Star 94.1 welcomes new lineup with Mark Owens, updates on Jeff Dauler, Kelly Cheese, Heather Branch

Originally posted Monday, May 13, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Jenn Hobby brought in most of her new Star 94.1 team Monday morning. Myrtle Beach fashion designer Curtis Slade wasn’t there yet but Mark Owens was the male voice to replace Jeff Dauler, who was summarily let go last Thursday.

Others who were already on the show, now dubbed “Jenn and Friends”: show director Jeannine Riley and assistant producers Amanda Kelly and Rachel Kelso. 

Through his wife Callie, Dauler said he was blindsided by the firing last Thursday.

This begs the question: did Hobby know what was about to happen and not tip off her close friend Dauler? She worked with Dauler for a decade with the Bert Show on Q100 and joined Dauler on Star in 2016 because he asked. (Hobby didn’t respond to an inquiry about that.)

Here was Hobby’s’ daily inspirational note of the day on air Monday, not directed at any person in particular but feel free to fill in the blanks:

“Take responsibility for your spot in life. Things just don’t happen to you. You are not the victim. Instead of blaming others around you, how about instead facing the mirror alone and ask yourself what I did do? How can I improve? What can I learn from this and how can I do better? It’s about the ability to realize you could have done better. You could have treated other people better. You could have made different decisions. You could have apologized and meant it. It’s not about what other people have done or not have done. Your conditions are a result of your actions. No matter what, you are at the center of your life. You are the reason. So don’t blame others and point the finger. Turn that finger towards yourself.” 

“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.”

The same morning Dauler posted this note on Facebook, again not addressed to anyone in particular: 

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”

***


Here is how new “Jenn and Friends” morning host Mark Owens introduced himself Monday morning, day one. He is apparently terrible at remembering names. 

The proud Atlanta native has been on the Bert Show, Morning X and Regular Guys as well as 92.9/The Game as a producer since 2012. He also hosted a show about Dawgs football. And for the past 12 years, he’s been the Atlanta Braves in-game host.  

***

Former Star 94.1 morning producer and host Kelly Cheese is going to Grand Rapids, Mich. to join a syndicated morning show in 40 markets.

And Kelly Cheeseborough, known on air as Kelly Cheese, abruptly left her job at Star 94.1 in February and soon picked up a morning slot on a syndicated morning show Free Beer & Hot Wings based in Michigan available in 50 cities as the lone woman. She called in Monday morning to Jenn & Friends.

She again did not get into details why she left to the listeners but alluded to it very strongly: 

“You knew what was going on behind the scenes and it was hard,” she told Hobby, without referencing Dauler’s name. 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.” 

***
Dauler posted his first extensive comment about his departure on Saturday on Instagram and said the reason he departed was more business than personal:


I’m so overwhelmed by the messages flooding in. I’ve never felt this much support, and am so encouraged and fired up by all of your positive vibes. THANK YOU. ⁣ 

⁣ 

Radio is a job, and people get fired just like anywhere else. Sometimes there’s a reason, like missing a performance goal in a certain amount of time. Sometimes there’s no reason and the company is just trying to take things in another direction. That part of it is business. ⁣ 

⁣ 

But you let me in your car and bedroom and kitchen and maybe even your bathroom. You shared my stories with your co-workers and friends and children. You cried as I talked about things making me sad, you cheered when I talked about my victories. And you also sent me your stories. You encouraged me with those and you told me how I encouraged you. You made me laugh, gave me ideas, made me mad, and made me cry. That part of it is VERY personal. ⁣ 

⁣ 

I love the personal part of it. I do not love the business part of it. But they are both necessary and I respect them equally. I don’t have a problem sharing why I’m no longer with Star, I just don’t know if I can. So sometime next week, I’ll let someone smarter than me tell me what I can and can’t say and then I’ll let you know what they say. (Don’t think it’s something dramatic or scandalous. It’s very basic, and you can probably easily guess. It’s a business.)⁣ 

⁣ 

Other parts of the story are more complicated and I’m still untangling / processing. So give me a little longer on that. ⁣ 

