If you’re a listener of KTCK-AM (1310, The Ticket) -- and judging from my saturated e-mail inbox and your comments, you most certainly are -- this week you’ve heard a subtle, yet significant change. Or maybe you haven’t heard it. And that’s the point.
As the latest step in the messy divorce between former host Greg Williams and The Hardline, the Hammer’s attorneys have slapped the station with a nice little cease and desist. (Remind me some day to tell you about the time I got one from baseball super-agent Scott Boras. The things are nasty.) What's it mean?
Firstly, as I wrote recently, it’s a done deal that Williams has uttered his last back-porch country witticism on the station. Secondly, The Ticket can no longer use Williams’ name on the air. No more of his commercial spots. No more mentioning his name during a segment. No more -- God help us -- Greggo drops.
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Sad that our area’s most innovative and addicting sports talk show had to end. Even sadder that it has to end like this. Williams, as detailed last month, recently lost a battle to drug addiction. With his Ticket bridges burned and nothing left but to negotiate a contract buyout, Hammer is already willing and able to move on.
Radio industry sources told me this week that Williams met with ESPN's local radio affiliate and is also involved in preliminary talks with Live 105.3 FM about an on-air role, possibly hosting his own show.
Couple of hurdles: Hammer would have to convince The Ticket to waive the “non-compete” clause in his contract in order to work in this market this soon. And ESPN -- despite being in all sorts of upheaval -- apparently said, “No thanks.”
While Hammer searches for a new gig, and Hardline-er Mike Rhyner searches for a new sidekick, one thing’s for sure: Dallas sports talk radio will sound much different in 2008. Too early to tell exactly what it’ll all mean. The smart money says Hammer will miss The Ticket much more than The Ticket will miss the Hammer. Right? Not that station-wide, small-picture trend numbers are definitive, but in Arbitron radio ratings released Tuesday, The Ticket dipped from a 3.0 to a 2.8 in the Fall 2 period for listeners 12-and-up, while ESPN surged from 1.4 to 1.9. Are those tweaks due to the start of the Mavs’ season on ESPN, the end of The Hammer Era on The Ticket or neither? Since you can no longer stay hard, stay tuned. --Richie Whitt