Saturday, October 4, 2014

R.I.P. Legendary Programmer Kevin Metheny

Kevin Metheny
Cumulus Media has confirmed that legendary programmer Kevin Metheny died suddenly Friday afternoon.

He was 60-years-old and apparently died from a heart attack. He was found unresponsive at his desk.

Metheny was Operations Manager of KGO 810 AM and KSFO 560 AM in San Francisco at the time of his death.

John Dickey, Executive Vice President, Programming and Content for Cumulus issues the following statement:

"Kevin Metheny's sudden passing this afternoon is a devastating personal and professional loss for his broadcasting family at Cumulus, and for the entire radio industry. Kevin was a legendary broadcasting talent who touched many lives in his remarkable 44-year career, and whose successes made an indelible mark on radio.

His reputation and accomplishments are simply unparalleled and we are grateful for having had the opportunity to work with him as PD of WJR in Detroit and most recently, as Operations Manager of KGO and KSFO in San Francisco. His Cumulus family extends our deepest sympathies to Kevin's loved ones. We will miss him profoundly."

Metheny could be heavy-handed dealing with his co-workers and employees whch  made him a constant target of criticism.  He imortalized by Howard Stern first on the air and in his best-selling book "Private Parts" as "Pig Virus" and then caricatured as part of a composite character called "Pig Vomit" in the movie version of Stern's memoirs.

Kevin Metheny had radio in his blood since he was a child in his native Oklahoma. His father is former radio programmer Terrell Metheny Jr.. The younger Metheny would often accompany his father to work at his radio station..

Metheny became weekend air talent at Album Rock KWHP-FM in Edmond, Oklahoma in 1970. The following Spring, he moved to Oklahoma Publishing Company's Top-40 WKY-AM in Oklahoma City, where he served as weekend and fill-in talent during his senior year at John Marshall High School.

Noted Seattle radio impresario Pat O'Day, founder of Concerts West, and then General Manager of Kaye-Smith Enterprises' KJR-AM & KISW-FM, hired Metheny as evening talent at KJR-AM, where Metheny was later promoted to afternoon drive. Following O'Day's 1975 departure, Metheny left KJR for a brief stay at Sterling Recreation Organization's Oldies KUUU-AM, before becoming afternoon drive talent and Music Director at Louisiana Governor James A. Noe's WNOE-AM, New Orleans, where he was promoted to Program Director.

Metheny next became Program Director of KDEO-AM, El Cajon, changing the AM Album Rock station to Top-40 Majic 91. After a debut rating book in which KMJC's ratings tripled, Metheny became Director of RAM Research for DPS/Cyberdynamics, working closely with initial RAM client, Fairbanks Broadcasting's Adult Contemporary WIBG-AM, Philadelphia.

After his acceptance of the Program Director assignment at WIBG, the call letters were changed to WZZD-AM and the format was changed to Top-40. After four quarterly rating periods Metheny served as Program Director of Hearst Corporation's Top-40 WXKX-FM, Pittsburgh, then at General Cinema's WEFM in Chicago, followed by Charter Communications' KSLQ in St. Louis.

Metheny was named Program Director of The National Broadcasting Company's WNBC in New York in 1980. After four years he accepted a vaguely defined position at Warner Amex Satellite Entertainment Company as Director of MTV Programming. Metheny led a clandestine management group in development of VH1, a response to a challenge to MTV by Ted Turner's Cable Music Channel. He was subsequently promoted to vice-president of MTV & VH1 Music Programming and Production, and then to vice-president of VH1.

Following the acquisition of MTV Networks by Viacom, Metheny toured Europe for a summer, then became Program Director of Gannett Radio's Top-40 KTKS-FM in Dallas. He subsequently moved to Savannah as Vice President & General Manager at WSOK-FM/WAEV-FM. After joining Phil Hall & David Isenberg in The Radio Group consultancy, he accepted the Operations Director position of Bedford Broadcasting's San Francisco Oldies and Adult Standards stations KFRC-FM & AM followed by Oldies KQOL-FM in Minneapolis.

Metheny then moved to Jacksonville, FL where he first worked with Jacor's Randy Michaels and where he combined programming and marketing operations of Jacor's Country WQIK and News/Talk WJGR with newly acquired Urban properties WSOL-FM, WJBT-FM, and WZAZ-AM.

Metheny was transferred to head programming for Jacor's Cleveland area radio group, consolidating operations at their combined six Cleveland stations, WAKS, WGAR-FM, WMJI, WMMS, WMVX, and WTAM. Following Jacor's merger with Clear Channel Communications Metheny was promoted to Regional Vice President of Programming, in which role he advised local Market Managers and Program Directors of 59 Ohio radio stations.

Simultaneously with the 2008 acquisition of Clear Channel by Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners, Metheny left Clear Channel to become Program Director of the Tribune Company’s sole radio property, News/Talk WGN 720 AM.  Many consider Metheny's time at WGN as the station's darkest era, with mass firings and questionable hiring/programming moves. While he got along well with some employees at the station, many longtime staffers strongly disliked him and his methods. Their disgust was shown both privately and sometimes even openly.  He worked there until November 2010.

Metheny was known throughout his career for "coaching" all his on-air personalities, and during his stay at WNBC in NYC, he attempted to give the younger Stern some tips on improving his sound.

That included the famous directive to pronounce the station as "WNNNNNNNBC."

In January 2013, Metheny was named program director at Detroit's WJR, owned by Cumulus Media.

In June 2014, Metheny was named operations manager at KGO-AM and KSFO-AM owned by Cumulus Media.

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