B96 afternoon boys Doug “Stylz” Bobrowski and Justin Moran are heading to US99 as the new morning drive team.
That’s right. You heard me.
Beginning on September 6, US99 (WUSN-FM) is installing Stylz & Roman as replacements for Lisa Dent and Ramblin’ Ray Stevens, who this week jumped to WLS-AM to co-host with former US99 personality Big John Howell. The duo, who began in evenings at B96 (WBBM-FM) in 2004 and moved to afternoons a few years later, ranked fifth in PM drive overall, according to a recent ratings report.
With the move, B96 is installing newly-hired evening hosts Eric Tyler into afternoons, leaving B96’s nighttime position once-again vacant, along with another vacant evening position at US99.
CBS Radio owns both WBBM and WUSN and is overseen by CBS Radio VP of Programming and one-time B96 personality Todd Cavanah.
Ratings for WUSN have declined in recent months in the face of new competition from iHeartMedia’s Big 99.5 (WEBG-FM), who signed on in 2014. With Stevens’ contract up, US99 officials opted to “refresh” the station, firing the entire morning staff (including Lisa Dent) after Stevens’ departure.
But this hire is odd on several fronts: Stylz & Roman come from a hip-hop/contemporary-hit radio background – not a country one. In the past, many message board posters referred them as “Holla & Bling Bling”.
The move is also designed to attract more younger listeners to US99. Generally, Country music is connected to older, white audiences and its listeners are usually politically conservative. B96’s listeners are generally more diverse, with a large Hispanic audience. Any chance of Stylz & Roman grabbing listeners from the old US99 morning show are negligible.
Reaction on social media and a few message boards yours truly viewed hasn’t been kind. Many question the wisdom of moving Stylz & Roman from a CHR station to a country one, and whether or not they know enough about the current country music scene.
“They’re part owners of a Wrigleyville Country bar, so we knew they could authentically speak the language of the Country music fan”, remarked Canavah.
Really? Wow, what qualifications. Then again, you don’t need a Ph.D. to spin a bunch of records.
Here’s a sampling of reaction I found on Twitter: the good, the bad, and the in-between:
— Joey (@JoeyP36) August 11, 2016
— leboR ddoT (@BleacherBumTodd) August 11, 2016
Damn @US995 is screwing up left and right
— Renee Reed (@Reed__519) August 11, 2016
— Rebecca Ortiz (@RadioBecChicago) August 11, 2016
— Kevin Grüssing (@KevDGrussing) August 11, 2016
— DJ Flipside ™ (@DJFlipside33) August 11, 2016
— Chicagoland Country (@chicountrymusic) August 11, 2016
— Kori with a K (@IamKoriWithAK) August 11, 2016
This is a huge risk for CBS Radio Chicago, whose entire station group is being spin-off soon from CBS Corp. They’re not only risking the livelihood of one station, but two. If Stylz and Roman can’t cut it in morning drive on a country radio station and wind up falling behind Big 95.5…well, let’s just say Cavanah better have his mortgage paid up.