Sunday May 6, 2012

Local radio broadcaster Bill Sturgeon will no longer host his "Mid-Day Live" talk show on WBRK (1340 AM).

Sturgeon, in a Facebook post Friday evening, stated that negotiations between him and the station "broke down" Friday morning, and that WBRK -- through the law offices of Martin, Oliveira and Hamel -- notified him that it was ending its relationship with him.

"We were in talks for various things for the show and we thought we had come to a conclusion Wednesday with attorney John Martin, Jr.," Sturgeon told The Eagle on Saturday, "but it seemed to come unraveled on Friday."

Sturgeon said his departure from WBRK had nothing to do with money but was about a disagreement with management over "a new type of format" he had proposed that did not involve a live program with call-ins from listeners.

"There was some nervousness about a variety of things," said Sturgeon. "I thought it was a done deal but I'm pretty naive about this business."

Sturgeon described the call-in format as "difficult" in a smaller city like Pittsfield because of repeat callers with agendas. "I thought I had done a pretty good job of weeding those people out," he said. "But all it takes is one or two phone calls [to management]."

"My heart and soul is here but you make internal and external enemies," said Sturgeon of his experience in local talk radio. "It's like walking in a minefield with earmuffs and blinders on."

He indicated his next career move would involve new media technology such as webcasts, podcasts or Skype.


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According to WBRK Pres ident and Chief Oper ating Officer Willard "Chip" Hod g kins, "after the meeting with our attorney, Sturgeon sent us some of his demands and we found them not to be in the cards. So we decided to end the relationship."

"Mid-Day Live" had been a three-hour, five-day-per-week call-in program until scaling back to two hours (10 a.m.-noon) from Monday to Thursday in recent weeks.

"I want to wish Bill and his family well," Hodgkins added.

Asked about future plans for talk programming on WBRK-AM, Hodgkins told The Eagle that "we have some good surprises for our listeners coming up. Our unrivaled commitment to local information and programming will continue."

Currently, WBRK has a variety of local one-hour mid-morning talk shows airing immediately after veteran host Rick Beltaire's wakeup music and information program. The station also features Donna Todd Rivers in the noon hour Tuesday through Thursday, and Noel Discoe's "Man Cave" show on Mondays and Fridays from 12 to 1.

"We plan to increase local programming," said Hodgkins.

To contact Clarence Fanto:
cfanto@berkshireeagle.com
or (413) 496-6247.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto