The End of It All: What Happened to 101.9 KENZ?

Kenny D August 20, 2013 37
The End of It All: What Happened to 101.9 KENZ?

On Friday the 16th day of August, local alternative radio station 101.9 The End was shut down. Again.

It was around 10 AM when the crew of The End was told the news. If you believe the corporate reps, apparently everyone was “excited” about the news. Because who doesn’t get excited about unemployment these days? Beyond the job loss, it was another crushing blow to the fans who have been through this ordeal before.

To answer the questions and give some sort of resolution, I feel responsible in my role of casual observer/participant of what has happened these past two years at The End, a Cumulus station.

Who I Am, If It Matters

the end, kenz, 101.9

I was brought in as the film critic in July 2011. It was a dream come true. I started as a random guy who podcasted in my friend’s basement to being the movie reviewer for a station I had listened to on my way to high school 15 years previous. I joined the station at a time only a few months after its short hiatus when it was the unfortunate-in-every-way GenX radio. Cort and Chad were running the morning show, yet the station had not yet returned to its glory days until Jimmy Chunga was hired back on.

In no time, I had gone from short 13 minute review segments on Fridays, which then expanded to an additional segment on Tuesdays, where I reviewed DVD releases and did my weekly Top 5 List. My time on air had expanded each day from 13 minutes to over an hour. For those of you who have been in-studio, you know that it’s hard to leave once you’re there. I was honored to be able to co-host the show a handful of times as well.

The Question

I remember when Chunga first came back, I’d be sitting in the studio getting ready for my movie segment and I’d listen in while “What’s Happenin’ Hot Stuff” was going. Listeners would call in and profess their love and warm welcomes to Chunga for weeks following his return. In a way, I thought, “What’s the big deal? He only went away for about a year.” I had heard over time so many negative things about Chunga that I wondered why so many listeners were so happy to have him back.

The first question people ask me when they find out I am on The End is, “So, what’s Chunga like?”

After knowing him only a few weeks it became surprisingly easy to answer with, “He’s actually a really nice guy. One of the most supportive people on radio.”

I think that answer shocked people. Many people thought of him as the vain tool that many claimed he was in the early days of 107.5. Honestly, I didn’t know him then. I can only say that going through that year of getting fired the first time and leaving Utah seemed to have humbled him. Many people still hold on to some unfounded hate of Chunga. I hope they’re able to get over their hatred of a radio personality and live their lives. Holding onto that feeling will only hurt them and no one else.

Stormy Weather – From Citadel to Cumulus

Judging from the Facebook comments on the End’s page, I think we can all agree that Corporate Radio is a beast. Though, for now, in this market, it is a necessary beast. This Salt Lake market hasn’t yet adopted internet radio. We’re making progress here, but if you are driving to work are you more likely to turn on your FM radio or would you go searching for a streaming station online? People may claim that terrestrial radio is going the way of the dinosaur or newspapers, but locally it is still successful.

Citadel Broadcasting cancelled The End in 2010 at a time when the stations ratings matched and often beat the competition. When the cancellation hit, listeners had to go elsewhere for their alternative music. Even when Citadel brought back the station and the crew, the listeners didn’t make the journey back on the dial. Citadel bought one billboard to signify Chunga’s return, but it only stayed up for 2 months. In September 2011, Citadel was acquired by Cumulus Media and that’s when corporate started cutting back in every way possible. Even then, only a few months after returning, there were fears of the station being dropped again.

I heard about several corporate meetings where Cumulus reps told the staff employed at all Salt Lake Cumulus stations, that Cumulus would not advertise any of their stations unless they were number one. Then, and only then, they’d be more than happy to spend ad dollars for the station.

Having worked in advertising, that felt like a broken concept. Let me get this straight, if you ever want to raise the public’s awareness about your station and be #1, then you’ll have to be #1 from the start. Hmm, sounds logical.

Week after week, I sat with Chunga, Tysen and Chad and I enjoyed every minute. There were countless times where I’d sit and think “That’s was an incredible show…it’s a shame that not many people heard it.”

