Year in Review: Future looking brighter for Andrew ZWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s been a turbulent year for Andrew Zepeda.
After losing his job at 92.5 KISS FM in late 2010, the morning show host spent the first half of 2011 unemployed and stressing about when, where and how he might return to radio.
Since inking a deal in July for a morning radio show on 100.7 The Vibe, the last half of 2011 has gone much better.
“Andrew Z in the Morning: The People’s Show” debuted July 18 and airs weekdays from 6-10 a.m. The station recently began playing clips of the morning show along with some new content weekdays from 3-7 p.m. In addition, Zepeda has appeared on WNWO’s morning TV show and is in talks with the station to launch his own afternoon TV show as early as January.
“Things are going really well now. So much better,” Zepeda said. “I knew that we just had to get back on air … and show that the world isn’t going to fall in, people aren’t going to be picketing outside. I just needed someone to take a chance and put us on.
“Things are coming back around. It’s just mindblowing how quickly it’s happened. I thought it was going to take a lot longer. But we’re genuine. We really just wear our hearts on our sleeves and we just do it and people have accepted it. Just how quickly it’s happened has been a real surprise.”
“I feel like we’re the little station that could. We’re 86 watts; my wife’s hairdryer is 150 watts. It’s almost like we’re a Kia running in the Grand Prix. We’re so overperforming of what anyone expected. We’ve done this for six months now and we’ve hit our [projected advertising] budget or been above budget every month. It’s just been amazing.”
Scott Meier, general manager of the Toledo cluster of Cumulus Media radio stations, said he is happy with the show, especially the work ethic of Zepeda and the cast.
“It’s been going great. I think it’s an incredibly entertaining show,” Meier said. “I’ve worked with a lot of morning shows, some much larger than this one, and these guys work as hard as anyone I’ve ever worked with.”
Zepeda’s website had more than 1 million hits in the fourth quarter of 2011 and the station is hoping to increase the size of Zepeda’s broadcast area in the future, Meier said. Cumulus, which purchased Citadel Broadcasting Corp. in September, is now the second largest broadcast radio company in the country, behind Clear Channel.
Zepeda lost his job at KISS FM after pleading guilty in November 2010 to three felony charges, including theft, complicity to breaking and entering and failure to remit sales tax, in connection with an October 2010 break-in at his shuttered Perrysburg pizzeria.
On Feb. 4, Zepeda was granted an intervention in lieu of conviction and entered an intervention program for alcohol abuse, which he completed in May. All charges will be cleared from his record if he successfully completes his two-year supervision.
Zepeda’s comeback hit an early speed bump when, on July 29, less than two weeks after the debut of his new show, a Wood County judge found Zepeda had violated the terms of his intervention in lieu of conviction by entering establishments where alcohol is served. Judge Alan R. Mayberry scolded Zepeda for “thumbing his nose at the system,” but allowed him to continue with the intervention program, warning him another violation would result in a conviction, which could include incarceration.
“It’s frustrating,” Zepeda said. “Where do you go that doesn’t have alcohol? I’m basically on an old person’s schedule. I can go to Denny’s, I can go to Cracker Barrel, I can go to Bob Evans and I can go to fast food, and that’s pretty much it. My wife has to go out by herself. I can’t even take my kids to Chuck E. Cheese. But I think overall the judge has been very fair. I’m trying to be good just because I don’t want to give him any more headaches.”
His co-workers are also committed to keeping him out of trouble.
“Trust me, we’re like his babysitters,” said Jerry Pickering, aka “Avalanche.” “I mean, this is our job. You will make us lose our paycheck if you screw up.”
Zepeda said there will always be naysayers, but everyday Toledoans seem to enjoy the show.
“I’ve been here the shortest amount of time — six years. Everyone else was born and raised here. This show is Toledo and I think people realize that. This is not an elite town by any means and the average person, they love it,” Zepeda said. “They feel like they’re one of us. Everybody makes mistakes. I think they can relate to us.”