The ongoing flap over controversial remarks by Talk Radio Networks host Michael Savage has cost him his Cleveland affiliate.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Julie Washington reports that Salem talk outlet WHK/1420 Cleveland has given Savage his walking papers, after widely reported on-air comments about autistic children that have caused both advertiser and affiliate drops nationwide.
Salem Cleveland general manager Mark Jaycox is quoted by Washington on the move, with wording you don't normally hear from a radio executive:
"This guy's a knucklehead, and I want to get rid of him," Jaycox said.
The WHK move ends the station's contract with TRN for Savage, which Washington reports was set to last through 2010.
"The Savage Nation" is down to one Northeast Ohio affiliate now, Melodynamic talk WCER/900 Canton. WCER GM Jack Ambrozic tells Washington that he's keeping the show.
WHK will mirror a move made by another former Savage affiliate, Clear Channel talk WHLO/640 Akron, by bringing in ABC/Citadel syndicated talker Mark Levin for 9-11 PM. (In the "Fortunate Timing" department for the Freedom Avenue folks, WHLO dumped Savage for Matt Patrick's new 5-7 PM local show, and Levin, before the current controversy started.)
Local WHK weekend host Tom Kelly's "Kelly and Company" will air - in what we presume is a brokered slot - from 11 PM to midnight.
Jaycox described the reaction to the controversy to Washington, saying he pulled the plug "after receiving about two dozen calls and emails from parents of autistic children, who said they were hurt by the remarks".
Washington reports that the station will make the changes starting August 4th, and we don't know if Savage's show will continue to air tonight or next week.
For the moment, Savage is still listed on WHK's website, along with an apology for the remarks by Salem national news/talk PD John Butler...