Don’t get me wrong. The End had listeners and I would dare say they are the most devoted and supportive fan base in the state. I loved meeting them in person or talking to them on air. It was an honor to speak to fans who have been faithfully listening for the near 20 years of the station’s existence. I will always be grateful for the friendships I made there. Though the loyal listeners tuned in consistently, the ratings still weren’t up to corporate’s expectations. Sounds ridiculous when you think of their stance on advertising. I have spoken to several people that, even recently, told me that they use to listen to The End when Chunga was on the show. They had no idea he’d been back for over 2 years now!

Disintegration of the End

the end alternative, kenz, chunga

I hate to say this, but the writing was on the wall once Cumulus took over. They spent as little money as possible on its staff. That includes making each employee wear several hats. The End crew never had one intern in the two years they were back on the air. They prepped their own shows every night and every morning.

Things started to become clear as the station cut back last year. Mike Summers and Cuzzin Brad were fired. Up until that point, there were 3 regular people in the morning studio at all times. Tysen took over as program director and was tasked with the weighty job of keeping the entire station afloat, even as less money was invested in it.

The morning show went from 2 hosts and a producer (what it had always been) to only 2 hosts, Chunga and Chad. That fantastic pairing lasted one year until Chad left the station. It was at this point that I was presented an opportunity. I was in talks with the crew to take over for Chad. This opportunity had the makings of another dream come true. Those dreams came to a screeching halt as I found out that corporate could/would only offer me 10 dollars an hour for only 29 hours a week, as to avoid paying insurance. Even before I could think about that offer, the management at the End was told that corporate was fine if the show only consisted of Chunga.

In the matter of a year, the morning show had gone from 3 down to 1. There were only 4 people employed by The End, and they were all on-air talent doing multiple jobs behind the scenes. It was clear that Cumulus was not willing to spend any money on The End. In the mornings, Chunga had to work twice as hard, for no more money. It was a morning show consisting of one guy. Not surprisingly, Chunga kept the show interesting and was able to incorporate the incredible fans into the show and make it worth tuning into daily.

Cancelled Again?!?

Most of the upset fans have asked why the show has been unceremoniously cancelled immediately, giving them no sense of closure. From the corporate perspective, I can see why they don’t give two weeks notice to the fans or hosts.

First, if sponsors know a format is being changed, they will drop advertising. This is due to loyalty to the on-air talent or they’d like to wait-and-see how well the new station does to see if it’s worth their ad dollars. Corporate radio relies on sponsors. Not giving them any warning puts advertisers in a tough spot, they can quickly back out or roll over their commercials to the new station, which corporate counts on.

Second, let’s imagine if Chunga got on air and told his listeners that his farewell show in 2 weeks. Two things would happen. Ratings would immediately go up, and the upcoming cancellation could no longer be justified by corporate. Also, before the show ever ended, fans would take to petitioning Cumulus to save it before it is cancelled. The corporate justification for ripping off the band-aid and cancelling a show without warning is to take away the voice of the fans and make the task of getting a show back seem insurmountable.

What Now?

the end station, kenz, 101.9, the end of the end

This brings us to our current situation. After nearly 2 years of losing creative control over the station, everyone involved is left to pick up the pieces. There isn’t one of the on-air talent at the End who doesn’t feel terrible for the loyal fans of the End. You fans are a patient breed who have now lost their morning ritual twice.

In the end, a combination of low ratings, decreasing investment and a broken advertising model led to the cancellation of 101.9 KENZ. If the absence of the station leaves a void in your daily routine, don’t fret for too long. Everyone involved with The End has plans to take things bigger. Any future success will be based on, as always, the fans’ support. I wouldn’t worry about the daily routine going away for too long.

It’s pretty certain at this point that The End will not be coming back to Cumulus. But the gang will return.

