Des Moines Sports Radio Wars

Had enough sports talk radio changes yet? Well, now there's another one. Jim Walden is no longer part of the afternoon announcing team at KXNO. Co-host Larry Cotlar said Walden "contracted himself.'' Does this mean Steve Deace or Larry Morgan of KXTK, the station getting out of the sports talk business, might be moving to KXNO? Stay tuned. Read about it in Ron Maly's latest column.

Suddenly, there's yet another look to the always-changing Des Moines sports talk radio picture.

A day after the plug was pulled on talented announcers Steve Deace and Larry Morgan, plus others, at KXTK, Jim Walden said he was leaving his co-anchor spot on the afternoon show at KXNO.

Strange timing? Some might think so. But don't jump to any conclusions, Larry Cotlar insisted Thursday.

Although known as Walden's co-host on KXNO, the veteran Cotlar was without doubt the show's heavyweight announcer.

"Walden said, ‘I'm contracting myself,''' Cotlar explained.

Walden is the former Iowa State football coach who has been doing the Monday-through-Friday gig on KXNO since Dec. 3. He also does the "Two Guys Named Jim'' with Jim Zabel on Sundays on WHO.

Cotlar said Walden, 62, plans to continue doing the Sunday show with Zabel.

"Walden made a quick announcement on our Wednesday afternoon show that he was leaving,'' Cotlar said. "He has decided to move on, and he didn't want any big fanfare. I'm not surprised he decided to leave. I guess I was surprised, though, that he was doing shows six days a week.''

Cotlar said Walden's departure had nothing to do with what happened at KXTK. "I knew that Jim was leaving our station three weeks ago, but he wanted to wait until the end of July or early August to announce it,'' Cotlar said. "People are already asking me if Deace is coming over from KXTK to work at KXNO, and I'm telling them that I'm not aware of anything like that.

"I'm not sure a guy like Steve and I would work well together. That's nothing against him. I'm just not sure our styles would work well together.''

But Cotlar is quick to add that, "these days nothing really shocks me in the radio business.''

Deace had become a popular sports radio voice since moving to KXTK after being fired at KJJC, the third sports talk station in Des Moines.

Cotlar said doing a solo radio act will be nothing new for him. He said he did it in such cities as Las Vegas, St. Louis and Chicago.

"Going solo is no adjustment for me,'' he said. "The adjustment has been working with a co-host.''

Like plenty of others, Cotlar said he was "totally surprised'' that KXTK became the first sports talk station to get out of the clogged Des Moines market

"I had no idea they were going to close down,'' Cotlar said.

Asked if there's room for two stations now, Cotlar said, "I guess we'll find out. I've always tried to give listeners the best show I can, and that's what I'll continue to do.''

Walden had a 28-57-3 record as Iowa State's football coach from 1987-94. He was fired with three games remaining in an 0-10-1 season in 1994. He has been doing radio and TV work in central Iowa since.

"He loved doing the Monday-through-Friday show with me,'' Cotlar said, "but he also wanted to do other things with his life. He lives in Ames and, at 2:30 p.m., he'd have to start thinking about driving to Des Moines to do the show. He was out of the studio at 7 p.m., and was home at 8 p.m. "He was thinking, ‘Is this really worth it?'''

Although Walden will no longer be a major part of the afternoon show, Cotlar said he may call on him occasionally to do commentary, and perhaps would ask him to fill in for him when he wants to take a day or two off..

"Right now he's driving to Wyoming for a wedding,'' Cotlar said. "I think he's planning on putting 10,000 miles on his car in the next 1 ½ months.


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