Analysis: Why is WTIC-AM Using Sports Guy Instead of Rowland to Sub for Dunaway?

Listeners to WTIC-AM radio’s fine morning show heard Sports Director Joe D’Ambrosio subbing for the vacationing Ray Dunaway this morning instead of former Gov. John Rowland who has filled that spot in the past. Of course, that was before the news that Rowland is now being investigated by a federal grand jury.

Make no mistake; there is no questioning the talents and capabilities of the versatile Joe D. He has a national profile as play-by-play man for UConn football and basketball, as sportscaster for NBC Connecticut and other gigs. It’s just seems odd he would be doing the morning show while Rowland continues his afternoon gig. In his stints as the sub for Dunaway, Rowland was pretty good, handling the elements (traffic and weather intros, interaction with others on the show) well.

So why the change? All I could get this morning was that when Rowland did mornings in the past, Pastor Will Marotti, Rowland’s former partner, would host afternoons but that he too, was on vacation. That makes little sense. Radio stations closely monitor vacation requests from its air talent so as not to run into problems best covering the important shifts. Dunaway didn’t just up and request a week off (it’s a vacation, not some sort of family or personal emergency). The timing was carefully planned. If the station wanted to stick to the old model, they would have made sure both Rowland and Marotti were available during a week for Dunaway to be off. If that’s not possible, why not have Rowland do mornings and D’Ambrosio on afternoons? There is much more time in the afternoons to do interviews which Joe D. does on his Sports Talk show which follows the afternoon show.

Confused? I am too. The take here is that the station doesn’t want Rowland anywhere near its signature and highest-profile show. A convicted felon who is reportedly now under investigation by another federal grand jury doesn’t exactly make for a Bob Steele-type morning show. Reports say the grand jury is investigating Rowland’s role as an “advisor” to the 5th Congressional District campaign of Lisa Wilson-Foley while being paid $30,000 as a “consultant” by her husband Brian’s chain of health and rehab facilities. There are also questions about Rowland’s role as economic development czar for the city of Waterbury, a supposed fulltime job done while he was also doing radio fulltime.

WTIC simply can’t chance having Rowland do mornings even for a week. The morning show audience is different from the afternoon. Listeners want traffic, weather, news, sports and some insight and fun. Rowland’s toxic there now but gets by in the afternoon with an obsequious audience that thinks everything he says is gospel and that he should still be governor.

WTIC officials seem to want it both ways. They are standing by Rowland but only in the afternoon and with a pledge to avoid talking about the 5th district race which is only the hottest congressional race in the state and includes much of his own former congressional seat (hard to talk about the FBI sniffing around the Chris Donovan campaign when they’re also looking right at you). But fill in for mornings like before? Uh, no.

If this really is some sort of strange scheduling anomaly, station bigs should say so when asked. But they won’t so… They would do well to remember the immortal words of the late, great Mr. Miyagi “Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later get squish just like grape.”

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  1. Dear Pat: Thanks for the kind words. I wasn’t available to work afternoons this week, thus the decision was made to have me fill in for Ray and have John work his normal show.That’s the only reason.

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