Skyview Networks, Hubbard Radio and the late Bob Kingsley’s KCCS Productions have reached a multi-year agreement to make Seattle-based personality Fitz the successor host for “Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40,” following the October death of its namesake host. Rebranded as “Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40 With Fitz,” the morning anchor at Hubbard country “98.9 The Bull” KNUC will host the weekly show starting January 4-5, 2020.
No stranger to countdown shows, Texas native Fitz currently hosts the weekend “Hit List with Fitz” syndicated by Sun Broadcast Group. That show will cease production at the end of the year. So will the Sun-syndicated daily “Fitz Show” country radio morning offering as Fitz severs his agreement with Sun.
The new show is the result of a just signed deal among Hubbard, Skyview and Kingsley widow Nan Kingsley’s KCCS Productions.
Skyview will handle ad sales and distribution, KCCS will cover affiliate relations and KNUC Brand/Content Director Scott Mahalick will work with Fitz and KCCS staff to program and produce the new show. Kingsley’s longtime production team, including Producer Ken Halford, Chief Engineer Roger Ramsey, GM & Affiliate Sales Lead Shawn Studer, Associate Producer & Archivist Barbara Lyon, and Nashville-based interviewer and writer Deborah Evans-Price will remain intact and continue curating the show.
Fitz will be the only the third host of the weekly countdown show host in 45 years. “I listened to Bob Kingsley every weekend when I was a kid,” Fitz said in a press release. “His loss is still sinking in, but I am honored to be taking the reins from the man who instilled in me a lifelong love of country music and the love of the ‘countdown.’ This moment is surreal, and I do not take the responsibility lightly.”
The deal ends the Kingsley show’s distribution agreement with Westwood One. Should the current Kingsley countdown’s roughly 300 affiliates and the 85 that run “Hit List with Fitz” clear the new show, it would hit the ground with nearly 400 affiliates. “Country Top 40” also has coverage in Canada, the UK, Australasia and the Caribbean.
“We’re going to carry on the tradition of the Bob Kingsley show,” Hubbard Radio Senior VP of Programming Greg Strassell told Inside Radio, adding that country music artists will be show’s centerpiece. “There is room for a show that is not attached to a daily morning show. Fitz is a top notch talent with great eye contact with the audience and his perspective and embrace of the Kingsley heritage and our support of the music will be a great combination.”
Steve Jones, President and COO, Skyview Networks, added: “We are honored to provide advertisers the opportunity to engage with the show’s passionate country music fans through one of the most storied brands in the format.”
Bob Kingsley became country music’s first nationally syndicated personality in the late 1970s, at the dawn of network radio and syndicated programming. His archive contains more than 10,000 hours of produced content and an additional 18,000 hours of interviews dating back to 1967.
To help with continuity, some of Kingsley’s classic interviews will be integrated into the new program.
“Bob and I built a family business working alongside one another for more than 30 years,” Nan Kingsley, President/CEO of KCCS Productions, said. After spending time with [Hubbard Radio CEO] Ginny Morris and her stellar team discussing their business philosophy, it was very evident to me that Hubbard is the perfect partner to continue the legacy of the countdown show Bob led for 45 years.”
Since the National Radio Hall of Famer first revealed that he was suffering from bladder cancer and was stepping away from the mic to receive treatment, a range of guests, including Kimberly Schlapman & Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town and Martina McBride, have filled in for him. The final two guest hosts, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, are expected to plug the new show when they anchor its final two countdowns of 2019.
The retooled Kingsley show joins a crowded field of weekend countdowns shows offered to country radio. They include “American Country Countdown,” hosted by Kix Brooks (Westwood One), “Country Top 30 Countdown,” anchored by Bobby Bones (Premiere Networks), “Country Countdown USA,” anchored by Lon Helton (Westwood One), and “The Crook and Chase Countdown,” hosted by Lorianne Crook and Charlie Chase (Premiere Networks).