Gary Rivers to move into Ponder's 10 a.m. time slot; Jeff Turk to join Kenny Roda in afternoon drive time.
At noon Friday, longtime WHBC-AM personality Ron Ponder stepped away from the microphone, concluding his two-hour daily local talk show.
A few moments later, he learned that show would be his last. He was told "The Ron Ponder Show" has been canceled.
Gary Rivers will take over Ponder's 10 a.m. to noon weekdays slot, starting Monday.
"One of my biggest regrets is being surprised by the announcement and not being able to thank my listeners for their support over the years," Ponder said when contacted Friday afternoon. He said he was told the station "wanted to go in a different direction."
Ponder's show was titled "Points to Ponder" when it debuted 10 years ago. Over the years it featured Ponder discussing local and national issues, with guests from the community and calls from listeners. Asked if he had any especially memorable guests during the decade, Ponder said, "All of them, man. I learned from everybody I ever talked to."
The purpose of his talk show, Ponder said, "was to provide some objective opinions and let others weigh in with theirs, hopefully educate and entertain, and not be from the extreme left wing or right wing but a point of view of common sense."
Speaking just two hours after losing his job, Ponder said he had no future plans lined up but said he was getting lots of calls, emails and texts. Through his company, PonderSystems Media and Marketing, he is executive producer of documentaries about the Canton Police Department and former U.S. Rep. Ralph Regula. These will be presented by PBS Channels 45/49, with wider distribution planned.
"I would like to find a way to continue to express my opinion in the community and have them express their opinions to me," Ponder said. "I'll find a way."
The station released a statement shortly after noon announcing a series of changes.
"We appreciate the job Ron Ponder has done and we thank him for being part of the WHBC legacy," WHBC Market Manager Larry Gawthrop said in the statement.
On Monday, Pam Cook will become the sole anchor of WHBC-AM's morning show from 5:30 to 10 a.m. Cook's former co-host, Rivers, will follow her at 10.
Also Monday, "The Kenny Roda Show," which airs weekday afternoons from 3 to 7 p.m., will add local broadcaster and Stark County native Jeff "J.T." Turk.
Local programming on Saturday mornings will be unchanged.
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