Wade Bryson, a Juneau Assembly member who has hosted the radio show “Problem Corner” for the past 16 years, says the last show will be next Friday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)

Wade Bryson, a Juneau Assembly member who has hosted the radio show “Problem Corner” for the past 16 years, says the last show will be next Friday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)

‘Problem Corner’ ending after about 70 years as new owners of local radio stations opt for switch to music

Final broadcast of longest-running radio program in Alaska’s history is next Friday, host says.

This is a developing story.

“Problem Corner,” a landmark call-in show on KINY-AM radio and the longest-running radio program in Alaska’s history, is scheduled to end next Friday after about 70 years on the air due to new out-of-state ownership opting for different programming, the show’s host said Friday.

Wade Bryson, a Juneau Assembly member who’s hosted “Problem Corner” for the past 16 years, announced the end of the show during his broadcast Friday and, in a subsequent interview with the Empire, said he had already been thinking about stepping down from the show.

“Problem Corner on KINY, Greatest Cuts” from the Internet Archive (eight segments, about 15 minutes total, use back/forward icons to select segments)

Bryson said the end of “Problem Corner” came up in discussions with the new owners after the holidays.

“They’re making it similar to their other radio stations, and they did some research and they felt like music would be better for the radio station,” he said, adding “I could have done it for a little bit longer. We could have probably taken it through the (legislative session), I could have probably stretched it out. But I felt like (the shorter timeline) is already what management was thinking and that’s how I was feeling. And it probably was the right time.”

The decision was based on listener research about programming as well as Bryson’s desire to step down as “Problem Corner’s” host, said Cliff Dumas, chief content officer and part of the ownership group that purchased KINY and other local stations last year.

“As far as ‘Problem Corner’ goes, yes, our research says that it’s not what it used to be, times have changed,” Dumas said in an interview Friday afternoon “That in combination with the fact that Wade was thinking about retiring from it…it just seemed like the right time to say ‘OK, well this accomplishes both things. Based on our feedback and research maybe it’s time that we pause the show, and if you’re looking for the opportunity to move on and reclaim some of your personal time’ then that’s making a collective decision.”

Bryson will remain on the air in other radio programming by the station in his role as an Assembly member, Dumas said.

BTC USA Holdings Management Inc. of Bakersfield, Calif., purchased all six commercial radio stations last year as part of a larger purchase of stations in Southeast Alaska and elsewhere. Dumas said one of the goals is to give KINY and other stations “a stronger musical identity,” with music from the ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s becoming a focal point at KINY and being played in the morning time slot occupied by “Problem Corner” when that show ends.

When asked about people being able to easily access music from that era — or just about any era — via streaming music services, digital radio and other options, Dumas said industry research shows 92% of people in the U.S. still listen to radio each week.

“I think we’re reflecting what the audience wants today,” he said. “Yes, you have all kinds of choices, but remember radio is relevant because it’s live and local.”

“Problem Corner,” whose motto at KINY’s website is “Buy, Sell, Trade or Vent,” is an anything-goes show where people call in to discuss everything from the hot local political topics of the day to used furniture being offered for sale. The show originated during the mid-1950s and featured a number of notorious local icons, including former Juneau Mayor Dennis Egan, who hosted the show from 1980 (and eventually became the station’s owner) until Bryson took over.

“‘Problem Corner’ was an institution component of Southeast Alaska, being the longest-running radio show in Alaska,” Bryson said. “It was a way in the past for villages to communicate with family members in other locations.”

However, technology now allows plenty of other (and easier) ways to do that, Bryson said. That, combined with the station showing lower listening numbers during the mid- to late-morning period, are among the reasons “it’s probably run its course.”

Bryson, who began hosting “Problem Corner” in 2007, overlapping with Egan until his last show in 2010, said the show took on a different tone after he was elected to the Assembly in 2019.

“After I became an Assembly member I’d always said that I kind of took the fun out of ‘Problem Corner’ because it’s more fun to complain about something,” he said. “And then I became an Assembly member and I was like, ‘Oh, here’s why they do that. And, oh, here’s why that is.’…It just changed the flavor of it.”

KINY, in a story published at its website late Friday afternoon, stated the show is ending due to Bryson’s retirement.

The announcement of the end of “Problem Corner” occurred on the same day local public radio station KTOO-FM published an article on its website, as part of its 50th anniversary commemoration, headlined “After 50 years, KTOO is still Juneau’s community radio station. But how did it get started?”

Bryson said that while he was thinking it was time for his hosting of “Problem Corner” to end, there were thoughts about it continuing with a different host. He said possibilities included his daughter, “who is so identical to me that it’s just uncanny,” and “I’d had one or two people join me on the show to kind of check it out.”

But with the show ending, Bryson said he doesn’t have any particularly special plans during the final week in terms of content.

“That’s the whole magic about ‘Problem Corner,’” he said. “I don’t have to do any of that thinking. Because the callers are going to dictate what the show is.”

“I have a feeling that’s what next week will be like. People are going to call me with their varying different opinions and I was going to hope for some pleasant memories like what happened (during) ‘Problem Corner’ that impacted you, what what was ‘Problem Corner’ to you, and try and do it in a way that brings people together that are our shared experiences.”

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

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