- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Popular radio host Olivia Fox has resurfaced at urban music station WPGC-FM (95.5), six months after rival WKYS-FM (93.9) left the industry scratching its collective head when it dumped her.

WPGC has hired Ms. Fox part time, but hasn’t announced her schedule. “She is an incredible talent and a natural fit for us,” said Jay Stevens, programming director for WPGC, the top-rated local station among adults.

Ms. Fox, who said her new deal should be finalized next week, was seeking a part-time gig because she is expecting her first child. She would like to work full time eventually.

She announced her arrival Monday on afternoon disc jockey EZ Street’s show. “It was off the hook. It felt great to take that mike for the first time in six months,” she said.

Ms. Fox became known as the “queen of telling it like it is” as Russ Parr’s morning co-host at WKYS. Their easygoing chemistry made them one of Washington’s top-rated radio teams.

After almost seven years, WKYS let Ms. Fox go during the middle of contract negotiations in December. Radio One Inc., which owns WKYS, has refused comment.

“I wasn’t angry. I was more disappointed than anything,” she said. Ms. Fox said she hasn’t spoken much to Mr. Parr, but that she still respects his talent.

A “noncompete clause” in Ms. Fox’s WKYS contract barred her from appearing on other local stations for six months. The Web site http://dcrtv.com, which first reported Ms. Fox’s return, suggested that she be paired with Mr. Street.

“I have known EZ for a long time, but I had never worked with him until Monday. I think a lot of people were surprised by how well we meshed,” she said.

More ‘Ron & Fez’

Fans of “The Ron & Fez Show” now can hear a fifth hour of the inventive evening comedy program weekdays on talk station WJFK-FM (106.7).

The catch? The extra hour airs in the middle of the day.

On Monday, the duo began hosting a live, one-hour version of their show weekdays at 11 a.m., a time slot previously occupied by reruns of Bill O’Reilly’s “Radio Factor.”

Ron Bennington and Fez Whatley still host a live show weeknights from 7 to 11. They now work a five-hour shift, with a seven-hour break in between the first and second hours.

WJFK said it wants to expose “Ron & Fez” to more listeners. Evening ratings have dipped since Mr. Bennington and Mr. Whatley took over the slot from “The Sports Junkies,” which moved to mornings on sister station WHFS-FM (99.1) in November.

To squeeze as much into the midday hour of “Ron & Fez” as possible, Mr. Bennington and Mr. Whatley plan to ape the rapid-fire style of the ESPN debate series “Pardon the Interruption.”

“We’re trying to take all four hours of what we do at night and cram it into a single hour,” said Mr. Whatley, whose nasally voice recalls “Match Game” and “Hollywood Squares” regular Charles Nelson Reilly.

Mr. Bennington and Mr. Whatley moved their show from New York to WJFK’s Fairfax studio last year. The two have been staying in a hotel near WJFK, but they hope to find permanent homes by July.

Mr. Whatley, who said he sleeps after his midday show, plans to live near the station.

Rudin, Fox try mediation

Substitute weatherman Steve Rudin and his bosses at WTTG-TV (Channel 5) have agreed to try mediation to settle his charge that the station unfairly passed him over for a full-time job. Mr. Rudin filed a civil lawsuit against the station in March.

Call Chris Baker at 202/636-3139 or send an e-mail to cbaker@washingtontimes.com.

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