WTDY-AM firing Sly In The Morning a disturbing national trend for community-based radio

Madison radio station WTDY-AM’s General Manager, Rick McCoy, made a decision to lay off the entire news staff, including “Sly In The Morning”, which is apparently a national trend in local radio where progressive news talk programming is being replaced with mind-numbing sports radio. While it is not official that WTDY will become yet another sports format, it’s been the trend for radio stations to forget about community-based radio for packaged national sports formats.

Remembering how it was explained in a Soviet Union cultural exchange back in the 1980s, the Kremlin used the same ruse for keeping the concerned citizenry involved in what was strategically called getting them tangled in the “sport is good” mentality. Why have them be bothered with complicated facts and figures on how their corrupt leaders owned by the plutocrats are screwing them when they can get their minds twisted in pointless stats and hero worship of athletes throwing leather balls at each other and getting the true “divide and conquer” participation of the masses. Forget about religion being the opiate of the masses. Sports talk is even more myopic and ultimately a way to stuff your head full of stats about countless sports teams and players rather than facts about what should be done for a better society. The Kremlin-Gordon Gecko effect is apparently all the rage.

John “Sly” Sylvester, known for not being a shrinking violet politically in the Madison news talk radio market, made this statement on his Facebook and other pages:

Message to everybody: I just want to inform you that today was my last day of employment at WTDY. After 15 years, I was told that my services were no longer needed. I would like to thank everybody that’s supported my program. It’s been a pleasure to share this wonderful experience with you. I need to take a big deep breath this weekend and figure out what my future plans are. But, old Winter Soldiers NEVER DIE, and I look forward to letting you know what lies ahead. Solidarity!

You can email me at canadasly@gmail.com

-SLY

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There are many other examples where news talk, especially local community-based radio, is being swapped out with a computer at the radio station that has a national sports feed fill the air and ultimately fade out. Progressive radio KPTK in Seattle is going through the same transition:

Everyone else is calling it since the change in call letters from KPTK to KFNQ “the Fan”? this past week. CBS radio will roll out an aggressive Sports Radio format to push to their markets and CBS owned stations such as AM 1090, to go head to head, 24 hours a day, to compete with ESPN and FOX sports radio beginning Jan 2.

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KPOJ-AM in Portland, Oregon went through the same “transition” as well:

Portland, Oregon’s only left wing commercial talk radio station has suddenly been switched from politics to sports.

KPOJ was the first Air America affiliate in the country, according to its supporters, who learned early on Friday that the host of the locally produced morning show had just been fired by Clear Channel effective immediately.

That afternoon, a local paper confirmed that the AM station would become “Fox Sports Radio 620” beginning in just 3 hours.

Brad Friedman is blogging about the sudden death of lefty political talk on KPOJ. Friedman accuses Clear Channel of choosing to favor its right wing talk radio stations over its left wing properties.

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It could be that trends show that AM radio itself is fading away due to lousy sound compared to FM or newer digital formats on smart devices and the net. AM’s weakness is making radio companies create new talk formats in the better sounding FM format. With iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn and other Web radio choices available, progressive radio has already been available for years. There’s also Sirius/XM satellite radio too. The PPM (Portable People Meter) readings are getting more complicated as the digital radio realm continues to give more choices.

Hopefully, a clearer, crisper former WTDY news staff is heard on something other than tinny AM sometime in the near future. We need them and wish them well in the next phases yet to come. The real loss is having community radio slowing becoming a thing of the past. Other local right-leaning radio talk hosts should see this trend as a warning that they may be next on the AM chopping block.

Sports is a good thing and listening to sports is great on radio. But when you start losing community radio content (left/right/middle/English/Spanish/Mung…) and replace it with national ESPN jock talk, it’s bad for communities.

There have been plenty of examples where community-based radio is taken away and local areas that used to have that radio access never get local news, weather reports and yes, political commentary unique to that area.

There is a movement where “in the spring of 2013, the Federal Communications Commission will start the process of allotting thousands of new community FM radio licenses for the first time in urban areas.” More information to start your own radio station is available, thanks to President Obama signing the Local Community Radio Act. There’s always a way to start your own web radio show.

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