It’s been more than half a year since the Radio Rumble took place at KFNS, when a long series of frustrations — including missed payrolls — bubbled over at 590 AM, with fists flying and just-dismissed host Brian McKenna being arrested for assaulting his former boss, Dan Marshall.
McKenna was not charged and has been off the air since then. But he’s set to return on Jan. 5, one day short of seven months from the date of the incident.
He’ll team with STLtoday.com sports columnist Jeff Gordon at WQQX (1490 AM), which fairly quietly has been in the sports-talk format since last year.
They’ll man the 7-9 a.m. weekday slot, leading into the 9-11 a.m. program with Howard Balzer and Charlie “Tuna” Edwards — the only local show currently airing on the station that primarily carries Fox Sports Radio national shows.
McKenna and Gordon will buy their own airtime, as has become increasingly common in many sports-talk positions, and Mc-Kenna said he has retained many of his sponsors from KFNS.
“That was the key” to coming back, McKenna said. “Luckily I have some loyal advertisers.”
He knew it wouldn’t be easy to get back on the air.
“I was looking outside of radio,’’ he said. “There aren’t a lot of jobs out there, especially ones that pay anything. If the right opportunity presented itself, I was willing to get out of radio.”
But as he has said before, “radio can be a drug.”
And he’s ready for his next fix.
“I can’t imagine how fun it would have been Wednesday morning to have been on the air talking about the Blues’ comeback against the Kings,’’ he said. “And I want to have a voice in St. Louis for charities, and this will allow me to do that.”
McKenna has been in the St. Louis sports broadcasting business for more than two decades, and although he sometimes has worked in the “guy-talk” format he said the new program will provide what his listeners are accustomed to hearing.
“The show will be what it has always been — sports, entertainment and the naked truth,” he said on a Facebook post. “Bar stool talk if you will. We will cover the Rams, Cards, SLU and of course the Blues.”
There is only one other local morning drive-time sports radio program in the morning, “The Morning After” on WGNU (920 AM) — WXOS (101.1 FM) airs ESPN Radio’s national “Mike and Mike” show. And Gordon said he and McKenna will try to be different from the 920 show, which features Tim McKernan, Jim Hayes and Doug Vaughn.
“They do a good job of what they do, you can’t try to do what they do because they’re awesome at it,” Gordon said. “We have to create our own emphasis.”
And Blues coverage will get a heavy emphasis from McKenna and Gordon, who have worked together before.
“There’s going to be a ton of focus on the Blues going into the spring,” Gordon said. “Brian and I both really love hockey.”
Balzer, who has been at the station for nearly 14 months and has had its only local show since Jack Clark left last spring, is glad that he’ll be having some company.
“I feel like a lone wolf a little bit,” he said. “I’ve been trying to encourage people to come over. I think it’s a good step getting another good show, we’ll have a pretty solid four-hour block in the morning. I’m certainly enthused about having those guys as a lead-in to my show.”
McKenna said he and Balzer have been given the opportunity by management to try to make a go of the station and envision more local programming eventually being added to the station, which is part of the Insane Broadcasting group.
“Our plan is to try to continue to expand, to encourage other people to come be part of the programming and build up something good,” Balzer said. “Both Brian and I are hoping this will open some eyes.”
McKenna said that at least for a while the station might re-air the morning shows in the afternoon and that Dan Patrick’s national show also probably will be in the mix rather than a low-level local show.
“Even an average national radio show beats a bad local one every single time,’’ McKenna said. “Just because somebody has money (to buy airtime), that doesn’t mean they will get a show.”
Meanwhile, McKenna is realistic about his return to the airwaves.
“Radio isn’t going to define me, and after three to six months this doesn’t work out I can go on to do something else and (the station) will go on,’’ he said. “But we have the opportunity to make something of this.
“It will be built slowly,’’ he said of the station, then lobbed a shot at KFNS — which now is off the air.
“I know the electric bill always will be paid’’ at 1490, he said.
Credit to STL Today where this was originally published