During his 25 years on local radio, deejay Steve West has survived prostate cancer, at least 16 different program directors and general managers, and a market-wide takeover by the Clear Channel conglomerate. Last week, West was fired from 91X.
Finest City Broadcasting owns 91X, rhythmic oldies station Magic 92.5, and urban/pop Z-90. On the day they fired West, the company let go of three other employees, including Sherry Knight, who had a midday shift on Magic 92.5.
“Instead of paying a salary [to a live deejay], they’ll now pay someone $20 to voice-track those shifts,” says a radio insider who does not work for Finest City.
Three weeks ago, Finest City general manager Trip Reeb fired Phil Manning, who had been the 91X program director for almost two years. “Budgetary cuts” were cited for Manning’s dismissal. Reeb says West’s and Knight’s terminations were for budgetary reasons.
All local radio stations are feeling a 10 to 20 percent decrease in revenues compared to last year. Insiders say the three Finest City stations were purchased in 2005 with a $105 million loan put up by venture capitalists. That loan plus debt service must be paid in spite of the economic downturn.
Regarding Finest City being in trouble, Reeb said last week, “We had a staff meeting yesterday to reaffirm with everybody that we are in absolutely no problems with us staying in business.” He says that necessary arrangements were recently made to “take care of obligations.”
Reeb says that Resurrection Sunday, which West hosted for ten years, will continue on 91X “for now.”
West continues to operate radionigel.com from his home. His webcasts feature the ’70s and ’80s bands that made 91X a success during its first decade of operation – Blondie, the Cure, the Ramones…
– Ken Leighton