It has been nearly a week since the midnight massacre occurred at WGNU after Jack Clark’s allegations that former Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols used steroids.
And the timing of the dismissal of Clark and co-host Kevin Slaten — which came only about two hours after Pujols threatened to sue — has led many observers to believe it was a knee-jerk reaction by Tim McKernan, who runs the company that put them on the air, to try to appease Pujols’ camp by acting swiftly to remove those who were on the air at the time of the comments. After all, they remained on the air for five more shows after Clark’s first remark, and were on for four more days after he amplified on the matter.
Last Friday, Clark and co-host Kevin Slaten were called in to meet with Burt Kaufman, who runs WGNU, along with McKernan.
McKernan’s insideSTL Enterprises company buys weekday airtime here and broadcasts sports shows. Clark said he was told management was planning to use the weekend to contemplate how to handle the situation. But the decision came much quicker. Pujols issued his statement threatening legal action at about 10 p.m. Friday. Two hours later, the ax swung.
McKernan on Thursday said he still could not comment, and Kaufman had not responded to multiple requests to discuss the situation. But sources said Kaufman, who only nine days earlier had turned over the station on weekdays to McKernan’s operation, is in his 80s, isn’t looking for trouble and pushed McKernan to dump both. And something McKernan said shortly before insideSTL began controlling WGNU’s weekday programming seems pertinent now.
“It’s not like me coming in and taking over,’’ he said last month. “(Kaufman) made it clear, this is his license. What Burt says is what goes.’’
Slaten has said he will sue over his termination, and Clark has retained attorney Chet Pleban to handle his potential legal issues in the matter.
Pleban was asked recently by KTRS (550 AM) host McGraw Milhaven why it took Clark 13 years to make his steroids allegations about Pujols and Pleban hinted at a possible cover-up from a former employer of Clark, who worked for Fox Sports Midwest on its pregame and postgame Cards coverage in 2009 and 2010.
“When he was doing some commentary for the Cardinals — I think that we’ll find out later on — that there were certain things he was prohibited from talking about,’’ Pleban told Milhaven. “And there were certain things he was prohibited from doing.’’
Milhaven asked if it was the team or FSM that might have prohibited Pujols from “saying things.’’
“I’m not going to say that right at the moment, but I think it’s an issue that needs to be explored,’’ Pleban said. “I think a lot of this stuff is going to play out if Albert Pujols decides to litigate. A lot of things will play out, a lot of questions will have to be answered.’’