Three days after Madeleine Brand quit her top-rated show with former sportscaster A. Martinez, her replacement Alex Cohen acknowledged that listeners are critical of the sudden change.
Cohen, a KPCC reporter and most recently the station's anchor for its afternoon "All Things Considered" segments, joined the show after Brand's resignation was announced Friday. Brand was with the station for two years and left to "pursue other opportunities" after chafing at the forced on-air marriage with Martinez.
"I know some listeners are unhappy, Madeleine had a very strong following," Cohen told TheWrap on Monday afternoon. "Change is hard sometimes, especially in public radio."
She opened her inaugural episode of the new show paired with Martinez on Monday morning by promising to devise a clever name for the program.
"Don't worry, we're not going to call the show 'Cohen & Martinez,'" Cohen said in the first 30 seconds of the broadcast. "We know that sounds like some terrible food truck that hawks pastrami tacos."
"Or a personal-injury firm, something like that, yeah?" Martinez added, laughing.
"The truth is we have no idea what we're going to be calling the show," Cohen said.
The uncertainty suggests a scramble to replace Brand, a veteran news reporter who was paired with Martinez just over a month ago. The station transformed her highly-rated, hour-long "Madeleine Brand Show" into the two-hour-long "Brand & Martinez" show, spanning the 9 to 11 a.m. timeslot, rather than just 9 to 10 a.m.
Cohen said the "circumstances" of Brand's departure "were unfortunate in many ways in terms of how it went down."
During their brief tenure, Brand seemed uncomfortable with Martinez, a newcomer to hard news whose arrival coincided with a three-year, $6 million grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, earmarked for the station to increase its Latino staffers.
Listeners despaired Brand's loss in comments posted to the first broadcast of the new program, listed as the "Alex Cohen & A. Martinez" show on the KPCC website.
"Madeleine had an inimitable quality," one wrote. "How could you guys lose her?!? A. Martinez is the worst. Alex Cohen's okay — but she lacks the cool confidence and reliability of Brand."
Another commenter, who identified as "disappointed," wrote: "My mornings just got a little less happy. No thank you KPCC. How could you let Madeleine go? Poor management?"
And judging by some comments, the news is good for KPCC's competitors.
"Brand's incredible aplomb for both dramatic stories as well as comedic ones is going to be missed," wrote another commenter. "Dialing over to KCRW."
Cohen's replacement as anchor on KPCC's segments on "All Things Considered" has not been named.
Brand's departure comes weeks after KPCC dropped the award-winning, afternoon show hosted by veteran print journalist Patt Morrison, partly to clear space in its lineup for the expanded Brand-Martinez show.