If you have listened at all to KGOW 1560 the Game over the last month or two, you may have noticed some changes taking place that represent a distinct shift in the overall vibe of the station. Gone are the oddball promos and borderline inappropriate interludes (what some might argue are integral to the station's personality), replaced with a more traditional, bombastic sports radio tone.
These changes coincide with the recent demotion of former program director Chance McClain, who was replaced with Sporting News Radio PD Craig Larson in May. McClain opted to resign not long after his demotion and will now be followed by his creative partner, production director Frank Bullington, who will officially leave the station at the end of the week.
Neither was able to comment on the situation, but Bullington said in his exit e-mail, "As the station and network move in a new direction, I felt it was time for me to do the same."
McClain and Bullington were the creative team behind the station's unique identity that was the subject of a Houston Press cover story in March. Since that time, the clever irreverence seems to have been scuttled in favor of a more traditional sports radio approach including the frequent on-air repetition of what is clearly becoming their new mantra, "Houston's best sports talk."
Another change that would seem to belie the "Houston" part of the new tagline is the long-rumored move of midday host and Press writer Sean Pendergast to the Sporting News Radio national network beginning July 4. His show will remain in its time slot from noon to 3 p.m. on KGOW, but because it will be on the SNR network, the focus will be on national rather than local topics. Travis Rodgers, another national host broadcasting locally, will continue to air from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., making KGOW not just the only locally owned and independent station in Houston, but also the only Houston sports radio station to air no local sports talk for nearly half of their programming day.
Once Pendergast is on SNR, only seven of the 12 hours of weekday programming including the morning show with Lance Zierlein and John Granato (6 a.m.-10 a.m.), the David Nuno and Raheel Ramzanali show (10 a.m.-noon) and one hour of Travis Rodgers Now (6 p.m.-7 p.m.), will be local.
That's quite a change for a station that used to have wild, random midnight broadcasts, release dozens of crickets in the studio during shows as a gag and sponsor "slap fest" events. Much of the programming does still have an edge -- Zierlein and Granato's show has changed very little -- but there is discernible difference in the way the station sounds as a whole and what, apparently, is kosher on the air. Ramzanali, according to a source, was suspended for a week recently for saying "bukkakke" during his show with Nuno. It's hard to imagine that would have been off limits six months ago.
Ironically, all these changes have happened immediately following a fairly dramatic improvement in the station's broadcast signal, which was one of the more glaring issues facing KGOW. Unfortunately for listeners, the stronger signal will be broadcasting an awful lot of non-local programming, with the exception of the Rice Owls, who announced 1560 as their new radio partner, and we all know what a huge draw Rice basketball is.