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Doug Stephan Looks for the Silver Lining As Weekday Show Ends Against His Wishes

Late last month, Doug Stephan announced his long-running Good Day was exiting syndication with little more than two weeks notice, while two, four-hour programs would be available for affiliates for weekends.

Many were surprised by the news. Earlier this year, Stephan told Barrett News Media that despite being behind the mic for more than 35 years, he had no plans on hanging up the headphones anytime soon.

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But like many in the industry, Stephan was also surprised by the news. When Genesis Communications Network announced it was ceasing operations, Stephan’s program was a casualty. And he wants both listeners and those in the industry to know it wasn’t his idea to end the program.

“Well, I want to be clear. First of all, this was not really my decision. It was a decision that I made because I had to, not because I wanted to,” said Stephan. “It was born out of the complete collapse of the two entities that were distributing via satellite and other tools that are now in the trades GCN … their contract with Westwood One was up. Westwood One wanted to negotiate it up into the stratosphere and the people who own GCN said ‘No, we’re not going to do that anymore.’

“So they just — with less than two weeks notice — decided that they weren’t going to distribute programming anymore, and I was the person that they had that had the most affiliates. And then the same thing happened at Audio One. They decided that they didn’t want to do any more satellite distribution. They had a kerfluffle with Westwood One, as well,” Stephan continued. “They had notice, but they didn’t give notice until the last minute, so all the stations get pissed off at me, and neither of those two events are of my doing.

“At the end of the day, when you look around as an independent, I’m really kind of the last independent guy around doing talk radio programming the way that I do it. I’m not connected to any big church, big company, or big business. It’s just me.”

Stephan said the lack of notice left him scrambling in an attempt to remain on the air and help the affiliates who have been with him for years.

“When this reality struck, and I’m sitting there looking at the end of the week where I have to come up with something, and given the fact that we’ve had so many problems with distribution because of … GCN but really because of the audio one problems that we had moving from one studio to another — it was just a mess. And I thought maybe the universe was telling me something,” Stephan said.

However, there is a bright spot through the issues. The longtime radio host revealed that he had added more than 20 affiliates for the two weekend programs after they were launched because “There’s really nothing else like it,” in his view.

While the weekend edition of Doug Stephan’s Good Day Show looks to find a new distribution home, his other syndicated weekend shows — Doug Stephan’s Good Day Health, American Family Farmer, The Talk Radio Countdown Show — are with Josh Leng’s Talk Media Network for distribution. And that has been a silver lining to the situation, Stephan believes.

“He’s got a good clean operation. He’s very functionally literate, if you will. And I say that because that is him. He’s very buttoned down. You don’t have to worry about where he’s coming from. It’s very clear. I think I like that at this point because I don’t have to wonder if there’s an agenda,” he shared, noting that in the past he’s had situations where distributors wanted to bring his show to their networks simply to try to influence stations to carry a different program at a later time.

Despite all the turmoil and chaos of recent weeks, Doug Stephan remains committed to resurrecting the weekday program, and also deciding himself when his career is over.

“At this point in my career, I guess what I would say it’s the most the most definitive way of looking at it — and the reason that I have chosen some other options or I’m looking at other options, too, is because I don’t want somebody to tell me when I’m done,” he said. “I’m going to decide when I’ve had enough. I’m going to decide when I want to leave, and not somebody else, telling me ‘Okay, your time’s up. See you later.’

“I don’t know whether that’s stubbornness or I don’t know what it is, but my person is such that — I guess probably what made me successful — and I say this hopefully without sounding patronizing, I’m the only guy who’s ever done this, who’s succeeded to this extent.

“The radio program itself is at the pinnacle. It’s at the apex, and there was inside of me echoing what I heard from Johnny Carson after 30 years saying ‘You know what? I’m gonna go out on top.’ And I thought to myself, ‘Ok, maybe that’s the way I should do this.’ But, again, I want to do it when I want to do it, and not when somebody pulls the plug on me where it literally happened two weeks ago when the plug was pulled.”

Garrett Searight
Garrett Searight
Garrett Searight is Barrett Media's News Editor, which includes writing bi-weekly industry features and a weekly column. He has previously served as Program Director and Afternoon Co-Host on 93.1 The Fan in Lima, OH, and is the radio play-by-play voice of Northern Michigan University hockey. Reach out to him at [email protected].

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