance," Zolciak said with sincerity.
During the 8 a.m. hour, Dauler noted how connected people felt when they were on the Bert Show. One caller said she literally cried when Dauler left that show in November.
This is a big financial gamble for Entercom, which owns Star 94. By picking up Dauler and Hobby, the station now has two pricey shows on the payroll. And it's going to invest in billboards starting mid month featuring the new morning show.
The hope is that with changes going on at the other three pop station morning shows (Power dropping Scotty Kay, B98.5 bringing in a new male co-host Tad Lemire and the Bert Show replacing Dauler with Brian Moote), Star will find some listeners seeking another outlet.
Plus, Dauler and Hobby both have a long heritage in the market and management hopes that translates into more listeners.
The reaction when I announced the new team was largely positive. In a purely unscientific poll I posted on January 22, out of 3,014 respondents, 48 percent said they couldn't wait to listen, 31 percent were willing to give them a shot and only 21 percent found the combo less than appealing.
The hosts plan to do a post-show podcast called "The Extra Ten." The first one was me interviewing them. I will post here when they have it ready. I talked to them about what show features they plan to do. One interesting thing: they will not have a regular Hollywood or pop culture update, a standard feature on other pop station morning shows. And they plan to use Steve Tingle from the afternoon show for his voices and comedy bits.
And while Dauler was known as the unpredictably comedic, irascible contributor on the Bert Show, he plans to project a more positive attitude on Star, which Hobby calls an evolution in his persona.
Also, why did management change Star 94 to Star 94.1 (or in the on-air parlance, Star 9-4-1), Fowler said it's simply a way to be more digital friendly. That's what people see on their radio dials and there are two other stations that are in the 94 vicinity: Streetz 94.5 and 94.9/The Bull.
The new logo is the first major makeover since the station became Star 94 in 1989 and is just an effort to modernize the look. That original logo lasted an impressive 27 years. "It represented the station well," said Mark Kanov, who ran the station for many years until 2008.
Here's the new logo: