Morning Zoo Team Headed for Atlanta

KKLQ(Q106) morning personality Terry McKeever, the remaining member of the popular morning team of Murphy and McKeever, resigned Tuesday, the latest manifestation of the acrimony between the station and its former morning team.

McKeever has signed a contract with WQXI in Atlanta, which this week also hired his ex-partner, Jack Murphy, fired by Q106 last month after a series of conflicts with station management.

McKeever is expected to remain on the air at Q106, at least through the end of the week. His last day with the station officially will be Sept. 19, before he leaves for a two month vacation.

The way the situation stands now, McKeever will beat Murphy to Atlanta. KKLQ is refusing to release Murphy from his contract, which runs until March.

"It's really vindictive," Murphy said. "There's no reason I shouldn't be allowed to go."

Murphy continues to draw his salary from KKLQ, believed to be about $150,000 a year. But he will make more money in Atlanta, and he is eager to get back on the air.

"It's not vindictive at all," said KKLQ station General Manager Bob Bolinger. "Normally, when a person is under contract, the new employer and the old employer work it out."

As of Friday, McKeever thought he would be returning to KKLQ's sister station in Tampa, WRBQ, where he helped pioneer its "zoo" format. By Tuesday, though, McKeever had decided to quit Edens Broadcasting, his employer of the last seven years.

"The ambiance of the company has changed and I don't want to eat at the restaurant anymore," McKeever said, refusing to elaborate. "There's no need to get into name calling."

McKeever said the Atlanta station--once the top station in the area, but a ratings loser in recent years--allowed them to name their price. He and Murphy once again will work the morning drive shift.

"It's a great situation in Atlanta, everything we had hoped for," McKeever said.

In Atlanta, Murphy and McKeever will join former KSON General Manager Clarke Brown, recently named senior vice president of radio for Jefferson Pilot Communications, owner of WQXI. Murphy and Brown worked together at WQXI many years ago, when Murphy was a 17 year-old disc jockey working his first major market job and Brown was in the sales department. Last month, Murphy said, long-running disagreements about his contract and personality conflicts, specifically with Program Director Garry Wall, led to his firing.

"It became evident to us that we were not going to negotiate a deal, and that his interest was elsewhere," Bolinger said. "Once that became evident, it didn't seem to benefit Jack or the station to keep him on the air."

McKeever, emphasizing his problems were with station management and not Edens Broadcasting, said he was continually frustrated in his efforts to work a reconciliation between Murphy and the station.

The negotiations with Murphy were "an indication of their way of doing business," McKeever said. "And that's not Edens Broadcasting, that's Wall and Bolinger."

Among the area's ratings leaders for the past two years, Murphy and McKeever were known as much for their acerbic humor and outrageous stunts as for their ability to anger members of the San Diego establishment. San Diego Mayor Maureen O'Connor, Steve Garvey, television news people and other "dummies in the news" were frequent targets.

To some, they often went too far, particularly when they had listeners call people, recorded conversations and played them over the air or made up news stories. Letters from angry lawyers were not unusual, and at least one lawsuit was filed against the duo and the station.

Both station management and the announcers say their on-air antics had nothing specifically to do with the rift.

"We always had a dialogue," Bolinger said. "Certainly over two years we didn't always agree. But in general we appreciate the job they've done."

Bolinger emphasized that he has no animosity toward the duo, that his focus now is on getting a new morning team.

"My feeling is that they have done an excellent job for us," Bolinger said. "We're sorry to lose them. We wish them the best of luck."

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