Radio has always appealed to me as an intimate way to speak with an audience that on television is usually far removed and anonymous. In the four years since I joined 77 WABC radio in my hometown of New York I have enjoyed uneven success, but managed to establish an open-mined core following which was cosmopolitan enough to listen to more than just reinforcement of established right-wing ideology that characterizes most of AM radio and has since Rush Limbaugh 27 years ago made the medium the conservative antidote to main stream i.e. left-wing liberal mass media.
In the last two years, my employer Cumulus Media, the owners of WABC and the second largest radio conglomerate in the country suffered both organic and self-inflicted financial distress as evolving technologies and overly aggressive expansion drove the stock price from a high this year of over $4.50 to its current penny stock status.
As the company tanked, the men who employed me, the honorable brothers John and Lew Dickey ultimately found themselves in financial peril, over-extended and prey to hedge funders who gobbled up enough clout to oust them as managers and install someone who had no experience in broadcasting but who apparently impressed those adventurous investors.
I’ll speak more about the shortcomings of the new Cumulus management as this bitter saga wears on, but trust me they have already cost their stock holders hundreds of thousands in lost ad revenue tied to my show.
In locking me out of my studio as of last Friday even though my contract does not expire until December 31st and in refusing to honor the 2016 deal negotiated by the ousted Dickeys, they have breached my contract.
That slight will not go unanswered.
Trust me on this it is not about the money. I have enough and give away to various charities more than most. But because of their unforgivable disrespect I will fight them and they will end up costing their battered company far more in damages than they expect to save in my salary.
“Not red, not blue, but red, white and blue,” my show at 10AM ET on 77 WABC has provided a forum for views that varied from right to left and in between. It has been the favored show of the NYPD and the other uniformed metro area services, active duty and retired.
For me, the pity is this misguided management has deprived my loyal New York audience a program that they have followed and engaged with during a turbulent time of crucial interest, Paris, Planned Parenthood, Ferguson, the cops killed, ISIS, the presidential races, etc.
Don’t get more wrong. Many of my colleagues at the station are talented and experienced broadcasters, like Curtis and Kuby and especially my skilled, long-time sidekick and blood brother Noam Laden. Don Imus is a hoot that I’ve known and loved for over four decades. But his irreverent comedy aside, with the elections less than a year away I believe our New York audience deserves to hear more than strident support for the usual suspects.
To be continued.