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AUSTIN'S SPORTS RADIO SHUFFLE CONTINUES
(February 12, 2008) If you thought Jesse and Angie returning to "All My Children" was a big deal, then you haven't been paying attention to what's going on at KVET-AM (1300).

It's a radio soap opera that has more twists than a two-pound bag of pretzels.

"From the outside, it looks like a complete mess over there,'' is how one former station employee described it.

Morning guys Bucky Godbolt and Erin Hogan aren't trading barbs anymore. Hogan quit last month while Godbolt has been lugging a five-hour show on his back for the last month. (Starting Monday, he moved back to a three-hour format.)

The late-afternoon guys — Chad Hastings and Kevin Dunn — broke up, with Hastings' contract lapsing and Dunn quitting.

New program director Gregg Henson took over that afternoon slot — briefly. He was soon fired.

The Henson saga was a soap opera all by itself. He's the same guy who, as program director at rival KZNX-AM (1530), had spent a good part of 2006 conducting an all-out smear campaign against KVET and its on-air talent. The ex-Detroit radio host (he was fired there, too) threw so much slime and sleaze that Howard Stern must have covered up in shame.

His show on 1530, Austin's ESPN radio affiliate, was more Lohan than Longhorns, and it never threatened KVET in the ratings. But it earned him the ire of several 1300 hosts.

In true soap opera fashion, Henson left for Philadelphia, only to return nine months later as program director at the station he'd spent so much time trashing.

His stint at KVET lasted only six months. He was told he was fired over his handling of Hogan's contract. (Operations manager Mike Daniels did not return calls I made to him over the last two weeks).

According to several people at the station, Henson actually got along with the other workers, though his relationship with Godbolt was icy at best. Bucky had been the prime target of Henson's venom from 1530, and who could blame him for not forgetting?

Henson, fired from jobs twice in three years, is out of radio now and planning to open a Jungle Java franchise.

"I'm happy to be in Round Rock,'' he said. "My wife and I really love it here. I'm done with radio. I was done before I came back here."

Turn on Austin sports radio, and you're never quite sure whom you'll hear.

KVET, thanks to its broadcasts of Longhorn sports events, remains the big dog, while ESPN 1530 is just trying to stay in view while it awaits a new tower and stronger signal by the end of March.

But things are shaking over at 1530, and Hogan's recent resignation could swing the pendulum in the local radio wars.

After eight years as Godbolt's co-host of the popular morning show the "Buck on Sports," Hogan wanted more money and didn't get it. That led to the breakup of Austin's top sports radio team, which enjoyed a top-five rating in its time slot.

Now how's this for a good plot twist? Hogan is negotiating with 1530 for its program director's spot, a position that would give him the power to make a run at Godbolt when his contract expires in a year.

"There's so many hypotheticals there,'' Hogan said of the possibility of getting the old band back together. "If it could work out legally and if it was something Bucky wanted to do, it would be mostly in his (court)."

ESPN 1530 general manager Steve Wilder declined to speak on the Hogan situation but says the station's signal will be greatly improved with the new tower and he remains hopeful.

"ESPN is a strong brand and we're taking a different approach than the Longhorn station approach,'' Wilder said. "But we know you can't do sports in Austin without doing the Longhorns."

Spirited competition from 1530 would do the entire Austin sports market some good. Why, you ask? Well, the teams we cover wouldn't be nearly as interesting if there wasn't an antagonist. What would Mack Brown be without OU's Bob Stoops keeping him awake in early October? The Aggies wouldn't be the Aggies if they didn't hate Texas. For every Borg, you need a McEnroe.

Sports talk here, the nation's No. 42 market, could use the boost. Arbitron numbers show that the top sports talk stations in Omaha, Oklahoma City and Columbus — similar sports towns to Austin — all draw better ratings than KVET.

It would be great to have two local all-sports stations competing more evenly for listeners.

You can't have enough antagonists when it comes to radio wars. So give us spice. Give us intrigue. Entertain us.

Just make sure you do it on-air the next time.

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