WKLH does not renew morning co-host Carole Caine’s contract

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WKLH-FM (96.5) will not renew the contract of veteran morning show co-host Carole Caine, the station announced Monday.

Her last day was today, Monday June. 29.

awklhCaine has been partners on the show with Dave Luczak for almost thirty years, during which time the “Dave and Carole” show became a local institution.

Luczak came to the station, then WMGF in 1983, with Don Girard. Caine became newsperson in 1985 and full time co-host in 1986.

Luczak will remain on the morning show, the station announced. A link to Caine’s bio on the station’s website turns up “page not found.”

But a link to Luczak’s page reveals highlights of their time together.

They include: They did their show from a nudist camp (1988); crash landed a hot air balloon  (1990); broadcast from London (1995), Hawaii (1996-98) and Munich’s Oktoberfest (1998-99): hosted Harley’s 100th anniversary celebration (2003); and were named best morning show (2005).

Their crowning achievement is the millions of dollars they raised together annually for Children’s Hospital during Miracle Marathon broadcasts starting in 1998.

Caine’s departure is the latest change at the station which rebranded itself from Classic Hits to Hometown Rock in April. In the May radio ratings the station ranked 5th among all listeners with a 5.5 share of the audience.

However the morning show was among the top five in its demographic in May, after spending much of last year ranked tenth and in the teens.

carolefbIn a release announcing the change the station called Caine “an integral part” of the morning show but said that the change was being made “after careful consideration.”

It’s hard to say what this means for the direction of the show and the station, but this could be interpreted as dismissing the female demographic.

(Photo from Caine’s Facebook page.)

The station group already has an all male morning show at WHQG-FM (102.9).

Or it could be a cost cutting move, related to the station group’s joining the A.C. Nielsen ratings survey after years of not subscribing to the paid service.

WKLH and WKQG are owned by Lakefront Communications, LLC which is a subsidiary of Saga Communications. It also owns WHQG-FM (102.9), WJMR-FM (98.3), WRNG-FM (106.9) and WJYI-AM (1340).

When WKLH rebranded itself it was intended to reflect an evolution in listener preferences from music of the 1970s to the 1980s and to reflect pride in Milwaukee’s history. A release at the time said the station would be “packed with personality, texture and tempo.”

The change came after a loss of listeners in the 25-54 demographic suggested it was not reaching its target audience or that the desired audience segment was shrinking.

Caine – nee Schefelker – is a Beloit native. In this 2007  interview with the Beloit Daily News she talked about growing up there – fish fries at the Elk Club and sledding on Hospital Hill – and getting into radio.

She worked at the UW-Whitewater radio and TV stations while in college, and worked at WFAW in Fort Atkinson before joining WKLH. She is married with two children.

******

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

MILWAUKEE’S “HOMETOWN ROCK” WKLH 96.5 TAKES A NEW DIRECTION IN MORNINGS

After careful consideration, WKLH has made the decision not to renew Carole Caine’s contract. Carole has been an integral part of WKLH’s morning show for almost thirty years.

Her last day on the morning show is June 29th. The originator and founder of the morning show, Dave Luczak, will continue on in mornings.

Some will recall that Luczak started the show almost thirty-three years ago, debuting as “Girard & Luczak” on 96.5. He will stay on as the host of the show, bringing compelling and entertaining morning radio to his many fans.

The audience will hear their favorite guests and characters on the show, as well as ever-changing interviews with athletes, comedians and celebrities.

Vice President, Annmarie Topel comments, “We look forward to growing what we’ve built thru the years and being a favorite with Milwaukee morning listeners. Change isn’t easy, but it’s inevitable. We are very grateful for the many years Carole Caine has been with us. She has had a long, admirable and impressive career with WKLH. We wish her well and thank her for her years with us.”

WKLH, WHQG, WJMR, WNRG, WJYI are owned by Lakefront Communications LLC. Lakefront is a subsidiary of Saga Communications, Inc., a broadcast company devoted to acquiring, developing and operating broadcast properties. The company owns and operates properties in 24 markets.

