Not even a good­bye: KIRO can­cels ‘The Ron & Don Show’

The Olympian - - Local - BY ERIK LACITIS

Some­times in the ra­dio biz you never know if your last shift re­ally is your last shift.

Af­ter nearly 13 years on drive time KIRO-FM, “The Ron & Don Show” was abruptly, and with­out ex­pla­na­tion, can­celed on Thurs­day. The staff was no­ti­fied 11 min­utes af­ter the show ended that day at 7 p.m.

The man­age­ment email said in its to­tal­ity:

“A de­ci­sion was fi­nal­ized this evening be­tween Bon­neville Seat­tle and Ron Up­shaw & Don O’Neill to end their 13 years at the sta­tion. To­day was their last show on KIRO Ra­dio. We want to thank them both for their ser­vice and con­tri­bu­tion to the sta­tion, our com­pany and to the com­mu­ni­ties we serve. They both have left long lega­cies on KIRO Ra­dio and we wish them only the best.

“We will have an all staff meet­ing at 9 a.m. to­mor­row on the Gar­den Level. We will an­nounce the new af­ter­noon show on KIRO at that time.”

It caught em­ploy­ees by sur­prise, and it caught lis­ten­ers by sur­prise.

Nei­ther the two hosts nor man­age­ment of­fered de­tails.

When con­tacted, Dave Pride­more, vice pres­i­dent and mar­ket man­ager for Bon­neville Seat­tle, texted back, “I don’t have any com­ments for you re­gard­ing Ron and Don.”

In an email, the long­time friends who ban­tered about re­la­tion­ships, their lives and the news, wrote, “Life is not about what you got, it’s what you give. We are very ap­pre­cia­tive to all our great ad­ver­tis­ers and ev­ery­one in the Ron and Don Na­tion for giv­ing so much of your time, your en­ergy, and your re­sources over the last 22 years. To­gether we raised over 11 mil­lion dol­lars for causes in the com­mu­nity we all care about. From our fam­i­lies to yours, Thank You Seat­tle, Ta­coma, Fife, and Fre­mont … ron and don.”

By Satur­day af­ter­noon, the show’s of­fi­cial Face­book page was at over 1,000 post­ings about the can­cel­la­tion. The “Ron and Don Na­tion” wasn’t happy.

Wrote Teri, from Roy in Pierce County, “WHAT?????? NO. Not Ac­cept­able. A key com­po­nent to my drive home for years. The most hon­est, sin­cere and char­i­ta­ble team on the ra­dio. Would KIRO please ex­plain? Who’s (sic) de­ci­sion was this?”

The show was pro­moted as mak­ing “a dif­fer­ence in the lives of real peo­ple. Whether ral­ly­ing be­hind the fam­i­lies of fallen po­lice and fire­fight­ers, or rais­ing emer­gency sup­plies for vic­tims of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters … Ron and Don bring you the hu­man sto­ries be­hind the news.”

Rat­ings are what re­ally counts in ra­dio, but those fig­ures are closely held.

Last March, Ryan Maguire, who had been a pro­gram direc­tor at a Mi­ami sports sta­tion, was named direc­tor of news and pro­gram­ming at KIRO. Maybe he wanted to make some changes. Maguire did not re­turn an email for com­ment.

Sur­prised at the hap­pen­ings was Michael Har­ri­son, editor and pub­lisher of Talk­ers mag­a­zine, a trade pub­li­ca­tion for the in­dus­try.

He went through three sce­nar­ios that can lead to a show’s can­cel­la­tion, and why they were un­likely in this in­stance.

The cor­po­ra­tion was go­ing bank­rupt and it was cost-cut­ting. “Bon­neville is a very suc­cess­ful com­pany,” said Har­ri­son.

The rat­ings were tank­ing. “I don’t see any ev­i­dence.”

Some type of scan­dal. “Ron and Don have good rep­u­ta­tions.”

Be­gin­ning Mon­day, re­plac­ing Ron and Don will be the troika, “The Candy, Mike and Todd Show.”

A news re­lease said about the new hosts:

“Candy Harper most re­cently served as the af­ter­noon pro­ducer on KIRO Ra­dio.”

Mike Lewis, a for­mer Seat­tle Post-In­tel­li­gencer reporter, “has worked at KIRO Ra­dio as a reporter and fill-in host.”

Todd Her­man “has been the af­ter­noon show host on KIRO Ra­dio’s sis­ter­sta­tion KTTH-AM since 2015 and worked as a fill-in host on both KIRO Ra­dio and the na­tion­ally syn­di­cated Rush Lim­baugh Show.”

The sta­tion promised, “Candy, Mike and Todd are a fun, en­ter­tain­ing and in­tel­li­gent trio.”


Teri in Pierce County

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