SYRACUSE -- Nearly a month after Dr. Michael Savage suddenly disappeared from radio stations across the country, the California-based host returns to the airwaves tonight. Although his new syndication deal was announced last week, it wasn't until late this afternoon that Clear Channel's WSYR announced they would be restoring Savage to the lineup, effective with tonight's premiere. But things aren't exactly as they once were; Savage's return results in the elimination of WSYR's 6pm local news hour.
Although WSYR's website still lists the "old" schedule as of 7:30pm on Tuesday, the website does have a recording of afternoon host Bob Lonsberry making the announcement on his afternoon drive talk show today.
The lineup for News/Talk 106.9 and 570 WSYR will remain unchanged through the end of Lonsberry's show at 6pm. The station will then air the syndicated Sean Hannity program from 6pm to 9pm, and he'll be followed by Savage from then until midnight.
The new lineup results in the elimination of the "WSYR 6:00 News," which had often been hosted by Kevin Schenk, with Don Lark or George Kilpatrick occasionally filling in. The locally-produced hour was originally called "The Daily Wrap," created to fill an hour-long gap in the schedule after the station terminated former longtime host Jim Reith one year ago this coming Friday.
But there's a trade-off: the new lineup allows WSYR to clear Savage's show live for the first time ever. When Savage was syndicated by Talk Radio Networks, his show aired live from 6pm to 9pm Eastern, meaning the live broadcast was actually over for a full hour by the time WSYR would air Savage at 10pm in the past. With Cumulus Media Networks as his new syndicator, Savage is live 9pm to midnight, meaning local listeners will have the chance to call-in and speak live with the host.
Lonsberry's announcement didn't include details on how WSYR plans to fill the gap between the end of Savage's program at midnight, and the start of Coast to Coast AM, which starts at 1:00am.
Savage's hiatus started last month, immediately after he won a long-running legal battle against Talk Radio Networks. Savage sued the network in December 2010, days before his contract with TRN expired. He argued that the non-compete clause in his contract was unfairly restrictive, and he accused TRN of trying to “strong-arm” him into accepting a “sub-standard agreement” which he compared to “indentured servitude.” When the courts finally made their decision last month, TRN immediately took Savage off the air.
Although TRN offered an alternate host to Savage's affiliates, WSYR refused, opting to run Hannity's show a second time each night. Clear Channel Syracuse operations manager Rich Lauber told NewsChannel 9 (WSYR-TV) that he had hoped to bring Savage back, whenever that would become possible. Savage's return to radio via Cumulus was reported last Wednesday by national radio industry trades -- CNYRadio.com immediately contacted Lauber to ask if he would be making good on the previously-announced plan, but we didn't hear anything until Lonsberry's announcement on-air this afternoon.
Our thanks to CNYRadio.com user pontiac59, who notified us via our commenting feature, of Lonsberry's announcement today. (Your editor isn't usually available to listen to the radio during the 3pm hour, the time Lonsberry made the announcement.) Anytime you've got news to share about local radio or TV, click "Contact Us" next to our logo at the top of the page to send us a note. We honor all requests for anonymity, and if you don't even want us to know who you are, you can leave the "name" and "email" fields blank.