Friday, July 25, 2008

Savage Flap Prompts WHK To Drop Show

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...


firebird said...

Good move on WHK's part to add Mark Levin to the lineup. Too bad they don't or can't add Sean Hannity. With his new syndication deal, there could be pressure by Hannity to put the show on in Cleveland.

Now, if WNIR can get that streaming started......

Chuck said...

Over reaction to Savage. WTOD Toledo still carries him.

He's still #3 in national weekly cume (Talker's Magazine) behind only Rush and Hannity. Savage pulls, in most markets, big M25-54 numbers.

Barb said...

It is understood that Michael Savage expresses HIS opinion. He discusses many controversial & interesting subjects. Too bad freedom of speech is being crushed on the radio in the USA.xhbfzuf

Ohio Media Watch said...

Thanks for the reminder about WTOD, though of course, Savage is only heard over the 1560 airwaves in spring and summer.

And we aren't really going out on an opinion limb here, but the last comment prompts a reply:

"Too bad freedom of speech is being crushed on the radio in the USA."

No matter what you think of Mr. Savage's latest controversy, talk radio is not "freedom of speech in the USA".


It's an entertainment format on a commercial radio station, and programs such as the "Savage Nation" are not guaranteed free speech by the U.S. Constitution, which says nothing about whether a private radio outlet runs a syndicated talk radio show.

Mr. Savage is constitutionally guaranteed his own free speech rights, but not through broadcast radio transmitters. And chances are that the founding fathers, if they would have had any inkling about "radio" in the far future, wouldn't change the wording.

Mr. Savage has no more right to "free speech" on a commercial talk radio show than I do.

Now, if the government itself shut down radio stations because of their opinions and views, that's another matter, but that's not what's happening here. The government (FCC) repeatedly steps out of the way of programming-related concerns, and says rather pointedly that it does not deal with content. Well, unless you use foul language, but that's another matter.

FYI - I believe that WHK is one of three affiliates that have dropped Savage. The others are: "SuperTalk Mississippi", a multi-station FM talk network in that state, and WINA/Charlottesville VA.

If he holds his breath long enough, he might make it through this, but Mr. Savage is well-known for controversial statements... and local station managers often don't want the headache of dealing with the fallout from their syndicated evening host.

--The Management

Dave said...

So, OMW, that puts Cleveland on par with such cosmopolitan places as Mississippi and Charlottesville. I bet you're happy about the "freedom of speech" that Blogger gives you. Or is it just entertainment...

OMWFan said...

I think WHK had been looking for a way to dump Savage for awhile.

He's conservative, but he's also too "hot" for their tastes.

They never even aired his full show, always bailing out at 11 for infomercials.

Ohio Media Watch said...

I'm just saying that words like "infringing upon freedom of speech' and "censorship" get thrown around way too easily when it comes to radio personalities, particularly when those personalities think it'll get them publicity and rile up the listeners.

Just like the existence of yes, this very blog, is not constitutionally guaranteed.

Blogger is owned by Google, and is a private entity that graciously provides OMW with a free "home".

If they decided to tell us to go pound sand, we'd have no defense. Their servers, their rules.

Our options would be to go elsewhere.

Mr. Savage is not guaranteed his affiliates under "free speech" guidelines. Mr. Savage and TRN are more than welcome to find replacement affiliates, as part of the business arrangement that is the show and its syndication.

The radio stations that have dumped him, like WHK, have a right to do so, assuming the contractural issues are worked out.

And I feel you're putting "words in my mouth", or off my keys.

I did not even remotely imply that the cancellations so far were crucial. WHK is the largest station and the only one, so far, in a market of any significant size.

If Savage loses his largest affiliate, WOR in New York City, that's another matter.

I was just pointing out that in general, local radio managers don't like having to deal with headaches caused by an off-hour syndicated show.

My last comment on this.

-The Management

Chuck said...

Savage is heard on WTOD/Toledo eight months out of 12. Not in full of course due to early sign off between August and March.