You can say that Steve Smith has a special relationship with WFNZ-AM (“Fan” 610).
Operations director D.J. Stout hired Smith in his rookie year of 2001 to come on the afternoon drive-time show each Monday to talk football. And Smith had just dropped his kids off at school one morning this year when he learned from a bulletin on WFNZ that the Panthers has just cut him.
And it was WFNZ that Smith called on Wednesday – in the biggest local scoop of the week – to talk to Frank Garcia and Mark Yarbro on their “Bustin’ Loose” show about his feelings toward Panthers general manager David Gettleman and the way he released Smith.
Smith was upset by a report last week on NFL Network that said he’d refused a pay cut and asked to be released by the team. He wanted to set the record straight, and called the station’s hotline – an unpublicized number that rings straight into the booth – to give his side of the story, Stout says.
“Steve trusts us and he trusts Frank to be fair,” Stout says. “It was awesome.”
Garcia had asked Smith to come on the show last week in advance of his Sunday meeting against the Panthers with his new team, the Baltimore Ravens. But Smith was concerned about being a distraction before the game and decided against it, Stout says.
Smith was invited to come on this week after the game, in which he scored two touchdowns and caught seven passes for 139 yards, but again he hesitated. But Wednesday he changed his mind and called in just as the show began.
He talked to WFNZ for nearly a half hour and the story went on every sports network and nearly every sports website.
Stout says that the interview is one reason so many fans in Charlotte come to his station for sports news. “We’re where the doggone athletes come for sports,” he says.
New Rock Hill station
A new station has joined the Charlotte radio universe, making a quiet debut.
It’s a low-power FM station, technically called a translator, and their numbers are growing. It goes by the name 104.1 “The Bridge” and can be picked up in Rock Hill and most of York County. It is operated by WRHI (94.3 FM, 1340 AM), the Rock Hill station that will mark 70 years of broadcasting in December.
With a family-friendly, Contemporary Christian music format, “The Bridge” carries a syndicated morning show with Doug Griffin and Christian vocalist Jaci Velasquez. It will also be carrying all Winthrop University’s men’s basketball games and the women’s basketball road games and local high school football, says Chris Miller, director of sales.
Low power FMs are growing in popularity because they can serve a limited area with a good signal. Another low-power, called W254AZ at 98.7 FM, carries the Fox Sports radio network as Charlotte’s first FM sports station.
Kenny Smith, a basketball standout for the UNC Tar Heels in the 1980s, and his wife, Gwendolyn Osborne-Smith, a model on “The Price Is Right” will star in a new TBS family reality series called “The Smiths” expected to debut on TBS in the spring. …
WJZY (Channel 46) parts ways with its gonzo feature artist/teleclown Jon Dick who – in only nine months at the Fox-owned station – managed to misrepresent a UK medicinal study on odors as an endorsement of sniffing flatulence, to provide an unwinking report about a persistent UFO seen by one man floating above the McGuire nuclear plant and quoted as an “expert” a man who’d claimed to have been abducted four times, and to air a 2 1/2-minute segment titled “ Stray Cat Loitering at My Fox Carolinas,” which accurately described the depth of the story. … Erik Spanberg, senior writer for the Charlotte Business Journal, joins WJZY’s “Good Day Carolinas” as a business contributors on Tuesdays. …
It’s the same voice on the air but a new last name as WFAE-FM’s (NPR, 90.7) Lisa Miller marries Rich Worf. … Scott Lauer will return for his eighth year doing NBA basketball play-by-play for the Charlotte team formerly known as the Bobcats with Matt Carroll doing analysis as WFNZ-AM (“Fan” 610) renews its broadcast contract with the Hornets. …
Beverly Dorn-Steele, director of educational services for WTVI (Channel 42) is honored by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women with the group’s Candace Award in Education. Dorn-Steele hosts WTVI’s Kid’s Club, produces PBS Charlotte community outreach stories and oversees the station’s Raising Readers program. …
Tracey Millman joins “Ace & T.J.,” now syndicated to more than a dozen markets from its base at WHQC-FM (“Channel” 96.1), as operations director after a decade with Sirius/XM. … Of all the syndicated radio shows out of Charlotte, Greg Wood and Chris Wilcox with “Woody & Wilcox” on WEND-FM (106.5) can claim to be farthest-flung. They’ve just been picked up beginning this week on a station in Fairbanks, Alaska, their second in the state after their former station in Anchorage. They’re also carried in Greensboro and Spokane, Wash. …
Mary White, who has been the unseen hand behind Action 9 reports on WSOC (Channel 9) for decades, retires after 38 years. … It’s a girl for Channel 9 sports anchor Phil Orban and wife Nicole. Reilly Louise Orban arrived at 8 pounds 15 ounces. …
New officers for the local chapter of Society of Professional Journalists are Keith Cannon, chair of the department of communication at Wingate University, president; A pril Bethea, an online producer at the Observer, vice-president; Tricia Couture, a freelance writer, secretary; and Corey Inscoe, an Observer sports reporter, treasurer.