WEAA radio host fired for remarks, political programming

October 24, 1990|By Michael A. FletcherThomas W. Waldron | Michael A. FletcherThomas W. Waldron,Evening Sun Staff

The host of a Morgan State University radio talk show has been fired for allegedly making comments "in poor taste" on the air and for inviting political candidates on the show without the knowledge of station management.

The firing may have repercussions in the 1991 city comptroller's race because the host, Lynnwood M. Taylor, recently agreed to manage the campaign of Councilman Joseph T. "Jody" Landers 3rd, D-3rd, who is running for city comptroller.

Taylor, who has hosted the "Two-Way Talk" show for three years, said he received a letter from station general manager Preston Blakely on Saturday telling him that he was fired.

The letter said that Taylor's weekly show the previous Wednesday had violated the Federal Communication Commission rules for political programming. The letter also said Taylor had made "various comments" that were "in poor taste."

Taylor said Blakely did not specify his objectionable comments or say how his show had violated political programming rules.

Taylor said he had used his show that Wednesday to criticize another candidate for comptroller, City Council Vice President Jacqueline F. McLean, D-2nd. Taylor said he disagreed with McLean's stance against extending city health benefits to the families of city employees called to active military duty in the Persian Gulf.

"I was extremely critical of that individual," said Taylor, who also is the reading clerk for the Baltimore City Council.

Taylor, a former Baltimore Urban League employee, said he plans to leave his council post in December, when Landers officially declares his candidacy for comptroller.

Taylor said that although Blakely didn't specify his criticism of McLean, he thought that might have triggered the firing.

"I suspect that one of the opposition complained to the station," Taylor said.

Blakely could not be reached for comment.

McLean said she knew nothing about Taylor's firing or his comments about her. "I didn't know he criticized me," she said. "I must not have listened to the show that night."

Landers, meanwhile, is distancing his campaign from Taylor's firing. "I don't see this as having a bearing on my campaign," he said. "But he should pursue this if he feels that he was not dealt with evenhandedly."

Taylor's firing also comes after Republican gubernatorial candidate William S. Shepard was abruptly forbidden from appearing on the radio station earlier this month.

A station official, however, said the Shepards could not come on the show, citing a newly issued memorandum from station management prohibiting political candidates from appearing as guests without prior approval.

"This was the first I heard about the policy," said Taylor, who was angry at the cancellation and said it caught him by surprise.

Blakely's letter of dismissal said Taylor was "unprofessional" for announcing on the air that the station management had decided not to allow the Shepards on his show.

Taylor said he planned to hold a news conference outside the station today to air the matter. "I'm a scapegoat," he said.

He added that despite his own political activity, he has been a fair talk-show host. "I've had every mover and shaker in the city on WEAA, whatever their leanings," he said.

Before working for Landers, Taylor has been active in several campaigns including those of City Council President Mary Pat Clarke, U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-7th, and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

And his new boss had nothing but praise for Taylor. "I think he has great credentials, good organizing skills and is task-oriented," Landers said.

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