Where's Chris Medlock?
I hadn't planned to post again today, but I've received several e-mails from people who tuned into the Chris Medlock show on 1170 KFAQ this afternoon and were surprised to hear the Laura Ingraham show two hours early instead of Chris.
Chris was laid off this morning. The new schedule has Laura Ingraham from 2 to 5, an hour-long call-in show from 5 to 6, hosted by Elvis Polo, followed by Mark Levin from 6 to 8.
Although I'm told that Chris's ratings have been good -- the best for his timeslot since Tony Snow was on mid-afternoons several years ago -- parent company Journal Communications is suffering. In June 2007, the stock neared $14 a share; it was at $5 as recently as last September; yesterday it closed at 39 cents. (It ticked up today, back to 50 cents.) According to the transcript of the company's 2008 4Q earnings teleconference, Journal had a net loss of $223 million for that period. Journal Communications' flagship is the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper:
At the daily newspaper, total revenue of $50 million was down almost 13%. The major revenue category of advertising was down 18.6%, while circulation revenue was essentially flat and our other revenue category was up nearly 12%.
Other revenue includes using the presses in off-hours to do commercial printing. Read the report for specifics.
I'm not in a position to criticize the move as a business decision, but I'm disappointed to lose a knowledgeable voice on local issues from the airwaves, and I'm disappointed with the way the layoff was handled. If it were my station, I'd have given Chris a chance to say "so long for now" to his listeners.
I would not have tossed his webpage, his blog, and his podcasts straight down the "memory hole" -- deleted from the website without any acknowledgment of what had happened. (I wasn't surprised, however, because that was done when Michael DelGiorno left in 2007 and again when Gwen Freeman left in 2008.) Something I appreciate about the the Urban Tulsa Weekly, Tulsa World, and some of the TV stations is that they see their archives as more than just ephemera; it's a part of the contemporaneous record of Tulsa's history, so they don't purge articles by former staffers. Chris's commentary and that of the newsmakers who spoke on his show ought to be a part of that record as well. (Ditto for KFAQ's other hosts, both past and present.)
I wish Chris all the best and hope that he'll continue to be a part of Tulsa's civic dialogue. I hope, too, that KFAQ continues to engage local issues in some form, but it will be harder to do without Chris Medlock's contributions.
MORE: Steven Roemerman is not happy with the cancellation of Chris's show or with the way it was handled, and he wrote KFAQ management to complain. He received a response from Brian Gann, Operations Manager for Journal's Tulsa stations, which read in part:
The economy has forced many businesses to make choices. With our move at KFAQ, we've had to make a difficult choice to stop working with someone we really care about by canceling the Chris Medlock Show. It was not an easy decision. We do hope to be able to call on Chris' expertise in the future.
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