Photo: CR: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com. Scott Gaines is leaving Kicks 101.5 after two years.
Photo: CR: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com. Scott Gaines is leaving Kicks 101.5 after two years.

Scott Gaines leaving Kick 101.5, which is planning a “big announcement” at 3 p.m. Thursday

Originally posted Thursday, November 4, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Scott Gaines, afternoon host at Kicks 101.5, is departing next month after more than two years at the country station, according to Country Aircheck

He was also assistant program director and music director. 

Why is not clear. Gaines has not mentioned his departure on social media. UPDATE on November 17, 2019: he sent me a note saying the departure is amicable: “Thanks for the email, there really isn't much to tell. I am moving back to Dallas to be with my family and we have a baby on the way in February. The time was right to make the switch and I took it...We are all still family. I am in the building until 12/8. Helping them with the transition.”

The struggling country station, which suffered its worst ratings last month since the current Nielsen ratings system was put in place 10 years ago, has new management and is preparing a new morning show.

The station, now run by program director Mike Moore, has been promoting a “big announcement” Thursday at 3 p.m. 

By using a “wolf” sound during its promo, radio insiders are speculating that this could mean a name change, perhaps to the Wolf. Moore came from a Dallas station called the Wolf in Portland where he worked for 16 years. But this could also be a feint, a way to throw off the scent, so to speak. A new “Wolf” Instagram page is being scrutinized as well. Is it real or fake news?

Cumulus, the parent company for Kicks, also hired a veteran top 40 jock J.J. Kincaid without announcing his full-time role. He could be positioned to be part of the new morning team. (Dallas McCade is holding the fort and could very well be part of the morning show again.)

Changing the name at all would be a big deal. Kicks as a name has been around in Atlanta for 38 years going back to 1981 as a country format when core artists were Ronnie Milsap, Juice Newton, Alabama, Eddie Rabbitt and Kenny Rogers. For many years, Kicks was the dominant country station in town, regularly beating Y106.7, which became Eagle from 2000 until its demise in 2008. 

Having such a well-established name has its advantages and disadvantages. While it’s familiar, Kicks is also saddled with an aging audience compared to its direct rival 94.9/The Bull, which arrived in 2006.  

The Bull over the years has usually held an advantage among younger listeners despite a similar playlist to Kicks. But recently, it has been regularly beating Kicks across all ages. In October, the Bull garnered a 4.3 share (good for eighth place) compared to a 2.4 share for Kicks, in 17th place. 

The last time a station changed names in Atlanta but kept the same format was the ill-fated switch at Peach 94.9 to Lite 94.9 in 2002. While Peach was a brand that connoted super soft pop music, it was at least readily identified as Atlanta. Lite at the time was a generic name Clear Channel (now IHeartMedia) was foisting upon many stations nationwide. And Lite by its very name hardly made the station sound younger. In December, during Christmas, Clear Channel dumped the format for country. 

Kicks in recent years has gone through a lot of personnel changes. C.J. Lusk and Ali Mac came and went. Corey Dylan arrived to join Cadillac Jack earlier this year in mornings, but Caddy was abruptly ousted without explanation in July during the middle of his contract. Caddy was a loyal company man for 26 years.

In a recent text, Caddy said he has enjoyed being a full-time dad the past four months. “I miss visiting with my friends every day but I will be back soon feeling refreshed and recharged,” he promised. 

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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