WBGR-AM takes two employees off the air, offers no explanation

August 20, 1991|By Eric Siegel B

The regular morning and afternoon drive-time personalities of gospel radio station WBGR-AM (860) have been off the air since Friday, but the station is refusing to disclose the reasons for their absence.

Morning personality Naomi DuRant and afternoon announcer Calvin Hackett were taken off the air after their shifts last Thursday, but station vice president and general manager Alvin Augustus Jones would say only that their removal was a "personnel matter" and declined to say when, or if, they might return.

"At this point in time, it's best not to say anything about it," he said.

The slots of Ms. DuRant and Mr. Hackett have been filled by station employees Lee Michaels and Reggie Little, Mr. Jones said.

Ms. DuRant, who has been with the station nearly 10 years, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Mr. Hackett, who has been with WBGR for six years as an announcer and assistant program director, said he was not sure why he had been taken off the air but said he hoped to resume his shift this afternoon.

He acknowledged that the station was looking into the propriety of a $500 fee he is to be paid for emceeing a gospel concert Sept. 8 at the Fifth Regiment Armory but said he didn't know if that was the reason for his removal from the air.

The station wanted "to clarify" that the payment, half of which he has already received, was to emcee the concert and not promote it on the air, Mr. Hackett said. But he said management had told him only to take time off from his air shift to tend to his program director duties and said he was still being paid.

Leonard Moyer, the promoter of the gospel show, said yesterday he had "no comment whatsoever" on the fee for Mr. Hackett.

It is a violation of federal law to receive money to broadcast material on the air without revealing that the broadcaster is being paid and the identity of those making the payments.

WBGR is owned by Lexington, Ky.-based Mortenson Broadcasting, whose president, Jack Mortenson, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

WBGR is tied for 14th in the market with a 1.6 audience share, according to the most recent Arbitron figures.

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