Richmond radio enthusiasts beware. Your chances of contracting audio syphilis just jumped off the charts -- and there's no penicillin.
For the last four years, local radio disc jockey Chris Bopst has been garnering kudos and critical acclaim for his eclectic program, "The Bopst Show," airing Monday through Friday from 1 to 4 p.m. on WCLM 1450-AM, The Clam.
But the days of Bopst ranting and playing such a wide range as The Clash, Nina Simone, Slayer, local music and educational records about masturbation, appear to be over. He recently decided to hang up his headphones after being asked to move his show to a later time slot to make room for former Q94 disc jockey Kirby Carmichael.
"About six months ago I hit a wall," an irate Bopst says from his home in the Fan. "There was no one [at the station] supporting me. I did everything on my own and for free, designing their Web site, promoting and selling my show, and I brought the station a lot of media attention in the process. Now I feel betrayed."
Since "The Bopst Show" stopped airing last week, angry listeners have flooded the station with calls.
Broadcast from a 1,000-watt transmitter, "The Bopst Show" had a strong following throughout the city, but particularly in the Fan District. After years of pouring himself into the show and building an audience, Bopst says he was disheartened when he heard the station would be paying Carmichael and giving him free rein. Usually WCLM does not pay disc jockeys, however DJs do receive 50 percent of any ads they sell for their show.
Bopst says he didn't want the nightly spot because it would offer a far smaller audience than his former day shift.
WCLM's owner Preston Brown says the station wanted Bopst to stay and tried several different scenarios to convince him. Brown and station manager/radio personality Chip "Chocolate Chip" Johnston offered Bopst his choice of nights, weekend shifts or the same daily shift at the Hopewell station but they say he wasn't interested.
"[Bopst] just walked off and then he took down the Web site," says Brown, adding he understands his former star DJ's frustration.
"I like his show," he says. "He wasn't forced out. We just wanted to move him to another slot. It's a business decision that happens all the time in radio, and Bopst knows that."
Brown says he's been committed for some time to giving Carmichael, who was unceremoniously let go by Clear Channel Communications during a round of layoffs at Q94 in September 2006. Brown told all of the station's DJs several weeks ago they'd have to adjust for Carmichael, including Johnston, who moved his show from the 4 to 6 p.m. slot (after Bopst) to earlier in the day. The only DJ not affected was deep-voiced country-music personality Big John Trimble, whose show airs early in the morning.
Brown says his goal is to place Johnston and Carmichael back to back, a format the two had success with decades ago when they were both disc jockeys at former local R&B radio station WANT.
Brown adds he's certain the veteran Carmichael will bring a strong audience for his R&B, soul and gospel music likely drawing more listeners than Bopst because Carmichael has been on the airwaves consistently since 1968.
"[Clear Channel] had a piece of gold, a prime-time star and they did me a favor by letting him go," Brown says. "If I get Carmichael and 'Chocolate Chip' back to back again, I can make a lot of noise in this town."
Johnston says it's not only angry Bopst fans who have been calling. "A lot of people have been calling the station since they heard that Kirby was coming back," he says. "I'm 54, and I've been listening to him since I was a kid. We wouldn't have done this with anyone else, but Kirby is a big name."
At the time of his departure, Bopst, also a longtime employee at Millie's Diner, had about 20 local businesses supporting his show. He says he always appreciated that black-owned-and-operated WCLM was "the only nonsegregated station" in the area and had been looking forward to working with the legendary Carmichael.
Bopst is unsure whether his genre-juggling, cutting-edge show will be able to resurface elsewhere in town. "Just flip through the dial," he says. "Do you think someone will air it?" S