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  • Debbie Young

    Ungrateful mofoes. Dave should refuse to stay without her, but he won’t. She really beat my record, by the way. I was only at WOKY/WMIL for 21 years before they blew me out the door. 30 years,then shown the door. Radio, as my partner always says, is a cruel business.

    • Ray Dustin

      Yeah, Milwaukee radio must be all Bob & Brian or the young crowd with unknowns ~ no matter what Brian Biernat commented above. You, Debbie, now Carole, and Jane Matanaer were all voices I could enjoy along with the real personality. The yokel who took over for Jane on 93.3 is horrible. I’ve moved on to 95.7 but wonder how long before Meg is shown the door with the pattern we’ve seen. Best to you, Debbie, Carole, and Jane!

    • Jeffrey Fojtik

      Debbie, that was a purely an emotional comment. Understandable, but emotional. I’m sure it crossed Dave’s mind and he fought for her. Dave is also the “Director of Operations” or something like that at the station. Furthermore, Dave still needs to make a living in a tough industry. He’s a great guy as you know and his “show prep” is unmatched. I’m the person who got Greg Koch on the station and before he would entertain the thought he wanted to do a “dry run” off the air to see if he was right for the show. Once meeting him, that didn’t happen and he put Greg on the air and never looked back. And Greg is fantastic besides being possibly the best guitar player in the world. Adding Geno was a stroke of genius. KB does what he does and I could do without John McGivern. He is over saturated in Milwaukee. The mistake they are making is playing too much music in the show. I don’t want to hear music in the morning, nor do most listeners. Carole being let go, albeit a huge disappointment to me and many, was a cost cutting move in tougher industry than it was 7-9 years ago. They don’t get the advertising dollars they did back then due to the fact there are several more places advertising dollars can be spent. Having worked with Carole for 6 years, I can say that as great as I thought she was on the air, she is an even better person off the air. It saddened me to hear this, but with her extraordinary skill set she will be wanted somewhere. I will miss listening to her. But Dave is still needs to work. He had no choice. Walking out would have been a bad financial move for him.

      • It would logically seem that if it were strictly a money issue and that the desire to retain the existing team while reducing cost would have been the optimal outcome, both parties would have been presented with an opportunity to stay on at a reduced salary. Since it doesn’t appear that that option was presented (or if it was, it was rejected outright), then obviously it was felt that Carole was the expendable party.

        Which I think is what a number of people are getting at here. While money may have been the issue, it wasn’t the sole consideration when the decision was made not to renew Carole’s contract.

        • Jeffrey Fojtik

          Bob, we don’t know what was presented. You are completely guessing. What I can tell you is that I know “all the players” going all the way to corporate in Michigan. Ann Marie Topel is a true professional in every sense of the word. She didn’t want this to happen. I’ll guarantee you. Nor did Dave, who’s also a class act. The radio business has changed dramatically. That cannot be overstated. Radio advertising does not generate the revenue it used too. The marketplace has changed. The fact that Bob Bellini, the best Program Director in the country has been able to keep the format pretty much the same is sheer genius. At some point, something had to give and unfortunately it was Carole. I know Carole and this bummed me out. Carole was great on the air. She will land somewhere. My guess would be local television. She’s attractive, smart, funny and a true professional. I listened almost every morning, but when they started playing more music on their show, I’d change over to Bob and Brian who have a legendary show. But trust me, behind closed doors, this was the hardest decision ever made in the history of the station and they tried to make it work.

          • Frankly, it sounds like you’re guessing as well.

            Putting aside the praise you’re heaping on the personnel at KLH, you’re not really providing much in the way of a logical explanation as to why it was handled the way it was. i don’t expect you to because I don’t really think you know any more than anyone else here about it. I’m just positing some thoughts regarding the claim that it was about money, and nothing else. If it was about money, and nothing else, and Carole was as valued a member of that team as everyone else on it, something would have been done to retain her. Obviously there were other considerations that went into the decision.

