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Radio Showdown: Easy Listening Gets Some Tough Competition

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After six months of radio silence, two local broadcast heavyweights are returning to the airwaves in direct competition with the duo that replaced them.

Bill Bevins and Shelly Perkins held the morning slot at Lite 98 for 13 years before signing off in December when their contract expired.

"Sleeping past 3 a.m. will be fantastic!" Perkins said at the time, noting that she and Bevins would be looking forward to other projects.

When they left, their show ranked fourth in morning ratings, down slightly from the year before, according to Nielsen's average share of listeners from 6-10 a.m., ages 12 and older.

After they moved out, Chris Parker and Kris Taylor moved in with the "Chris and Kris" show on Lite 98 in January, slinging friendly banter in-between the easy-listening likes of Norah Jones, Michael Bublé and Elton John. Morning ratings since have slipped, according to data provided by Nielsen.

Now their predecessors will go head-to-head with them in the mornings at the newly created Easy 100.9, as reported last week by local television stations and other sources — although station owners refuse to officially confirm the news.

The move is the latest salvo in a rivalry between Clear Channel, which owns Lite 98, and Summit Media, which launched Easy 100.9 in May. Summit says the station is focusing on an underserved audience of listeners, ages 35 and older, with "relaxing, refreshing music."

Summit previously launched 100.9 as Hot 100.9 — which it moved to the frequency 106.1 — with a declaration that it was coming after Clear Channel's Q94.

Summit also brought on DJ Mason last year after he was fired from Clear Channel's XL102. He's co-host of the morning show at Classic Rock 96.5. Clear Channel in turn picked up the syndicated John Boy and Billy's "The Big Show" from Summit for its station The Planet 96.1. Another XL102 alumnus, Crash, started last week as afternoon DJ on Summit's 103.7 Play.

Summit Media Vice President Bob Willoughby declines to discuss Bevins and Perkins, saying only that a news release is forthcoming. Clear Channel Regional Operations Manager Dave Symonds tells Style he hasn't heard the news about Easy 100.9's new show.

Bevins and Perkins have been quiet as well. A joint Facebook page makes no mention of the move, although after reports of their return circulated on CBS-6 — where Bevins also works — NBC-12 and Twitter, fan messages have poured in.

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