By Wilton Hollins
“If it aint broke why fix it?” is the question thousands of K104 (KKDA-FM) listeners asked in 2007. That was when popular radio host and member of the number one rated Skip Murphy and the Morning Team’s, Nanette Lee was fired, leading to a parade of firings to follow.
Prior to Lee’s termination, K104 enjoyed years of being the number one rated radio station in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Achieving this position was no minor task; the DFW metropolitan area is the fifth largest media market in the nation. The hosts, Skip Murphy, Nanette Lee, Sam Putney and the rest of the cast enjoyed rock-star status. Their popularity consistently kept the ratings above competitors such as Kidd Kraddick, Tom Joyner, Ricky Smiley and others.
Despite being “king of the hill”, station management decided to tamper with the talent, and by tamper I mean fire the talent. The first to go was The Whig, the well-liked producer of the show and often the butt of many jokes. But the firing that really started the deep decline of station ratings was that of comedian and Dallas native, Nanette Lee. Thousands of her fans were stunned and left in disbelief. Many thought her disappearance from the show was a stunt and fully expected Lee to return within a month.
Skip Murphy, the shows namesake was the next to be let go. He was replaced by the program director, Skip Cheatham who renamed the morning show Skip Cheatham and the Playground. Even though two of the original morning team members remained (Putney and Chris Arnold), The Playground was never able to achieve the ratings success or on-air chemistry of Murphy’s show.
Skip Cheatham is now out at K104 with his departure being framed as voluntary. But why would he want to leave one of the best jobs in the country? It has been said Murphy was let go to make room for Cheatham as part of an effort to reign in salaries, but the move proved to be ratings suicide.
It is now rumored that Skip Cheatham’s replacement will be Buckwild from Birmingham’s WBHJ 95.7 Jamz morning show (the station website is soliciting feedback on who should be new morning host).
Since we’re on the rumor road, I’m also told that the fully intact Skip Murphy and the Morning Team will be returning to the Dallas Fort Worth market. The team will include all cast members, Skip Murphy, Nanette Lee, Sam Putney, Chris Arnold and the Whig. They will likely land at a competing station. As they say in the radio business, stay tuned. We’ll talk.