Two weeks after local “independent” rock station 96 Wave (a division of the Apex Broadcasting company) suddenly downshifted their format toward an awkward “classic/modern rock” hybrid — modeled loosely on their self-described “Wave on Shuffle” concept in which the station’s sizeable library of tunes circa ’85 to the present would be open for the jocks to pick — and with little fanfare, they cancelled several of their Sunday evening specialty shows. The station execs dropped another bomb this week.

The long-running, award-winning “Storm & Kenny Radio Show with Stupid Mike” — a four-hour segment starring main hosts Storm Zbel and Kenny Z with co-host Stupid Mike, reporter and commentator (and “oh so lovely”) Traffic Fairy, and other regular guests — was unexpectedly cancelled on Mon. March 27 with little fanfare or acknowledgement.

Storm, Kenny, and Stupid Mike treated their callers with respect and civility, despite their tone or comments. They delivered current national and local stories from what they called the “news womb” and poked fun at the headlines. As the show’s resident innocent, Stupid Mike’s unexpectedly silly comments often added to the chemistry.

For the third year in a row, the show won the top spot in the City Paper‘s recent Best of Charleston Reader’s Picks for “Best Local Radio Show.” It landed a spot on my own list of entries in the 2005 Best Of Charleston issue as “Most Tolerable Morning Radio Show.” This year, I pegged it as “Best Local Radio Show for National News.”

In the previous week, veteran Charleston jockey “Uncle Miles” Crosby filled in for the “vacationing Storm and Kenny team” until they were to return on Monday morning … at least, that’s what Crosby repeatedly stated during the morning broadcasts. The only team member to hit the airwaves on Monday morning was Traffic Fairy with the updates from the roadways. Her reports sounded uncommonly straightforward and almost dour.

Had Wave turned things completely upside down and officially given their morning show team the ax … seemingly from outta the blue? Or was this all part of the experimentation — another episode in the “Wave on Shuffle” series? As of press time, the City Paper could not be sure.

In a message posted on Storm & Kenny’s Myspace.com page on Mon. March 27, an announcement read: “The Storm & Kenny Radio show has been taken off the air. As of Monday, The Storm & Kenny Radio Show no longer works for Apex Broadcasting. The show has been fired. That’s all we can write for now. Sorry guys.”

In a message posted on her own Myspace.com page on Mon. March 27, Traffic Fairy reacted to the dismissal in her own words: “I am in total shock, and, as you can imagine, very confused and upset by the turn of events. Just know that this is not what Storm or Kenny wanted, if they knew it was going to happen they would have given everyone a proper goodbye, unfortunately, they were not given the chance. Keep checking my page and S&K’s page for details on what’s next, because this certainly is not the end! I am disgusted, but believe me, it not the guys choice.”

Certainly, local listeners either loved ’em or hated ’em; they could be juvenile and annoying at various decibels and degrees. Personally, however, I thought the Storm & Kenny Radio Show with Stupid Mike was one of the best things on local rock radio and certainly the most consistently entertaining and informative daily segment on 96 Wave. I’m shocked and disappointed.

Contact music editor T. Ballard Lesemann at ballard@charlestoncitypaper.com