Friday, November 18, 2005

We Liked Mike

WMAY has fired Mike Wilson, the radio station's afternoon drive talker. The reason given by the station's management is that it was for budgetary reasons.

Mike says goodbye on his blog here but gives no more details. Lot’s of comments though.

Rich Miller has a post with lot’s of comments here.

Mike’s former brother-in-sound, Jim Leach, has a post on his blog but also gives no details.

I understand the SJ-R also has the story on p. 13 of today’s paper but I have not yet seen that.

Like many of the commenters posting in the above mentioned blogs, I’m suspicious about the “budgetary reasons” explanation for Mike’s sudden departure. Cuts for “budgetary reasons” rarely happen in the middle of the week and on the 16th of the month. Certain kinds of employers do like to give no notice out of fear that the soon-to-be-fired will do (or say, in this case) something spiteful or rash so I’m not factoring that into my conspiracy theory.

I do wonder if Mike said something Wednesday (his last day) that got him canned. I happened to be listening to him just before 5:00 that day (I think) when he was talking to a caller about marijuana. They were talking about a large pot bust and Mike missed getting into the ABC network news at the top of the hour while he calculated, in ounces, just how much pot this guy had been caught with. I suppose some might have heard this exchange and thought it an endorsement of pot use or something. I don’t know if that had anything even remotely to do with his dismissal but I’m having a hard time believing it was all about money. It’s radio, how much could he have been making?

Mike has a great wit and was quick on his feet with the callers. I recently appeared on his show and had a great time. One of the important skills a broadcast interviewer needs is making his guests feel comfortable in an environment that otherwise makes many people very nervous. Mike had that skill.

Good luck, Mike, although I doubt you’ll need luck.

Update: Wow, they didn't waste any time getting Mike off the WMAY web site. There's no mention of his departure but it does show Chris Murphy having the 3-6pm time slot now. I'm not going to bash Chris for being put in Mike's place or anyone for being a better candidate for dismissal (cough*Pam*cough), I'll leave that to others (see the comments in the linked-to blogs above).

Update 2: Jim Leach who is, technically, WMAY management says all he can say about the matter in a later post on his blog:
Here's the deal: personnel rules, confidentiality agreements and simple propriety limit what the station can say about the situation. Belabor the point all you like, but that's not going to change. And that means, by definition, you only know one side of the story -- and some of what's been put out there is flatly wrong.

And please keep in mind: the fact that you can work a radio doesn't mean you know the first thing about working at, or running, a radio station.
Playing devil's advocate (and I've heard Jim really is the devil) I had this to say in the comments to his original post on the subject:

Look, Jim isn't in a position where he can discuss the details of this without getting his own butt in trouble so we are, indeed, left to our own devices in our speculation.

It looks to me like Mike was let go for having done something wrong in management's eyes. And who knows, maybe he did screw up in some way beyond anything he may have said on the air.

Even if Mike lets us know his side, there is still management’s side and we’re never going to hear that, for legal reasons, if it involves some perceived misconduct.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'll miss Mike, too. I was kind of hoping he would have local bloggers on as a regular feature.

Management in any business is notorious for not letting on the full story in firing situations. They have to protect their legal interests. And, in the case of radio, their advertisers.

I have to admit, there were a few times when I would cringe over something Mike said, and thought to myself, that's gonna piss someone off. But, the next day he'd be back on the air and all was well.

In the past, radio personalities have come and gone, and come and gone, again. I think the remarkable thing about Mike's case is blogs. Some of has fan base has come out and been very vocal about his situation and their feelings for him. Before blogs, you might read one "representative" letter to the editor in the paper, and that would be it. This is much different.

I'm no expert on any of this, by the way. I just love radio.