He's baaaccck: WINA rehires Schilling
"The last thing I told you was that I trust the market," says Schilling. "I believe the market has spoken."
Struggling Saga Communications, the owner of the Charlottesville Radio Group, which includes WINA, 3WV, WQMZ Lite Rock 95, 106.1 the Corner and WVAX Progressive Talk, fired two staffers around Christmas along with Schilling– the Corner's Tad Abbey and WINA's John Peterson.
Schilling will be back on the WINA airwaves starting next Monday, January 26. "This is the last thing people expected," says Schilling. "This never happens."
Outraged Schilling fans set up a Bring Rob Schilling Back blog and bombarded Saga and WINA with calls and emails detailing their displeasure. Albemarle Truth in Taxation Alliance, which has an email distribution of 1,000 addresses, published a list of WINA advertisers and urged its members to contact them.
"I emailed, I called, I even went over there and sat face-to-face with [Charlottesville Radio Group operations manager] Rick Daniels," says listener Linda McCraven. "Rick was very positive. He said the decision was not made in their local office." Daniels had not returned phone calls from the Hook at press time.
Many Schilling listeners extolled his conservative viewpoint in liberal-leaning Charlottesville. "He really does give a dialogue that's really needed," says Pat Napoleon, who describes herself as an independent. "Things in Charlottesvile can be one-sided. I'm not saying I agree with Schilling every time, but he brought some real thought to the issues. He's intelligent."
Beleaguered Saga issued a reverse stock split December 30. Its stock price was $1.54 at the time of this post, down from its 52-week high of $6.60. Saga has 61 FM and 31 AM stations in 26 markets. In his 2007 letter, chairman/CEO/president Edward K. Christian wrote that the company was having trouble in the major markets, "while our smaller markets continue to perform very well." That didn't stop the Charlottesville stations from getting hit with layoffs.
Schilling found out he has a radio job again January 19 and goes back on the air Monday, January 26, weekdays from noon to 2pm– one hour longer than before. "We always ran out of time in an hour," says Schilling, welcoming the longer slot.
McCraven has just one problem with Schilling's new time: He's up against another of her favorite talkmeisters, Rush Limbaugh. Her plan is to switch around, depending on what is being talked about. "That's what the dial is for," she says. "I get to choose between two things I want to listen to."
Schilling credits Saga and WINA management for heeding the outpouring of support he got from listeners and advertisers. And he's already got an idea about the topic of his first show: "The time I was off and how it feels to be among the unemployed."
Update 3pm: WQMZ's call letters have been corrected.
Updated January 22: Omitted WVAX Progressive Talk is added to the Charlottesville Radio Group stable.