Last week, 104.3 The Fan issued a press release revealing that "thirty-seven-year radio veteran Sandy Clough will host a self-titled show, weekdays from 10 a.m.-12 p.m., beginning Monday, July 25, 2016."
Such an announcement typically means that a media outlet is courting additional publicity. But when we requested an interview with Clough, who has been absent from the Fan's airwaves for months without explanation, we were informed that management had declined to make him available at this time.
Moreover, station program director Armen Williams also turned down an interview request, writing via e-mail that "I cannot comment on internal matters." And on his first show back yesterday, Clough did his level best to avoid any mention of his absence beyond a brisk greeting: "It is good to be back."
What the hell?
The Clough vanishing is arguably the biggest mystery in Denver radio since the similar disappearance of Michael Floorwax from 103.5 The Fox for the vast majority of 2014. In February of that year, Rick Lewis said on the air that he couldn't discuss the status of Floorwax, his longtime partner, because of HIPAA — the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, whose wide-ranging privacy rules include provisions restricting employers from revealing information about an individual's medical history. But it wasn't until October that Floorwax publicly acknowledged he was fighting medical problems that prevented him from returning to the show.
In contrast, the Fan personnel were publicly and privately mum about the reasons Clough wasn't on the station after early April, when BSN Denver notes that he did Final Four coverage for the station.
Earlier this year, Clough, whose previous on-air partner, Scott Hastings, had been sacked in what was widely perceived to be a cost-cutting move, teamed with former Broncos wide receiver Brandon Stokley — and the match was awkward. The erudite, hyper-verbal Clough had difficulty finding a rhythm with Stokley, a relative broadcasting novice with a slangy, unstudied style. (Stokley has gotten better since then, but he's still a work in progress.)
Granted, Clough and Hastings were also an odd couple, but after a transitional period, they managed to make their pairing work. This time around, though, Clough went away, and Stokley was given a new partner, former CU Boulder quarterback Charles "CJ" Johnson — yet the program continued to be branded "Sandy and Stokley."
Meanwhile, Cecil Lammy, a refugee from 105.5 ESPN, which shut down on January 3, was installed in the 10 a.m.-to-noon slot until being supplanted by Clough on the 25th.
Lammy hasn't been given the heave-ho. Instead, he'll serve as the Fan's "Broncos insider" and will report daily from the team's headquarters.
Clough, for his part, is going solo, as he's done much of his career, and on day one, he talked about the Colorado Rockies' recent sweep of the Atlanta Braves, Peyton Manning being cleared of using human growth hormones, and the Broncos' quarterback situation — anything but where he's been for more than three months.
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Which leaves us with the sort of rumors we've been hearing since he went away — including that he was so pissed off at the Fan's current owner, Bonneville International, over the Hastings sacking and being tethered to Stokley that he considered jumping ship (speculation centered on Altitude 950) before reluctantly returning to the 104.3 fold.
Given Clough's verbosity, we have a feeling he's got plenty to say about his personal situation. But right now, there's every indication he's being muzzled — a strange circumstance for a man who's made his living for nearly four decades by speaking his mind.