The radio DJ who once asked Premier Christy Clark a question using a vulgar term that refers to a sexually desirable woman will be anchoring a four-hour evening show weekdays on Vancouver-based station CKNW as part of a newly announced lineup for the venerable B.C. broadcaster.
Justin Wilcomes, known as Drex, will host a 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. show on the station, which just saw the departure of veteran host Bill Good after 26 years as a CKNW stalwart, as well as Phillip Till, who spent the most recent 10 of his 25 years with the station in the morning slot.
The new lineup, which will take effect Sept. 2, will also have two current CKNW broadcasters basically replacing Mr. Good in the 8:30 a.m. to noon slot. Jon McComb will be on air from 5:30 a.m to 10 a.m. weekdays, while current afternoon host Simi Sara will take the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekday slot.
CKNW – formally CKNW News Talk 980 – referenced Mr. Wilcomes's 2013 incident with Ms. Clark in a statement, noting he "is clearly not afraid to push boundaries" and "challenged the Premier" while working for a previous broadcaster.
In January, 2013, Ms. Clark was talking to Mr. Wilcomes on 98.9 Jet in Courtenay. Mr. Wilcomes asked the Premier, based on a listener's query, what it was like to be a MILF. Ms. Clark laughed at the question and said she would rather be called that four-letter acronym than a cougar. Mr. Wilcomes was fired, but later secured an on-air gig with 99.3 The FOX, owned by Corus Entertainment Inc., which also owns CKNW. The Premier called him to offer congratulations.
Ian Koenigsfest, brand director of AM programming at Corus Radio, said Wednesday he has been impressed with Mr. Wilcomes during some weekend hosting opportunities on CKNW, noting he has an impressive knowledge of Metro Vancouver and the province.
"He comes at things from a different angle," Mr. Koenigsfest said, "and if we have an opportunity on night-time radio to be irreverent, brazen and bold and do it in a smart and savvy way, he's the guy who is doing it."
He said he expected Mr. Wilcomes would look at current events in a way distinct from other radio voices in the market. "He's going to create a lot of noise and push the boundaries and we need that – not in a way that's disrespectful and inappropriate, but in a way that's going to push and push."
He said he was not worried about Mr. Wilcomes being inappropriate given the incident with Ms. Clark. "Whether it was his question or whether it was the way it was answered that led to his firing, that's for people to interpret. But Drex has proven to me and proven to the audience that he's going to ask the tough questions and not going to settle for double-speak."
Ms. Clark has a professional history with CKNW. During a break from provincial politics, she was a CKNW talk-show host from August, 2007, until December, 2010, when she launched an eventually successful campaign to lead the B.C. Liberal Party.
Other changes coming to the broadcaster, formerly a ratings leader in the province but now trying to regain traction, will include fewer on-air calls from listeners, fewer guests and more use of social media to draw in and push out material to audiences, Mr. Koenigsfest said.
"We're no longer going to rely simply on often quite a negative group of people who tend to call radio stations," he said. "We want to broaden that."
Mr. Koenigsfest also said "party politics and getting into the machinery of politics is not a big sell for our audience," so the station will cut back on its coverage of politics.
"I think we have done more of that than our audience really cared for."
Among other things, that means the weekly Cutting Edge of the Ledge segment featuring TV broadcaster Keith Baldrey and newspaper columnist Vaughn Palmer has now run its course, Mr. Koenigsfest said, though he added he is looking for a place on air for both contributors.