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KMBZ to split into two radio stations Jan. 5

Dana Wright and Scott Parks’ afternoon show will stay in its current time slot, 2-6 p.m. weekdays, but only on FM.
Dana Wright and Scott Parks’ afternoon show will stay in its current time slot, 2-6 p.m. weekdays, but only on FM.

If you’re a dedicated AM listener of KMBZ’s morning news or “Dana & Parks” in the afternoon, you’d better resolve to change your ways in the new year.

The news-talker announced Wednesday afternoon — yes, Christmas Eve — that as of Jan. 5, its 980 AM and 98.1 FM signals will become separate stations.

Most of KMBZ’s current content will stay on the FM side, with two major exceptions: Darla Jaye’s local show (moving to mornings) and nationally syndicated Rush Limbaugh, both of which will be heard only on AM.

“It’s not a divorce, it’s a conscious uncoupling,” afternoon co-host Dana Wright joked on the air Wednesday.

The station at 98.1 FM had for years been KUDL, but when owner Entercom killed the adult-contemporary music station in spring 2011, it started simulcasting KMBZ-AM in KUDL’s spot.

KMBZ-FM will be “all live and all local” from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays.

The AM station, which has been broadcasting since the 1920s (and should get new call letters), will be known as “Talk 980.” Except for Jaye’s morning show, 980’s programming will consist of nationally syndicated fare including conservative talkers Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity.

The 98.1 FM weekday schedule:

▪ 5-10 a.m.: “Kansas City’s Morning News” with E.J. Becker and Ellen Schenk, which will expand by an hour

▪ 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: “Trend KC with Burns and Monacelli,” a new show that will cover such topics as technology, sports and politics

▪ 2-6 p.m.: “Dana & Parks,” with Dana Wright and Scott Parks, which stays in its current time slot

▪ 6-9 p.m.: Jonathan Weir’s show, which moves from mid-mornings

National shows round out the schedule: “Ground Zero” (9 p.m.-midnight), “Coast to Coast” (midnight-4 a.m.) and Gordon Deal (4-5 a.m.).

The 980 AM schedule:

▪ 5-9 a.m.: Darla Jaye

▪ 9-11 a.m.: Glenn Beck (to air live; KMBZ has been tape-delaying Beck’s show to run at night)

▪ 11 a.m.-2 p.m.: Rush Limbaugh (airing live)

▪ 2-5 p.m.: Sean Hannity

▪ 5-8 p.m.: “America Now”

▪ 8-10 p.m.: Herman Cain

Overnight: Laura Ingraham (10 p.m.-midnight), “Coast to Coast” (midnight-5 a.m.).

Splitting the current KMBZ into two stations should mean twice the programming and twice the ad time to sell, although it’s anyone’s guess how long AM stations will continue to be viable.

But AM radio still has fans. As an article earlier this year on tech-culture site theverge.com pointed out, AM is still where you’ll find 90 percent of news-talk programs.

An often-cited study on radio listenership found that just 15 percent tune in to AM stations, but that report is from 2011. (An FCC commissioner who grew up in Parsons, Kan., listening to AM radio wants to overhaul the AM band. Read a 2013 New York Times story about that here.)

To reach Tim Engle, send email to tengle@kcstar.com. On Twitter @tim_engle

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