On the 99.99 FM radio station Friday morning, the usually laughter-filled KTYD Early Show was overcome with tears. After 10 years of hard work in bringing the program to the top of the charts, the show’s main man Matt McAllister was signing off and moving up the media-market ladder to Phoenix’s KNIX. For four-plus hours, fans called in and emailed their words of thanks and heartfelt goodbyes in a genuine emotional display that, on any other morning, McAllister and his cohorts Hayseed and Julie Ramos would have poked fun at. (See an Independent cover story on the crew here.) He starts at his new station on Monday, January 7.
“It’s been a great run,” said McAllister later that afternoon over the phone. “I really owe a lot to this community, which has been awesome to me and my family.”
Anyone who’s tracked McAllister’s skyrocketing career trajectory – the Early Show has long reigned atop the morning slot in Santa Barbara and McAllister was even on the Late Show with David Letterman doing a T-shirt stunt last year – could see a move like this coming. In radio and television broadcasting, the money follows the market share, and so do the most popular deejays. Santa Barbara’s market size is rated in the 200s, so McAllister had plenty of room to grow.
“My wife and I always kinda figured that this day would come,” he said. “We were so lucky to get 10 years here. Everything else that’s come along I pretty much have said no to-it wasn’t great enough to pull us away.”
But with Phoenix being an impressive 16th in market size, it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. “I don’t want this to sound like an insult,” said McAllister, “but when you look at market size, [Santa Barbara radio] is like pitching in the minor leagues. And yea, it’s the best city in the minor leagues, but finally, when the Yankees call, you don’t say, ‘No.'”
McAllister says that he wasn’t looking for a new job, but that in the same week, stations from both San Francisco and Phoenix called. Phoenix’s KNIX seemed like the best fit, albeit the music format is country and not the classic rock of KTYD.
“I never thought I would work for a country station,” admitted McAllister, “but country today is a lot different than it used to be, like when I grew up listening to country with Billy Bob in the morning. It’s mainstream music now, especially there. They don’t want a redneck morning show. They don’t want an old country bumpkin morning show. They want a contemporary, hip show.” Though he admits reluctantly, “We won’t be talking about Led Zeppelin as much.”
According to McAllister, KNIX came looking when the station’s longtime morning show deejays couldn’t come to a contract agreement. “It left a really big opening on a really big radio show,” said McAllister, and from there, “things moved pretty fast.” Since his new partner was scheduled to start on Monday, January 7, McAllister figured it would be best to start the new show together.
Most Santa Barbarans found out about the news over the holidays via their Google News search engines, or through Edhat.com, which aggregates such news stories related to Santa Barbara. Those sites picked up a story from Phoenix’s Valley PR Blog, which broke the news on December 27 when the hiring was announced.
So what’s going to happen with the KTYD Early Show? “Julie and Hayseed are going to spread their wings for awhile,” said McAllister. “Whether they bring in another person as the leader remains to be seen. It depends on how they do and whether they get comfortable as hosts rather than sidekicks. They’re excited to try it, and I’m excited to see what they do.”
As for producer Joe Wallace, McAllister is trying to bring him along to Phoenix. “My producer Joe is hopefully coming with me,” he said. “They need a producer for the show, and he’s right on top of their list. He’s interviewing next week, so hopefully they pick him. I have a very good feeling about him getting that job.”
As for his relations with his former employer KTYD, McAllister said that they’ve had their ups and downs over the years, but they are separating on good terms. “Honestly, I could have given more notice,” he admitted. “I wanted to give them a month, so I kinda short-sighted them. But they were very gracious about that, very supportive.” So much so, he said, that they even let him out of his contract early.
And keeping things copasetic is rather important to McAllister because, as he explained, “Santa Barbara is always a place you want to leave open in case you want to come back.”