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Posted on Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 5:56 a.m.

Budget cuts claim local sports-talk program 'Ann Arbor's Big Show'

By Roger LeLievre

Fans of sports-talk station WTKA’s locally produced “Ann Arbor’s Big Show” may have been dismayed Monday to find out it had been replaced by “The Huge Show,” a program that originates in west Michigan.

“Budget cuts,” explained WTKA Program Director Ira Weintraub on Friday. “It was based on decisions made elsewhere and decisions made locally.”

“Ann Arbor’s Big Show” aired Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m. in the so-called drive-time slot.

Bill Simonson from Grand Rapids station WBBL hosts the "The Huge Show" now filling the 3-6 p.m. slot.

“I know at times it sounds like Sparty radio has invaded Ann Arbor in the afternoons, but we’re working on that,” said Weintraub. “We are going to make a concerted effort to cover (the University of) Michigan in a favorable way … to give the show more of an Ann Arbor flavor.”

He also said that "there will always be opportunities for special live events and shows in the afternoons" that would be Ann Arbor or U-M themed.

Weintraub said the station is not making any other lineup changes at this time. He hopes to continue to work with two of “Ann Arbor’s Big Show” hosts, Jeff Defran and Ben Holden, on future projects.

“We want them to have a role at the station. We just have to find it,” Weintraub added.

WTKA (1050 AM) came on the air in 1945 as WPAG. It was sold to pizza magnate Tom Monaghan in 1987 and he renamed it WPZA. It became WTKA in 1992, and is owned by media conglomerate Cumulus Radio.


Susie Q

Fri, Mar 1, 2013 : 1:59 a.m.

I've been out of town and didn't realize till today that The Huge Show had replaced the 3-6 pm show with the revolving hosts. While the afternoon show wasn't my favorite, it was certainly better than The Huge Show. I wasn't a Jeff Defran fan.....he is too much like "Huge".....but I will miss Jeff's Thursday guests......the enormously amusing El Hombre (Michael Bradley) and the very knowledgeable Steve Clark. I made sure I was in my car on Thursday at 4:30....I even sat in my car sometimes to listen till Michael Bradley's segment was done. I also am not as fond of John Feinstein as I was of Colin Cowherd (sp?). Well, maybe I will have to tune in to NPR. I also liked


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 1:32 a.m.

"It was based on decisions made elsewhere and decisions made locally." Gotta love how nobody can take responsibility for a decision like this? It's always some un-named entity that makes the "unfortunate" decision.

An Arborigine

Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.



Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

Not sure where to begin: Perhaps the firing of Dennis Fithian some years ago was the demise of the locally aired 1050-Sports Talk when replaced by The Huge Show. The first Bill Simsonson go around was a failure. I tried to listen but his opinions were and are way over the top. He's an all of nothing guy. He surely touts Coach Izzo and MSU basketbal this time of year. In 9 minutes of tuning in Friday, he thought with 5 strong starting pitchers in the rotation and I quote..."the Tigers should win every series..." Huh? Winning at a .700 rate? To the second demise of the WTKA "Big Show"; They really cut the three hour airing to two within a year because thy did not want to pay the on air talent the extra hour as one source told me. They reaired portions of the Sam and Ira show. Not bad if you did not get a chance to listen in. They also had three different show hosts which is not the norm in radio but it did have it's advantages. Here's the bottom line...The WTKA afternoon drive Big Show was not a team effort within the WTKA management. They did not realize nor put forth the effort to sell local commericials, which "pays the bills" as they say in radio. It also seemed as if there was an effort to keep the Big Show second banana to the morning drive show. Perhaps the lack of Big Show promos was another sign. WTKA failed in it's mission to provide the local and regional listerners with their dose of Uof M football and athletics. The afternoon show hosts all did their best. Although occasionally controversial, Jeff De Fran got the most caller participation and was very accomodating to the callers. There were maybe a few with mutual hostility but that also made the his shows worth tuning in to. WTKA once again dissappointed their listeners. Somewhat of a betrayal. Bill Simonson is way too predictable and have some have already stated, a blowhard. Sorry, 1050, you lost me from 3 to 6 PM. Hopefully, new management with new ideas and energy will resto


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

This was a bad move. There is no doubt whatsoever that WTKA will be losing a lot of local listeners in the afternoon. This Simonson guy (as others here have said) is awful to listen to and is a clear MSU homer. What makes the station think people are going to like him any more the 2nd time around? Less local listeners = less advertising dollars.


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

I already pulled my advertising dollars the first time I said, clearly Clear Channel is not getting enough local advertising dollars to care about us


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 3:07 p.m.

Sadly, Clear Channel must get more advertising dollars from the West side of the state, do this will fall on deaf ears here. I'd rather listen to A cat screeching for three hours than anything "Huge"...


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 3 p.m.

Ugh. The Huge Show is terrible. This is really an unfortunate move. I will definitely not be tuning in anymore on the drive home.

Alan Goldsmith

Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

As a radio business junkie, just a prediction, but this is just the tip of the iceberg for local Cumulus Radio budget and local programing cuts to come. Anyone watching this play out on a national level with both Cumulus and Clear Channel and their massive corporate debt and past practices knew it would hit Ann Arbor. Just the beginning.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 1:01 a.m.

Quite frankly terrestrial radio is a dead medium. Between cell phones, Ipods, Pandora and satellite I have not listened to over the air radio in three or four years. This will speed the decline


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 7:33 p.m.

Yes indeed. The real demise of local programming is all because of these corporations owning a large conglomerate of stations, some even in the same market. What to they do? Syndication. Little or no overhead. The listening public usually buys into it. One simple but true saying; You get out it what you put into it. With Cumulus' attempt to sabotage what was a decent locally produced and air local show, they hurt themselves even more. This trend ha gotten worse over the past 20 or so years and will keep trending that way.


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

DeFran and Simonson essentially are the same guy. They both loves themselves some themselves.


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

I wouldn't lump Defran in with Simonson. I'm no fan of Jeff's, but I'll listen to him any day of the week over blowhard.


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

I understand budget cuts but listening to the Huge Show the first time around was just torture. I stopped listening then and since I'm not a masochist so I won't be tuning in.


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 7:26 p.m.

WTKA needs to get several hundreds of posts like yours; as well as hundreds of emails.


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 1:58 p.m.

Good Lord. Now we get the huge idiot opposite Matt the Idiot on 97.1. Looks like I'm back to music for the drive home. I can't stand Mike at 97.1. The only person I like less is the Huge Idiot. I'm screwed.

Mumbambu, Esq.

Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

To think this station fired Dennis Fithian. Sam and Ira are fine in the morning. I used to like Defran but after Steve Clark stopped being an everyday on air guy I realized that it was he, not Jeff that I really liked. Ben Holden is cool by me when he is paired with someone good. It's hard to compete with the pocket square king Valenti and T. Reginald Foster on 971


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 7:25 p.m.

Recetly, Ben Holden came back to 1050 (Jan 2013) but did too much hockey talk and not Uof M but youth stuff. I did not like it.


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 12:10 p.m.

Looks like TKA is going to lose another listener. I cannot stand Bill Simonson. He is an egotistical blow hard.


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

100% agree...I would rather they just play recorded tapes of other shows than anything "Huge".. but only advertising dollars will talk...


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 11:30 a.m.

They tried thus once: and there was such outcry over the pro-Spartan lunacy on the horrendous Huge Show that they ultimately brought back their own local programming...they lost my listener ship over it and for years have now only listened to 97.1 Detroit sports radio...Good luck to WTKA...


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 7:23 p.m.

Good post and to the point.