          • Jeffrey Fojtik

            Bob, I do know a bit more than everyone else commenting on this only because I worked there for 6 years and I know all the people involved. Additionally, I have a good understanding of how the radio business works. I know what they get for a 60 second commercial on their show and it’s substantially less than what it was when I worked there. Advertising dollars pay the bills. Carole was making tall money in comparison to almost anyone in the business. I’ll take it a step further. Besides Dave and Carole, Bob and Brian along with Mark Belling and maybe Charlie Sykes are the only radio personalities in Milwaukee that make real good money. Maybe Steve “The Homer” True does as well. Nobody else does. This is a fact. Saga had to cut their budget, and unfortunately Carole was the recipient that was publicly noticeable. I adore Carole and I know that Ms Topel, Dave and corporate does too. I’m certain that it’s all about $$$.

          • Here’s how they handled it. She’s off for several days due to a voice issue, comes back for one, and she’s off the air the next. The website is simultaneously scrubbed of virtually all information regarding her 30 year tenure at the station.

            Whether it’s the radio industry or any other, that’s not how you handle the dismissal (which is what this was) of someone whose 30 years of service you valued. That’s how you get rid of someone you want gone and for whom you have very little respect.

            So how should they have handled it? This isn’t the first notable radio personality who’s been forced out due to a feeling on the part of management that their time is up. Jonathan Greene comes to mind as one who was handled in a much more gracious fashion. If Carole was as loved by everyone as you seem to indicate, if it were indeed a “money issue” only, all the more reason she should have, at the very least, been given an opportunity to say goodbye to the listeners.

            The way it was handled says more about how the organization as a whole valued her 30 years at the station than can any amount of post-mortem tap dancing by anyone – whether it be by station management itself, or someone speaking (whether engaged as such or of their own volition) as their proxy under the auspices of being a knowledgeable friend.

            I have no doubt Carole’s going to land on her feet somewhere, which prevents her from speaking out about it at this point. However the truth about situations like this one does eventually leak out one way or the other.

          • Jeffrey Fojtik

            Bob, I completely agree with you on that if that was possible. We don’t know if that opportunity was presented to her and she refused. I admire and respect your class and style. The bottom line is the whole thing sucks. Carole was sooo good on the show. I loved listening to her. As much as I enjoy the show, I tune in then out when they play music and go right to Bob and Brian. I told Carole this when we would periodically see each other at a shopping mall. She told me they were playing more music because they were ordered to from “above.” But Bob, we don’t know what happened behind closed doors. I just stand by my original comment that it was a $$ issue. Carole was making tall coin.

  • Sara Nowacki

    So sad to hear this! I love listening to her every morning. I hope KLH realizes the mistake they made and brings her back!

  • Brian Biernat

    Carole knows this more than anyone; her voice was sounding old, older sounding than the show’s targeted demographic could relate to any longer. Nobody wants to listen to their mom spin records on “rock” radio and try to sound hip and relevant (sometimes awkwardly). Carole, best wishes, but it is a business that makes or breaks on the whim of public perception. Personally, I haven’t listened to KLH regularly for almost two decades. I still very much miss ZMF and the old QFM. Bring me that format of Rock, Jazz, Fusion, Blues, Rockabilly, Old School Funk and R&B LP/album side radio listening enjoyment with few commercials and musicologist level DJs, and I may return to occasional radio listening.

    • Jeffrey Fojtik

      Brian, if you haven’t listened to the show in 20 years, you don’t have a clue.

      • Brian Biernat

        Jeff, I said, “Personally, I haven’t listened to KLH regularly for almost two decades.” Jeff, that means I’ve heard just enough during that period to know I can’t be a regular listener. SO, not to be mean, but you’re a bit clueless about my post, since it seems you either didn’t read it or didn’t understand it.

    • Victoria Carlson-Oehlers

      And Brian, this can’t be said for the “old” guys?

