Star 94 is dropping Jimmy Alexander from its struggling morning show after 21 months.
His agent Norm Schrutt said Star had informed him they were not going to pick up his third-year option but gave him the opportunity to stay through the end of his contract in December or leave the air to seek new climes immediately. He chose the latter.
Alexander’s final day on air will be Friday, Sept. 5. Star is being kind to allow him to say goodbye on air. Most radio stations don’t do that. So kudos to Lincoln Financial, the owner of Star. (Star’s web person didn’t waste any time. His bio page has already been scrubbed off the site though they did provide him a goodbye page)
His co-host Cindy Simmons will remain. Star is now seeking a replacement for Alexander.
On his Facebook page yesterday evening, he posted:
Sadly tomorrow is my last day at Star 94, didn’t last as long as I would have liked…but I was lucky to meet the three other people in this picture. [He posted a shot of him with producer Casey, Cindy and Rob Stadler.] I had a great time here in Atlanta. Normally people at this point would talk about the journey that awaits, but that’s not how I talk…so I’ll say this…don’t worry I’ll be fine…if you ever see a short guy with red shoes…just say “hi”. — with Rob Stadler and 2 others.
UPDATE: At 7:57 a.m., after Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” Simmons began singing the chorus. “Keep singing,” Alexander cracked. “I’m not coming back!”
At 8:56 a.m., he gave a proper goodbye, thanking the listeners, program director Scott Lindy, the general manager Rick Mack, veteran news man Rob Stadler, producer Casey and especially Simmons. He said they had become close friends and he appreciated that she let him attend her family holidays. She then read a letter from her daughter thanking him for being so kind. “I wasn’t here as long as I wanted,” he said. “But I look at time as quality over quantity and I had a great time working here.”
It’s easy to see why Star management made this move: however much Simmons and Alexander liked each other, listeners weren’t connecting with them. Ratings starting falling off in the spring of 2013 and have yet to recover. Among 25 to 54 year olds, the morning show share had dipped to 2.2 in July, ranked 17th, the lowest I’ve ever seen, based on Nielsen Audio numbers. (In August, their share moved back up to 2.8, ranked 16th, but by then, Star management had made their decision.)
Mornings have not performed as well as other day parts for Star in recent years. Last month, Star was ranked 9th among 25 to 54 year olds on weekends and a tie for 10th mid-days. Overall, the once dominant pop station now lags behind Q100, B98.5 and Power 96.1 in ratings. (Power arrived in September, 2012, which splintered the pop market even more but Star has suffered more than Q100 or B98.5)
Alexander joined the station in late 2012. He at first agreed to talk to me but then changed his mind without saying why. I have met him once only briefly at a children’s hospital Careathon last December and we shook hands. Other than that, we have never had a conversation.
Alexander was formerly a sidekick at a morning show in D.C led by the legendary Jack Diamond, where he worked 16 years. This Star job was his first as a primary host.
On a side note, at the time, Alexander’s friend Bert Weiss over at Q100 became upset because Alexander didn’t warn him ahead of time that they would end up being rivals. As good friends, Weiss said they were able to move forward.
Simmons, who came from Nashville and Ray Mariner, a record label rep, joined Star 94 in 2004 and the pair did very well as a personality-based afternoon team. After Steve & Vikki were let go and the Morning Mess bombed, Star moved Cindy and Ray to mornings in 2009. While Cindy & Ray never quite got the numbers they did during the less competitive afternoon drive time, they pulled in decent listenership.
Cindy & Ray was regularly in the top 10 among 25 to 54 year olds in the mornings. But Mariner left the station in 2012, no explanation. (He since tried his hand at sports talk on 680/The Fan, then moved in April to New Orleans to be the program director for a country station.)
In a poll I posted in 2012, 74 percent of listeners said they missed Mariner.