"Pistol Pete" Miller and "Jimmy the Weasel" Salzarulo, who lost their radio jobs to automation in December, have returned to the airwaves on Classic Country WNKN-FM (105.9 in Middletown, Oh.) and WNKR-FM (106.7 in Dry Ridge, Ky.).
"Man, am I happy to be back on the air," says Miller, let go by Hubbard's country "Wolf" on Dec. 4 after 22-1/2 years on WUBE-FM (B-105) and its "Wolf" sister station.
"This seems like the perfect place to land. The music just resonates. It's really cool to be playing so many of the songs again that made country so huge," says Miller, who hosts music 7-11 p.m. weekdays.
Salzarulo got the job offer eight hours after being laid off Dec. 4 with Miller. WNKR/WNKN needed a morning newsman to replace Michael Monks, who had just been hired by Cincinnati Public Radio to host WVXU-FM's Cincinnati Edition. Monks' last day at the Dry Ridge studio was in mid-December; he takes over Cincinnati Edition from interim host Dan Hurley Monday, Feb. 4.
"As you’re well aware, things usually don’t work out that well in this business," says Salzarulo, who started in 1989 on WVXU-FM's old Night Waves show.
The stations, owned by Cincinnati radio veteran Jeff Ziesmann, simulcast country music -- but broadcast different local news and commercials for Northern Kentucky and Butler-Warren country listeners. Ziesmann bought the Middletown station in 2017 from Northern Kentucky University, which had acquired the old WPFB-FM for its WNKU-FM network in 2011.
WNKR/WNKN "has a much more laid-back atmosphere," says Salzarulo, who also has worked at WEBN-FM and Channel Z. "It’s one of those places where you take the job seriously, but not so seriously that it’s not fun. It feels like it did when I started all those years ago."
“I can't think of better additions to our Classic Country stations," said Peter "Z" Zolnowski, vice president of programming and operations. "Pistol Pete’s the guy who introduced our audience to the music we play back when he was on another Cincinnati station.
"Jimmy the Weasel’s strength is commercial production. While we’re initially using him to fill our morning news opening, we plan to put his skills to work" for advertisers soon, Zolnowski says.
WNKN-FM and WNKR-FM play classic country from the 1990s, with additional songs from the '80s through the early 2000s. Their combined signals reaches from north of Dayton, Oh., to Williamstown, Ky.