GoLocalProv, the spunky news site, has a nice scoop today on an imminent reshuffling of the line-up at talk radio station WPRO. But the rationale offered up for the switch seems off.
First, the changes: John DePetro is to be pulled out of the morning drivetime slot and dropped into a new 9 am to noon slot. That means the station's other two day-time hosts, Dan Yorke and Buddy Cianci, will be pushed back. Yorke will now be on-air noon to 3 p.m. and Cianci 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. All three hosts will have three-hour slots instead of four.
A new morning show, from 6 am to 9 am, will aim to be a straight news sort of show - devoid of the conservative, opinionated talk that predominates on the station.
The GoLocalProv piece suggests the move is meant to free up DePetro in his quest for a nationally syndicated show. But while the controversial host may be in pursuit of a national, weekend show, sources tell the Phoenix that freeing up time for DePetro's other ventures was not a driving force in the time-slot shuffle at WPRO.
There are at least a couple of factors are at work here.
First, the station apparently sees some value in a straight-news show in morning drivetime, able to attract the average commuter who is interested in news and weather, but may not have a taste for fire-breathing talk before work.
Second, DePetro made headlines several months ago when a lawsuit alleged he was involved in an extramarital affair and threatened the family of his lover via text message; the story cut into his credibility and spooked some advertisers, making him something less than suitable as a morning newsman.
I'm also told DePetro's ratings have flattened out of late, but I haven't seen the numbers - and the same can be said for many in the format after the election high wears off. If anyone wants to send the numbers along, feel free.
Here's the official press release from WPRO:
News Talk 630 WPRO and 99.7 FM announced today that John DePetro, the host of The WPRO Morning News, will be returning to his prior role as talk show host in the 9AM-12N time slot. “The opportunity to recast The WPRO Morning News is extremely exciting,” said Program Director Paul Giammarco. “We are close to announcing our new morning show, which I feel will be raising the bar on objective news reporting in the state of Rhode Island. No other media outlet or print publication will be able to deliver the most up to the minute newsmaker interviews or detailed developments of local, regional and national news stories as WPRO”. With John’s return to talk show host, WPRO will increase its already robust local presence. WPRO will focus on offering five live and local programs that are unequaled across the nation in content, opinion, and commentary, unsurpassed in entertainment value. In exploring an opportunity for a syndicated weekend talk show, John DePetro stated, “I want to thank the management of WPRO and Citadel Broadcasting for allowing me to pursue the incredible opportunity of national syndication. This is a dream come true. I look forward to discussing local issues from 9 A.M. to noon on WPRO, and will have more to say regarding my other project (syndication) at a later date." John added, “Rhode Island is my home. It is important that my audience know that my primary focus will always be on local talk in Rhode Island”.