One of the strangest things about the five weeks since my last show on WBAP was the complete vacuum of information from new owners Cumulus about my exact status. My contract was over, so I was not technically employed. But was the metaphoric door closed, or propped open by the possibility of reconsidering the offer they made in the final days of the contract?
As you could probably tell, I wasn’t spending a lot of time wringing my hands about this. It struck me as the prudent thing to focus on the future and cultivate opportunities for that next door to walk through.
Well, that turns out to have been time well spent. I received word this morning that regarding my status with them, they are “moving in another direction.”
As will I.
This comes as absolutely no surprise to me. I said from the beginning that the company has every right to pursue its business model. If my 18 years of service, the years of ratings and revenue domination, the impenetrable bond I’ve built with countless listeners, the value of me as a presence in the building-- if these things are simply not important to them, no amount of phone calls, petitions or listener protests was going to change anything. The more I learned about this company, the more I saw that the things that make a radio talk show a magnificent, magical thing to me, the things that made March 28, 1994 to March 31, 2012 the most special days of my professional life-- constitute a language they do not speak.
They are not obligated to have the same standards and tastes and passions that I have. All the years I have spent saying companies have the right to run their own affairs-- turns out I actually meant it.
This is at its heart a business disagreement. They were willing to continue my show, but at a rate I could not possibly consider. Trust me on this. The economy is still in the crapper, and Cumulus had a reputation for budgetary carnage. I knew a decrease was coming, and I was willing to absorb a substantial one. If we had been in the same general universe, maybe we could have had a few rounds of negotiating. But while I offered a substantially decreased amount, they did not move toward me one step.
I say this without rancor or judgment. Everyone in this story is doing what they are free to do.
I will soon be freed from some remaining contractual restraints on specifically pursuing my next destination. I will share any developments as soon as they occur.
Also, probably later today, I will share some thoughts about the path I’ve walked at WBAP. I do not feel that I have been rejected, slighted or ill-served in any way by those call letters, that spot on the dial, or the people I worked with for all those years. My love and devotion in those areas are for all time.
But sometimes things change. Something that changes with great frequency (no pun intended) is radio ownership. And sometimes that means whole formats, whole staffs, and individual shows change. And when they do, it is best to be ready, emotionally and practically. Emotionally, I am a little surprised at how mitigated my sentiments are. I suppose it is because since the Cumulus takeover in September, the move to Dallas and the absolutely palpable change in the corporate culture and the “feel” of the place, it is as if it is not WBAP any more.
At least not the place where I did about 4,500 shows, all with the joy of working with, and for, people I profoundly respected. And loved.
As for the practical angle, the coming days will be filled with more of what the last few weeks have contained-- some precious family time mixed with a joyful exploration of the possibilities to come.
To all of you who called management, signed petitions, posted things online or sent me uplifting wishes personally-- I will never forget this chapter in our shared lives. You may now relax and save up energy for something new. If I meant enough to you to engage in all of that affectionate activism, I hope you will be ready to follow me where I appear next. The place to find me will be different, but I will be the same.
Strike that. I will not be the same. I will be strengthened and enriched, with a lesson in gratitude and humility and priorities that I might never have received otherwise.
That familiar concept about God closing some doors so others can open is not just an empty article of faith. It is true, as is the constant reassurance that He is in control.
Back soon with some memories about the chapter just ended. But for the chapters yet to come, I am filled with excitement and thanks-- to all of you.
Have a great weekend, God bless all of you, your families, the magic of radio and this great nation.