In like Flynn: Morning team rises
By Adrienne M. Johnson
Six months ago, when Angela Flynn joined WRAL-FM’s (MIX 101.5) early morning show with Bill Jordan and Schatzie, listeners weren’t exactly welcoming. “We were initially bombarded with complaints,” general manager Ardie Gregory says. Bill and Schatzie fans thought the show didn’t need fixing, and they wondered whether Flynn’s addition meant the demise of Schatzie. But Gregory and program director Joe Wade Formicola believed that with the right addition, their morning show numbers could grow. They answered listeners’ complaints with a plea to give the threesome a little time.
It seems their faith has paid off. In the spring Arbitron rating – the latest numbers – the station’s morning show moved from No. 6 to No. 2, behind WDCG-FM’s (G105) “Bob and Madison Showgram.” Demographically, the station has fared especially well. Looking at adults 25-54, the morning show went from drawing a 6.5 percent share in winter 2000 to a 9.5 percent share in the spring numbers, a 51 percent increase. A share is the estimated average number of people who listen to a station for at least five minutes.
Gregory says the change came as part of an overhaul she wanted throughout the station. “I felt we needed to put some personality back into the radio station,” she says. In that vein, the station also added Nicci O’Hara to afternoons with Rob Poulin. The move gave the time block more of a “show” feel. Now it’s the top-ranked afternoon block.
To Formicola, who hired Flynn about a month after he arrived at the station, it makes sense that the trio works. With Jordan, he says, the audience had a well-known veteran. Schatzie offered the voice of hip, single youth. “But there was definitely something missing,” he says. It was the voice of 30ish married women with children. In came Flynn, 36, from a Fayetteville station. Opinionated and on her second marriage, she is managing a blended family and has a baby on the way. “Now we have a show that pretty much relates to everyone we wanted to talk to,” Formicola says. Formicola and Gregory expect more growth in the ratings. “We’re just six months into this,” says Gregory. “We have plenty of growth potential ahead of us.”
Joe Wade’s return: If the name Formicola sounds familiar, it’s because MIX’s program director used to be a well-known – and well-respected -morning show personality. From 1980 to 1987, Formicola hosting a morning show on WKIX-AM, what’s now “850 The Buzz.” Back then it had a country format. How good was Formicola? Good enough to win a 1984 Billboard award for disc jockey of the year. “He knows what people like,” says Eddie Weiss, Formicola’s former general manager at WKIX. “He knows what the streets are about. The next hot thing that’s happening, he’ll be involved in it. It’s a remarkable talent.” Formicola left Raleigh and went back to his hometown Detroit. He bounced between formats successfully; in 1988 he won a Country Music Association Award for his hosting skills, a prize coveted because it can be won only once. But he wanted to come back to the area, where his wife and children were born. Now he says he’s here to stay. “This is where I want to finish my career.”
Reprinted from the final August 21st edition of the News and Observer Day Section, page E1. Copyright 2000 by The News & Observer Publishing Company.