Pendergast joins Lord in the afternoon drive at 610.
To make room for Pendergast (and perhaps just as significant to many), love-him-or-hate-him afternoon co-host Josh Innes is moving on to a nighttime show on WIP in Philadelphia. In the opening minutes of his final show on the air Thursday, Innes mentioned how the program director at his new station -- also a CBS affiliate, so he remains in the chain -- first put Howard Stern on the air in Philly at a rock radio station, and cited the challenge to move into that market on one of the largest sports stations in the country.
For Pendergast, it represents his first jump from station to station, something common among radio hosts as the landscape of talk radio changes rapidly. He initially came to prominence as a repeat winner of syndicated sports talk host Jim Rome's annual Smack Off. He was courted by KGOW president David Gow and then program director Chance McLain.
Pendergast represents one of the last on or off-air personalities to remain at KGOW since it's inception as an upstart independent, which we wrote about in our cover story almost three years ago. None of the creative staff remain and Lance Zierlein, arguably the station's best ever on-air talent, is now the co-host of the morning show on 790 KBME. Only midday host John Harris and afternoon long-timer John Granato remain. The move will certainly bolster a sometimes shaky lineup at 610. While the afternoon show has remained at the top of the ratings and the station continues to rake in success thanks to its affiliation with the Texans, there is a perception in the industry that the majority of talent resides up the dial at 790. Pendergast should be a perfect fit for Lord, a pro's pro in the radio business dating back to his days at KTRH. Pendergast will bring a combination of real sports knowledge mixed with his pop culture-centric sense of humor that should work well with Lord. Pendergast also would seem to be a better fit for Lord than Innes was despite the duo's ratings success.
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As for Innes, there has rarely been a more polarizing figure in sports talk in Houston. His brand of acerbic humor could certainly rub people the wrong way and often seemed at odds with the button-downed approach at 610. His confrontational demeanor found him in the middle of on-air fights with everyone from Rockets GM Daryl Morey to comedian Frank Caliendo.
Still, Innes has real talent and the potential to be very successful in the industry. It's possible that a move to Philly, a city known for its edgy fans and sports coverage, will suit him and give him an opportunity to be more of the character he wasn't able to be in Houston.
If it works out between Lord and Pendergast, and it's hard to imagine it won't, it is likely they will continue to rule the ratings, something Pendergast won't be used to after his time at 1560. Something tells me, he'll enjoy the view from the front, nevermind the fact that listeners will actually be able to tune the station in after dark, something that 1560's weak transmitter rarely allowed.
As per usual, the landscape of sports radio in Houston continues to change. In this case, 610 definitely got it right.