Amid swirling rumors over the cause of their departure, popular WWNC talk radio host Matt Mittan and producer Agnes Cheek are no longer working at Clear Channel Asheville.
A short statement posted on the news radio station’s website reads: “Matt Mittan made the decision to leave WWNC. We wish him well. Our listeners are our top priority, and WWNC will continue to serve our local community to the best of our ability. Sean Hannity will air from 3-6p until a new host is named.”
Asked for more information regarding the departures, WWNC Programming Director Brian Hall declined to give further details, reiterating to Xpress that Mittan chose to leave the show and wasn’t laid off.
“As a policy, we can’t comment on internal staffing matters,” he wrote in an email. “Matt made the decision to seek other opportunities and we wish him well; our listeners are our top priority, and WWNC will continue to serve Asheville and the entire Western North Carolina community to the best of our ability, as we have always done for the past 84 years.”
Mittan has thus far kept relatively quiet on the matter, posting several vague dispatches on his Facebook page in response to an outpouring of support and speculation from his Facebook friends. On Oct. 27, he changed his employer information to read: “Currently Unemployed • Person of maintained integrity · Oct 2011 to present · Asheville, North Carolina, Figuring out what to do next…” Later, he posted a YouTube video of John Lennon covering “Stand by Me.” In an Oct. 28 post, he urged supporters not to take their frustration out on the show’s advertisers, writing:
“I’ve noticed a lot of people are targeting advertisers with their frustration. Please … the advertisers and sponsors have been wonderful partners and supporters to me. If fact, I still stand by EVERY endorsement I had. I did those ads BECAUSE I believed in their products and service, not because it made me money. Want to help? DO business WITH them and let them know why. Love breeds love. :)”
At this writing, Mittan declined an Xpress request for further comment. He first hosted “Take A Stand” in 2004.
Meanwhile, Cheek, who started producing the show six years ago, reported Oct. 27 via a pair of dispatches from her Twitter account (She also declined a request from Xpress for further comment):
I’ve been seeing all the media coverage around town, and for the record I didn’t resign, I was met at the door and escorted out.
There is even more to it than that. I’m sure that Matt Mittan will have more to say on it soon. #integrity #truth @MattMittanShow
The changes at the local affiliate come as Clear Channel Communications, the largest radio station operator in the United States, dismissed D.J.‘s across the country, “raising fresh concerns about the homogenization of radio programming,” according to the New York Times.
“Clear Channel Radio, which operates about 850 stations in the U.S. and employs 12,000 people, declined to say how many employees were dismissed, but some of the D.J.’s said they believed that the number was in the hundreds,” the Times reports in an Oct. 27 article. “The company said the layoffs were not to cut costs, but were part of a reorganization of its roughly 600 regional radio stations. (Its 250 other stations are in large markets like New York and Los Angeles.)”