    • Jeffrey Fojtik

      Once again Brian, you don’t know of what you speak. The comment Carole “spinning records” is just silly. She grew up with that music and interviewed many of the 70’s artists on the air quite well. She related extremely well to the female demographic listenership. As I said, this was a cost cutting move in a nutshell. Radio has changed dramatically over the past 7-8 years. Sirius radio and Pandora have hurt advertising revenue. Saga had to cut expenses, and it happened to be Carole’s substantial salary. I stand by my earlier comment that you haven’t a clue of what you speak. Sorry.

  • Maripat Blankenheim

    This is truly unfortunate, but confirms women of a certain age are expendable. It would be one thing if the station decided to fire the team. But splitting them up and sticking with the male half of the team sends a strong message, especially to other women in that age group – like me. As someone who grew up on WZMF and WQFM, I never thought I’d grow old enough to be demographically irrelevant. I was wrong.

    • Jeffrey Fojtik

      Dave did all the show prep. Carole was and is fantastic, but Dave was driving the bus. It’s not as simple as you think. It had nothing to do with Carole being a woman. She was making tall money in a shrinking industry. It was a cost cutting move in a nutshell.

  • Mary Ellen Hoffmann

    My husband and I probably won’t be fans for WKLH morning listening. Nothing against the other guys, but Carole was the funny, joyous and relatable person on the show. I like Geno, KB, and Dave, but “hip” in comparison to Carole? No way. Just listening this Morning, the show already sound likes a few old men. No flare. Weather, traffic, and the news. Again, another smart women gets kicked out the corporate door. WKLH you made a big mistake! Watch your female listeners pass WKLH on the dial.

  • Deb

    Especially seeing Debbie Young post on this it’s even more disappointing – both women brought tons of personality to the radio shows. Look at what happened to WKTI – they are dead in the water. KLH will go the same way. Yeah, I have always enjoyed the guys, too, but Carole was the life of the show.

  • Kandy

    I have been a loyal fan of the morning show. The guys (Dave, KB, Geno, etc) are great. But NO CAROL? Nope – they lost me now. I’m sick of women getting dumped everywhere! I’m off to find another station, or just go to my Sirius Broadway channel – which has no sex discrimination!

  • Homie

    Pretty lousy the way it happened, especially considering her contributions to the shows success for the past 29 years. I listened this morning as well and although I like Dave, it wont take long for people to get tired of a bunch of old guys talking. She added so much to the show. I hope they don’t end up turning to a country format like 94.5 did, but at this point it would not surprise me. Us 55+ people who no one seems to want anymore will just have to take our money and loyalty elsewhere. Sad for Children’s Hospital as well, as they will definitely feel the repercussions of this idiotic decision when (and if) the next Miracle Marathon happens.

  • Jeffrey Fojtik

    This is simply a cost cutting move. Carole was fantastic on the air and off the air. I was blessed to have worked with her for 6 years. Ann Marie Topel, the VP is as smart as they come and she didn’t make that decision. It came from above. If by some chance she did make it, she didn’t want too. It’s a sign of the times. Their Program Director, Bob Bellini, is the best in the country. It’s the only station in Milwaukee, and perhaps in the country that still has basically the same format it had 25 years ago. It’ a huge roll of the dice, but I would never bet against Topel, Luczak and Bellini.

    • Victoria Carlson-Oehlers

      See above

  • lordairgtar

    Well, if it was a cost cutting move, then I can think of a few other people that could go. Not Caine. KB is not funny, cut him. I no longer will listen to this station. I hope someone local picks up Caine…an extremely nice and lovely lady.

    • Victoria Carlson-Oehlers

      If they are the best in the country, then why didn’t they analyze the market better

  • Sherry Brisch

    Even though I have left the milwaukee market, Carole Caine will be dearly missed on klh. She and Dave were icons of local radio programming. I had the privilege of working at klh years ago with her and she’s a class act on and off the air. It is unfortunate that so many talented personalities (Danny Clayton too) are finding themselves in the same predicament due to format changes and ratings.

