Washington: A Capital City With Third-Class Radio (And Getting Worse)

Mike O'Meara and Kirk McEwen broadcasting their morning show in better days.

September 19 was my birthday, but the folks who ran my favorite radio station didn’t give me much of a present.

I drove to work that morning to discover the whole station was dying.

The morning “Kirk and Mike Show” was gone, replaced by a stream of classic rock interrupted only by occasional announcements that the station would be switching over to an all-talk format. And the fact that the promos all featured soundbites from Ronald Reagan speeches left no doubt as to just what kind of talk that it would be.

Just before noon, the station played The Who’s “The Song Is Over” and the Beatles’ “Hello Goodbye.” With that, 105.9 The Edge — “Classic Rock That Rocks” — was dead.

The Edge had been on the air for just two years, so I can’t say it was the end of a great historical institution or tradition. But you might be surprised to learn that although Washington may be the nation’s capital, most of our radio here stinks.

It’s a little known secret, but little ol’ Baltimore just an hour to the north has much better radio than we do. (Which wouldn’t be so bad if station interference didn’t make reception of those Charm City stations so hit-and-miss down here.)

So while The Edge wasn’t on the air for too terribly long, it did have the chance to make an impression on a DC area audience just desperate for something good on the dial.

Listening to it, The Edge had a kind of WKRP feel to it. Like the fictional sitcom station set in Cincinnati, The Edge was sort of an oddball “little station that could.”

The real beauty to The Edge, though, wasn’t even the music, since classic rock still is available on one other DC station. Rather, it was in the on-air talent which delivered the tunes.

The jocks on The Edge often poked fun at themselves as old farts and has-beens.

It’s true. Most of the deejays on The Edge were in their primes back when their funniest material revolved around a girl named Monica Lewinsky.

No matter. These guys may have been has-beens, but they were good has-beens. And they clearly still just loved being on the air. That passion for radio came through, loud and clear.

When the end came, though, there were few tears. And they aren’t even really gone. You may not find them on the FM dial, but you can find them over on the Interwebs.

Take the aforementioned “Kirk And Mike.”

Mike of “Kirk And Mike” is Mike O’Meara, who might know better and the Mike who was once half of the syndicated “Don And Mike.”

When The Edge died, O’Meara didn’t miss a beat.

That’s because even as he hosted mornings on The Edge, he had never given up the podcast he puts out everyday with a bunch of his old buddies from “Don And Mike,” literally broadcasting from his living room in Manassas, Va.

So the day he got the shaft on The Edge, he was back on the air (at least it’s on the air if you’re Wi-Fi-enabled) chatting all about his sudden termination on his podcast.

For his part, O’Meara wished his old Edge colleagues well, although he joked that more details could be forthcoming once the severance pay dries up.

He even brought his old partner, Kirk, on for an appearance on the podcast.

Kirk would be Kirk McEwen, who’s a bit of a radio legend in his own right as one-third of the old “Kirk, Mark and Lopez” show which used to dominate on 98 Rock in Baltimore.

McEwen’s also the younger brother of Mark McEwen, the well-known former CBS broadcaster who suffered a stroke a few years ago.

Not so established on the Internet, McEwen nevertheless has taken the online plunge.

With Mark recovered from his stroke, and Kirk finding himself once again unemployed, the pair are working to get a new Internet TV venture off the ground, “McEwen Brothers TV.”

Kirk McEwen became a dad for the second time just weeks before his bosses pulled the plug on The Edge. Faced with that, he could have wallowed or panicked.

Instead, he’s doing what any good jock does, and he’s just moving on to the next gig. Only difference is, in this case, he’s trying to make his own new gig.

The McEwens may be new to the Internet, but the brothers have embraced the Web. So much so that they’re funding their project through an innovative crowdsourcing system known as Kickstarter.

Full disclosure: I personally and enthusiastically threw a little cash their way via Kickstarter.

Check out their video. If you like what you see, do likewise and back “McEwen Brothers.TV.” Take $25 and help make a couple of funny, talented guys’ dreams come true. That’s what the power of the Internet can do.

These guys might be has-beens, but they are also totally ready for the future.

A disillusioned fan of Washington radio, Scott Nance also publishes the political site, The Washington Current. This article was originally published as “The Internet: Where Great DJs Go When Radio Goes Bad” on Blogcritics.
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