-All right...There's a fine line you must walk when you are trying to do "the right thing". It appears the management at KTRS is stomping all over the place while trying to walk it. Either that, or there are some serious questions that need to be asked in the wake of yesterday's Dave Lenihan incident.
As I said yesterday, I think Tim Dorsey...or whoever, individually or collectively, called the shot on firing Dave Lenihan for his on-air faux pas...pretty much had to do it for business reasons. Allowing that sore to fester with Lenihan still doing a daily show was not going to make any business sense. This is a company that..A) is trying to get into the business of major league baseball B) is trying to finally sell itself as a dominant "player" in the market's radio wars, and C) needs to right it's public relations ship after the "Black Friday" firings of most of it's on-air staff in December. The Lenihan black eye would have continued to darken...not heal. And salespeople don't need that sort of distraction or hurdle while trying to convince an ad agency or prospective advertiser to sign on the dotted line. Radio sales is tough enough. That doesn't even take into account the PR kick-in-the-crotch the Cardinals stood to take as a new part of the station's ownership.
Having said that, Mr. Dorsey's on-air comments, and subsequent television interviews, came off to me as somewhat disingenuous. While I understand that TV reporters tend to use only the soundbites that make someone look bad, Tim seemed to not even allow for the possibility that Lenihan's utterance could have just been...a mistake. There was total judgment of Lenihan's intentions...and no empathy toward him as a human who could have had a "human moment". Unless Lenihan confessed to Dorsey that he had planned the thing as a publicity stunt, TD would not be in a position to be that unequivocal...certainly not within twenty minutes of it happening. If Lenihan did confess to some sort of subterfuge, then Dorsey should have said that and taken the onus off himself. At least one on-air host on another station I was listening to this morning takes it a step farther with a conspiracy theory in which the whole thing was a publicity stunt akin to the "birds on the billboards". Seems unlikely.
But also tasteless to me is the willingness of the station's hosts (at least their morning hosts) to "pile on" Dave Lenihan. The station is fielding calls, and using the situation as fodder for it's format. All the while, the hosts plead to the listener that "Dave Lenihan's comment is not what we're all about. Puh-leassse don't judge us by what the guy that we fired said. Larry..You're on the air... Do you have a comment about what he said?" If you're not about what he said, then don't let what he said continue to perpetuate itself on your air.
It begins to look for all the world like someone in the hierarchy is saying..."Hey, let's milk this for a while since it looks like the rest of the media is enjoying making us look bad. As long as we're getting our call letters on TV...what the heck. And think of all the radios being tuned to 550. We can slough off all the blame on the guy we fired and ride this 'til it dies for a possible spike in the ratings". It sure appears that they are willing to allow the incident to become a ratings-getter, which would eventually mean a money-maker. If that's anywhere close to being true, someone should be ashamed.
What should have been done to take the high road? Fire Lenihan. Tell the television and newspaper interviewers that Lenihan likely misspoke, but that KTRS can't be put in the position of apologizing for him. Then say...It's over...period. Then you don't talk about it on the air, or anywhere else. You let it die. By doing so, you allow the man you fired to have some claim to his dignity. To continue to drag him through the slop is unprofessional, unseemly and mercenary.