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Three years after seeing morning show host and market favorite Tommy Smith to the door at the height of the post-Janet Jackson boobshot crackdown on indecency, KMJX Magic 105.1 is returning to live, locally produced morning programming.

The new KMJX morning show, which made its debut June 12, features Smith’s former “Rock ’n’ Roll Breakfast” sidekick Roger Scott, long time Little Rock DJ Sharpe Dunaway and former 103.7 The Buzz host Nathan Christian.

Smith was fired in 2004. Soon after, the Magic 105 morning slot was filled with “The Bob and Tom Show,” a syndicated program headquartered in Indianapolis (and so lame and unfunny that Magic probably could have gotten better ratings by putting a continuous tape loop of tearing sheet metal and crying babies on the air from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.). The new KMJX morning show will directly compete with Smith’s morning gig at 103.7 The Buzz, where he co-hosts a show with former Razorback David Bazzel and Dem-Gaz sports page editor Wally Hall.

Jeff Cage, program director for Magic 105, said that listeners began asking for a return to a local morning show virtually from the moment “The Bob and Tom Show” went on the air. Cage said the show “wasn’t really working for us,” and failed to attract new listeners to the station.

“Since we put on a syndicated show back in 2005, we’ve really had only demands to go back to local,” Cage said. “It’s almost like the community didn’t latch on to these outsiders. People want to hear local voices. People they know.”

While Smith’s show was famous for its locker room vibe and borderline-raunchy content, Cage said Magic 105’s new morning show won’t be about shock or titillation. With three guys for hosts, he said listeners can expect a lot of “guy talk” about sports, music, cars, drinking beer and local issues, along with some music and frequent chats with in-studio guests.

“We’re not looking to push the envelope here,” Cage said. “We’re just looking to put on an entertaining show that’s going to get people involved in the radio station (and) whatever happens to be in the news. It’s not supposed to be a shock jock show at all.”

Asked if the return to a local morning show in Little Rock is evidence of a change in Clear Channel’s national strategy — which often saw long-running local shows replaced with syndicated fare — Cage said it was the listeners, not national trends, that convinced the station to bring back homegrown talent.

“We’ve had a lot of demand for local content and local voices on the radio, talking about local issues,” he said. “We finally got the team we wanted, and we’re giving it back to the listeners.”

Speaking of Clear Channel, Magic 105, and piped-in DJs, one of Magic’s syndicated hosts — shock-rock pioneer Alice Cooper, whose “Nights with Alice Cooper” show plays on KMJX (and over 100 other FM stations around the world) from 7 p.m. to midnight — is coming to Little Rock to help Magic 105 celebrate its 27th year on the air. Cooper will headline an Aug. 12 show at Little Rock’s Riverfest Amphitheatre. The concert will showcase his still-unique blend of theatrics and rock ’n’ roll, including — event planners promise — an on-stage mock hanging. Tickets are $30 in advance, or $35 the night of the show.

Though KTHV Channel 11 and KATV Channel 7 have been duking it out for 10 p.m. newscast superiority over the last several quarterly ratings books, it looks like KATV may have finally pulled into a measurable lead. The latest figures for May show KATV at a 12 rating and 27 share, while KTHV stands at a 10 rating and 21 share.

More bad news, meanwhile, for KARK Channel 4’s 10 p.m. newscast. KARK — no doubt hurt by parent station NBC’s sub-basement ratings for this season’s crop of shows in the 9 p.m. timeslot leading into the news hour — was overtaken this book by KLRT Fox 16’s 9 p.m. news. KLRT pulled a 7 rating and 12 share, while KARK managed only a dismal 5 rating and 11 share.

For those keeping score, “share” is the percentage of televisions in use in the market that are tuned to a given program. “Rating” is the percentage of all viewers in the market watching a particular show at a given time.

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david@arktimes.com

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