KMOX's John Carney Moving to "Fresh" 102.5 FM Monday

click to enlarge John Carney
John Carney
For twelve years, John Carney has been the weeknight talk show host at KMOX 1120 AM.

But come Monday, Carney will have a completely new schedule to get used to, and a new station -- he'll be on-air weekday mornings from 5 to 9 a.m. at Fresh 102.5 FM (KEZK).

As Carney, one of the city's best-known radio talkers, explains in a phone interview with Daily RFT, that means getting up at the ungodly time of 3:30 a.m. -- and getting used to speaking pithily.

"It's completely different," he acknowledges, "and you have to get in a completely different mindset. I'm used to talking on for 30 minutes. Now I've got to say it in 90 seconds to two minutes."

And, Carney adds, "I'm already having nightmares about oversleeping."

Carney's roots at KMOX go back even further than his recent twelve-year stint. His father, legendary St. Louis broadcaster Jack Carney, was on KMOX when he was a pre-teen. When son would visit the station to bum money, his dad let him read the weather report.

But Carney's move to KEZK comes without bitterness, or even much in the way of drama: Both stations are owned by CBS Radio, and Carney says he started seeing the writing on the wall after KMOX landed the rights to broadcast St. Louis Blues' games.

Now that the Cardinals are returning to the station, there simply wasn't room for his show.

"I was having two to three preemptions every week," he says. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize, 'Why are we paying this guy?'" And Carney admits to chafing at being bumped: "It became a question of, 'How many times am I going to turn on the radio to listen to this guy and not find him before I stop checking to see if he's on air?'"

That said, Carney cops to feeling territorial about his old time slot: "If they decide to put on another entertainment show, I'm going to be pissed."

That issue, like a lot about this move, seems to be still up in the air. Both Carney and a spokeswoman for CBS Radio say they don't know yet who's slated for Carney's old slot at KMOX. And Carney is still not sure who'll be on air with him in the mornings. He does know that as KEZK continues to rebrand itself as Fresh 102.5, he's supposed be playing a fair amount of music. He suspects there will also be ancillary people to do the weather and news. ("No one's going to believe me if I go into a newscast," he says. ) But he doesn't know, yet, who they'll be.

He's looking at all the unknowns as a good thing. A challenge.

"In any job where you spend a decade doing it, you get complacent," he says. "You can't help it. Because if you can do it with your eyes closed, you do do it with your eyes closed. Now I'm going to be doing something I don't have that level of confidence about. It's going to take a lot of preparation, a lot of thinking stuff through -- really a lot of stuff I should have been doing all along!"

And as Carney braces for that early-morning wake-up call on Monday -- he's actually planned a practice run for this morning, to see just how long it takes him to get to work -- he takes some satisfaction in the fact that he didn't get "all Dick Vermeil-y" on his final KMOX show Wednesday.

"I didn't want to get all choked up and sappy," he says. "And I surprisingly didn't. It's probably because I'm still working with a lot of the same people. I'm still with CBS. I'm not going over to the enemy or leaving the market. I'm even going to do an afternoon show on KMOX on Sundays on occasion, an interview show.

"But Fresh 102.5 is going to be my focus."

Sarah Fenske

Sarah Fenske is the executive editor of the RFT and its sister papers. She is the former host of St. Louis on the Air and continues to host its Legal Roundtable, as well participating as an occasional panelist on Nine PBS' Donnybrook. She lives in St. Louis.
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