KXNT Program Director, Bob Agnew, Fired. Time To Air Some Dirty Laundry.
Few of you know what really happened when Heather and I were fired by KXNT General Manager Dave McDonald, and Program Director Bob Agnew. When we were hired at KDOX we hinted at some of it, but some listeners wrongfully assumed we were insulting other Las Vegas hosts. This was NOT the case. I assure you, I have no issue with Heidi, Alan or any other radio host in Las Vegas. I had heard through the grapevine that my former close friend, Heidi Harris, had a problem with me. A rumor I now believe to be baseless, and untrue. Nonetheless, it caused me to ignore/avoid her at a couple of events. I owe her an apology for that, and hope to deliver it in person one day.
Many of you have heard me say over the past year that I only want one person to fail in this industry. That person is Bob Agnew, and here’s why.
I need to stress that what I’m about to say is not meant to be a slight to CBS Radio, or anyone else at KXNT. I doubt anyone else knows what I’m about to tell you. This issue sits squarely in Bob Agnew’s lap.
Our firing was a pretty big shock in the radio community here. We were at the top of our game, showing solid growth in the new PPM ratings system, and we were still number one news/talk in our slot. You can see our final ratings at KXNT here. Other radio stations we spoke with and people in the media didn’t understand the reasoning behind it. Many of our co-workers at KXNT also expressed concern over the decision to release us. However, Heather and I knew it was coming and had already sought a way out. Though it pained us to leave our home.
The Saturday before we were cancelled, Heather and I spoke at the Conservative Leadership Conference. We had lunch that day to discuss how we could prepare to leave KXNT. We knew what was coming because Agnew made it very clear the moment he entered the building. He made snide comments about our age, and how we got into radio. He consistently attempted to get me to book guests from his old town of San Fransisco to discuss Vegas issues, and he yelled at me in the hallway when I brought (now State Senator) Elizabeth Halseth on the air to discuss the scandal her primary opponent was having at the time. That was breaking news that was confirmed, and starting to get really big. Agnew called a rape scandal during the election a ‘pissing contest.’ I’m also told he flipped out one day when I said golf was boring on my regular Channel 13 News appearance.
The biggest hint happened when Agnew cancelled our Saturday show. A decision I admit that I was ok with. Working six days a week had started to take a toll on me. I felt Heather should have her own show on Saturday.
A listener wrote Agnew and complained about the show being cut from Saturday. Instead of a professional response, Agnew proceeded to personally attack the show (which was open lines) as being ‘disjointed’ and ‘unfocused.’ Keep in mind, we are still working for the station, and this is a listener he’s saying this too. When the listener responded in defense of us, Agnew engaged in an argument with her. She CC’d me in every email so I have copies of this argument. The fact that Agnew cared so little about protecting the station’s reputation with listeners made it clear what type of person we were dealing with.
I’d like to point out that Agnew’s disdain for an open lines format is rather amusing considering Rush has used it to great success for years. In Alan Stock’s first episode after we were let go, he did open lines … interesting.
When I was called into the office and released from KXNT they made me sign a separation agreement to get my severance. In the agreement, it states that neither party is to issue any press releases or talk to the media on the matter without the prior written approval of the other party. Agnew violated that agreement three times over the next few days.
Had it stopped there, we’d have no problem. I was well aware that CBS was trying to take KXNT to a news format. Industry chatter had KXNT getting rid of nearly all its talk programming after the election. If we were let go simply because we didn’t fit the new guys scheme, I could live with that. However, as time went on it became clear that this was somewhat personal for him. He didn’t like our age, or that we weren’t one of the good ‘ol boys in old school radio. Our ratings and revenue meant nothing to him.
He began spreading rumors about us, our ratings, and our conduct. We had sponsors who we became friends with call us to tell us what was being said. We took the high road, and did not respond.
Agnew then insulted us in an advertising meeting with a representative of one of our sponsors who pulled their advertising after we were let go. They were there on a completely different matter. This was a meeting that had nothing to do with us, but Agnew proceeded to insult us to this person in front of their respective staffs.
When Agnew took to local radio message boards, and proceeded to attack us, I wrote a letter to GM Dave McDonald (Agnew’s boss). I told him what Agnew and some members of his staff were doing, and I was assured it would stop. McDonald CC’d me in his letter ordering Agnew to cease this activity, and Agnew once again hit ‘reply all’ and I was able to read his most unprofessional response.
