Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Day the Radio Died

101 KUFO, Cort and Fatboy, The Rick Emerson Show, and the Portland Community
A song from the 80's states, "Video Killed the Radio Star." It's true that radio has been suffering a slow and painful demise over the last few decades, but it isn't "video" which has caused this. I would venture to say that not even cds, mp3s, iTunes, or YouTube are responsible. These things exist to help drive the nails into the coffin. The fact is, radio killed the radio.

The title of this post is, "The Day the Radio Died." Am I being melodramatic? Maybe it would be more accurate to say that the slow-rotting disease from which radio suffers has gone terminal this week.

For years, radio listeners have grown increasingly tired of repetitions of the same few "hit" songs over and over with long and frequent interruptions by dopey DJs who consider themselves clever. Thus the necessity for cds, mp3s, iTunes, and the like. Why put up with the crap on the radio when you can make your own playlists?

In Portland, Oregon, 101 KUFO has long stood as a last vestige of hope for the radio. Many people who had otherwise given up on the radio, and even people who didn't necessarily like the music on KUFO, tuned in to hear the radio personalities. Recently, these included the Rick Emerson show in the mornings and the Cort and Fatboy show in the afternoon.

This past Friday afternoon, Cort Webber and Bobby "Fatboy" Roberts entered the airwaves to announce that they had just been fired, and then went off the air. Shortly after, people in Oregon media announced that the Rick Emerson Show had also been canned, which included the firing of Rick Emerson, Sarah X. Dylan, Tim Riley, and Greg Nibbler. This resulted in massive public outrage among the Portland community, along with podcast listeners from out of state.

Aside from the addition to the list of the nation's unemployed, why has this impacted so many people the way it has? For one, these people were thought by many to be "the last hope" for radio. They demonstrated that radio personalities can be intelligent and entertaining, rather than annoyances which seem to exist only to interrupt the music. Second, these shows were a part of many Portlander's daily routines which have now been interrupted.

But the big driving force is the community behind them. These people had a community based following. Cort and Fatboy were the center of many events in Portland. Likewise, The Rick Emerson crew has had a long run in Portland between different stations. Those who weren't already fans were quick to accept them and their talent when they moved to KUFO mornings. In addition, this following extended to the web, where online communities centered around these talents. Canning these shows means more than a change for a few disjointed radio listeners, but a major community upset.

To add insult to injury, Alpha Broadcasting, who owns KUFO among other radio stations, is bringing a DJ in from Seattle by the name of Ricker. Ricker basically represents the opposite of the demographic which formerly listened to KUFO. He is a frat-fest, who's fans use the term "broski".

Now, KUFO is in the midst of launching their new campaign, entitled, "the beast must be fed." Their website displays a Flash video of a mother ship basically invading Portland, and the station itself is broadcasting an eerie, computer-voiced countdown, rather than music. Really? This is their strategy after canning several of Portland's beloved community members? A mother ship full of carnivorous aliens about to invade Portland? Bang up job guys.

And of course, what has happened cannot truly be depicted without noting the feeling of being deceived. When Alpha Broadcasting took over these stations in Portland, company owner, Larry Wilson ( ) assured the community that there would be no changes, and that he would keep things local. Shortly thereafter, Alpha Broadcasting canned KUFO programming director, Chris Padyk. And that was the beginning...

So, in closing, of course we'll all move on. Cort, Fatboy, and the Rick Emmerson crew will find new jobs, and the rest of us will find new morning and afternoon routines, which don't involve the radio. KUFO will go on too, despite the drop in listeners which will incur. But it has been severely gutted and will be a ghost of it's former self.

But the failing medium known as radio has lost many people who have been keeping it vital. Another nail has been hammered into the coffin.


The Cort and Fatboy podcasts and forum plus the Rick Emerson podcasts are being preserved here:

Urban Dictionary has some new definitions for KUFO. Now I wonder how those got there?

Cort and Fatboy: First Interview Since Firings

Cort, Fatboy, and Rick Emerson on KGW's The Square

Culture Pulp

Oregon Media Central

Save the Rick Emerson Show

PDX Sucks - Rip: The Cort and Fatboy Show

Geek in the City: Live Like a Mehfugee

Byron Beck: Cort and Fatboy out at KUFO

Well Fuck, Cort and Fatboy Just Got Fired: Portland Mercury

Dead Air: Willamette Week

Is This Seat Taken

Also, you can hear an irate phone call from me and other pissed off Portlanders in this podcast. I'm the last caller they play.


Gabriel said...

Thanks for covering this J-Dubb.

After hearing about Cort & Fatboy geting the axe I setup a webforum and website dedicated to archiving everything listed on the KUFO website. Since then the community has grown at an amazing rate. I have had several people help me with archiving everything the Cort & Fatboy show, Rick Emerson, Sarah X Dylan, and everyone else has done on KUFO since the begining. Now we start the long and arduous process of rebuilding the website, as well as rebuilding the Cort & Fatboy show.

If you would like to keep in touch with us you can find us at

Anonymous said...

I'm very sad to see that Chris Padyk keeps having bad luck with an endless stream of radio stations. He used to do a talk show here in Phoenix when we were lucky enough to have "Free FM" and I've been trying to find out what he's been doing ever since then.
Just pray they don't deliver Danny Bonaduce to you.

J-Dubb said...

Actually, no, KUFO does not go on. After several decades of broadcasting, the station died barely a year after this event.