37 Comments »

  1. CJ August 20, 2013 at 12:37 pm -

    Thanks for filling in all the blanks–before I was just angry. Now I’m informed and angry. At least that’s an improvement. Please keep up this website!

  2. CL August 20, 2013 at 1:33 pm -

    I appreciate this article. Like you mentioned, another article I read said that the staff was “excited” about the news. Those execs are pretty dumb if they think anyone believed that. I sure hope they come back, I miss listening to Chunga and the gang and I though you made one hell of an addition. Like CJ said, keep up this website, I enjoy coming here and reading your reviews and lists. Thanks for everything.

  3. Tina Glazebrook August 20, 2013 at 2:18 pm -

    Another one bites the dust. Don’t let corporate America rob the small but valuable contribution that small radio stations and shows like yours be lot to the big guys. I am sure that with your fan base and willing followers you will rise again and prove to the dark Cumulus that nothing makes something valuable worthless. This is worth fighting for then fight and fight well. Good luck for the future and by all means keep this site going for all those who enjoy your wit and humor and impressive valuations of movies past and present. Best of luck for the future.. And yes it is me Kenny…..Tina.

  4. Denise Panhorst August 20, 2013 at 2:19 pm -

    Thanks for the info. I will definitely tune in when you guys come back on air. Until then I will read your website.

  5. Conlee August 20, 2013 at 2:21 pm -

    Kenny you are the man. It was hard to hear some doobie brothers… the morning when I should have heard chungas voice. It was a pleasure meeting you and sharing some time on air and it was honestly a dream come true for me too so I know what you mean. If I can help in any way let me know man! Good Luck dude!

  6. CDUNNH August 20, 2013 at 2:35 pm -

    Don’t let the Bastards get you down!

  7. Garrett Oler August 20, 2013 at 3:03 pm -

    Good luck man. I know I posted some harsh-ish words on the day of the announcement but I hope that you will use that as something to improve the show if indeed you all come back as a group. But I do wish you luck.

    Also, I wish to ask my question again that I asked a couple of weeks ago if you are truly looking to break out to make the movie thing earn you money..or more money anyways. If so…if this blog is something you want more widely read and make some money…of if it is just a writing release to complain about movies.

  8. Valerie August 20, 2013 at 3:37 pm -

    Thanks for the back story. I found the show right around the time Chunga came back and I’ve enjoyed listening ever since – even when I moved out of state.

    Your segment was always my favorite. My kids knew not to bug me while I cleaned the kitchen on a “Kenny D day.”

    Please keep up the website. You’re my trusted movie guy. (I loved Pacific Rim. I wouldn’t have even known about it without your review.)

  9. Andrea August 20, 2013 at 3:41 pm -

    Thanks for the info. I really hope that the gang comes back somewhere :). I didn’t realize that so many listeners never found there way back. I guess it pays to be Facebook friends with one of the dj’s (cort). At least I think that’s how I knew the show was back and then I was so excited to hear chunga’s voice when he came back.

  10. Casey August 20, 2013 at 3:57 pm -

    Can’t wait until you guys are back and hopefully without any idiotic suits controlling any decisions.

  11. Brianne August 20, 2013 at 4:03 pm -

    Thanks for explaining what happened. Seems so wrong that they can just cancel a radio station like that. With your explanation it has really helped me to understand. Please please please keep us posted if you guys ever end up doing something again. I really hope you do, hearing that is a possibility gives me hope!!

  12. Nicole August 20, 2013 at 4:22 pm -

    I’ve been a fan of The End since the 90’s, and I was heartbroken the first time it was taken off the air. I was thrilled when it came back on. I loved listening to Chunga and Friends in the morning, and liked having segments like yours to look forward to during the week. Thanks for the info on what happened with Cumulus. I look forward to what happens next for The End crew.

    In the meantime, I’ll still be reading your blog :)

  13. Terence August 20, 2013 at 4:51 pm -

    So much for corporate America assisting our view of the American Dream :)…101.9, you will be missed .And I hope you rise again!

