Talk radio host Jay Severin has been fired after saying on-air not only that he had slept with his interns, but that they were lucky to bed him. However, his firing may ultimately have been about ratings.
According to Mark Shanahan of Boston.com's Names Blog, Severin recently responded on his WTKK-FM show to the lawsuits against Dov Charney. He called Charney's accusers "whores and liars" who should be jailed, before revealing that years before, he himself had slept with female interns. He explained,
Those girls that got to sleep with me got to know their boss better, they got to go on trips, they got to travel in some cases to various parts of the world, to see things and meet people that they never would have seen or done.
Also: "I don't think of myself as a monster or strange in any way because of that. All I was was a young man who was the boss and I did it because I could." See, Charney's employees should be grateful to have sex with him! And boning the staff is a totally normal thing that dudes do because they can (translation: if you, listener, were a CEO, you'd do it too). Soon after treating fans to these sensitive and well-reasoned opinions, Severin was let go by WTKK parent company Greater Media. They released a statement today reading, in part,
Jay Severin has been an important part of what we have accomplished with 96.9 WTKK-FM since its inception in 2000 and for that we are grateful and wish him well in future endeavors. Unfortunately, it had become clear at several points in the past two years that Jay was either unwilling or unable to maintain our standards on the air. It's for that reason we have made the decision to end our relationship.
Seems like a satisfying case of a douchebag getting his just deserts. Except that, according to Names Blog, he may really have been fired for unimpressive ratings. Michael Harrison of Talkers magazine tells Shanahan,
I'd guess it was a business decision. If you have a controversial host, you have to put up with a lot of heat from special-interest groups and, sometimes, the FCC. If the host is worth it, you keep him or suspend him. But when the heat outweighs the benefits, you get rid of him, and I'd say that's what happened in this case.
So basically, as long as Severin kept bringing in listeners (and thereby ad dollars), he could say whatever he wanted about his interns. But as soon as his numbers dropped, he had to behave. On one level, this is pretty upsetting — on another, it underscores the power of the boycott. Up to a point, being horrible may boost ratings — but if enough people are too disgusted to tune in, even the most amoral corporations will take notice.
Jay Severin Fired By WTKK-FM [Boston.com]
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