The man who re-invented himself as a radio talk show host, after a career hosting rock jocks from WXRT-FM at his hot dog stand, is now out at WSCR-AM 670 after being the signature voice during the entire 16 years of the station’s existence.
His current contract paid him $1.5M per year for 5 years, and the offer on the table, which was yanked on Tuesday, was around $700-800K. That is a pretty transparent message from management that they’d like you to go away, or take a huge cut. Totally up to you! But since nobody ever takes a huge pay cut when other jobs await them at salaries more to their liking, especially in the radio world, the real message there, understood by all, is “we’re just not that into you”.
So for better or worse, North is gone now, and the image of the station is changed forever, by just a tiny bit.
I listen to the station sometimes, and could appreciate North’s “man on the street” style for what it was. I always tend to value letting people say pretty much whatever they think over the public airwaves, all else being equal, because if there is anything we do not need, it is more political correctness and fear of offending the easily-offended. I’m not sure if this unpolished manner was a factor or not. I doubt it, because in radio, like TV, you can explain every executive decision with one word: ratings. North’s ratings were OK, finishing 8th among men 25-54 in the latest period. But for $1.5M, management wanted more, I expect.
UPDATE 06.28.08: I forgot to mention one thing: Mike North gets lots of criticism for being a little too forward with his opinions, but it is this same uninhibited style that also allows him to be a very good interviewer of the same people that sports journalists are afraid to ask the tough questions. It’s one of his strengths, and as listeners, we should be indebted to him for it. Very few journalists are willing to risk losing easy access to players, coaches, GMs, etc., by asking tough questions of them.