  14. Ricky August 20, 2013 at 6:53 pm -

    I was on vacation this weekend and came back to this news. Ouch. 101.9 was quite literally the only radio station I listened to. Nothing else. And the morning show has been a daily thing for me for years. I’m not sure if there’s anything I can do as a lowly fan, but I have a radio/recording/acting/voice over experience, and if the gang ever needs a hand, I’m happy to help. :D

  15. Kirsten August 20, 2013 at 11:52 pm -

    Thanks for this!! I think the way they do things in radio really sucks for the loyal listeners. I can’t wait until you guys find your way back.

  16. Donna August 21, 2013 at 12:39 am -

    Thank you for letting me and the rest of the fans know. The mornings are not the same so now I have to turn on the TV in the morning while getting ready for work and so glad I have I Pod and CD’s because in car there is nothing to listen to nothing absolutely nothing yes I have been listening to the morning show form day 1

  17. Sarah August 21, 2013 at 1:52 am -

    This all really, really stinks. I’m so sorry. You are all hilarious and talented. I’m sure you will find other great opportunities.

  18. Tom August 21, 2013 at 1:40 pm -

    Its too bad. As a listener uninformed of what was happening behind the scenes, I was thinking that X96 was in trouble. Chunga was much more dynamic than RFH and the playlist at “The End” was killing X96. (Are they in trouble as well? Their playlist sucks.) I was very dissapointed to tune in for the commute only to be greated by the Doobie Brothers…WTF…REALLY!??
    Best of luck to you.

  19. Willow August 21, 2013 at 3:40 pm -

    I am going to miss 101.9 The End, it was the only radio worth listening to and Chunga has been a part of my mornings for so long, I feel like I’ve lost a friend! My sister and I began a lot of converstations “Chunga said…”

  20. Dave August 22, 2013 at 2:32 am -

    You’re awesome. Thanks for the info, kenny. Please keep the site updated with the latest. Oh, and Love and support and all that crap.

  21. Gary August 22, 2013 at 9:18 am -

    The End has been the only radio station this household listens to. We have enjoyed waking up to The End on our clock radios.

    More scarier than the 4 grandmas, our house hold woke up Monday morning a non-family friendly show. Within a few minutes, I was having to explain to my young kids about the birds&bees&hamsters.?? That new morning show is disgusting.

    Shame on Cumulus for killing the best family local radio station and replacing it with a nationally syndicated smut show (and doing this without warning). It’s like replacing the Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood show with The Howard Stern Show.

  22. Terese August 22, 2013 at 2:24 pm -

    Thanks for letting us know all this Kenny! I am devastated that the end is off the air. I have gotten so attached to the DJs. I love the mix of songs that are played. Your movie reviews have always been so fabulous. You would have been awesome with Chunga in the mornings. Keep us posted on the future of the DJs. I would love to hear them again.

  23. AK August 23, 2013 at 4:57 pm -

    Thanks for the update Kenny! I have to say, your segments have been some of my all time favorites on the End (and I’ve been listening for a LONG time). Keep us posted and please let us know how we can help get the gang back together. Mornings are twice as long now, not in a good way…

  24. just Scott August 23, 2013 at 11:52 pm -

    Thanks Kenny for filling in blanks. I have enjoyed your insights as well as your movie reviews. I have listening to Chunga ever since he was at X ninety suxxx… I hope he and the rest of the 101.9 the end gang return to the airways ASAP. Take Kenny.

  25. Maria August 24, 2013 at 1:53 am -

    Kenny, I’ve been a huge End fan for years and your segments have been without question my favorites. In fact, I risked losing my job because on Fridays we have an 8am staff meeting. I would always have ‘something come up’ and not leave my house until 8 and spend my 45 minute commute listening to your reviews, the weekend quiz and frequent dry heaving caused by Brandon. I was heart broken when I heard crap music on that Friday afternoon and could tell we were in trouble, again. You’re an amazing addition to the crew and we as fans are anxious and excited to see what’s next.

