Radio station WPLZ to drop news-talk format after three years

Radio station WPLZ-FM will drop its news and talk format at the end of the year and lay off a half dozen employees, including news director Louis Lee, program director Gary Poole and talk show hosts Robert T. Nash and David Karnes.

Jim Brewer II, president of Brewer Media, said the NewsTalk 95 format would have required additional staff to be successful in the Chattanooga market. Brewer said WPLZ will adopt a new format with a new program director and other staff in January.

Brewer said technology has changed and the economy has remained sluggish since NewsTalk 95 was launched three years ago.

"I think we offered a good product and I will miss having NewsTalk in our building," said Brewer, whose family-owned company also owns and operates WJTT-FM Power 94, WMPZ Goove 93 and ESPN 105.1 FM and also publishes The Pulse magazine.

"Being a small, single market cluster," he said, "it's exceedingly difficult to compete against national broadcasting companies who have so much syndicated programming and infrastructure."

Cumulus Media Inc., one of the nation's largest broadcast companies which owns four Chattanooga radio stations, operates Chattanooga's top-rated news talk radio stations, WGOW and WGOW-FM

"I certainly respect the Brewers and the success they have had with other stations," said Chuck Wilkins, market manager for Cumulus in Chattanooga. "This is a business decision they had to make just as we and other broadcasters have had to make in the past."

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