Chris Baker axed at KTRH/KPRC
Word reaches us that Clear Channel Houston has axed popular KTRH-740 and KPRC-950 talker Chris Baker, effective as of last night.
Baker's information has already been completely scrubbed from the KTRH website, although in typically clumsy fashion, Clear Channel still has references to the Baker and Hunt program on the KPRC website.
Baker has long been the talk radio king of Houston, both in terms of ratings and revenues, so this move clearly seems more in line with Clear Channel's cost-cutting in nearby markets (rather than a decline in performance). We should note that Baker has long been a favorite of the blog, because we've appreciated his perspective on politics, sense of humor, and willingness to play rabble-rouser on local affairs (even when it ruffles feathers at City Hall). While we are sad to see Baker get dumped -- and replaced by the far less talented Michael "Babe Pages" Berry -- we're fairly sure he will land on his feet, and probably move on to bigger and better things.
Unfortunately, Houston radio is hardly moving on to bigger and better things since Michael "Babe Pages" Berry deposed Ken Charles and took over as programming guru (despite a lack of qualifications and experience). Instead, onetime political powerhouse KPRC has been remade into an incoherent "guy talk" combination of mostly syndicated personalities, unlistenable local personalities, and "babe pages." And onetime news leader KTRH has been remade into a collection of mostly syndicated shows, a "local" personality based in San Antonio, and a local personality who doesn't produce ratings but apparently has all the right political/business connections.
None of that makes for good local radio, which almost certainly will be reflected in the ratings down the line -- when Michael "Babe Pages" Berry will move on to his next endeavor, and someone else will try to figure out what happened to two great radio stations. It's unfortunate that a city the size of Houston can't do better than this. It's also somewhat shocking that talk radio at Clear Channel Houston seems to be bleeding more than the local newspaper these days. We certainly didn't think we'd ever write that when we started this little blog!
In any case, here's a shout out to our friend Baker, who's given Houston some darn good radio over the years. Thanks Chris!
UPDATE (11-08-2007): KHCW ran a nice story on Baker last night.