⁣ 

I’m in such a good place. The Universe has lined up my life in way that I’m completely confident in where I am right now. Thank you, Universe. 😘⁣ 

⁣ 

I love you. Give gratitude every day, and always be decent. It allows you to smile at the person in the mirror every time you walk past it. ⁣

View this post on Instagram

I’m so overwhelmed by the messages flooding in. I’ve never felt this much support, and am so encouraged and fired up by all of your positive vibes. THANK YOU. ⁣ ⁣ Radio is a job, and people get fired just like anywhere else. Sometimes there’s a reason, like missing a performance goal in a certain amount of time. Sometimes there’s no reason and the company is just trying to take things in another direction. That part of it is business. ⁣ ⁣ But you let me in your car and bedroom and kitchen and maybe even your bathroom. You shared my stories with your co-workers and friends and children. You cried as I talked about things making me sad, you cheered when I talked about my victories. And you also sent me your stories. You encouraged me with those and you told me how I encouraged you. You made me laugh, gave me ideas, made me mad, and made me cry. That part of it is VERY personal. ⁣ ⁣ I love the personal part of it. I do not love the business part of it. But they are both necessary and I respect them equally. I don’t have a problem sharing why I’m no longer with Star, I just don’t know if I can. So sometime next week, I’ll let someone smarter than me tell me what I can and can’t say and then I’ll let you know what they say. (Don’t think it’s something dramatic or scandalous. It’s very basic, and you can probably easily guess. It’s a business.)⁣ ⁣ Other parts of the story are more complicated and I’m still untangling / processing. So give me a little longer on that. ⁣ ⁣ I’m in such a good place. The Universe has lined up my life in way that I’m completely confident in where I am right now. Thank you, Universe. 😘⁣ ⁣ I love you. Give gratitude every day, and always be decent. It allows you to smile at the person in the mirror every time you walk past it. ⁣ ⁣ Talk soon,⁣ ⁣ Jeff

A post shared by Jeff Dauler (@jeffdauler) on

***

Remember Kidd Chris? He was a morning host in 2011 and 2012 on Project 9-6-1, the active rock station that went away when owners IHeartRadio decided they wanted a top 40 station in the market and created Power 96.1. 

On Sunday, Chris put Dauler on blast on Facebook. He worked briefly with Dauler at a station in Syracuse many years ago while Chris was a high school intern. 

Dauler, now 45  worked under a jock named Bill Keeler in the 1990s. Keeler, now on a news/talk station in Syracuse, said in an interview today that Dauler was a producer on his show right out of Syracuse University. He recalled teaching Dauler the ropes, then Dauler left suddenly. 

Chris, who now hosts a show in Cincinnati, also had the same agent as Bert Weiss  on the Bert Show and felt Dauler was not loyal to Weiss. (Dauler at the time in 2015 felt he wasn’t being treated with proper respect by Weiss and had been off contract for months.)

“I know the screw job he did to Bert by just bailing on him and going across the street,” Chris wrote me. “He steps on anyone to be the star. He’s a phone screener.”

His note on Facebook was none the kinder. 

***


Star 94.1 departing mid-day host Heather Branch left voluntarily on Friday on her 10th anniversary with the station. She told management in February she wanted to leave radio but has yet to say what her next move will be. Her social media has been notably quiet about her future plans and she has not responded to my texts and Facebook inquiries. 

Her departure happened to coincide with management letting to Dauler and now former afternoon host Mike Marino

Marino declined to comment, said he probably can’t given the circumstaces anyway but he did thank the listeners on his personal Facebook page.

***
Oh, and look at who Jenn Hobby just friended on Instagram!

Looks like Jenn Hobby can be friends again with Bert Weiss now that she's no longer working with Jeff Dauler.

Neither Jeff Dauler nor his wife Callie are currently following Jenn Hobby’s Instagram page. (Jenn is still following Jeff.)

Bert Weiss clarified things on his Instagram:

And he aired what many listeners probably thought as well:

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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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