  • Roger

    K.b.is the one that should have gotten the axe piss poor decision it was another woman that decided this from what I read probably jealous of Carole so with that said goodbye to you wklh

    • Jeffrey Fojtik

      Carole made thrice the money KB makes, therefore that was why it was Carole.

      • lordairgtar

        KB isn’t worth a tenth of what Carole made.

  • Kathy Smith Zee

    Mourning the loss of Carole-bye bye klh

  • Victoria Carlson-Oehlers

    Yes. I am one of the female demographics that have been let down. This seems very chauvinistic. I will be boycotting. Sorry Dave, Kevin, and Gino

  • JoeBerlin

    Bye bye wklh until u bring back Carole Caine .

  • Jeffrey Fojtik

    Bob, one more thing. You cannot compare Jonathan Greene’s departure to Carole’s. That’s apples and oranges. He retired. It was planned. Your losing your cred here Bob.

    • Is that what this is about for you, Jeff? Cred?

      If it is then I have to question why someone actively working in the industry would even be weighing in publicly on a situation such as this.

      Greene was pressured to “retire”. That’s no secret. Neither is most of the information you’ve presented in terms of which local radio personalities are making “tall coin”, as you call it.

      Every decision regarding changes at a radio station or any other business for that matter is about money when you come down to it. This decision smacks of someone either detached from the market or relatively new to the field attempting to cut short term losses by gambling away something that, over the long term, has proven to be a winning formula in this market. Whether it was a panic move or part of an attempt to tweak the show in a fashion intended to bring in more of a desired demographic while dispensing with some of the high priced talent, the way in which was executed is likely to do more harm than good over the long run.

      The real question is whether or not they’re chasing a demographic that even exists in significant numbers anymore for broadcast radio. If you look at what WGN has done over the past year with the return of Jimmy DiCastro, a lot of it doesn’t make sense unless you factor in an acceptance of the fact that the aging broadcast radio audience isn’t being replaced in significant numbers with younger listeners.

      KLH, with this move, may very well be kicking to the curb an affluent audience for which there’s no significantly large replacement, because that demographic is finding what traditionally has been provided by broadcast radio elsewhere.

      Feel free to tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about, once again…

      • Jeffrey Fojtik

        Bob, I completely respect your commentary. I can also tell you this about Jonathan Greene. His boss at the time, a friend of mine, told me that he was a complete pain in the ass and that he was roundly disrespectful to others at the radio station. He thought he was TMJ, when the basis of their station was the Packers, Brewers, Bucks and Badgers. His numbers weren’t very good. On the other hand Charlie Sykes has great numbers and is well liked within the building. Putting it bluntly, Greene sucked, but you’re right about that. I totally respect you and apologize if I may have used inappropriate comments towards your comments.

      • Jeffrey Fojtik

        Bob, I am not actively in the industry anymore. I spent 8 years in the industry and consider myself a professional radio listener too. I think like everyone else that it was a bad decision and a huge roll of the dice for KLH. I just am telling people why they did it. A few years ago SAGA stock was all the way down to $1 a share. Now it’s about $38 a share. And there was some type of dispute with Arbitron that according to Dudek cost SAGA $2.8 million dollars. SAGA is small compared to Clear Channel and Entercom who are media giants. Therefore their business model is different, hence they have to make really tough decisions at times. This was one of them. It sucks and perhaps you’re correct that it should have been handled differently. My main point was that those at the top in the Milwaukee Radio Group are smart people and also good people.

  • ceegeewi

    25-54 crowd Huh. IDK, I just turned 56 so not in that group and find this to be a shameful and disappointing to say the least. I guess my demographic is now a minority? Interesting. Last I knew this group was getting larger.

    Sorry Dave, Kevin, Gino, and whoever the ‘new woman’ is… (didn’t catch her name…and don’t find the conversation stimulating or humorous what-so-ever) but I’m moving on now to one of your competitors.

    Good luck with your young crowd ratings with ‘Hometown Rock’ whatever that is. It’s always about the money… Too bad. Love ya Carole!! Enjoy your new life! Best wishes!

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