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WPRO Advertises DePetro’s Time Slot with 50% Pay Cut (UPDATED)

Thursday, January 05, 2017


WPRO AM, one of the last local and live talk radio stations in the U.S., is now advertising John DePetro’s time slot at a salary of less than 50 percent of what DePetro made.

DePetro, the controversial talk show host that had sparked a boycott of the station, served as a national surrogate for President-Elect Donald Trump, and was a ratings hit, resigned from the station on Christmas Eve.

Job Posted

According to an advertisement placed by WPRO’s parent company on the job board indeed.com, the company states, “Providence location is offering a great opportunity for a Mid-Day (9a-12p) Talk Show Host for Heritage WPRO-AM. Our ideal candidate possesses an extremely good work ethic, is a self-starter, and highly organized, with the ability to work in a fast-paced office environment.”

The position is advertised for $44,000 to $49,000 a year (according to the post - see below). GoLocal has learned that DePetro made a base salary in the range of $100,000 annually as well as significant revenue from live reads/advertiser’s endorsement.

For an AM talk radio station, the loss of DePetro and former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci in the same year is a massive hit to ratings, revenue, and relevance for the station.

Both DePetro and the late Cianci were media brands in the Providence market. Cianci died in January and since then the ratings for the 3 pm to 6 pm time slot have plummeted.

In most markets around the country, locally hosted political talk radio has been cut and often replaced with syndicated talk radio such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity that both appear on another AM radio station WHJJ.

Avoiding Bankruptcy

For Cumulus, the past 18 months have been a constant effort to avoid being delisted and staving off bankruptcy.

In the fall, the company forced an eight-for-one stock swap to push the $0.30 stock over a dollar. The repricing set the stock price at $2.40 a share, but almost immediately after the repricing the stock dropped and has hovered at the $1 a share mark. The company has pushed those holding debt to swap for equity. And, according to Reuters, Cumulus filed suit in mid-December against JP Morgan regarding an effort by the company "to proceed with a refinancing that it says would deleverage the company by up to $305 million."

Cumulus for the past two years has been on a major cost-cutting and restructuring effort to keep the company solvent.

The Rhode Island cluster (of which WPRO AM is a member of is profitable), according to local management. But, it is also well understood that WPRO AM has lost a significant number of critical advertisers with Cianci's death and is expecting more with DePetro's absence.


Related Slideshow: Infamous Talk Radio Controversies

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Arbitron Ratings Scandal

In 2008, radio host John DePetro found himself in the midst of a ratings controversy.  The Boston Herald reported,

The briefly stellar ratings of controversy-dogged-talkmeister John DePetro’s Providence radio show tanked yesterday after a whiff of scandal forced Arbitron to reissue its spring survey of listener-dial habits.

In the 6 to 10 a.m. weekday slot occupied by the self-proclaimed “Independent Man” on WPRO-AM (630), “the reissue ranked WPRO at number nine” among valued 25- to 54-year-old listeners, “down from the number four rank in the original release,” program manager Paul Giammarco and station market manager Barbara Haynes announced in a joint statement.

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Candidate Name-Calling

DePetro was fired from Boston radio station WRKO in 2006 for calling then-gubernatorial Rainbow Party candidate Grace Ross a "fat lesbian." 

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Office Scuffle

The Providence Journal's Mike Stanton reported on an altercation in 2009 between DePetro and radio host Ron St. Pierre.

DePetro said he was hit -- and scratched -- in the eye with a balled up paper with a staple thrown at him by St. Pierre.  

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Buddy's Return - to Radio


After five years in prison for racketeering conspiracy from 2002 to 2007, former Mayor of Providence Buddy Cianci returned to the public eye with a radio show on WPRO.  

While controversial, Cianci's continued popularity has people wondering if Buddy might just make another run for Mayor in 2014.  

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Chafee's Talk Radio Ban

Upon taking office in 2011, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee announced that he would not appear on talk radio shows and barred state employees in agencies and departments that report to him from doing the same during work hours.  

Governor Chafee is among the elected officials who have signed the "For Our Daughters" pledge.  

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Dennis and Callahan

WEEI sports radio hosts John Dennis and Gerry Callahan were suspended in 2003 when they referred to an escaped gorilla as a "Metco gorilla" waiting for a bus to Lexington -- with Metco being bus program that buses inner-city students to suburban schools.

Boston's http://www.wcvb.com/Radio-Station-Gorilla-Remarks-Spur-Advertiser-Concerns/-/9849586/11281756/-/5lg3o9z/-/index.html#ixzz2nbPAwzd2" target="_blank">WCVB reported that advertisers Dunkin' Donuts and Blue Cross pulled back station support in light of the incident.  

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Severin Suspended

WTKK's Jay Severin was fired for making comments about sleeping with female employees over the years.  

Radio Ink reported on Greater Media's reaction to the incident.  

"Greater Media today ended its relationship with Jay Severin. Our company has always encouraged a free and open dialogue on a variety of issues and topics, and we will continue to be guided by that principle. But we also demand that our on-air talent maintain an appropriate level of civility, and adhere to a standard that respects our listeners and the public at large.

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Imus' Racial Remarks

in 2007, nationally syndicated talk show host Don Imus called Rutgers women's basketball players "nappy-headed hos."  Imus was suspended -- then fired -- by CBS Radio.  

Five years later, Imus was back on the national radio circuit, as reported by New Jersey.com

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Rush Limbaugh

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh is no stranger to controversy; his latest remarks prompted the Democratic National Committee to call on Republican leaders to boycott the Daily Caller, which defended Limbaugh's remarks in an article entitled, "Liberals want to stop men from checking out women." 


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