Prominent host Kevin Wheeler was fired three months ago by St. Louis’ only full-time sports-talk radio station, WXOS (101.1 FM). This week the guillotine there fell behind the scenes.
Chris “Hoss” Neupert, who had been with the station since shortly after it adopted the sports format nearly 11 years ago and had been its program director since March 2013, was dismissed. Sources said Austin Huff, who had been the executive producer of the midday show with Anthony Stalter and Jamie Rivers, also was ousted.
Neupert declined comment, and station management could not be reached Thursday.
Randy Karraker, the only WXOS host who has been on the air since it began talking sports in January 2009, spoke highly of a man he once mentored and who later became his boss.
“I’ve known him since he was a teenager and I was broadcasting high school football,” Karraker said. “We’ve had a great relationship for a long time. I talked to him (after the firing) and he knows it’s part of the business, the industry we’re in.”
Still, it is a tough time of the year for a fellow with a family that includes three children to be out of work.
“It’s a shame. That guy was the ultimate company man,” said one prominent local sportscaster who works elsewhere. “A good guy.”
Another called it “stunning.”
The move evidently is a cost-cutting measure. Numerous sources said Tommy Mattern, who is the operations manager for the five stations that WXOS parent company Hubbard Radio St. Louis owns, will add Neupert’s duties to his schedule. That’s in addition to him overseeing WIL-FM (92.3 FM), KSHE (94.7 FM), KPNT (105.7 FM) and WARH (106.5 FM), and seems like a huge plate to fill.
Before going to 101.1, Neupert was the program director at sports-talk KFNS (590 AM), and also the executive producer of the Rams’ radio network. Those broadcasts began airing on 101.1 in 2009 and remained on the station until the team left town after the 2015 season.
Neupert also began at 101.1 in 2009, as assistant program director, and became program director in March 2013 after Kent Sterling left. He had finished second to Sterling when the job became open two years earlier.
“I’m very happy for ‘Hoss.’ It was truly very, very close last time,” John Kijowski said when Neupert was promoted. Kijowski at that time was the station’s general manager and now is Hubbard’s St. Louis market manager. “He’s very deserving. I didn’t even consider talking to everyone else about it when I found out Kent was leaving. He knows all the on-air personnel well, he knows all the producers, reporters and he knows the market. And he knows the Rams’ situation inside and out.’’
But now, like the Rams, he is gone from the station.
Karraker said Neupert was instrumental in helping the program he is on, now from 2-6 p.m. weekdays, become a success.
“I always found him to be great. He grew up in St. Louis and knows St. Louis,” Karraker said. “We were No. 1 in the (ratings) books with ‘The Fast Lane’ show many times while he was here. I’m very appreciative. And he’ll do well in the future.”