Jammin' 101.5 replaces The Truth, blindsides Mike Zinna five minutes before showtime
In radio, station format changes are called flips for a reason: They often happen so suddenly that the people involved find themselves head over heels -- and often not in a good way. That's what happened Friday, when conservative talk outlet 101.5 FM The Truth became Jammin' 101.5 five minutes before yakker Mike Zinna's program was set to begin.
"It was right before showtime," recalls Noelle Leavitt, news director for the Zinna program. "And Mike comes in and says, 'Show's over, guys.' And I was like, 'Whoa.' It totally sideswiped me."
The 101.5 frequency, owned by Max Media, has gone through a lot of changes in recent years. The program had featured an independent-rock sound dubbed Indie 101.5, but ratings never matched the acclaim it received. Program director John Wilbur, aka Whip, mounted a campaign to save Indie 101.5, but to no avail.
In late July 2009, Indie 101.5 moved online, initially replaced by The Pole, which featured music for strippers and a website boasting shots from a faux bathroom cam. The Pole results were surprisingly enjoyable -- but
A photo from The Pole's "bathroom cam."
the flip turned out to be a stunt. The real format was The Truth, which Max Media general manager Jeff Norman touted in an August 2009 interview, paying particular homage to syndicated yakker Michael Savage, one of several nationally known right-wing gabbers to be heard on the signal.
"We wanted to launch the station with the biggest and best personalities we could possibly get," Norman noted at the time. "Michael Savage, he's the number-two syndicated talk-show host behind Rush Limbaugh -- the type of person we couldn't have gotten locally."
Nonetheless, ratings for the Truth remained anemic. Hence, the addition of some local programs, including Green Rights Radio, which focused on medical marijuana, and, of course, the block starring Zinna, a local gadfly who made his name going after officials in Jefferson County before broadening his focus.