Talking to Chris Jagger about the return of the “The Jagger Mafia” to KDGE/102.1 FM “The Edge” on Monday is a reminder of what a tangled thing DFW radio can be. The show will begin airing Monday morning, Jan. 6, in a slot that it has been away from for more than seven years.
Jagger, who since May 2012 has been doing the “Jagger and Tara” morning show with Tara Ward on sister station KDMX/102.9 FM “Now,” had been host of the Edge’s morning show from 1998 to 2006, with Jagger the most constant presence among an ever-evolving morning crew that in its best-known incarnation included Dean Lewis, “Mondo” Mike Vasquez and Jasmine Sadry.
In 2006, the Edge dropped Jagger’s show when the station and the crew couldn’t come to terms on new contracts. Less than three months later, Jagger was at what was then KLLI/105.3 FM, with the other members of the Jagger Mafia joining him. When the station flipped to sports-talk KRLD/105.3 FM “The Fan” in 2008, it kept Jagger and company on, even though the show skewed more pop-culture than sports.
In 2010, Paul Barsky was moved to the Jagger show in a lineup shuffle, and Vasquez and Lewis were out, with Sadry staying. After some more lineup shuffles, Jagger left the station in April 2011. Sadry stayed, but was released in 2013. Jagger spent some time off the air before resurfacing on KDMX in May 2012.
After all that, getting the Jagger Mafia back together was relatively uncomplicated.
“I think we started talking about it the beginning of November,” Jagger says. “It hasn’t been all that long.”
The move is a natural fit for Jagger and his crew, who will focus on the pop-culture and humor-oriented talk they’re known for (both Vasquez and Lewis are comedians) on the Edge, and less on music, which was the morning focus on Now.
“On Now, we were playing eight songs an hour minimum, and there was a reason for that because obviously the music was the predominant force on that radio station, and we were there to add a little personality,” Jagger says. “If you didn’t like all the talk on our sister station, KISS-FM, but you liked the music, we were going to be the station to offer you [that].”
Jagger and his co-host Tara were able to do the personality stuff, but he still felt limited and underused. The Edge had aired several morning shows after Jagger’s departure, and with Jagger back working for Clear Channel (which owns both the Edge and Now), the reunion of show and station seemed like a good idea.
“It was an opportunity for a show that was much better-suited for me,” Jagger says. “We started talking about What if we did this, that or the other, and they said, ‘What if we moved you over to the Edge?’ I was like, ‘Keep talking.’ ”
It didn’t hurt that Jagger was already assistant program director for the Edge, or that Vasquez and Sadry were already in the building working for Clear Channel’s Total Traffic.
“When the Fan let Jasmine loose, she came over here, and we happened to be, ‘You know what? This is good timing in a lot of respects’,” Jagger says. “ ‘These people are available and we can get some of the old band back together.’ ”
Leaving the air in DFW and then coming back can be tricky. Not everyone remembers you in such a transient market, and even those who do remember you have often moved on while you’ve been away. But Jagger points out that the Jagger Mafia team hasn’t been off the air that long, and that except for those few months off the air between the Fan and Now, he’s been a radio staple here for more than 15 years.
“In some respects, yeah, the show hasn’t been on, so we can’t assume that everyone knows what the show is or even who we are,” Jagger says. “But I’m not that concerned that people don’t know me or know what we did before. New people have moved into the area, and younger people are coming up, but that’s OK -- we want to add new bodies. That’s the whole name of the game: take what you’ve got and keep adding to it.”
At this point, it’s unclear what’s happening to Angela Chase, who has been holding down mornings and the Edge for the past several months, or what is happening to the Now morning show. Queries out to Clear Channel executives and we’ll update when they’re answered. But even Jagger says he doesn’t know what will happen at 102.9, because his assistant program director duties at the Edge have kept him busy.
In the most recent Nielsen Audio (formerly Arbitron) ratings, the Edge was tied for 12th overall, and down more than a full ratings point from where it was in July (ratings info comes via AllAccess.com). Its modern/alternative-rock format has cruised along but hasn’t really blown the doors off for a while, but that the station has survived as long as it has -- its 25th anniversary is in summer 2014 -- is something of a feat in itself.
“It’s had better days than it has had lately,” Jagger says. “That’s part of the reason why we wanted to get back there in the mornings and revitalize the station and give it a pulse. There’s such a great amount of really good alternative music out there right now. Before I left, Korn and Rage [Against the Machine] and all those rock bands were crossing over to alternative. They’ve kind of had their day, and alternative is getting back to the true sense of ‘alternative.’ Which to me, is better.”