KFGO Owner Says Ratings, Not Trump Criticism, Led To Host’s Firing

A Wisconsin-based radio company says it fired a longtime talk-show host because of declining ratings, not because he criticized President Donald Trump.

Midwest Communications, based in Wausau, contradicted conservative host Jerry Bader’s claims that he was dismissed because of “the manner in which I covered President Trump.”

I wrote about Bader’s firing last week because Midwest Communications is the owner of Fargo’s KFGO and other local stations. Bader was based in Green Bay and his show was carried on two other Wisconsin stations owned by Midwest.

According to Wisconsin media reports, Midwest originally wouldn’t confirm Bader was fired nor give any specifics of his departure. But two people associated with Midwest Communications, a consultant and Green Bay market manager Jason Hillery, contacted me disputing Bader’s claim. Midwest also provided a statement to MSNBC this week doing the same.

Hillery said Bader was fired because of ratings.

“There were many reasons that had nothing to do with President Trump, but bottom line: the ratings have dropped to half of what they had been. The audience was declining and it was time for us to make a change,” Hillery said in a written message.

Hour-by-hour ratings are not available for Bader’s shows on WTAQ in Green Bay, WHBL in Sheboygan and WSAU in Wausau, but from Spring 2017 to Fall 2017 WTAQ’s overall ratings dropped from 8.1 shares to 5.3. WSAU’s remained the same at 8.7 in each ratings book, good for second place in the market, and WHBL’s climbed from 6.7 to 7.8, also good for second place.

Appearing on MSNBC, Bader admitted his ratings slipped in the most recent ratings period that concluded in December, but said it was not a “steep, steady decline.”

“I had a very good book in the first half of 2017, not so good in the last book. It’s been up and down. You can read ratings any way you want,” Bader said.

Bader sticks by his assessment that he was fired because he stood against Trump the last couple of years.

“They called me in and said ‘We’re going a different direction.’ I asked what that meant,” Bader said. “They said, ‘Trump.’ That did happen.”

Bader currently works as communications director for MediaTrackers.org, a conservative web site. He reduced his work at WTAQ in 2016 after beginning to work for MediaTrackers. Hillery said Midwest Communications was fair to Bader.

“We stuck with Jerry and #nevertrump through the election and through the first year of Trump’s presidency. We let it play out. When Jerry came to us and resigned his position to join MediaTrackers full time in 2016, we offered to keep him on the air at WTAQ, part-time, even with his #nevertrump stance,” Hillery said. “We stuck with Jerry until the ratings showed we had to do something different. We all have a ton of respect for Jerry. He had an amazing run at WTAQ and we really do wish nothing but the best for him.”