by Jeff Niesel
Earlier this month, the local music program Inner Sanctum celebrated its 20-year anniversary. While the program had been on a hiatus or two during that time period and had shifted from one commercial radio station to another, the trio behind it — Pat “the Producer” Johnson, Jim Benson and Matt Wardlaw — had persisted and had found a home at 87.7 FM, the station that bills itself as “a local station for Clevelanders by Clevelanders.” But just this morning, new program director Ryan Benes pulled the plug on the show that had aired on Sunday evenings.
“I feel torn,” says Johnson when asked for his reaction. “I felt it was coming with the other staff moves they’ve made. I know the station was hoping for a big summer and that hasn’t translated into sales yet. I was told the funding had run out for the show. We were fully incorporated so we were getting a decent amount of money. It was certainly sustainable.”
Benes says he has great respect for the guys and their connections to the local scene but adds that the station is going in “a different direction.”
“The decision has nothing to do with any shortcomings from the Inner Sanctum, those guys are the best and were awesome to work with,” he says in a written statement. “They’ve been a great champion of local musicians for a long time. In the future we are looking to take a different approach as to how we showcase local music. There is still a home for local music on 87.7, and [we] will still be the only station in Cleveland where local musicians have a chance to be heard.”
For his part, Johnson says he’s looking at other options, including Internet radio.
“I would prefer to find a home on radio in this town and the talent in this town certainly deserves a focused show not to mention regular airplay,” he says. “Maybe one of these big conglomerates will wake up and smell the talent here in Cleveland.”