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Expect to laugh, cry with new Spirit morning duo

Gary Dinges
gdinges@statesman.com

Feel a bit lonely as you head into work each morning?

Don't fret. Amy Byrd and Steve Sunshine – yes, I'm told that is indeed his real name – will gladly keep you company.

The duo debuted Wednesday on Spirit 105.9, where they'll be heard weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. The show promises local news, weather and traffic, along with a healthy dose of contemporary Christian music.

"Our show will be very relational," Sunshine says. "We'll be talking about real life, focusing on things real people care about. You can expect to laugh and maybe even cry at different times listening to the show. And the whole family will be able to listen together — there won't be those embarrassing moments when you have to quickly turn the radio down because the kids are with you."

Although they're new to Austin, Byrd and Sunshine have spent the past five years working together in Columbia, S.C. Their morning show on Christian station WMHK was consistently one of the city's top performers, according to Tim McCoy, Spirit's general manager.

"Steve and Amy are two genuine people who love to talk about faith, family and life in general," McCoy says. "They have a real knack for connecting with listeners."

"I'm just like you," adds Byrd, who welcomed daughter Maggie into the world just two weeks ago. "I'm a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister and a friend trying to live life as a believer. I have struggles, I cry, I laugh, I don't always know the answer, I make mistakes, I have celebrations. Through everything, God says, ‘You're covered, you always have a place with me, no matter what happens I will stick with you and I love you.' It's that message that we want to share."

Byrd and Sunshine aren't the only newcomers. Spirit was wall-to-wall music up until a few weeks ago, when midday host Matt Case became the station's first on-air personality. Catch his show weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A planned promotional push in the coming weeks will help introduce the hosts to Central Texans.

McCoy reports early reaction to the station, which debuted in late September, has far exceeded expectations.

"The response has been incredible," he says. "Very, very positive. We've received tons of e-mails thanking us for bringing this to Austin."

‘Mornings with Steve and Amy'

6 to 10 a.m. weekdays

Spirit 105.9

On the Web:spirit1059.com

Bones' big break?

Sunday is your last chance to help KISS-FM's Bobby Bones score a guest-hosting gig on "Live! with Regis and Kelly."

Bones, who helms the station's popular morning show, is one of 10 finalists in the Men of Radio contest. The five deejays with the most votes will each get a chance to fill in for Regis Philbin for a day, sitting alongside co-host Kelly Ripa.

Competition is stiff, and Bones and friends are lobbying hard on air and online to help get out the vote.

"The other shows are big time," Bones writes in his blog on Austin360.com. "Nationally syndicated. Hosts of ESPN ‘Sportscenter.' Guys from New York City. And then there is me. Representing Austin."

Head to austin360.com/bobbybones to watch the video Bones submitted. That's also where you'll find a link to vote. The poll closes at 5 p.m.

And the winner is ...

There's a new No. 1 on Austin's radio dial.

KUT led the pack in the December ratings race, breaking KASE's months-long winning streak.

Non-stop Christmas tunes helped Majic 95.5 move up a spot, while NewsRadio 590 and KLBJ-FM both slid a bit.

The average quarter-hour ratings, courtesy of radio-info.com (numbers in parentheses indicate November rank):

1. KUT (2)

2. KASE (1)

3. KHFI (3)

4. KKMJ (5)

5. KBPA (6)

6. KLBJ-AM (4)

7. KPEZ (9)

8. KLZT (8)

9. KVET (10)

10. KLBJ-FM (7)

Around the dial ...

The nationally syndicated ‘Dennis Miller Show' has taken Laura Schlessinger's 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. spot weekdays on Talk Radio 1370. Schlessinger is now heard exclusively on Sirius XM Radio. ... Cecilia Nasti's ‘Growing Concerns' has morphed into ‘Field and Feast,' a show about ‘good food from the ground up.' Catch it on KUT Saturdays at 11:55 a.m. during ‘Folkways' and Sundays at 11 a.m. during ‘The Splendid Table.' ... The holidays have come and gone, but copies of KGSR's ‘Broadcasts Volume 18' are still a hot commodity. The CD was the best-seller at Waterloo Records for the week ending Jan. 8. ... Clear Channel's I Heart Radio mobile app continues to grow. A number of new partnerships were announced at this month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, including Yahoo! Connected TV, after-market radios from JVC, integration kits for factory-installed radios from DICE Electronics, iHome products, Walnut Media Network's portable Internet radio player and EntuneT multimedia systems in select 2011 Toyotas. Locally, San Antonio-based Clear Channel owns 96.7 KISS-FM, KASE 101, KVET, Beat 102.3 and 1300 AM the Zone.

gdinges@statesman.com; 912-5987