DALLAS — Maybe it’s a bad year for bloviators. First Rush Limbaugh steps in it, and now Dallas’s own conservative talk-radio host Mark Davis has lost his radio forum.
Davis, a sometime pinch-hitter for Rush, went off the air last week in Dallas, after 18 years with radio station WBAP.
The departure came as a surprise to Davis fans, who can still read his regular op-ed pieces in the Dallas Morning News and see him from time to time on Fox News. But do not go looking at WBAP’s Web site for any sign of the pundit.
“Where am I?’’ Davis asked on his blog as word spread about his departure.
“My contract with WBAP’s new owners, Cumulus, ended last week and we have been unable to reach an agreement on a renewal,” Davis tweeted.
That was enough to set off alarms at Redstate.com, which called for readers to “stand up for a friend’’ and sign petitions to pressure the radio station to continue Davis’s show, saying: “Through it all, he has been a faithful friend to conservatives, effectively articulated what we stand for and championed the TEA Party movement from day 1.”
But Davis, who didn’t give interviews about the situation, played down the suggestion that he’d been overthrown by a liberal, mainstream media junta.
“Let me extinguish any thought that there is a political narrative to this. It is business, pure and simple. I know the company has said some things about political talk fatigue, and frankly, they may have a point in some ways,” Davis wrote in a second blog post., apparently referring to comments by John Dickey, Co-COO of Cumulus, which owns WBAP. Dickey made the remarks to Radio Ink.
The end of Davis’s run marks the second major shift in local talk radio in recent months. Dallas radio station KLIF just switched to morning and afternoon news after 30 years of talk radio, noted Fort Worth Star Telegram writer Bud Kennedy.
Kennedy cited Dickey’s own remarks as evidence that radio executives believe their audience has dwindled for the Rush Limbaugh model.
Dickey said: “I think people are fatigued. We can see that in ratings in these talk stations. You can look at Rush’s ratings, which have trended down, look at Hannity’s ratings, which are trending down. You can look at what’s become of Beck and his business and his model. People are tired.”
Without a hint of irony, Dickey said that former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s new talk show will draw younger, female and minority listeners.
Meanwhile, Mark Davis can still be provocative in print. Last week, he wrote, “I suppose before weighing in on the flash point that the Trayvon Martin shooting has become, I should observe that if I had a Hispanic mom, I might look like George Zimmerman’s brother.”
Davis went on to accuse President Obama of “playing a shamefully divisive card” when he said that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon.
By this morning, the Rev. Gerald Britt Jr., African American religious leader, took Davis to task, writing in his own op-ed that Davis “snidely derided as irrelevant President Barack Obama’s remark” and “reprehensively”' suggested that Martin had done nothing wrong “yet.”'
Lori Stahl is a Dallas-based journalist who writes about politics. Follow her on Twitter @LoriStahl.