Mike Rhyner, at left, weighed in today about the future of The Hardline.

The Last Word on The Ticket's "He Who Must Not Be Named"

Moments ago, The Hardline host Mike Rhyner and sidekick Corby Davidson spoke at great length about the fate of KTCK-AM's drive-time show -- specifically, the cease and desist about which Richie wrote yesterday and the what's-next for the show. And not once did they mention the show's former co-host, Greg Williams. Because they can't. Nonetheless, it was the most revelatory segment since Williams' sudden disappearance on October 12.

Rhyner confirmed the substance of Richie's post: "Last week we received a cease and desist order, which means we can no longer use the name, no longer use the likeness, no longer use the voice, no longer use anything." He also said that Davidson is, as far as he's concerned, the show's "No. 2 guy," despite the inevitable hire of another crew member -- "but, right now," Rhyner said, "we haven't given a whole ton of really hard thought as to who that might be."

Davidson, Rhyner and producer Danny Balis also apologized to the listeners for dragging this out and saying little about Williams' absence, which, yes, is permanent. "It's a legal matter," Rhyner said. Williams was referred to throughout the entire segment as "he who must not be named." It was, after 13 years, more than a little heartbreaking.

And Rhyner will be the first to admit as much: Williams was his on-air partner and, yes, his friend. But as he said moments ago, Williams essentially brought this on himself -- on more than one occasion.

"I have no problem at all with the concept of the second chance in the world," Rhyner said. "It's the fourth and fifth one I have a problem with. There's an enormous back story nobody knows about, and this is not the time for us to get into it. I want everything to work out well for everybody. I really do. We had a lot of good times together, a lot of good years together, and that means something to me. ... All that said, what's going top happen now? Well, um ..."

"Nothing, till we get this resolved," Davidson said.

The Hardline did think this was going to be resolved two weeks ago, and again last week. But, likely, nothing will be finalized till after the new year; Davidson repeatedly asked for the listeners' patience -- and understanding that, look, we're not owed the whole story.

"We don't owe you anything," Rhyner said. "The only people we owe here are our bosses. We owe the good radio every day. You don't owe us anything. You don't owe it to us to listen. This is all freewill. There are no guns there... You listen because you want to. You listen because you either like it or think we suck less than anything else out there. ...

"We're going to keep this thing going one way or the other," Rhyner added. "Even though I am very, very pissed off and very angry by the way this all came about, the way it all ended, at the same time I am really looking forward to where this is going. It's in a transition right now."

The Hardline's gone. Long live The Hardline. --Robert Wilonsky

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