Michael Brown, Clear Channel respond to David Sirota's KHOW ouster
Update: As we reported yesterday, David Sirota was suddenly disappeared from the KHOW afternoon-drive show he'd shared since June with Michael Brown; see our original coverage below.
Since that post first appeared, we've received responses from Greg Foster, vice president of programming for the Denver branch of Clear Channel, KHOW's owner, as well as Brown -- not that they provide much more insight into the change.
Here's a statement from Foster, sent via e-mail:
"We wish David Sirota the best in his future endeavors and thank him for his service. We look forward to continuing our commitment to live, local talk programming on TalkRadio 630 KHOW. Michael Brown will continue to be heard weekday afternoons from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. on TalkRadio 630 KHOW."
Brown was copied on Foster's message and wrote in a subsequent note, "I would add that I'm looking forward to continuing live, local talk on KHOW. The show will continue to be a blend of politics, culture, current events."
Brown has yet to elaborate on his station blog: The item published yesterday involves his take on crime statistics shared on Glenn Beck's website.
In the absence of new information, the sort of speculation we predicted is beginning to bubble up. For instance, the Huffington Post is floating the possibility that Sirota was handed his head for ideological reasons. Here's an excerpt from the site's item:
In November of 2012, Clear Channel shut down KPOJ in Portland, a popular progressive talk radio station that also reportedly had solid ratings after broadcasting for more than eight years. Overnight the format turned into a Sports station.
In early 2012, Clear Channel went back and forth on the future of California Bay Area progressive talk radio station Green 960. It was first reported that the media behemoth was going to take Green 960 off of the regular airwaves and move it onto a different HD2 format. But after that plan was scuttled, Clear Channel kept Green 960 but renamed it KNEW 960 and added conservative firebrand Glenn Beck.
Clear Channel was purchased in 2008 by Bain Capital, the company founded by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
In the meantime, inside sources suggest that Sirota and Brown had been on the outs due to comments the former made about the latter's time as FEMA director and the Hurricane Katrina deaths that took place on his watch. The implication: This odd couple partnership proved too odd to work over the long term.
As you'll recall, Sirota left the morning program at AM 760 this past June to team with former FEMA director Michael Brown for an afternoon drive show at that station's larger, more powerful sister signal. We're told Clear Channel, owner of both outlets, is preparing a statement at this writing, but Sirota has confirmed his departure.
Here's what Sirota posted a short time ago on Facebook:
After almost 4 years of working in radio, I no longer work at Clear Channel Denver.
My heartfelt thanks go out to Lee Larsen, Kris Olinger and Jay Marvin, who originally gave me the opportunity to add radio to the many venues in which I do my journalism work. I'm also thankful to John Turk for being such a good partner in producing award-winning radio over the nearly four years we've worked together. And I'm sincerely grateful to all the listeners who consistently and up until the end kept rewarding my radio work with strong ratings.
I'm looking forward to continuing and expanding my journalism in my ongoing newspaper column, magazine writing, book writing and television work. As always, you can find all of my various work linked at http://www.davidsirota.com/. You can also always e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow me on Twitter @davidsirota or find me right here on Facebook.
Thank you all for your ongoing support over so many years. I'm really looking forward to 2013 and beyond!
Thus far, we've been unable to reach Brown, who'll now helm what KHOW's website dubs The Michael Brown Show. As for Sirota, he declines to expand on the Facebook post above.
That leaves plenty of room for speculation, and you can bet there'll be no shortage of it. One likely spin will be ideological, given that Sirota's was one of the rare voices at Clear Channel's Denver cluster to regularly espouse progressive opinions. Countering this take will be suggestions that Sirota rubbed management the wrong way as a result of several high profile dust up -- most recently in October, when he used the word "motherfucker" at a public event dubbed the Battle of the Talk Show Hosts. (He let a "Goddamn" slip on the air at least once as well.) Also likely to add to the chatter is the fact that he and Brown were not on the air together during a number of recent programs, suggesting that their may have been enmity between them that went beyond disagreements about the issues of the day.
And don't forget: Sirota's exit takes place against the backdrop of December layoffs at Clear Channel not just locally but nationally -- a phenomenon labeled "National Firing Day" by one disappeared air personality, KBPI veteran Uncle Nasty.
So...is this change about money? Or something more?
More from our Media archive: "Video: Mike Rosen says David Sirota's spin on 'motherf*cker' bomb makes him a liar."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Westword's biggest stories.