On June 7, smooth-jazz KIFM morning host Melissa Sharpe said something on the air that caused her to be fired in the middle of her shift.
"My general manager said I don't connect with you and you don't connect with me," she said. "That I'm not 'being real' with you on the air. I don't think that is true. If you disagree with him, e-mail him and tell him."
On the air, Sharpe said she'd met with KIFM general manager Darrel Goodin the day before. After Sharpe rallied her listeners to contact Goodin, and after airing listeners' calls of support for over an hour, the station's engineer and business manager entered the studio and asked her to leave.
There are many questions about the episode that neither side will answer. For instance, why would KIFM management want to retool her show? The station is experiencing a surge in ratings; Sharpe's show is one of the top five most successful morning shows in local radio (which include KGB, KSON, Star 94.1, and KYXY) among the most desired age range of listeners, 25--54. Unlike the other top-rated morning shows that have staffs of five or six people, Sharpe does her show alone, without a sidekick or a producer.
Sharpe wouldn't comment about rumors that she may take legal action. Some radio veterans say her on-air plea for support constituted a substantial break in KIFM's format, which may not help if litigation does occur.
KIFM's Goodin responds: "All of us here at KIFM are very surprised by Melissa's comments, many of which were inaccurate. She had a reaction to a very standard programming discussion about how our air staff could better relate to our listeners. Given the need for confidentiality in matters of our employees, we find ourselves at the disadvantage of not being able to tell our story. I hope that people will not rush to judge KIFM or me based on hearing one side of the story."
The last time a DJ precipitated his termination while on the air was in December 2001, when Matty Keating (of former alternative North County station 92/1) played songs with off-color lyrics and put callers on the air who used obscenities.
"I snapped," Keating said at the time. "I played stuff that was not exactly FCC friendly."