Last week local talk radio jock, Bob Lonsberry, was fired from his morning gig. According to the radio station, the reason for the firing was ratings. Bob’s show had fallen from the Top 10 to 29 out of 32 stations. Unable to keep his mouth shut, Lonsberry posted a 1,300 word rant on his website detailing the firing and planted the seeds for a conspiracy theory that Mike Lee, a GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate was really behind his dismissal.
Of course, being suspicious is my stock-in-trade, and the timing of my termination and the stand I’ve been taking on the looming senatorial primary and the fact I’ve been opposing a candidate [Mike Lee] who made $600,000 from one of our largest advertisers last year, does make me wonder. Strings get pulled in the real world, and politics is hardball, and our program’s effort helped tip the nominating convention, so it’s not impossible that I lost my job in Salt Lake so that somebody else [Mike Lee] could get a job in Washington.
As a talk, sports, and news radio connoisseur and having had a short-lived run in radio business, the one thing I do know about the medium is that it’s like any other business: it’s all about making the station money. You can put on an entertaining show every day but if no one’s listening, then your show gets pulled. It’s as simple as that. As long as you’re the station’s making a profit, they’ll keep you on the air forever no matter how many politicians you piss off.
Years ago I listened to Lonsberry’s program on my way to work but stopped after he spent a good portion of my drive to work talking about inane subjects with his son, Lee, and the traffic reporter, Paige Bradford. It was like listening in on a phone conversation between friends catching up on each other’s lives. It wasn’t even close to entertaining radio. It was boring. Apparently a lot of other people felt the same way.
Sadly, Lonsberry’s conspiracy has found legs. The (Provo) Daily Herald reports that Tim Bridgewater supporters are jumping on the conspiracy theory bandwagon that ratings had nothing to do with Lonsberry’s dismissal. Lonsberry is now sending out robo calls on behalf of the Bridgewater campaing furthing the conspiracy talk. I received one on Friday. Like all conspiracy theories, however, not a shred of proof is offered to back this up. Instead a few events are strung together on the hopes, fears, and emotions of their audience.
If Lonsberry really wants to get back into radio, he needs to shut up and take a lesson from Armando Galarraga about how to handle setbacks with class. You lick your wounds, move on, and live to fight another day. Instead of weaving intricate conspiracy theories to assuage his bruised ego, Lonseberry would be better off to figuring out his next career move. Ten years is a long time to be in the radio business—especially on one station. If his show was as popular as he claimed, other radio stations might come calling. However, the more he rants about his conspiracy theory, the less attractive he becomes as a radio personality and a human being.