Tuesday, January 7, 2003

'Good Guy' Rhodes at home on WSAI


Dusty Rhodes caught himself as soon as the words "1360 WSAI" came out of his mouth.

He chuckled and hastily corrected himself, saying "1530 WSAI."

"I lost my concentration for a minute. I forgot everything. It happens," said Mr. Rhodes, 63, who began his broadcasting career here on old WSAI-AM (1360) in 1961.

On Monday, he returned to the airwaves as morning host on Clear Channel's "real oldies" WSAI-AM (1530), after the station had dropped its big band music over the weekend in favor of the 1950s and '60s rock.

After his first 5-9 a.m. shift, he headed to his other day job as Hamilton County auditor. He doesn't think his radio comeback will interfere with his elected duties.

"I've always had a lot of energy. I don't think it will be a problem at all," he said.

Mr. Rhodes was one of the old "WSAI Good Guys" from 1961 to 1966, when he left to do mornings at CKLW-AM in Windsor, Ontario. He returned to the Tristate two year later, and entered politics as a Delhi Township trustee. He worked weekends since 1973 as a DJ for WKRC-AM, WLW-AM and WGRR-FM.

Before WGRR-FM fired him in August, Mr. Rhodes had been contacted several times about coming to work for Clear Channel. He said the sudden change in WSAI-AM's format last weekend - days after Nick Clooney's contract expired as morning host - had been considered for a long time.

Clear Channel was prepared to switch formats Thanksgiving weekend - if WGRR-FM had dropped oldies to play only Christmas music, as the station did last year, he says. "We were ready to do it," he said.

The station switched format because 1950s oldies appeal to a slightly younger audience than big band music. WGRR-FM has dropped '50s rock in the past 18 months and added 1970s music, much to the chagrin of Mr. Rhodes.

"I just love listening to our station," he said.

Despite his legendary status in this market - coworkers have dubbed him "The King" - Mr. Rhodes has never done mornings here. And he finds himself competing for an audience with long-time friends from his former stations, WKRC-AM's Jerry Thomas and WLW-AM's Jim Scott.

And how long can he continue to work two jobs? "Let's see what the reaction is," said Mr. Rhodes, who was re-elected to a four-year term in November. "I think we have a chance to really do things here."

Band aid: Those who miss the big band music and pop standards on WSAI-AM have a couple of alternatives on the dial.

Big band music can be found on Springdale's WMKV-FM (89.3), Dayton's WONE-AM (980), sometimes on Batavia's WOBO-FM (88.7) and weekend afternoons on Xavier University's WVXU-FM (91.7). And Mama Jazz plays some big band jazz weekday evenings on Oxford's WMUB-FM (88.5).

Big win: Half of all Tristate TV viewers were watching Ohio State upset Miami 31-24 in double overtime Friday.

Channel 9's Fiesta Bowl telecast averaged a 34.2 rating (283,860 viewers) and 50 percent audience share, according to Tristate overnight Nielsen meters. Viewership peaked at a 65 percent audience share for the final minutes of the game (12:15-12:30 a.m.).

New on DVD: Great news for fans of The Shield. Not only does the second season of Michael Chiklis' police drama premiere today (10 p.m., FX), but the first season is available on DVD. Suggested retail for the 13-episode box set is $59.98, according to the Associated Press.

Also new on DVD: Oz: The Complete Second Season, on three discs ($64.98) and Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Third Season, on six discs ($59.98). By the way, a new Buffy episode airs at 8 p.m. today (Channel 25).

Talk shows: Today's guests:

Live With Regis and Kelly (9 a.m., Channel 9): Ahmad Rasha.

Wayne Brady Show (10 a.m., Channel 9): Ken Burns; Kenny Loggins.

The View (11 a.m., Channel 9): Suzanne Somers, Steve Guttenberg.

Caroline Rhea Show (3 p.m., Channel 19): Stephen Baldwin, Sean Astin.

Tonight Show (11:35 p.m., Channels 5, 22): Former Vice President Al Gore, Faith Hill.

Late Show (11:35 p.m., Channels 12, 7): Richard Gere, Chris Elliott.

E-mail jkiesewetter@enquirer.com

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