WFUS-FM fires morning DJ Skip Mahaffey, three others

For Skip Mahaffey, the toughest part was telling his 15-year-old daughter.

Mahaffey, 47, learned Tuesday that Clear Channel Radio was ending his morning show on WFUS-FM, four years after wooing him from rival Infinity Radio (now known as CBS Radio) and building a new country music format around his morning show. Company executives told him after he and his crew had finished the morning's broadcast, saying the dismissal was effective immediately — also pink-slipping longtime colleagues Braden Gunn and Les McDowell along with their producer, he said.

Mahaffey and his crew were among 590 staff positions eliminated nationwide Tuesday by Clear Channel, which also will suspend its 401(k) employee matching program, according to the trade magazine Radio & Records. Back in January, the company cut 1,850 positions.

Radio & Records also reported that Mahaffey would be replaced in May by Craig "Catfish" Hunter, an afternoon personality now on KYGO-FM in Denver.

"There are three major broadcast companies doing radio in this market, and two of them have told me they either don't need me or don't want me," said Mahaffey. "The stability of being here 11 years was good for my daughter; the hardest part of all this was telling her we might have to leave."

Mahaffey touched off a minor scandal when he left Infinity's WQYK-FM in April 2005 for a new country station Clear Channel was fashioning at then-WTBT-FM (Thunder 103.5). Though he wasn't able to appear on air until October of that year, Mahaffey led Clear Channel's effort to compete in country radio locally.

But ratings at WFUS never matched expectations for the show, said Mahaffey.

"I'm sure some people at CBS are throwing babies up in the air, they're so happy," Mahaffey said. "But I made the choice that was best for my family. … And what's tearing me up is seeing 11 years of trying to help people (with charity drives and fund raisers) going up in smoke."

WFUS-FM fires morning DJ Skip Mahaffey, three others 04/28/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 10:28pm]

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