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'Bob & Tom Show' switching syndicators

October 16, 2013

Bob & Tom have found a new syndicator for their venerable local comedy show, while WIBC-FM 93.1 is moving its cigar-chomping Abdul-Hakim Shabazz to an evening slot.

The radio trades are buzzing over a plan by Indianapolis-based "The Bob & Tom Show" to move operational and advertising sales functions to a Cumulus Media subsidiary on Jan. 1—away from the Premiere Networks distribution arm of rival broadcasting chain Clear Channel Communications.

But overlooked in the latest tussle between the giant radio station consolidators is the awkward fact that "Bob & Tom" originates out of Clear Channel’s Indianapolis rock station WFBQ-FM 94.7.

That has some local radio executives wondering if the Bob & Tom Show might move up Interstate 465 to Cumulus’  WJJK-FM 104.5, also a classic-rock station.

“I can neither confirm nor deny that,” said Jay Michaels, program director of WJJK, for whom WFBQ is a direct competitor.

"Bob & Tom" co-host Tom Griswold couldn’t be reached for comment.

Griswold, in a press release, said the show has “enjoyed a tremendous relationship with Premiere Networks and Clear Channel Media ... for many years."

"Cumulus Media stations have always supported the Bob & Tom Show in some of our largest markets,” he said, adding that he looked forward “to continuing to work with Clear Channel stations in the future.”

That "Bob & Tom" already appears on both Clear Channel and Cumulus stations might mean that a move to WJJK isn’t necessary. A Cumulus Networks spokesman in New York noted that the new arrangement is only to handle operational and advertising sales functions.

Celebrating high school locker room humor for 30 years with a diverse cast of characters, "The Bob & Tom Show" is one of the oldest and highest-rated morning radio show in the U.S. The show carried on 130 stations has won five Marconi Awards and generated at least 50 comedy albums over the years.

Meanwhile, Emmis Communications’ WIBC this week told staff that Larry Downes is stepping out of his “Common Sense” show  at 6  p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, but will continue as the station’s director of digital marketing and promotions.

Moving into the slot starting Oct. 21 will be Abdul-Hakim Shabazz, who hosts a show Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

Shabazz joined WIBC in June. He built a loyal following on WXNT-AM 1430, but that station axed his show in 2011. WXNT switched to a network sports talk format, and ratings tumbled.

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