Thursday, April 30, 2009

WTKK benches Severin for the swine flu rant

WTKK 96.9FM announced today that it suspended station's afternoon talk show host Jay Severin for calling Mexican immigrants "criminaliens" and emergency rooms "condos for Mexicans" during a discussion about swine flu this past Monday(4/27).

Severin wasn't on the air on Thursday as nationally syndicated personality Curtis Sliwa(heard on WTKK from 10pm-1am) was subbing for the suspended host and hosting the 3-pm-7pm show from his NYC studio.

According to an audio clip of a Monday show obtained by Boston Globe, Severin complained that the US wasn't doing enough to prevent the spread of swine flu. He then said "tonight we will let the usual 5,000 criminaliens that come across the Arizona border ..." referring to Mexican immigrants.During a conversation with a caller who was a healthcasre worker complaining about immigrants receiving health care, Severin said emergency rooms had "become essentially condos for Mexicans."

(Ed. Note : WTKK suspended Severin in the wake of outcry in the Hispanic media after he made his on-air comments on Monday's show. But what makes this case seem strange is WTKK's management which stood by its syndicated morning foul-mouthed bore Don Imus and his pack of laughing hyenas when they got into trouble over making racial jokes about Rutgers University women's basketball players in April 2007, but two years later they're distancing themselves from Severin and muzzling him for an indefinite period of time. Normally when a station or radio company suspends a personality for offensive content, it immediately issues a formal apology to the offended listeners/parties. Strangely, WTKK( or its parent company Greater Media) is yet to issue one. As you recall, Severin and Imus got into a well-covered public spat at last month's "Kiss Me, I'm Imus" event at the Wilbur Theater where Imus threatened to shoot Severin.(BRW 3/19). I smell a rat...or is it a swine?)

Severin who posts on the station's blog almost daily didn't make any comments today.


Anonymous said...

So ... do you think this is all a stunt? Apparently his last ratings book was very poor considering the big dollar contract.

Anonymous said...

I'm not really a fan of Severin's show, but I find it very odd that the station has suspended for remarks that he mas been making for a long time at almost precisely the time his ratings are slipping.

One gets the feeling that the level of management support he receives is based on his ratings rather than the content of his show. Would they have suspended him if he were #1 or #2 in key demographics? Doubt it.

Boston Radio Watch said...

I don't think this is a stunt at all. My point in the Ed. Note was that I think when the management failed to smooth out the whole Kiss, I'm Imus mess, it was pretty clear he was out of favor with the bosses and yesterday's benching is even more damaging to his long-term future at 96.9.

Look, commercial radio is by and large a very volume-driven business. Quality and/or content are secondary. It's really that simple. Management wants him to consistently deliver large number of ears to advertisers and is paying him a hefty salary to do so. For whatever reason, his numbers took a big nosedive after the Election. Severin went from a Golden Boy to a Whipping Boy in management's eyes. And it happened really fast.

Can he recover all the ground that he lost? I don't know. But it sure sounds like the management doesn't have any faith in him anymore just judging by what has been transpiring since March 17.

Anonymous said...

Then Jay is really maneuvered into a hopeless position. The " for the public " reason for the benching is the current tone of his programing. When he comes back, he can't really become more " extreme " - and who will listen to Jay - the sane voice of moderation?!!

martycapecod said...

So while we are reading this Jay is sitting home sipping on a martini and collecting a hefty paycheck for a few more is good..(for him). I can't understand why all of the sudden his schtick is not appropriate. Another reason why Sirius/XM is the way to go...Then again I have always been of the opinion that if you don't like what you're hearing, change the damn channel...

raccoonradio said...

Herald says that on Monday, Jay and his agent are to meet with Greater Media bigwigs to discuss his future with the station

Boston Radio Watch said...

Anon 4:03,

Bingo! It's like a relationship that goes very sour and it's just best for everyone involved to walk their own separate ways.

You know he's not going to tone down the schtick. That was never his MO and he's not about to start now. Plus, there's a huge ego involved. Nor will he do non-political topics like Howie does on WRKO on regular basis. I don't think Severin is really equipped to do topic talk anyway which I think that's where WTKK wants go.
So what do they do at their sitdown on Monday? He and his agent probably will want an out which Greater Media be glad to give him at this point. It's probably a matter of agreeing on how many pennies on the dollar he gets and/or the money comes from(cutting out more live DJ's at their music stations?) to pay for this.

Honestly, I'll be mighty surprised if he returns and issues an on-air apology for his comments, he'll look out like a total sell out to the large freedom-of-speech segment of his audience. And publicly, that would look even worse than his original comments. He's cornered right now.

Anonymous said...

He's done. Any sign of him has been erased from the WTTK site. Down the "Memory Hole", I guess.