Media Watch

BRAKE PEDAL TO THE METAL: DJ Metal Mike, legally known as Michael Wyatt, called up last week to complain that he'd just been fired by KLPX 96.1-FM. He couldn't understand why, and was thoroughly pissed off about it.

Seems that Wyatt had been working KLPX's midnight-to-5:30 a.m. shift part-time since October, and got a particularly heavy schedule when the regular overnight guy, Mike Gaube, was off during the holidays. "I didn't have a day off for something like 21 days straight," said Wyatt, and he wasn't complaining.

But earlier this month, Gaube was back in place, and KLPX program director Jonas Hunter restricted Wyatt to one shift a week.

"I got angry that they cut my hours," said Wyatt, "so I said on my last shift, 'The Man is coming down on me; he cut me back and I had to take a job at a smoke shop to pay my bills,' so I put in a plug for my other job and invited my fans to come see me there. I signed off, and the next thing I know, I'm fired."

I checked this out with Hunter, who seemed favorably disposed to Wyatt--but he was beginning to run out of patience with the guy. Hunter wouldn't say much about the situation, but he did acknowledge that he fired Wyatt "for on-air actions against company policy." He wouldn't specify what those actions were.

"Maybe if I violated FCC code and said 'fuck' or 'shit' on the air, it would have been OK for them to fire me," Wyatt volunteered before I could even suggest the possibility of FCC violations, the sort of thing that could cost a station a few thousand dollars in fines. "But they didn't give me a reason. Jonas said, 'I'll give you a good recommendation,' and I said, 'Thank you for fucking me without Vaseline.'

"Jonas said, 'What you said (on air) was unacceptable.' I said, 'I've been saying that for four months, and you just noticed?' I maybe talked about legalization of marijuana or something, nothing against FCC code.

"I have a little bit of a crazy personality," said Wyatt, whose previous radio experience was a nighttime metal show on a college station in Phoenix. He just turned 29 last weekend. "I tried to bring young blood into their station, and I guess they wouldn't stand for it."

The day after he was let go, Metal Mike started urging his friends and fans to barrage the station with e-mails demanding his return. Hunter acknowledged receiving a few messages, but he suggested that taking a complaint like this public isn't the best way to endear yourself to someone who's just fired you.

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