WDVE Morning Show faces change but formula remains the same
A month ago, the WDVE Morning Show seemed to be in a state of uncertainty for weeks.
Veteran morning-show host Jimmy Krenn, with whom Clear Channel Communications has since parted ways, had been on a prolonged, unexplained absence.
Scott Paulsen, who has returned to the top-rated morning show he hosted from 1986 to 1999, says he is not surprised that so many listeners expressed concern about it, wondering what was happening.
"It's their show, and they feel as though they were left out of the loop," he says.
On Jan. 23, Paulsen joined the show and station as full-time executive contributor. Pittsburgh comedian Bill Crawford, who has been a regular on-air guest for the past seven years, is a full-time member of the morning crew, which includes veteran show host Randy Baumann, and regulars Val Porter and Mike Prisuta.
"It's Randy's show, so it all starts with him," program director John Moschitta says. "His comedic sensibilities and his musical talents (Baumann has performed with Joe Grushecky and Bruce Springsteen) are second to none. Mike Prisuta is arguably the best sports guy in town. Scott brings a twisted view of the world. He's funny and incredibly talented. Bill has a great stand-up's timing and is very funny. And the unsung hero is Val Porter. She has to put up with all those guys on a daily basis."
Paulsen says listeners have a long-proven loyalty to the show and the station, with many in the audience embracing the on-air staff as part of their circle of "friends."
"The other factor is they trust the station to do the right thing. What we hope is people have patience," he says. The morning show resonates so strongly with listeners because it has been funny for more than three decades, he says. "The players change, but the basic structure stays the same: Play rock songs. Make people laugh."
Paulsen will be writing and voicing comedy sketches that will originate on the wake-up program and then air throughout the day. He is to fill-in on 'DVE's various shows when their hosts take time off.
"Returning was a slam dunk," says Paulsen, who sees himself as "the veteran designated hitter." "I come in when there are men on base and drive them in, then, I go into the clubhouse, sit in a hot tub and soak my knees. The most satisfying thing is having an idea and being handed the facilities to bring that idea to life."
Paulsen gives high praise to Krenn, with whom he worked for 12 years on the 'DVE Morning Show.
"Without Jimmy, I would not be where I am today. He is the funniest person I've ever met, and we remain friends," he says. "I am in awe of his talents and dumbfounded that he had the physical and mental wherewithal to sustain that show for 24 years. It's an unbelievable strain on your psyche. Morning shows, especially comedic ones, feed on new material. You have to be fresh and funny every single day. For him to have done what he did is an amazing accomplishment."
Some fans continue to mourn for Krenn, and have banded together in a couple of Facebook pages, where cries of "bring Jimmy Krenn back to the Morning Show" resonate.
WDVE has been No. 1 with men and women ages 25 to 54 since the spring of 1993, Moschitta says. Throughout every incarnation, he says, the morning program has provided an entertaining, funny, Pittsburgh type of show.
"And the new lineup of Randy Baumann and the 'DVE Morning Show will do the same," Moschitta says. "I hope listeners understand we're trying to make the best radio possible. We are judged everyday by what comes out of the radio, and that sometimes means changing things up."
Each member of the team brings a different strength, Moschitta says.
"The show is constantly evolving. If you liked the show before, you're going to love it now," Prisuta says. "We've added a Hall of Famer (Paulsen) and first-round draft pick (Crawford)."
Crawford says he is grateful to be a full-time player and to bring his life experience and sense of humor to the mix. "WDVE is Pittsburgh," he says.
Music director Val Porter, who delivers the news, celebrity reports, pop culture and music information on the show, says she feels fortunate "to be part of something so cool."
"Sometimes, I feel like I'm the voice of reason, kind of the mom figure on the show, but, in reality, I'm a smart aleck too with a bit of a demented sense of humor." she says. "I'm not a delicate flower that is easily offended. Otherwise, I never would've made it this long."
Porter was Paulsen's intern in 1990, and has known and respected him for more than 20 years.
The new lineup?
"It rocks," she says. "There's so much creativity flowing, and everyone is constantly working together to create a great show. It's an atmosphere that anyone would be lucky to work in and a show that anyone would be thrilled to be a part of."
"We just try to reflect the lives of the average Pittsburgher back over the radio to listeners in a comedic way," Baumann says.
He, too, is excited about the new team.
"Bill Crawford is hilarious," Baumann says. "Bill works so incredibly hard and is so appreciative for this opportunity that it's kind of made everyone appreciate their place here at 'DVE even more."
And Paulsen is a Pittsburgh radio legend, he says, one that was a significant influence on Baumann's radio career.
"To work with him now is an absolute honor. He has more ideas than most think tanks. He's so good on the air, and such a prolific writer that you can't help but be inspired by him," Baumann says. "He's made me a better writer, and he's really helping to foster a really creative environment here. We've all been having a great time doing it."