Geraldo Rivera, the longtime broadcaster whose face is seen these days on the Fox News Channel, has just lost his talk-radio show at New York City broadcasting giant WABC.
Rivera made the news public on Facebook, where he said officials at Cumulus Media “do not intend to honor the handshake deal I made with the ousted company chief John Dickey, an agreement to extend my current contract for a year.”
“The decision to renege on our deal on the eve of Thanksgiving is especially upsetting coming in the wake of my emotionally charged and highly rated coverage of the Paris massacre and frantic efforts by authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Rivera continued.
“Last year, ‘The Village Voice’ named me the ‘2014 Best AM Radio Host in NYC,’ writing in part, ‘Geraldo Rivera actually has something to say. The guy understands the issues of the day and has enough confidence in his opinions to call bullsh-t on blowhards,’ which I’m doing here.”
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Chad Lopez, the market manager for Cumulus told Radio Ink, “We offered Geraldo a new renewal commensurate with the value of his show, which he regretfully chose not to accept. We wish him the best.”
After Rivera’s initial announcement Nov. 25, the 72-year-old journalist, whose birth name is Gerald Michael Rivera, commented again about the loss of his radio gig, as he tied it into his coverage of the climate-change summit in Paris.
“I’ll be reporting on the progress of the conference during this week from Paris and elsewhere this week beginning on #FoxFriends this morning at 7 AM ET,” wrote Rivera. “Unfortunately, my longtime #WABCradio audience will not be able to hear my reports since the new management has locked me out of my show. My conflict will be easily resolved via the courts. Resolving climate change will be a [bit] more difficult.”
He also published an in-depth commentary about his removal from the radio airwaves, in a post he titled, “This is the End (Chapter One):
Radio has always appealed to me as an intimate way to speak with an audience that on television is usually far removed and anonymous. In the four years since I joined 77 WABC radio in my hometown of New York I have enjoyed uneven success, but managed to establish an open-mined core following which was cosmopolitan enough to listen to more than just reinforcement of established right-wing ideology that characterizes most of AM radio and has since Rush Limbaugh 27 years ago made the medium the conservative antidote to main stream i.e. left-wing liberal mass media.
In the last two years, my employer Cumulus Media, the owners of WABC and the second largest radio conglomerate in the country suffered both organic and self-inflicted financial distress as evolving technologies and overly aggressive expansion drove the stock price from a high this year of over $4.50 to its current penny stock status.
As the company tanked, the men who employed me, the honorable brothers John and Lew Dickey ultimately found themselves in financial peril, over-extended and prey to hedge funders who gobbled up enough clout to oust them as managers and install someone who had no experience in broadcasting but who apparently impressed those adventurous investors.
I’ll speak more about the shortcomings of the new Cumulus management as this bitter saga wears on, but trust me they have already cost their stock holders hundreds of thousands in lost ad revenue tied to my show.
In locking me out of my studio as of last Friday even though my contract does not expire until December 31st and in refusing to honor the 2016 deal negotiated by the ousted Dickeys, they have breached my contract.
That slight will not go unanswered.
Trust me on this it is not about the money. I have enough and give away to various charities more than most. But because of their unforgivable disrespect I will fight them and they will end up costing their battered company far more in damages than they expect to save in my salary.
“Not red, not blue, but red, white and blue,” my show at 10AM ET on 77 WABC has provided a forum for views that varied from right to left and in between. It has been the favored show of the NYPD and the other uniformed metro area services, active duty and retired.
For me, the pity is this misguided management has deprived my loyal New York audience a program that they have followed and engaged with during a turbulent time of crucial interest, Paris, Planned Parenthood, Ferguson, the cops killed, ISIS, the presidential races, etc.
Don’t get more wrong. Many of my colleagues at the station are talented and experienced broadcasters, like Curtis and Kuby and especially my skilled, long-time sidekick and blood brother Noam Laden. Don Imus is a hoot that I’ve known and loved for over four decades. But his irreverent comedy aside, with the elections less than a year away I believe our New York audience deserves to hear more than strident support for the usual suspects. To be continued.
Rivera’s opinion about his ouster has been met with a variety of colorful reactions, including one from David Spiel on Facebook, who told Rivera, “Should have more wine with your whine … NO WAIT! Please don’t drink, we don’t need more shirtless selfies of you on the Internet.”
That remark was in reference to a provocative photo of the broadcaster that Rivera himself posted on Twitter.
Other online commenters seem to have little sympathy for Geraldo:
- “Oh cry me a river! You’re the FIRST person EVER to lose a radio job. We’re all in shock! A new company management team decided on a different direction, and you aren’t part of it. Why that’s the first time that has EVER happened to anybody in the history of radio. Put on your big girl panties, and go sign another affiliate.”
- “15 years in radio and I never saw a successful transition from film or TV to radio. I have, however, seen several successful examples of transitions the other way, from radio into other media. [Geraldo] got fired from radio because he lacked radio talent. The industry cannot support the below average of the industry today.”
- “Your bitterness and desire to punish is below you. Take the high ground and move on. There are plenty of liberal radio stations and almost all main stream media is liberal. There is a place for you out there. [George] Soros owns plenty of left media. Ask him.”
- “Using Paris as a bargaining tool is about as classy as exploiting your daughters terror fears on national television. Pathetic.”
- “Perhaps Fox News could follow suit and dump his overbearing, condescending, narcissistic butt. He brings nothing to the table except his ego and when disagreed with threatens physical retaliation. Could his career, such as it’s been, be over now? Please?”
Follow Joe Kovacs on Twitter @JoeKovacsNews