Big D & Bubba removed from East Texas airwaves, KNUE replaces duo with local morning show

Listeners take to social media expressing frustration with programming change
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Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 11:19 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 3, 2021 at 9:19 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - For more than two decades, countless East Texans have started their day with the “Big D & Bubba” radio show on 101.5 FM KNUE. That is until Monday, when listeners turned their radios on to find a new morning show hosted by local personalities.

The change was immediately met with pushback on social media from longtime listeners.

Derek “Big D” Haskins and Sean “Bubba” Powell talked about the end of their 21-year run on East Texas radio airwaves in an interview with KLTV on Tuesday. They said they were contacted by KNUE leadership about two months prior to being taken off the air.

“They contacted us and said that they were going to get out of our contract. And, let us go basically,” said Big D.

And while the end of their run on KNUE wasn’t quite as abrupt as some on social media had assumed, that didn’t make it any less of a difficult or disappointing end for the duo.

“We never got to say goodbye, say thank-yous. It was really one of those things that hit us hard,” said Powell. “This is family. We’ve known these folks, people throughout East Texas. And to not even be able to say goodbye was the hardest part.”

“Big D & Bubba” is a syndicated show, originating in Nashville. It first hit the air in Tyler-Longview on KNUE in 2000, making the station one of their oldest affiliates.

“We were hoping we could change their minds until the very end,” Powell said. “It’s bigger than a radio show. It’s part of the culture”.

Carleen Dark, Tyler Market President for Townsquare Media, says the radio duo was aware of their impending exit from KNUE.

“I’m not sure why they say they didn’t get a chance to say goodbye when they knew when,” she said. “And for whatever reason, they chose to not to do something. I really couldn’t speak as to why they would feel like they didn’t have a chance, because I know they did.

Dark says the decision to stop airing the show was not a decision to save money, but a decision to focus on East Texas.

“We believe the best way to super serve our audience and our market is to be local,” she said. “This was a decision that was absolutely not made lightly by any means and there were a lot of people involved in the decision making. It was talked about and researched for months and months before the decision was made.”

And while she he understands that change is difficult, it’s Dark’s hope that East Texas listeners will give this new team a chance.

“I think that the more they listen, and the more they see how involved in the community this team will be, and some of the positive things they will be able to do right here locally, not being based out of Nashville, I think people will come around.”

In the meantime, Big D & Bubba said they believe listeners like what they like, regardless of where the show originates.

“It doesn’t matter where it comes from. And honestly, no one really cares where it comes from,” said Big D.

And for now, they’re searching for a new radio home in East Texas.

“This is family. We’ve known these people throughout East Texas, and we’ve been together every single day, every single morning for 21 years,” Bubba said.

The new show airing on KNUE is Billy & Tara in the morning. Tara Holley has been a local radio personality for several years, while Billy Jenkins just recently arrived in East Texas.

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