Poor Sports

Poor sports: WHB 810 morning host Jason Whitlock is trying to defect to KMBZ 980 to compete head-to-head with his current boss, whom he accuses of stealing his big scoops.

Editors and execs at Whitlock’s night job (the Star) are helping him secure the new day job. They met two weeks ago with Bob Zuroweste of Entercom, 980’s parent company, to forge an alliance.

Whitlock met with Zuroweste last week. The talking scribe is furious with Kevin Kietzman, part owner of 810 and the station’s afternoon host, because a few weeks ago Kietzman “kidnapped” a phone call from George Brett. Kietzman had failed miserably in his attempts to get Brett to discuss the Royals’ firing of bench coach Jamie Quirk, but when Brett returned Whitlock’s call, Kietzman put him on the air.

According to an 810 source, Kietzman and Whitlock can’t stand to be in the same room. The two “don’t see much of each other because of our schedules,” Kietzman explained on his show Monday. They’ll see even less of each other when they compete during the afternoon on rival stations.

Whitlock and Kietzman have pretended to be friends since Union Broadcasting hired Whitlock in May 1999. That charade will probably end when Whitlock’s contract expires in December. Kietzman told a coworker earlier this year that he hoped to move Bill Maas into Whitlock’s slot.

Kietzman has hosted the highest-rated locally produced afternoon show since he unseated Don Fortune as Kansas City’s king of sports-talk radio in 1999. Whitlock nearly inked a deal with 980 in early 1999 that would have paired him with Fortune against King Kevin. But Whitlock feared that his bawdy taste and ethnic humor would be censored on 980, so he signed with KCTE 1510, which disappeared into the 50,000-watt 810 after Union Broadcasting purchased the blowtorch for $8 million in October 1999.

Entercom owns almost every radio format — and personality — in town, including KQRC 98.9’s Johnny Dare and Murphy, WDAF 610’s David Lawrence, KYYS 99.7’s Max, Tanna & Moffit, KUDL 98.1’s Dan Hurst and 980’s syndicated Rush Limbaugh. Zuroweste wants a name host like Whitlock to deliver immediate numbers to Entercom’s sagging sports-talk ratings.

Kietzman once told a 1510 employee, “Whitlock would have never been able to win a ratings war going head-to-head against me.” It appears we’re about to find out.

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