Former 98 Rock Personality Lands Sports Job In Tampa
By Dave Hughes, DCRTV.com
For many years, he was the "K" in 98 Rock's "KML" morning show.
Kirk McEwen, along with co-host Mark Ondayko and newsmen Bob Lopez and later Josh Spiegel, spent a decade on the station dishing out so-called "guy talk" during the morning drive.
Now Baltimore-area native McEwen, who has been off 98 Rock nearly five years, is branching out into sports talk. On Aug. 3, he started co-hosting the morning show on a new CBS sports talker in Tampa, WHFS, 98.7 The Fan.
The hot adult contemporary station just flipped to a new sports format, and McEwen will be paired with Chris Dingman as "Kirk And Dinger."
Dingman is a Canadian former professional hockey player, who was with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Sports were not the primary topics of McEwen's 98 Rock show, even though he's a big Ravens and Orioles fan.
"They were guy shows," he said. "We did have sports segments with [WJZ's] Mark Viviano and [WBAL's] Keith Mills, but mainly we were talking about girls, rock music and entertainment."
After leaving 98 Rock, McEwen joined Baltimore talker WHFS in 2007. During the pre-sports talk format of CBS Radio's 105.7, he often filled in for morning man Ed Norris, again often talking non-sports topics.
When that station made its formal switch to sports talk in late 2008 with the birth of Baltimore's "105.7 The Fan," WJZ-FM, McEwen was shown the door. He said there were no hard feelings from CBS management; he was just told he didn't fit the new format.
McEwen said he was on the shelf and unemployed between October 2008 and May 2009.
But after a summer 2009 gig at an Ocean City station, he headed to Washington, D.C., in November of that year to do mornings at a newly launched rock station, 105.9 The Edge, where he eventually partnered with Mike O'Meara. When that station's rock format got yanked in September 2011, McEwen again found himself on the radio sidelines.
But that didn't last too long.
He hadn't burned his bridges with CBS, which hired him for his new gig at its new Tampa sports talker. That station had just received the WHFS call letters, the same call letters of the Baltimore station where he once worked.
"I'm probably unique in working at a station with the same call letters in two different cities," McEwen said.
McEwen has a strong connection to sports, extending back to his childhood. In 1977, the first year that Major League Baseball sponsored the Pitch, Hit & Run Contest, he finished second in the nation for 12-year-olds, winning a trip to the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium.
"I can use old stuff from my Baltimore and D.C. days, and the folks down here haven't heard it before," McEwen said about his new Tampa audience, as he turns his attention to the Rays of MLB, Buccaneers of the NFL and Lightning of the NHL. "It goes over real well."
A self-proclaimed military brat, whose father served in the U.S. Air Force, McEwen was born in Berlin -- the youngest of six children. He's the younger brother of former "CBS This Morning" personality Mark McEwen, who is now in Orlando, not far from Kirk's new base.
"You know, it was time to move on," McEwen said of the new gig. "I had to go with a new girl."
McEwen also has a side career in stand-up comedy. He has opened for such acts as Daniel Tosh, Tommy Davidson and Larry The Cable Guy. He also fronts his own rock band.
In addition to working in radio and music, McEwen spends time doing a Web podcast with his former high school classmate, "Big Al" Cieslak, at kirkandal.com, where topics include just about anything and can be a little blue, language-wise, according to McEwen.
"The podcast was important in between radio jobs because it kept my chops fresh," McEwen said. "It kept me from getting rusty."
McEwen grew up in Crownsville, but said he had already fallen in love with Tampa Bay, where he can be seen tooling around town in his green 1974 dune buggy not far from his new home in Clearwater.
"Tampa Bay's got the teams, the fans and now The Fan," McEwen said. "I'm excited to be in on the ground floor."
Issue 176: August 2012