By RODNEY HO/ firstname.lastname@example.org, originally filed Thursday, January 7, 2016
My former Peach Buzz colleague Rich Eldredge talked to Jeff Dauler recently about his decision to leave the Bert Show and go to rival pop station Star 94. (The extensive interview is here on his site.)
Apparently, Dauler had gone nine months without a contract, a sign to him that the Bert Show syndicated owner Yea Networks didn't want him that badly. (CEO George McLaughlin did not respond to an email requesting comment.) Although Dauler worked out of Q100's offices here in Atlanta, he was no longer contractually tied with Q100 owner Cumulus Media but to the syndication network, which the Bert Show joined in 2010.
Bert Weiss, who has an ownership stake in Yea, was not directly involved in the negotiations but did try to move the process along, Dauler said. Dauler admitted he didn't push Weiss too hard given Weiss' only personal issues last year, including a pending divorce from his wife Stacey. (Dauler himself is engaged to get married to Callie Riggs.)
Star 94 GM Mike Fowler, who oversaw Q100 and the Bert Show as a general manager from 2003 to 2006, had joined Star last year and reconnected with Dauler in August. They soon began to talk about Dauler coming over.
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"I’m the kind of guy who requires a lot of 'signs,' " Dauler told Eldredge. "In high school, the girl could have her shirt off in the front seat of my car and I’m still wondering if she wanted to make out with me. And there we a lot of really obvious signs directing me toward making a change."
Weiss and Dauler have had a close personal and professional relationship over more than 14 years at Q100. He said when I began texting on November 2 to both of them (and others) a rumor my colleague Jennifer Brett had heard that Dauler was leaving the Bert Show for Star 94, Dauler acted like he didn't know anything. He texted me, "Let me know when the announcement happens. I would like to be there."
In reality, the deal was not actually done at that moment.
This rumor hastened Dauler to finish the deal with Star that day. He then informed Weiss he couldn't be on air the next day and would give him info at 10 a.m. On Tuesday, November 3, he came to Q100 offices and met with the Bert Show staff to tell them the news of his departure. While Cumulus operations manager Rob Roberts said nice things, Dauler said, Weiss was clearly upset and after a couple of questions, walked out of the room.
Weiss later told his Bert Show audience he had been "blindsided" by Dauler's move. (He later admitted he tends to take things like this more personally than he should but that's just the way he is.)
Eldredge said it's clear Weiss knew Dauler wasn't under contract. How could he have been truly "blindsided"?
"The way the news came out, Bert was blindsided," Dauler said. "But as you point out, he was aware I was working without a contract and was aware of my increased frustrations with the negotiation process. But it’s also a bit unfair, as it implies, that I did something intentionally mean to harm Bert. Not the case at all. I navigated the situation the best I could."
This move is clearly Dauler's shot to be the No. 1 guy, not the No. 2 and he was willing to take both the career risk and a pay cut to do so.
He will officially join Star on air in early February. Despite not being under contract, he has abided by a three-month non-compete clause. That's actually relatively brief. Most radio personalities are shackled with a six-month agreement.
Curiously, who will be part of Dauler's show and whether he'll be on in mornings or afternoons is still up in the air. Fowler said he won't be announcing anything until early February.
There is some awkwardness because Star already has a morning show under contract that has been only around a year: Drex, Cassiday and Tingle. (They were signed before the new owners Entercom came aboard last spring.)Potentially, Fowler could move that team to the afternoons and place Dauler in the mornings. Or he could plant Dauler in the afternoons, similar to the way Cindy Simmons and Ray Mariner held fort in the mid-2000s at Star.
Afternoon personality shows on pop stations are not that common in this day and age of frugality, but some still invest the money to have them.
In the meantime, Weiss wasted no time finding a replacement named Brian Moote , a stand-up comic with some radio experience from the West Coast. Based on Moote's first day, he is very big on making fun of himself but has more of a bright, upbeat sensibility than Dauler. Whether the chemistry works is always a mystery until the team settles down. We'll have to see if the audience connects with the new Bert Show.