This didn't take long, at least in the way that radio usually works: Mark Davis, whose talk show was taken off the air in early April after 18 years at WBAP/820 AM/96.7 FM and ultimately replaced, will return to the air June 4 with a 7-10 a.m. show on KSKY/660 AM, which can also be heard on 99.9 FM in Fort Worth, 95.5 FM in Arlington and 92.9 FM in Dallas (and 92.9 reaches the western part of DFW pretty well).
John Peroyea, regional vice president of operations for KSKY owner Salem Communications Corp., said that the station will also rebrand itself as part of an aggressive move to raise its profile as a talk station in DFW. The station already airs several well-known conservative radio personalities, including Bill Bennett, Michael Medved and Dennis Miller.
"We've been talking [with Davis] for quite a while," Peroyea said. "And we're really happy, because he's an 18-year pro, he's got a tremendous amount of brand equity and knowledge of people in the market and the people and the culture. We're really hoping to build KSKY into a stronger local talk radio station."
who was not immediately available for comment[see UPDATE below] has said on his Marksworld blog that his contractual issues at his former station were with its owner, Cumulus Media, and not with WBAP itself. He even wrote an affectionate tribute to the station after his departure.
Davis is, in fact, the second former Cumulus personality that KSKY has hired in recent months. Jon-David Wells, whose The Wells Report airs in late afternoon/early evening on KSKY, is a former air personality at KLIF/570 AM, which is also owned by Cumulus.
Cumulus recently revamped KLIF to be more of a news-talk station, with newscasts from 6 to 11 a.m. and from 4 to 6 p.m. Peroyea said that between that and Davis' departure from WBAP (where he was replaced by talk-show host Ben Ferguson), listeners began turning to KSKY for more of a dose of pure talk.
"The timing couldn't be more perfect for us," Peroyea says. "I started getting phone calls from people I'd never heard of, saying, 'Hey, we just discovered your station. We were scouring the dial.' Among the comments were, 'We don't want to listen to news all the time.' "
Peroyea said that KSKY, which is now branded simply as "NewsTalk 660 AM KSKY" will change its brand to "The Answer," a brand that Salem is already using for stations in New York and Southern California.
"Billboards will go up Friday," Peroyea says. "At the top, it will say 'Q: Where is Mark Davis?' and then it says 'The Answer -- 660 AM.' " Peroyea says you can expect similar wordplay on the air.
Davis' hiring by Salem creates an unusual situation: Davis occasionally substitutes for Rush Limbaugh, whose national show is syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks -- and airs on WBAP, Davis' former station. Peroyea says that as part of the agreement with Davis, Salem is allowing him to continue substituting for Limbaugh should Limbaugh request his services. In other words, Davis could be heard on a station that competes with KSKY. But Peroyea says that could work to Salem's advantage.
"The last time [Davis] was on Limbaugh was last Tuesday, and on Wednesday, a listener called Limbaugh to talk about Mark Davis," Peroyea says. "Rush sent me a copy of the air check and said, 'Use it for promos.' It was his way of honoring Mark, because the [listener] was very complimentary of Limbaugh using Mark as a replacement."
Almost all of KSKY's current hosts will remain on the station. Bill Bennett, who currently airs from 5 to 8 a.m., will air from 5 to 7, and Mike Gallagher, who currently airs 8 to 11 a.m., will move to the 10 a.m.-noon slot. Dennis Prager will air from noon to 2 p.m.; Michael Medved's 2-5 p.m. show and Wells' 5-8 p.m. show will be unchanged. Dennis Miller will move up an hour and air from 8 to 11 p.m., and Hugh Hewitt will air from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Peroyea said that this gives the station talk from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. weekdays and the remaining three hours could be filled by repeats.
UPDATE: Just received a statement from Davis via e-mail. Here it is, in its entirety:
I was always confident that something would work out. But I didn't know whether I would have to leave town, or where that path would lead. To be able to stay in this market and help bring a station I already admired into greater prominence -- it's just a dream come true. Together with my afternoon buddy Jon-David Wells, we are going to give the station a local Texas impact that will complement their already established lineup of some of the best national shows in the industry.
Of course it will be a little odd to sit down in a studio and say a different station's name. But the folks at Salem have been so welcoming and the WBAP story turned so strange so fast the minute Cumulus took over, that the transition is instantly easier.
Next week will be busy as I get ready to plug in to a new place with a new team, but always the same mission-- to do the best shows I can for the audience I love. And as I do, there is nothing I can say to that audience to properly thank them for the patience and kindness they have shown me. I will remember it forever, and I begin this new show with a commitment like never before to join with listeners on an incredible ride-- through the 2012 elections and beyond.
UPDATE No. 2: And, what Davis has to say on Marksworld, including the news that his producer, Susan Cloud, will be joining him at KSKY.