  26. Wendi August 24, 2013 at 5:28 pm -

    Thanks Kenny! My #1 preset has been The End for years, and it was so confusing to hear Steve Miller and Elton John all of the sudden. It’s nice to know what happened and to know there is still hope for the station that so many know and love. Is there a FB page or something to keep everyone informed, or do we just check back here? Thanks again, and lov to the crew!

  27. BigMoe August 27, 2013 at 6:37 pm -

    Hey we miss all of you and I got a feeling that the Chunga gang will ride again soon. Listen to you later.

  28. Marly August 28, 2013 at 10:27 pm -

    I really hope you come back soon. I can’t figure out what to listen to in the morning and I can’t any stations that I can really listen to my alternative music. It kind of sucks. The End was amazing at finding new people and introducing the world to some amazing talent. Besides, we have to have the Halloween show! What Halloween be without ghost stuff. Oh yea, and we need our counseling sessions with Dr Matt and the movie reviews with you. I’m still in denial and will be waiting for the next awesome thing for me to fill my mornings driving my kids to school with.

  29. Suzette August 29, 2013 at 1:43 am -

    Devastated! Have listened for 15 years. Even when I moved out of state I couldn’t get myself to change the preset. I was over the moon when you all came back! I can’t even tell you how sad I am that you’re gone again. I listened every morning on iheart radio. I feel like I’ve lost a bff. Miss you guys so bad. I want to throw myself on the floor and sob uncontrollably. Thanks for being so amazing, and thank you Kenny for the update!

  30. Lorrie August 31, 2013 at 4:40 pm -

    Another sad day in radio. I’ve been listening to chunga since the 90’s. Halloween just won’t be the same without all the ghost stories and such. I’ll miss you chunga!

  31. KD August 31, 2013 at 11:40 pm -

    I HATE THE “MORNINGS FROM HELL” SHOW!!!! PLEASE SAVE US!!!! AND NOW 101.9 IS AN INSULT TO OUR INTELLIGENCE! Life isn’t the same without you! It’s just an awkward silence in the mornings, where, before, there was laughter… I’m tearing up… I miss you guys! PLEASE KEEP US UPDATED!!!

  32. Levi September 1, 2013 at 2:24 am -

    What a fantastic article! I’m soo pissed at Cumulus that I will never listen to another station of theirs.

    I hope that whatever The End crew has planned completely blows Cumulus off the air waves!

  33. Mary September 1, 2013 at 4:42 am -

    It saddens me more than I can say that the gang is gone. PLEASE keep us all posted on the likelihood/timing/actuality of everyone popping up somewhere else! I’ve loved your segments since I heard you promote Sherlock, and hope to see you come back with the others as well! I’m officially DONE with ANY Cumulus station, and have no problem telling them as much. Which I think I’ll go do right now… :-)

  34. dg September 2, 2013 at 2:57 am -

    I’m rooting for you guys. I was sad to move away from utah and leave this radio station, then upset to hear they cancelled the show again. I have yet to find another radiostation like this one, i doubt i ever will. Don’t let them get you down, we all love you.

  35. Amy September 3, 2013 at 1:50 am -

    Thanks for helping fill in the blanks this time around. I Really miss you guys! I feel the same as Suzette above. I hope that you’ll keep us posted if ya’ll get a chance to get back together!

  36. Sue September 3, 2013 at 4:46 pm -

    Kenny, I too appreciate you enlightening all of us long time loyal listeners! I was devastated the first time Chunga and the gang went away and rejoiced when he was back! When I heard the Bob & Tom show instead of Chunga I thought my husband had changed the station preset in my car as a joke. I kept pushing the button hoping Chunga would come back and couldn’t believe he was gone…again! I wish all of you the very best and hope to hear you all back on the air again real soon!!!

  37. zil September 16, 2013 at 1:58 am -

    Loved everything about 101.9 The End, music, people, everything. No other station compares at least for me. Now I just scan the radio almost constantly these days.

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