Bernie Miklasz, the longtime influential sports columnist for the Post-Dispatch who moved full time to sports-talk radio five years ago, has been taken off the air.
He was one of 20 employees in Hubbard Radio’s St. Louis operation to be dismissed Friday, it was announced on WXOS’ “The Fast Lane” show. That group includes Dan Bettlach, a producer at the station. According to allaccess.com, a trade website, Bud Ford and Jerry Broadway of WIL also were among those dropped.
In addition to WXOS (101.1 FM) and WIL (92.3 FM), Hubbard’s other local stations are KSHE (94.7 FM), KPNT (105.7 FM) and WARH (106.5 FM). Hubbard officials could not be reached for comment, but the moves were attributed on the air to the coronavirus crisis that has led to steep revenue declines for many businesses — including media outlets.
“We are as victimized as much as anybody by the pandemic,” Randy Karraker, co-host of “The Fast Lane,” said Friday on that program. “. . . This is a product of the economy being shut down.”
He also paid tribute to Miklasz.
“He legitimized 101” when he arrived, Karraker said.
Karraker has perspective. He was on the air the first day 101.1 broadcast in the sports-talk format, nearly 11½ years ago, and is the station’s only remaining original sportscaster.
Miklasz said he was not ready to comment beyond saying he has a positive attitude and is keeping things in perspective.
“I’ve been blessed to have an extensive sports-media career and the opportunity to do the work I love,” he said.
Miklasz spent 26 years as a sports columnist for the Post-Dispatch while also often moonlighting as a sports-talk radio host for numerous stations, including 101.1 FM. In the process he became the most well-connected member of the St. Louis sports media.
In 2015 he decided to stop serving two masters and took a lucrative radio offer that included writing online commentary. He then received a five-year extension a little over two years ago, but now figures to be dealing with a severance package instead of planning for new shows.
His departure from the Post-Dispatch led to the newspaper’s hiring of Ben Frederickson and Benjamin Hochman as sports columnists, and now Miklasz's exit from WXOS creates major weekday lineup shuffling there that takes effect Monday.
• Karraker is set to move from afternoon drive-time to the 7-10 a.m. weekday spot that Mikasz filled. Karraker will work with Michelle Smallmon, who has been in that slot.
• Anthony Stalter, who has been a member of the midday team, is to take Karraker’s place on the 2-6 p.m. program. He’ll join holdovers Brad Thompson and Chris Rongey.
• Cardinals television play-by-play announcer Dan McLaughlin, who has been a contributor for 101.1 FM, will become a host. He'll help fill the midday vacancy by being on from 10-11 a.m., and said he “absolutely” will have enough time to keep doing that show after baseball returns from its coronavirus-fueled shutdown.
• Jamie Rivers, who had been working with Stalter, now will team with Brandon Kiley from 11 o’clock-2 p.m. Kiley primarily had been working behind the scenes.
The ouster of Miklasz is one of a series of recent dismissals of prominent 101.1 employees. Kevin Wheeler, who had been in the midday slot, was fired late last summer. Then program director Chris “Hoss” Neupert was let go in December.
Now Miklasz is the first high-profile sports casualty in St. Louis since the coronavirus hit, and Hubbard Radio’s dismissals were not limited to St. Louis. It has stations in eight other regions of the country and there reportedly were many cuts nationwide. Several employees at KSTP, a sports station/website in Minneapolis-St. Paul known as “SKOR North,” were among those let go.
“These last 60 days have been really hard on sports media,” Phil Mackey, KSTP’s content director and a show host wrote on that station’s website. “. . . And a recovery isn’t as simple as flipping a switch. It’s unbelievably frustrating. And great people — here and elsewhere — are now in search of work because of it.”
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