- In a surprise move Terry Evans, chief funnyman on 97.3 K-Rock’s popular morning show, announces he’s calling it quits. The on-air personality has been doing double duty as program director at the Edmonton classic rock station. He says he’s burned out and plans to cash in on the boom by driving a truck.
- Lochlin Cross from Winnipeg’s Power 97 comes on board as the new program director. Cross has a history of staging oddball campaigns, including one that scored Power 97 DJ Hal Anderson a 34th-place ranking on the CBC’s The Greatest Canadian. While Cross gets a handle on the Edmonton market, he pulls the talent off the air and launches the “Dog Days of Summer,” an all-request promotion that lasts two weeks.
- The morning show resumes with Ottawa recruit “Jungle” Jim Jerome joining the two remaining co-hosts, Bill Cowen and Steve Zimmerman. The new trio doesn’t jell. Zimmerman gets the boot, and Ross Macleod from Calgary’s Q107 classic rock station takes over his seat.
- A ratings survey shows that K-Rock, formerly a top-five finisher with a firm grasp on the 25- to 54-year-old blue-collar classic-rock loving demo has slid to tenth place.
- A series of amateurish, handheld-camera ads create a buzz when they hit the airwaves. The TV spots feature a man (looking a little like Evans) dressed in a sandwich board that reads “What the hell happened to K-Rock?” Is it a guerrilla campaign started by a concerned fan – or possibly Evans himself? (Shhhhh, actually it’s the work of Cross and his marketing team.)
- Soon after, a “What the hell happened to K-Rock?” website goes live. Its administrator claims he’s just a listener on a mission. (Actually he’s K-Rock writer James Ball, the same guy who posed in the TV ads. And, yes, he looks like Evans. Even that detail was premeditated.)
- Now with radio, TV, newspaper and web coverage, the carpet-bombing campaign turns to large-format print. In the first two weeks of September, K-Rock billboards go up, featuring nothing more than the innocuous station logo. Then, one mid-September morning, commuters get a surprise. The bill-boards have been the target of vandalism: “What the hell happened to K-Rock?” spray painted across the display. Once again, the convincing station-backed stunt is the talk of Edmonton water coolers.
- Jerome and Cowen are sacked. Cross says the on-air chemistry just wasn’t there.
New TV spots emerge. This time, sandwich-board guy looks even more suspiciously like Evans, sparking such public commentary as “Wait a second… that is Terry” and “What the hell is going on?!”
- Cross has the windows boarded at K-Rock’s West Edmonton Mall studio, with the now-familiar “What the hell” line painted across the storefront. He says all will be revealed on October 1.
- The weekend before Cross’ big news, a K-Rock crew lets the cat out of the bag, papering the city in Post-It notes that proclaim, “Terry’s Back.”
- The worst kept secret in Edmonton media is out. Cross announces a new morning team, fronted, of course, by Terry Evans and co-hosted by Melissa Wright and Karen Kay.
- In a fitting denouement, the billboards get one final update: a photo of Evans bursting through the display, arms extended as if to say, “Well, what the hell did you expect?”
- In successive BBM Canada ratings surveys, K-Rock jumps to fourth place, with 7.5% of listeners 12 and up, then settles back to 8th, with a 5.9% share.
What the Hell Happened at K-Rock?
Takeaway: A breakdown of the strange events that broke out of 97.3 K-Rock's popular morning show.