A Change of Tune at WAGE Radio?
Thursday, May 3, 2007
The general manager, news director and afternoon host at WAGE-AM (1200) were fired last week, in a shake-up that caused some longtime listeners to worry that Loudoun County's only radio station might be moving away from local programming.
Paul Draisey, host of "The Drive Home" program, said station officials told him Friday that he was being taken off the air as part of a restructuring by Potomac Radio, a Rockville-based company that owns WAGE and other East Coast stations.
"They just said they were making some operational changes and 'sorry and we appreciate what you've done,' " said Draisey, who began working at WAGE in 1971 when he was a freshman at Loudoun Valley High School. He said he was not given further details.
Draisey said that General Manager Dave Scarangella and News Director Tom Jon also were fired and that Ron Kitzmiller, host of "Good Morning Loudoun," left voluntarily.
In a brief interview Tuesday, Brian Edwards, the station's new director of operations, confirmed the personnel moves but said that WAGE was not planning significant changes in format and would continue to provide local news and sports coverage. He also said programming at WAGE would remain English-only, unlike the multicultural format at Potomac Radio's other D.C. area station, WUST-AM in Falls Church, which offers programs in Chinese, Spanish and Amharic, among other languages.
Edwards said a reporter should contact Potomac Radio Vice President Alan Pendleton for more information. Pendleton did not return calls.
According to a news release that WAGE issued Tuesday, Pendleton has replaced Scarangella as general manager.
The release said the station had added the "The Wall Street Journal This Morning" during morning drive time, a show that features Journal reporters and editors. "Further enhancements to the station's program schedule will be added in the next few weeks," the release said.
The changes come less than two years after the Rockville company bought WAGE from Granville T. "Gerry" Emmet, a New Yorker who purchased the station in 1979.
WAGE went on the air in 1958 and was described by William Stubblefield, one of its early owners, as "middle of the road in music -- no hick stuff, no rock and roll, nothing longhair."
It became a classical music station in the 1960s and '70s but carried many local features, such as farm reports, Sunday church services and broadcasts from local fairs.
The station eventually switched to a 24-hour news, talk and sports format. In recent years, it has featured nationally syndicated programs -- such as "The Dennis Miller Show" and Fox sports talk -- and such local programming as broadcasts of high school football games and a Saturday morning rock-and-roll show.