Considering the brutal media climate that exists today, Jay Severin’s disappearing act is all the more puzzling: wouldn’t he fight to keep his job?
The answer is that by remaining quiet, Severin hopes to preserve his gig, hoping the negotiations will succeed behind the scenes.
But there’s one serious side effect: with each passing day, listeners forget a bit more and are introduced to any number of potential replacements.
Clearly, WTKK owner Greater Media has introduced a scare tactic or two into the mix, one being the potential addition of syndicated wishy-washy Philly weirdo Michael Smerconish. He may not be very good, but can be added without cost, while Jay’s return will require big money, even with a substantial pay cut.
On WGBH’s Beat The Press, panelists spent a portion of yesterday’s show discussing his fate. While it’s always humorous to get the establishment elitist’s perspective on commercial talk radio (calling Obama a “socialist” is apparently seen as extreme, for example, even as he effectively nationalizes auto manufacturers and banks), they did have a few interesting points.
Host Emily Rooney said she believed there were serious negotiations for his return underway, with a string of potential conditions attached, including a possible change in compensation, an end to home broadcasts, managerial oversight of his content and the kitchen sink thrown in for good measure.
Clearly, Greater Media is dropping hints as to its next move, but has picked a strange venue to do this.
In other words, a host who is generally boring except for occasional spurts of inflammatory language would be neutered. Welcome to the Jay Severin snoozefest! How will that fare under the people meter?
During the segment, one particularly interesting tidbit was the bizarre idea that Severin’s insults and slurs had actually chased away WTKK listeners, leading to the listenership drop. The introduction of electronic ratings has hurt the station badly across the board.
As its overall lineup, marketing and imaging remain a muddled mess, Jay talking about Mexicans and condos is NOT a factor. If this isn’t clear to every manager inside the company, it’s time for heads to roll.
But WGBH panelist Dan Kennedy’s point is correct: despite hosting a local show, Severin has mostly avoided local issues.
At the end of the day, Severin just isn’t all that entertaining, while WTKK absolutely doesn’t have a Plan B. Returning him at perhaps one-third of his current salary or less is probably an agreeable compromise.
And all of this has worked to confuse the real issue: Greater Media probably can’t afford his salary and may not want to say so for reasons related to Jay’s contract language.