Media

Huge Shakeup at KOA, KHOW Two Years After Alfred Williams Experiment

Rick Lewis, left, will no longer be doing double duty on KOA, which is teaming Alfred Williams with Dave Logan.
Rick Lewis, left, will no longer be doing double duty on KOA, which is teaming Alfred Williams with Dave Logan. iHeartMedia
KOA, at 850 AM and 94.1 FM, was once the undeniable goliath of Denver radio, and its scrappy sister station, KHOW, at 630 AM, earned impressive ratings, too. But these once-powerful players — key components of the iHeartMedia empire in Denver — have been in a slump for years, and luring former Denver Broncos and CU Buffs legend Alfred Williams to KOA didn't solve the problems.

Now, just over two years since Williams's arrival, the iHeart has shaken up the lineups at both stations in a big way by, among other things, teaming Williams with mainstay Dave Logan in the hopes of finally making its big-money play pay off.

The switches essentially end Rick Lewis's crazy double-duty stint at KOA, which launched in 2016 — though he and partner Kathy Lee will continue to be heard during morning-drive time on another iHeartMedia outlet, 103.5 The Fox. During his Fox morning show on September 14, Lewis said he wasn't sure who'd made the decisions about the schedule and seemed at a loss about how to spend his extra time, but he emphasized that he'll continue to be part of the broadcasting team for Denver Broncos games alongside Logan.

KOA's staple is Colorado's Morning News, hosted by April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz, and it will continue to air from 5 to 9 a.m. weekdays. But the 9 a.m.-noon slot, which had starred Lewis, Logan and Lee, will now be filled by talk-show host Ross Kaminsky, jumping over from KHOW. And the 3 to 6 p.m. shift, which had been helmed by Williams and JoJo Turnbeaugh, is set to spotlight Williams and Logan in a program rechristened The Denver Sports Zoo. Both Turnbeaugh and Lewis are said to have some involvement with the Zoo, but that appears to be a face-saving publicity bid; the pair will likely guest occasionally or fill in for Logan, who is also the head coach for the Cherry Creek High School football team.


Radio insiders are already characterizing these changes as the equivalent of moving around deck chairs on the Titanic, and while neither station is in danger of sinking right now, it's clear that the Williams acquisition hasn't improved KOA's fortunes.

Nielsen ratings for listeners age six and over for August, the most recent month available, put KOA in thirteenth place among all stations in Denver; its listenership has slipped by more than 10 percent since this time last year. KHOW is even farther down the roster — 21st place out of 37 stations in the market that registered with Nielsen. That's actually one slot lower than Freedom 93.7, an iHeart property that's been struggling to find its footing since the death of Rush Limbaugh, its biggest name, in February.

Most stations don't seek out the six-plus audience; rather, they target specific age and gender groups — and the ratings related to them are closely guarded industry secrets. But the listenership totals in general are an indication that Williams, to use another maritime metaphor, hasn't turned the ship at KOA. The specifics of his contract have never been made public, but the amount is rumored to be absolutely enormous — among the highest of any media personality in Denver, whether in radio or television.

Still, the chemistry between Williams and Turnbeaugh has never worked, and Williams's departure did little to wound the afternoon drive program on 104.3 The Fan, where Big Al became a radio star. The current Fan lineup of Darren D-Mac McKee and Tyler Polumbus remains the go-to sports program on weekday afternoons in Denver.

Will partnering with Logan allow Williams's abundant charm, humor and analytical skills to again shine? Time is running out to make the experiment a success: This latest move could be a Hail Mary.

Here are the new weekday schedules for KOA and KHOW.

KOA

Colorado’s Morning News with April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz: 5-9 a.m.
The Ross Kaminsky Show: 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
The Mandy Connell Show: 12-3 p.m.
The KOA Sports Zoo: 3-6 p.m.
Broncos Country Tonight with Ryan Edwards and Benjamin Allbright: 6-9 p.m.
Coast-to-Coast AM with George Noory: 9 p.m.-3 a.m.
This Morning with Gordon Deal: 3-5 a.m.

KHOW

The Situation with Michael Brown: 6-10 a.m.
Tom Martino: The Troubleshooter: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
The Leland Conway Show: 2-4 p.m.
The Dan Caplis Show: 4-6 p.m.
The Joe Pags Show: 6-9 p.m.
Our American Stories: 9-11 p.m.
Red Eye Radio: 11 p.m.-5 a.m.
Fox News Rundown: 5-6 a.m.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts