Here's an article from today's Chicago Tribune on the Mike Malloy incident:

 Eric Zorn   03/27/2000

 If you listened closely, you heard the firing of Mike Malloy coming for months.

 After he'd spar at some length with hostile callers to his radio show, you'd
 hear him say, "See? I don't hang up on people with an opposing point of
 view," as though speaking directly to his bosses. And when the conversation
 got heavy, he'd quip, "I hope this isn't too `dark' for you."

 Then, several weeks ago, he began closing his daily, 10 p.m.-1 a.m. shift on
 WLS -AM with, "I'll be back tomorrow night . . . I hope."

 And there was what you never heard: Proud announcements from WLS '
 promotions department when Malloy's ratings soared in 1998, when he was
 named one of the top 100 hosts in America by Talkers magazine for the second
 year in a row recently, or when he won a prestigious Achievement in Radio
 award as best local nighttime talk personality.

 These were among clues that station management did not like Malloy, 57, a
 journeyman broadcaster whose red-meat liberalism was an antidote to the
 windy conservatism of syndicated midday host Rush Limbaugh. Those who heeded
 these clues were not surprised at 12:25 a.m. Saturday when, in a halting
 voice, Malloy read a prepared statement saying his three-year run on the
 station would be over in half an hour.

 I did like him. I liked his politics and I liked him personally. More
 disclosure: I made unpaid appearances on his show every couple of months,
 traded news tips with him off the air and in the past discussed with WLS
 doing fill-in shifts; my wife works at another radio station in town and my
 employer owns WGN-AM, where I've recently guest-hosted a couple of times.
 But it's mostly as a listener--a guy who frequently taped his program and
 listened to it the next day while exercising or puttering- -that Malloy's
 firing disappoints me.

 Officially, the parting was an "amicable . . . mutual agreement" to allow
 Malloy to "pursue other opportunities." He, the station and parent company
 ABC are now contractually bound to repeat this lie. But Malloy often told me
 in recent months of his belief that management was sharpening the ax because
 he refused to be an obsequious house liberal.

 Station operations director Mike Elder declined to comment Saturday, but
 recently blasted Malloy's "very dark and mean-spirited approach to talk
 radio" in e-mail sent--perhaps in error--to listener Bob Miya of Glenview
 and forwarded to me. He accused Malloy of continually cutting off callers
 who disagree with him, making "name calling . . . a major part of (his)
 performance" and creating "an environment of disgruntlement." Admittedly,

 Malloy was not merry or equivocal (see But he was no more
 mean-spirited or short with argumentative callers than Limbaugh, the king of
 radio name callers, snippy Laura Schlessinger or several other right-leaning
 hosts heard on WLS . And in the 11 Arbitron ratings periods of Malloy's tenure,
 he beat or tied the station's overall rating among its target 25- to 54-year-old
 demographic eight times, including in the most recent period.

 "We will take some heat from his followers and die-hard liberals, " added
 one of Elder's e-mails. "But for the direction WLS is going, it's time to  make a move."

 That move was to offer Malloy a severance bonus in exchange for his silence about
 his opinion of WLS management. Left-leaning iconoclast Jay Marvin will at least
 temporarily expand his 7-10 p.m. show into the first two hours of  Malloy's old shift;
 a syndicated program about the supernatural will fill the third hour.

 And what direction is the station going in? Perhaps not so much righter as lighter.
 Malloy's program tended toward the serious-- topics plucked from the Nation magazine
 or Mother Jones instead of Cosmo and People--and did not shy from troubling (dark?)
 issues involving the environment, foreign policy and corporate irresponsibility that
 other hosts rarely touch. His firing is consistent with recent reductions in hours on
 weekends for the serious,  brilliant (though misguided) conservative Tom Roeser and
 the provocatively progressive team of Nancy Skinner and Ski Anderson.

 Malloy was not perfect, but he added texture, balance and depth to Chicago radio.
 Name calling isn't nice, I know, but in the case of those who ran him  out of town
 on false pretenses, I'm willing to make an exception.

Privacy Policy
. .