Official Buckeye Station Can’t Handle The Truth?

In the late ‘90 I worked at WBNS radio in Columbus, the flagship station for Ohio State football and basketball. My duties at the station included hosting an afternoon drive talkshow and the pre- and postgame shows for Buckeye football broadcasts. I had nothing but good times in Columbus and at WBNS. I left the station for a job in Kansas City in 1999, but will always cherish my time in central Ohio.

Kirk Herbstreit Bruce Hooley Chris Spielman

(Source: Official Buckeye station management sped departure of its top talent)

I don’t envy the talk hosts currently in the business of giving their opinions on WBNS, for obvious reasons. Ohio State’s bungled response to football coach Jim Tressel’s confirmed major NCAA violation - which includes a contradictory defense from the coach himself - leaves any talk host with a fiber of integrity no choice but to criticize the school’s mishandling of the affair.

During my years doing a weekday talkshow at WBNS, there were many times that I would’ve been remiss had I not been critical of something involving the Buckeyes. On more than one of those occasions, Ohio State Director of External Affairs Larry Romanoff called the station to complain that I was being too negative about Ohio State.

Before today, I couldn’t begin to conceptualize how difficult it must be for current WBNS hosts thanks to Ohio State’s multiple, admitted NCAA and ethical indiscretions. Though from I’ve been told happened at WBNS the past week, I now have a pretty good idea.

Today the highest-rated talk host at WBNS, Bruce Hooley, announced that he was leaving the station. A station source told me today that Hooley’s January monthly ratings were higher than the station’s Ohio State football-bolstered fall ratings. With the winter radio ratings period ending shortly, Hooley was likely in line for a ratings bonus from WBNS.

In a blog entry on his personal site, Hooley wrote:

My employment at 97.1 The Fan ended Thursday, March 17, after nearly six years years when I reached a mutual agreement with the station to part ways.

If you would like to know the station’s rationale, you will need to contact General Manager Dave VanStone davevanstone@radiohio.com and Program Director Jay Taylor jay.taylor@radiohio.com

I did my final shows Wednesday and Thursday of last week in the aftermath of the press conference at Ohio State announcing head coach Jim Tressel’s NCAA violations in the Tattoo-Gate case. My show was pre-empted Friday by Ohio State’s opener in the Big Ten Tournament.

Late Friday afternoon, my attorney, Bret Adams, received a call telling me not to report to work on Monday. Mr. Van Stone said he wanted to meet with Bret to discuss re-assigning me to other duties. That’s when Bret and I suggested we explore a separation that would be satisfactory to both parties. Bret and Mr. Van Stone handled it from there. I’m very thankful their talks were both professional and productive.

When I was in Columbus in the ’90s, Hooley was the Ohio State beat reporter for the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER. At that time, he was known as the most aggressive guy on the beat, often breaking OSU stories. As a Columbus talk host, his reporting was a must-read in my daily preparation for the show.

Long after I left the station, Hooley joined WBNS as a fulltime talk show host, quitting his job with the Plain Dealer in 2005. Until today, Hooley had co-hosted weekday talkshows on the station with Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Spielman, while also going solo at times.

I’ve never met Hooley but from what I’ve heard of his WBNS work over the years, he’s the same direct, informative and honest guy about Ohio State as he was in print. Sometimes brutally honest.

In other words, a rare breed in the ultimate college town.

As someone who has basically done the same job as Hooley, though during a different era at Ohio State, I have a lot of admiration for someone who is willing to take the hits that often accompany an objective opinion on what is perhaps Ohio State’s highest profile house organ. So it’s a shame for Buckeye fans that Hooley has decided to leave the station one week after - perhaps not coincidentally - Buckeye icon Kirk Herbstreit announced he was moving his family out of Columbus because of harassment at the hands of Ohio State fans.

So why did Hooley walk out on WBNS? Read more…