Posted Wednesday, January 3, 2018 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Alt 105.7’s new morning show is led by Woody Fife, a man who actually applied for a night jock job at 99X in the 1990s but didn’t get the gig.
“I always had this obsession with 99X,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “I always thought it was such a cool radio station.”
He debuted in Atlanta today at 6 a.m. in syndication form from Los Angeles on what is called the Woody Show. It’s Alt 105.7’s first effort at personality radio just a few weeks after changing its name from Radio 105.7. The music mix on the station includes a huge portion of songs that the original 99X broke in Atlanta.
Fife’s show, which has been on Alt 98.7 in Los Angeles since 2014, went into syndication last July and is now on 12 IHeartMedia stations and the Armed Forces Network worldwide. Today also marks the show’s debut east of the Mississippi River, including stations in Detroit, Indianapolis and Raleigh.
Fife, though he never worked at 99X, has connections to the station. Former 99X host and music director Sean Demery hired him as the morning show on Live 105 in San Francisco in 2006 after Howard Stern left for satellite radio.
“He really totally got what we do,” Fife said. “I wanted freedom without micromanagement. He is so creative, a cool man who doesn’t mind breaking the rules.” (Demery now runs KINK-FM in Portland, Ore.)
Demery returned the compliment: “That guy is one of my fave peeps ever,” he texted me Tuesday night. “He’s every guy’s guy. Strong enough for a man but women like him, too.”
Indeed, on Alt 98.7 in Los Angeles, the Woody Show is now No. 1 among 18 to 34 year olds, helping the station become competitive with long-time alternative rock station in town KROQ-FM.
“We look like the way people with food poisoning feel,” Fife said. “It was amazing we got a job in L.A. Everyone in the building was camera ready. We felt so out of place. But that’s the key to our success. While a lot of people in L.A. play to the stereotype, there is a band of regular people grinding and going to work. We appeal to them.”
Sebas, who started at 99X as an intern and worked under several morning shows there including Demery’s brief stint, stuck around when the station became Rock 100.5 and worked with the Regular Guys for many years. He is best known for getting funny audio at conventions, sporting events and concerts and continues to do that for the Woody Show.
“The chemistry is the show’s biggest strength,” Sebas said. “Woody has basically hired his friends and because of that, there is a lot of comfort and vulnerability among the show members.” Indeed, the show sounds very conversational and comfortable, with minimal shtick.
Fife, 39, began as a jock at a Pittsburgh station at age 17 where his name “Woody” in 1995 came semi-arbitrarily from watching a promo for “Money Train” starring Woody Harrelson. He later went to Portland, St. Louis, then New York at K-Rock in the evening in the early 2000s. That was home of Stern at the time.
Fife even got on air on Stern a few times when he lobbied to have a water cooler but the general manager refused due to budgets. “I grew up idolizing the guy,” Fife said. “I am literally a few feet away from him in his studio making him laugh. I’m in a trance, a zone.”
He was 23. He had reached his dream of working at a New York station. But what did he want to do next? Fortunately, his former boss in St. Louis Tommy Mattern offered him a gig in the afternoons. Fife jumped on it since Mattern let him do a “show,” as opposed to just filling in space between songs.
Fife said Mattern left him alone and he just made it up as he went along. Fortunately, listeners like what he did and he quickly built insanely good ratings. “The goal every day was to just have fun,” Fife said. “We talked about whatever was going on making jokes.”
He realized that both ratings and revenues matter. If he develops a loyal audience that is willing to listen to him when he endorses something, he can solidify job security. (In Atlanta, the Kimmer is well known for his endorsement acumen.) So he only endorses things he actually likes. For him, it’s about integrity.
After St. Louis, he went to Chicago, then San Francisco with Demery before moving to Los Angeles.
Fife said he cares about interaction, being live and building his audience. So for now, his team starts at 3 a.m. PST and does a live show for both the East Coast, overlaps with the West Coast at 6 a.m. PST and runs until 10 a.m. PST. In other words, his team is on for seven hours, which is insane. He said he may eventually run best ofs for the East Coast the first hour and do the same the final hour on the West Coast, trimming the live portion to a more manageable five hours.
Here is his take on each of his main team members;
Renae Ravey: They first met in Pittsburgh when both were 17 years old. “She is by default, the female,” he said, though he said she is more likely to wear a hockey jersey than a dress. “She talks sports better than anyone I know,” he said. “She just won her fantasy football league. She likes the lord of nerd culture. She does her own podcast called “Nerding Out.” And because of our history, she can challenge me in ways others can’t.”
Menace: He’s the social media guy and a co host for Fife. “He keeps the show going after the show. He’s the second biggest female voice. He knows everything about every lame reality show. He knows about purses and shows more than any guy I know. He’s a funny man. He’s lovable like a dog.”
Greg Gory: “He’s a complicated personality. I call him the dumbest smart guy I know. He can talk so intelligently on real topics but he can’t handle simple technology. He watches DVDs and listens to music on CDs.”
Sebas: “One of the most awkward weirdos I have ever met. He’s good at what he does. He’s the perfect producer for what I need – not so much on the personal side. You never know what’s real or what’s he’s bull****ing you about. You know his street work. He loves that stuff. I don’t push it. He tells me what he wants to do. He collects stuff everywhere.”
It has been many years since anyone has tried a syndicated morning show on a rock station in Atlanta. Two previous efforts – John Boy and Billy based out of Charlotte and Bob & Tom based out of Indianapolis on the now defunct 96rock – didn’t last. But syndication has worked in Atlanta, especially urban stations featuring Tom Joyner, Rickey Smiley and Steve Harvey. And several shows are syndicated out of Atlanta – Q100’s the Bert Show, Smiley out of Hot 107.9 and 104.7/The Fish’s Kevin and Taylor.
Alt 105.7 has a decent signal in metro Atlanta but isn’t the strongest one. It’s more north skewing than Rock 100.5, which has a comparable-sized signal.
Here’s how Radio-Locator defines Alt 105.7’s coverage map: