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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

OFF THE AIR

Posted By on Tue, Apr 14, 2009 at 9:00 AM

WNCX listeners were surprised to find a new addition to the morning show lineup Monday, April 6: Cleveland comedian Jeff Blanchard was the show’s new co-host. His inaugural broadcast and its accompanying press release failed to mention that Blanchard had replaced Mike Olszewski, a 32-year broadcasting veteran with a textured old-school radio voice and a head full of rock history.

2c05/1239681227-mikeo.jpgOlszewski looked fine at the Rock Hall induction Saturday, April 4, despite getting some bad news the day before. “People we saying, ‘Are you still with ‘NCX?” recalls Olszewski. “I said, well, as of yesterday…’ ”

Olszewski had been with the station for three years, since it introduced the Mud, Mihalek and Mike lineup. The trio arrived after David Lee Roth tanked as Howard Stern’s successor. Mudd was cut in July 2008. Mihalek followed in December. Olszewski says he asked to be released from his contract twice in the last year, but the station had refused. Five months later, things changed.

In Fall 2008 Arbitron ratings, the classic-rock morning show ranked ninth in the morning-drive slot, but was the second-ranked rock station, with a 4.2 share, behind WMMS’s 4.5. (The 4.2 was identical to the station’s ratings from Fall ’07, and had since bounced to 4.1 and 4.5.) ’NCX ranks no. 3 middays and no. 5 afternoons.

“They said ‘We’re just going to make some changes,” says Olszewski. “I don’t have any bad feelings. You go into it understanding that this is how it is, knowing that no job is ever 100-percent secure. Audiences come and go, and it’s never personal.”

He started off as a WERE intern in 1977, DJ’d at ’MMS from 1988-94, and switched to TV in ’94, reporting for WOIO and WUAB. He says he may return to broadcasting if the right opportunity arrives. But for now, he’s concentrating on his dual careers as an author and Kent State adjunct professor.

Olszewski, who has written a book about Cleveland radio and collaborated on a Donnie Iris documentary, has two new books ready. He and wife Janice teamed for TV Days, a look at Cleveland TV from the 1940s through the ’80s. He and Richard Berg co-authored WIXY: The Story of Pixies, Six-Packs, and Supermen, which looks at the top-40 AM station that dominated Cleveland radio through the ’60s and ’70s.

‘Right now, the academic career is a lot more inviting, and I don’t have to get up at 2:30 in the morning,” Olszewski says. — D.X. Ferris

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