Oh gee; I just received a comment from someone who read this post and didn't know that John had been back on WABC for years now. Here was my reply:
Gloria! My dear, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?? John has been back on the air for years now! WABC re-hired him, and his 4 hour show is 7 nights a week on WABC (starting at 9 PM ET) and at affiliate stations. You can listen online, and the show now has podcasts. And John's website is GREAT! He even has a schedule for each show.
Google WABC and Google John Batchelor Show to get the urls.
Meanwhile, I'd better update this old post in case anyone else thinks his show is still off the air.
Update - 11:00 PM ET September 6
See following for explanation but you can also send a email expressing support for Batchelor to the programmer at Citadel: Brian.Jennings@citcomm.com
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Why was John Batchelor dropped by WABC Radio? Is Laura Ingraham [whose show replaces John's] really more interesting to the radio audience? I'm puzzled. I find it hard to believe that this is going to get them better ratings.
Elliot Gordon, New York"
Dear Mr Gordon:
Pundita's crystal ball is in the repair shop again. But thanks to the research of industrious reader Michael Miller, we were able to gather enough pieces of the puzzle from the Internet to hazard something approaching a reply to your question.
First, John Batchelor was fired by ABC Radio, not by WABC-AM Radio. Of course WABC is owned by ABC Radio. And WABC's program director Phil Boyce is also Vice President of news/talk programming for ABC Radio. According Wikipedia:
Boyce programs WABC Radio programs as well as nationally syndicated ABC Radio shows, including The Sean Hannity Show and The Mark Levin Show.So, it's likely that the decision by ABC Radio to drop John Batchelor's show came from Mr Boyce and/or Messrs Dolan and McCarthy.
Boyce handles programming at all ABC Radio news/talk stations, including KABC-AM in Los Angeles, WLS-AM in [Chicago] and WMAL-AM in Washington, D.C. He reports to general manager Timothy McCarthy at WABC, as well as to Mitch Dolan, president of the ABC Radio Station Group on the corporate level.
What's certain is that Batchelor's firing was not based on his ratings, which are phenomenally good. (An old mystery is why ABC Radio never publicized John's very high ratings; perhaps they didn't want to embarrass other ABC Radio stars.)
And we can surmise this much from Batchelor's comments to his audience about his leave-taking: his firing was not precipitated by unreasonable demands on his part.
So we are left with what seems a needless and foolishly self-destructive programming decision, until we study ABC Radio's current situation. According to the Wikipedia article on ABC:
In 2005, Disney CEO Bob Iger decided to embark upon a sale of the ABC Radio division, having declared it a "non-core asset."To put it another way, ABC Radio is in the process of being merged out of existence. The person overseeing the merger from the Citadel side is none other than Farid Suleman, who is sort of a Superman Numbers Cruncher and whose tolerance for fools in the radio business is notoriously short. Mr Suleman has spelled out in the clearest language how he does things when he is put in charge of herding cats:
On February 6, 2006, Disney announced ABC Radio would be spun off and merged with Citadel Broadcasting Corporation to form a new company named Citadel Communications. Once the $2.7 billion merger is completed by the end of 2006, Disney shareholders would own a majority of the new radio company's stock, but ABC/Disney would have no control over its operations.
Interviewer: How did you go about identifying the culture that you wanted to bring to the company?Those comments, taken with Mr Suleman's love of gorgeous numbers, makes one wonder why ABC Radio's current management would want to clearly signal that they preferred working at the Department of Motor Vehicles rather than under Mr Suleman's leadership.
Farid Suleman: The corporate staff at Citadel was bigger than I had at Infinity, so I had to streamline it. The first three months, I visited every market, holding “town hall” meetings at every station and telling everybody the same thing: “This is the way it’s going to be: You’re either with me or you’re not. If you’re not, we’ll work it out now, because you’ll get a good severance and you can leave.” And people wanted to stay.
I tried to create my own version of the Infinity culture by taking the best of everything. It was amazing how quickly the company was transformed. Within a year, we repositioned the company, eliminated a lot of the regional managers and made everybody hands-on accountable for what they did. We created an entrepreneurial environment. What was amazing was the way a majority of the managers responded. They liked it.
Interviewer: There had to be some people who resented change.
Suleman: There were, but I gave everybody a chance to perform or they were out. My line was: “If people had arrived at work this morning and weren’t sure that they wanted to work at Citadel or the DMV, they should leave now.”
Pundita does not have the answer, but I muse that some employees who know they are not long for a job have the rude habit of smashing as much as they can of value to the company.
Even if the above observation applies to the fools who fired Batchelor, the knowledge would be small comfort to the millions of people who depend on his show for superlative reporting on key issues in American and world politics.
And even if Batchelor returns to the air this December via the Hoover Institution, that doesn't help his audience wend their way through the runup to the November elections.
So I am left with the feeling that whatever the internal upheavals caused by the Citadel-ABC merger, millions among the radio-listening public have suffered for it. That doesn't seem right to Pundita, so I decided to pen a complaint to Citadel and request that Mr Suleman move heaven and earth to immediately reinstate John Batchelor's show at WABC and WMAL.
Accordingly, I decided to email Citadel but learned from their website that their corporate headquarters only provided an email address for their media contact. A request to the contact elicited this reply, which I just received:
"The [email] address you just used is generally used for everything, it gets sent to the office manager's email account (which is me). [...] I will send your email to the appropriate person.
Wilco and thank you, Ms Pierce. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Readers who decide to follow my lead might want to copy their letter to ABC Radio Customer Service at: email@example.com
and John Batchelor at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Midnight Update: See the second post on Tuesday for another contact at Citadel and an announcement from Batchelor's website.