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COLUMN

Happytown: Shakeup at Real Radio 104.1 FM

On a day dubbed National Firing Day by a Denver DJ, Clear Channel cleans house

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If you thought you worked in a volatile industry, be glad you're not in radio. Two weeks ago, the Twitterverse was set afire when longtime listeners of WTKS 104.1 FM's Real Radio went ballistic over the unceremonious canning of "Monsters in the Morning" personality Daniel Dennis. Everybody speculated about WTF happened, but in the end, Dennis told his fans via a YouTube video that his departure was the result of a contract dispute – due to "internal issues" he had on the show, he wanted to be allowed to work without a contract. Clear Channel, apparently, wasn't having that. So they let him go. Typical radio stuff, we thought, until Dec. 6 – a date being called by one longtime Clear Channel Denver DJ, Uncle Nasty, "National Firing Day."

In markets across the country, hundreds of Clear Channel staff and personalities were let go – in Detroit, a popular 18-year afternoon veteran was dumped; in Denver, pink slips were issued to Uncle Nasty and others; here in Orlando, All Access, a trade website for the radio industry reports, program director Katherine Brown was fired, as well as night host Cabin Boy and midday producer Bryan "Bull" Sklover.

One other casualty of the shakeup was an entire awesome local talk show, "SBK Live." Despite its seeming popularity, the station yanked host Soul Brother Kevin and his crew, who'd been doing the show for the past four years, from their 7-11 p.m. slot. The final "SBK Live" was broadcast on Dec. 7 from a McDonald's in South Orlando, and it was something of a wake for the show – listeners mourned and protested, the crew told war stories and made the best of it.

Unlike a lot of those hit during Clear Channel's National Firing Day, Soul Brother Kevin landed on his feet – he lost his show, but he was given a gig on "Monsters in the Morning" (presumably, the one that opened up when Dennis was kicked off). Incidentally, SBK got his start with Real Radio as an intern with the Monsters eight years ago.

With former program director Brown now MIA, we didn't have a contact at the station to direct questions to – we sent a message to a generic program director email address and put out a call and email to Clear Channel's corporate office in San Antonio to ask what National Firing Day – love that name, by the way – was all about. We don't imagine that anyone will get back to us with any useful information, other than the same generic statement the company has been giving to media outlets in every market affected by the mass firings:

"Like every successful business, our strategy continues to evolve. As we move forward as a company, this creates some new jobs and unfortunately eliminates others. These are never easy decisions to make. In the process of making these changes, some employees were affected.

We thank them for their services and wish them well in the future."

And we hope the door doesn't hit them on the way out. Love, the management.

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