Returning from a trip last Wednesday, I was shocked and angered to learn Dan Lovallo had been “let go” by the radio network that calls itself “Talk of Connecticut.” Torrington’s WSNG is part of that network which is owned by Buckley Broadcasting.
Lovallo was told by vice president and General Manager Eric Fahnoe that the move was made for budgetary reasons. My reaction to the unpleasant news was this: If a company finds itself in a money bind, is it a wise thing to dispose of one of its most valuable and successful assets?
The answer is no. What you do is find another solution, instead of taking the easy way out.
Personally, I’m hard-pressed to accept the company’s reasons, although I’m not privy to their books.
Lovallo, with the company since 1996, was never paid a ton of money. Eliminating his salary for a cheaper product, namely “canned” programming, is patently foolish, short-sighted and disloyal. It cheats and insults the wide listening audience Lovallo has built over six successful talk show years. It is a self-inflicted black eye for the network and a slap in the face to listeners who are, ultimately, the ones who pay the bills.
Telephone calls, emails and Facebook postings protesting the firing continue to pour in. But the company is apparently just riding out the storm and offering no explanation other than “budgetary constraints.”
I spoke Wednesday to both old friend Lovallo and to Fahnoe, whom I have never met.
Fahnoe said, “I hold Dan in the highest regard. He is a personal friend. I’ve been on some of the cruises he has led. And so this was very hard to do. Yes, it was my decision and it was not made lightly.”
I’ll give him credit for being honest and forthcoming with me. He didn’t try to hand off the responsibility for the decision to higher-ups. In a way, I feel sorry for him because he’s the person who gets full blame for a decision that has been greeted with an avalanche of angry protest from Dan fans.
But I wish Fahnoe had tried a little harder to retain Lovallo. This action shows him to be kind of a lightweight, especially when compared to his predecessor, retired Wayne Mulligan. The action makes me wonder about the future of the “Talk of Connecticut.”
They have made deep cuts in the staff at the radio network, which, besides the Torrington site, includes WDRC in Hartford, WMMW in Meriden and WWCO in Waterbury. Lovallo has had to be a one-man gang over there. He had very little help with his daily three-hour show.
He had no producer, no call screener and no one to help prepare his shows or do research, and no assistance in handling all the jobs connected with it. It got to the point where he had to line up his own guests, and it got so bad that Lovallo told me he had to actually schedule his bathroom break. Industry people were marveling at his handling of a work load that was like no other.
“No way,” they’d say. “It can’t be done.”
Lovallo kept his sense of humor and did it all. His reward was being told Monday by Buckley Broadcasting, through Eric Fahnoe, that he didn’t work there anymore.
So much for reciprocal loyalty.
It was in 1996 that Lovallo went to work for WDRC. For one year, the network broadcast Connecticut Pride (Continental League) basketball games. Dan traveled coast to coast with the team. He was hired by station manager Wayne Mulligan, now retired. Then he became the news-and-sports man on the Brad Davis Show in the mornings. At the same time, he broadcast every New England Blizzard game, home and away, on the network. He also filled in for Davis as host on those times when Brad was on vacation or off.
A sports expert and a natural when it came to broadcasting games, Lovallo said he’ll miss broadcasting the Manchester Road Race, which he has done every year since 1999. Also, he had partnered with Jeff Dooley airing the New Britain Rock Cats until Fahnoe, in another puzzling decision, cut ties with the team.
In March of 2006, Mulligan informed Lovallo he was being assigned his own talk show daily from 3 to 6 p.m.
“My goal was to make it local,” Lovallo said. “The airways are full of national talk shows. The local market was under-covered.”
He set about pursuing that goal and did it with great skill and remarkable success. He always did his homework and was very aggressive without being obnoxious. He backed down to no one.
The reaction to his shabby treatment by Fahnoe and Buckley Broadcasting speaks for itself and says a lot about Dan Lovallo. I hope the protests from listeners continues. I know this – the stations have lost a great part of their audience in the 3 to 6 drive time period, and a valuable airing of local viewpoints has been forfeited.
“Talk of Connecticut” my eye.
Owen Canfield is a columnist for The Register Citizen in Torrington. This column was first published Saturday in that newspaper and is reprinted here with Owen’s permission.
In disclosure, both Owen and Dan are friends of mine and I used to be a weekly guest for a few minutes every Tuesday on Dan’s show.
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