Commentary: Another Toledo Radio Legend Off Air
Updated: Jun 23
The following is commentary from Towpath Media owner and program director Josh David regarding WTOL's report of Cliff Smithers ending his 32 year career at K-100.
I don’t often do editorials and I try to stay out of politics. So I’m 1 for 2 here. This isn’t political but this is very much my opinion on the recent events in Toledo radio.
Cliff Smithers is a stand-up guy, I had the pleasure of getting to know him when I drove old beater Star 105 van around to remotes and worked the night shift on Star 105, which was just down the hall from the K-100 studio. See, at that time EVERY station in the Cumulus building on Arlington had a night DJ. Heck, even some of the Clear Channel stations had night people. Now, you’re lucky if there is a DJ in the building after 5pm, and that’s among 5 stations. Morning shows? That’s another story, when I was getting into radio nearly every station in the market had a live and local morning show (this was around 2000). Now? There’s 3 that come to mind off the top of my head.
In my mind, K-100 was the last man standing with the legendary voices, then went Gary, then went London, and now Cliff. Gary Shores stood up like a royal guard at K-100. No one messed with it. The old guard can’t protect his castle forever, and Gary would soon retire for health reasons. As Jeff Lamb wrote on Cliff’s exit post, the new guard had to get their smell on the K-100. Their awful, corporate, smell. It no longer sounds like the Toledo station it once did. K-100 now sounds like every other country station owned by Cumulus. Cookie cutter. Cliff was the last soldier standing from those golden years of K-100. I don’t know the full story but knowing Cumulus this exit was probably not fully mutual, after all, look how they treated London after decades of service.
Is Towpath Radio as local and live as I’d like it to be? No. But then again, we’re a small operation in a barn without an FM tower. We’re a project for former DJs who have been screwed over by the business side of the industry. Our revenue is used to keep the stream on, not line the pocketbooks of some suits in Atlanta.
Bill Michaels, Ben, London, and I try to do our best to continue what we love while providing the community with information (thanks London) and fun (thanks Ben & Bill). We all volunteer our time, we all love what we do. Shame on Cumulus and RIP K-100.
This is not commentary on the DJs who are still working their butts off in that building or in any corporate building. You’re doing a show and 90 other jobs with one eye on the broadcast console and the other watching behind you. This is commentary on ownership and why it’s awful that TWO companies are allowed to own a dozen or so stations in one market and hundreds across the country. Next time you take a trip to Northern Michigan crank up the radio. Years ago owners banded together to reject Clear Channel and the other large companies from ever coming in. The result? Local radio with local DJs serving their communities. Is it ground breaking radio? No. Is it generic and cookie cutter? No.
107.7, now is your time to relaunch, hire local, bring back local programming, and start bringing down Goliath. You are Toledo’s only independent FM playing the country’s most popular format. You can do this!
In the meantime, we’ll just keep on doing what we do on the internet. If you’re not feeling at home on K-100 anymore feel free to check out Towpath Media’s country station, River Rat Country. London Mitchell handles news in the morning, Van Camp and Morgan handle the funnies, plus classic country, ‘90s country, bluegrass, and some outlaw. You can hear it at RiverRatCountry.com or through the Towpath Radio app.
Cliff Smithers, Amy Davis, and all those who have had (and who will have) their mics taken away early are always welcome at Towpath Radio.
Owner/PD Towpath Media
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