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Lighting a Fire

Jon Caldara has been unmatched at using the media during this election season. He couldn't be prouder.

Radio insiders interpreted this move as Clear Channel's way of gut-shooting an opponent even as it laid the groundwork for the possible reappearance of White and Bonaduce on one of its stations. Emmis's subsequent decision to pull the plug on the program over two months early (its last day on Alice was October 20) added credence to this theory. By silencing the dirty-talking duo until the middle of next year, the company would be giving Alice addicts a lengthy amount of time to forget about Danny and Jamie and find new favorites -- namely Greg Thunder and Bo Reynolds, who have built up a loyal following doing afternoons at the station. But after Emmis's Schwartz publicly floated the prospect of switching Greg and Bo to mornings, the fireworks started.

As first reported on Rob Hatch's indispensable Web site, denverradio.net, an October 24 discussion about the potential change, with Thunder in favor of it and Reynolds opposed, deteriorated into a verbal fight that ended with Reynolds walking out mid-show and Thunder following shortly thereafter, leaving a producer to finish the program. The fun then continued off the air, with the personalities, joined by Schwartz, Alice program director Jim Lawson and newly named Emmis-Denver operations manager Mike Stern, competing to see who could shout the loudest. The day after, Greg and Bo returned to the studio to kiss and make up, and when a listener suggested that fans vote for or against the morning move, they embraced the idea. The results of the tally are scheduled to be announced on election day, November 7. This solution is so tidy that it's led some to believe that the entire altercation was staged for publicity purposes, something Schwartz denies. But he would, wouldn't he?

Meanwhile, more shenanigans were taking place behind the scenes. As confirmed by two excellent sources who don't want their names to appear in bold print, Clear Channel has been negotiating with Emmis to bring the Jamie and Danny show to one of its properties, KTCL-FM, far earlier than would have been possible under the current no-compete clause. In exchange, Clear Channel would allow White to do a separate program (with no contributions from Bonaduce) for Emmis's KFTK, a new, female-oriented FM talk outlet in St. Louis, where she was raised and got her start in radio. But complications arose: On October 26, KTCL began running spots hyping the impending arrival of Jamie and Danny before any pact had been signed. Since the two are still receiving money from Alice and will do so until January 1, Emmis types weren't pleased -- and at least one hints that the company would go to court to prevent KTCL from debuting the program before 2001. Meanwhile, at Clear Channel, decision-makers aren't saying for sure when the show will start up -- but they'd clearly prefer sooner over later.

Schwartz, who had hoped to spend last week focusing on his other Denver property, the Peak (where ditzy ex-MTV video jock Nina Blackwood introduced that station's new a.m. team, Howie Greene and Lisa Axe, late of San Bernardino, California) didn't have a lot to say about the White-Bonaduce situation; beyond pointing out that "Jamie and Danny are under contract to Alice until the end of the year," he declined comment. Clear Channel exec Mike O'Connor isn't showing all his cards, either, but he does confirm that "we think it's a good show -- and when we bought AMFM [Alice's previous owner], we had every intention of letting the Clear Channel Denver properties benefit from it."

That KTCL is Jamie and Danny's likely destination may leave fans of the outlet from its days as Denver's primary alterna-rock signal feeling disgruntled. But they shouldn't be surprised. Clear Channel has mainly employed it as a battering ram against competitors -- hence its current "'80s, '90s and Beyond" format, intended to counter the Peak's back-to-the-'80s sound -- and the presence of Jamie and Danny could well help the company injure Alice, too. But there's no shortage of irony in the fact that another Clear Channel station, KISS-FM, recently launched with a blitz of promos ridiculing White and Bonaduce as stupid and annoying; one featured a White impressionist whose laugh sounded like a donkey braying and another sported the line "Sorry, Danny, this isn't a Partridge Family reunion."

The timing of these attacks on a program that's soon to be part of the local Clear Channel family "is kind of funny," O'Connor concedes. "But our intention all along was to take the Jamie and Danny show. The stations do what they have to do to remain competitive."

You said a mouthful, pal.

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