I'd been tipped off that KNUV 1190 AM, formerly the flagship station of the liberal Nova M radio network, and briefly, the home of Nova M's successor network, On Second Thought, had been padlocked. So I had to see for myself, as On Second Thought's driving force, Mike Newcomb, was apparently doing his afternoon show today as usual. At least, that's the way it sounded to someone who's not a regular listener of Newcomb's show.
But as you can see from the photo above, 1190 AM's offices are indeed chained up. The security guard for the building told me that the padlocking occurred today. When I asked why, he shrugged and said, "Something to do with the rent."
Newcomb's unwisely named On Second Thought was formed February 18, after the news that Nova M's parental units, Anita and Sheldon Drobny, were abandoning the AM version of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald. This, following the departure of Nova M's one certifiable star Randi Rhodes, and Sheldon Drobny's reported mental collapse and apparent hospitalization.
Nova M's death had been several months in the making, beginning with the firing of general manager and CEO John Manzo in September of 2008, when Nova M was still being heard on KPHX 1480 AM. In a lawsuit filed at the beginning of February, Manzo alleged that the Drobnys were behind on their rent at 1480 AM. And Manzo told me a couple of weeks ago this was the real reason the Drobnys moved down the dial to 1190 AM. However, I have yet to confirm this assertion.
The network's defenders suggested that the move actually had to do with a debatably stronger signal and nicer digs at 1190 AM, formerly a Spanish-language station called La Buena Onda, or The Good Wave, owned by the company New Radio Ventures, Inc. According to court records, New Radio Ventures filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy September 16, 2008, converting to Chapter 11 proceedings in early December. On February 26, 2009, the court approved an apllication to employ brokers to "list and market certain radio stations of Debtor."
In hindsight, Mike Newcomb's On Second Thought looks like a last ditch attempt to salvage what was left of the Drobnys shipwreck. The Radio Equalizer blog reported that "In an email message of February 17th from counsel for Nova M Radio, Inc. to Randi's entertainment attorney, Robert V. Gaulin, the company is said to have been advised to file for bankruptcy protection next week." Checking court records, I don't yet see Nova M's bankruptcy filing. Nor do I see one for Anita or Sheldon Drobny, yet.
So why is 1190 AM still broadcasting as of 9 PM Monday? According Sean Ryan, a producer at the station and briefly a GM at the station until he parted ways with the Drobnys in February, 1190 AM is currently on auto-pilot, playing "best ofs" until it ultimately goes dark.
Without Rhodes, the only star in Nova M's stable, this ignoble decline was likely inevitable. Newcomb was left with himself as talent, Nancy Skinner, and Mike Malloy. Not much of a team there. And on top of that, they had bills piling up. Ironically, I was on what may be one of the station's last local broadcasts, as a guest on Todd Landfried's Saturday afternoon Desert Politics show. That is, unless something unforseen occurs, and unlocks that frickin' padlock.
UPDATE: As of 7:53 AM 3/3/09 1190 AM is still on the air, with Stephanie Miller's syndicated show being piped in. Apparently the station is being controlled via remote access. I'll try to get down to the station sometime today to see if they picked the lock or paid the rent
2ND UPDATE 4:21 PM 3/3/09: I haven't been able to get back to the station. But this note on the Web site of On Second Thought leads you to believe the lockout is still on:Programming Note:
The Nancy Skinner and Mike Malloy Shows are being re-engineered as a result of the transfer of the base of operations.
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It was our hope that the technical stuff was all worked out by airtime today but as it turns out, re-configuring network shows required a bit more work.
Today you'll have "Best of Shows" again. The good news is the shows will both be live tomorrow. Sorry for the inconvenience and tune in tomorrow.
You know it'll be great radio!
3RD UPDATE 8:08 PM 3/4/09: Turn the dial to KNUV 1190 AM, and all you get is static. I would say that makes it official, or as official as it gets. I've tried e-mailing Mike Newcomb several times. No response. From others with some connection to this fiasco, I get conflicting statements. So I'll hold off on them untilI get more info. Till then...