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Krantz rips WBT management on his way out

By Mark Washburn
Mark Washburn
Mark Washburn writes television and radio commentary for The Charlotte Observer.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/06/12/16/50/TJVlF.Em.138.jpeg|472
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    Britt Whitmire
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/06/12/16/50/UJXG9.Em.138.jpeg|472
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    Brad Krantz

Let it be said that the talk show “Brad and Britt” didn’t go quietly.

Brad Krantz and Britt Whitmire debuted two years ago on WBT-AM (1110) in afternoon drive-time, then moved to early evenings a year ago, swapping places with John Hancock’s show.

Wednesday’s show was their last. “We’re going in a different direction,” says Jason Furst, WBT’s program director.

“I don’t want to say anything,” says Krantz, who has been known in Charlotte radio since his first stint in 1999, when he was teamed on WBT with Richard Spires, who now does radio in Florida. “There’s nothing in this to say what I really think. There’s nothing to say.”

Then, after a pause, Krantz thinks of something.

“We’d just like to thank WBT management for their complete lack of support for us from the day we came on the air.”

That would be July 2, 2012, when Krantz and Whitmire had their first day under a two-year, “no cut” contract, a fairly rare thing in broadcasting these days. It meant that if the station wanted to get rid of the show before summer 2014, they’d have to pay the pair through that time.

“They were too cheap to fire us,” says Krantz, his trademark sarcasm revving into high gear, “and put something on ‘good,’ so they decided to punish the audience with this ‘horrible’ show rather than do the right thing. … For them to have taken off the cancer of ‘Brad and Britt,’ they would have had to pay out the contract. You’d think if they cared about the audience, they would do that. You know why we were still on? Because we weren’t bad. Really, we were good.”

Krantz says he believes that one key reason the show failed to resonate in Charlotte was because WBT has spent a decade aiming at arch-conservatives rather than a broader audience. Although the show was a departure from the politically focused fare that had filled the time slot over the years, Krantz says he thinks that many listeners thought he and Whitmire were too liberal for the airwaves, especially when it aired in the afternoon following Rush Limbaugh.

“We were hired to break the WBT noon-to-6 p.m. right-wing sewer that had been led by Jeff Katz, Tara Servatius and Vince Coakley,” Krantz says, listing the parade of talent WBT had in the afternoons following the 2006 departure of Jason Lewis. He was the most successful host for the time slot in at least a decade until leaving for a job in Minneapolis. “We did that, got high ratings but got no support from management,” Krantz says.

“Their core audience at WBT is like NASCAR and the Republican Party – it’s too old and too white and you can’t sell commercials to it anymore. It’s the AM talk-radio curse. They’ve done it to themselves by building the station around Limbaugh. …

“Tell this (exclamation that can’t be printed here) city of Charlotte, North Carolina, to (verb that can’t be printed here) off because they can’t handle anything but hate-Obama radio.”

Whitmire, Krantz’s partner who is known for doing skits and impersonations including one called “Little Rush” that mocks the popular talk show host, says he liked his co-workers at WBT and the fans the team acquired.

“Other than that, the whole two years was pretty disappointing. I was expecting a higher level of professionalism in management and it just wasn’t there,” says Whitmire.

“We just wish them well in the future,” says Rick Feinblatt, WBT’s senior vice president.

Friday was to have been the last day for the show, but Krantz and Whitmire were notified Thursday afternoon that the station had decided to end things two days early. Wednesday night was the first time Krantz and Whitmire directly addressed the impending end of the show with listeners.

“Brad and Britt” had also been on WZTK-FM in Greensboro and then WPTF-AM in Raleigh before coming to Charlotte. Krantz and Whitmire say WBT knew what it was getting when the show started here, but for whatever reason wasn’t happy with it.

“I don’t think they know what they want the station to be,” says Whitmire. “They just know what they don’t want it to be.”

Which is?

“Anything with us.”

Media Movers

Beginning Monday, WBT-AM will begin experimenting with a news hour beginning at 6 p.m., says program director Jason Hurst, featuring sports anchor Jim Szoke and reporter Mark Garrison with fill-in host Doc Washburn. WBT has also dropped its long-term contract with AccuWeather and signed up with the Weather Channel for meteorology, Hurst says. Among the voices from the new vendor will be Sam Champion every day at 7:20 a.m. …

Monday will be shakeup day in Charlotte sports radio. Former Panthers general manager Marty Hurney will become co-host with Al Gardner on “Hurney and Gardner” 1-3 p.m. weekdays on WZGV-AM (ESPN 730). Hurney, fired in October 2012 after more than 10 years as the Panthers’ general manager, has been serving as guest analyst on ESPN’s “NFL Insiders” since March. WZGV general manager Lanny Ford said that “The Pulse” with Bobby Rosinski and Chris Allison will add an hour and air daily 3-7 p.m. … Meanwhile, at rival WFNZ-AM (“Fan” 610), general manager D.J. Stout is expected Monday to announce two new local shows – one 10 a.m.-noon and an afternoon drive-time show to replace Marc James, who left to take a talk show in Atlanta. Frank Garcia and Mark Yarbrough, who had been doing “Bustin’ Loose” 10 a.m.-noon are expected to stay and move to noon-3 p.m. …

WFAE-FM’s (NPR 90.7) Ben Bradford wins a prestigious national Edward R. Murrow award from the Radio Television Digital News Association for his coverage of a Moral Monday protest in Raleigh. Bradford won first place among large market radio stations in the hard news category. … Comporium Cable’s Rock Hill station CN2 won a regional Emmy for Laurabree Monday, Lucas McFadden, Alison Rauch, Chris Roberts, Trey Maggio and Mia Macy for their work on a newscast covering soldiers returning from Afghanistan. …

Caitlin Lockerbie joins WJZY (Channel 46) from Time Warner Cable’s Triad newsroom. She will be weekend morning co-host on Fox46 and a reporter during the week. … Reporter Dan Yesenosky joins WCNC (Channel 36) from the NBC affiliate in Greenville, N.C., and Dustin Wilson joins the station as reporter from the CBS affiliate in Little Rock, Ark. …

Entertainment weekly Creative Loafing unveiled a new and far more readable format this week with a new and lazier logo designed by Tamara LaValla of Social Design House in Rock Hill. More upgrades coming over the next few months, says editor Kimberly Lawson in introducing the changes.

Washburn: 704-358-5007
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