Losing Its Edge: Josh Venable Needs a New On-Air Job, Like, Immediately
There will be no Adventure Club on Sunday -- this Sunday or any other in the near future, at least not on KDGE-FM (102.1). Minutes after his pal Zac Crain posted the news on FrontBurner, Josh Venable called Unfair Park with the rather stunning info that The Edge's program director, Duane Doherty, just told him he no longer works at the radio station. The orders came from the station's owner, San Antonio-based Clear Channel Communications, execs from which were unavailable for comment this afternoon.
"I went in and was told my position was being eliminated," Venable tells Unfair Park. And by position, he means positions: Venable was the so-called "modern-rock" station's music director, a late-night on-air personality and host of The Adventure Club since 1994, among the many titles he's held at the station. He says he had "no idea" he was being let go today.
"Duane -- who's a very nice person and about whom I don't have one bad thing to say -- just gave me the normal spiel: 'It's not easy, it's not personal, it's business,'" says Venable, winner of some dozen or so Dallas Observer Music Awards for Best Radio Show. "We've all been in that position before -- not me, actually, this is my first time being fired from anything. So, ya know, that's what happened. And there were no real hard feelings, no Jerry Maguire -type exit. That's not me. Who am I gonna yell at? People in San Antonio? It's nothing that happened because of me. They had nothing but good things to say about me. I've been there since I was a senior in high school." He laughs. "I'd just gotten a ratings bonus! So when it happened, I was more dumbfounded than anything else. But I've got nothing bad to say."
That will be left to the rest of us, for whom Venable's Sunday-night show was the rare radio show worth a long listen. He's hosted The Adventure Club since 1994 -- first with former Met music editor Keven McAlester, then by himself for the last decade. And he won't get the chance to say goodbye to the show's loyal fan base: Apparently, Clear Channel execs are worried he might play "Superchunk's 'Slack Motherfucker' 20 times in a row," Venable says, sort of joking. "I hope they know I wouldn't, but it's business. That's how it goes."
Since he was a wee lad -- which is to say, a senior at Grapevine High School -- Venable has had a paying gig at The Edge. He started as an intern, got on the air a little as "funny voice guy," then found himself hosting the last truly "alternative rock" show in town when he was all of 19. He became a late-night on-air personality nine years ago; music director, a little more than one year ago.
"The station has taken up all of my time for the last who knows how long," Venable says. "I was thinking about it the other day: I've been there something like 700 consecutive Sundays. And that's just counting Adventure Club. It's something I've done almost every day for almost half my life."
And it's a job he ought to still be doing. Fact is, he's among the best jocks in town, the last in a line that includes, oh, John Peel (when he worked at KLIF in the 1960s), Ron Chapman, George Gimarc , Bobby Patterson and a handful of others. He genuinely loves what he's doing even if he hates what he's playing. When Venable took the late-night shift, I thought it was going to kill him -- how can any self-respecting Smiths fan listen to that much Creed, much less pretend to like it on account of "the kids"? But Venable makes a good case for why he dug the position, as much as he liked that Sunday-night show.
"I loved it," he says. "I didn't care what I was playing. I got off on being on the air, because one man's Creed is another man's Stone Roses. There was somebody aching for me to play Creed, and when I did, it was the best thing that happened to them for the next couple of hours. I loved just being on the air. Best job in the world."
And now he's a man without a job -- just like that. Has no idea what he'll do, except maybe take a vacation. Clear Channel gave him some severance; nice of 'em, at least. So he'll look for a new job now -- oughta get one any second too, given his following and talent. Like Zac says, this is a mistake, and some other local station will figure that out sooner than later. Till then, Josh says you're free to contact him at this e-mail address. If you can pay, even better. --Robert Wilonsky