For a time, the personal attacks and smears stopped. Then McDonald was released from KXNT, and Agnew took to our industry’s biggest publication (Talkers Magazine) to attack us once more.
Below are images of the hard copy of the article. Feel free to read the whole thing, but my letter to Talkers addresses most of what Agnew said. Long time KXNT listeners will easily spot Agnew taking credit for things implemented by Jack Landreth long before he got there.
As you can clearly see, Agnew blatantly lies in an effort to inflate his own ego, and attacks us several times in the article.
For the first time in public, after nearly a year of Agnew spreading lies about us, I responded publicly. Below is the unedited letter I sent to Talkers. They published the vast majority of it, and seemed genuinely displeased with Agnew’s conduct.
To whom it may concern:
I am writing to respond to KXNT program director Bob Agnew’s recent personal slight against my former co-host and me in your publication. Please note that what I’m about to say is not directed at the good people (many my friends) at KXNT. I know this letter may be too long for publishing, so feel free to take pieces of it as you see fit. So long as my message is conveyed. Just so you know I’m not fabricating stories, I can also produce third party witnesses, and documentation of everything I say in this letter.
In a recent article published by Talkers, Mr. Agnew called us ‘kids’ who’d won an American Idol like contest, and said he’d ‘put a stop to that.’
Mr. Agnew has chosen to besmirch us as ‘amateurs’ and ‘kids’ on several occasions publicly. Until now, I have chosen to take the high road, and have not publicly addressed these attacks. When we were released by KXNT we publicly thanked them for several years of employment, and wished them well. I wish Mr. Agnew would have taken such a course. Perhaps he’d enjoy the same good reputation we do if he had.
I did win an American Idol like competition to get a job at KXNT as he said. The annual Radio Star promotion won KXNT great praise from CBS corporate. How exactly is this any worse than the numerous hosts who got into this industry by volunteering while holding down full-time jobs? Mr. Agnew’s logic would dictate that Guy Fieri isn’t a good TV host, and that Carrie Underwood really can’t sing. Both of them got their start by winning competitions similar to Radio Star.
Forgive me if I don’t respect the opinion, on this matter, of a man who was run out of radio several years back, and had been selling makeup with his daughter. I would think he’d be more sympathetic to the idea of starting from the bottom and working your way up.
Mr. Agnew never took the time to get to know us, and made it very apparent from our first meeting that he didn’t respect our age or how we got into this business. This is humorous because he touts his ability to recruit and develop young talent on his LinkedIn profile.
While we are both under 40, we are not amateurs, or kids.
I’m a 31 year old man who served as an infantryman in the Army, and have been in radio for six years. I spent a year as a part-time employee on weekends before earning a full-time job. I replaced Bill O’Reilly and did well in the ratings, routinely beating Mark Levin (before he joined KXNT) and Michael Savage.
After two years on the air, Heather Kydd joined me as my co-host. For four years after that we dominated the news/talk format in evening drive. We went head to head with Michael Savage, and defeated him month after month. Not too bad for a couple of ‘amateur kids.’
Not only did Mr. Agnew forget to mention all of this, but he forgot to tell you that we were the 8th most listened to radio program by men across all genres when we left KXNT. We weren’t just the perpetual #1 news/talk program in evening drive, we were a top ten radio program in a market that is difficult for talk. I guess he couldn’t get over our age, regardless of results, and KXNT has not duplicated those ratings since we left.
Mr. Agnew also chose to ignore my co-host, Heather Kydd’s, history as a veteran of the Republican party, and numerous political campaigns. She has more political experience than Mr. Agnew and the entire staff of KXNT combined. After she joined KXNT we were given far more access to candidates, public officials, and inside information on local politics than we ever had before. Hence the astounding number of stories broken on our program.
Mr. Agnew forced her to choose between her position at KXNT or political campaigning. She chose KXNT, and was fired a couple of weeks after Mr. Agnew issued his ultimatum. Why he simply didn’t tell her he had no interest in keeping her I don’t know.
When I was still an employee of Mr. Agnew, he engaged in a war of words with a listener via email (I still have these emails). During this exchange he insulted our show as well as both of us personally. I conducted myself professionally, and said nothing.
I also refrained from publicly retaliating when Mr. Agnew, and members of his staff, continued to publicly attack us after we left KXNT. I sent a letter to Mr. Agnew’s boss asking him to resolve the situation. I was assured these antics would stop, and for a time they did. The GM who hired Mr. Agnew, however, has now been fired, and it would seem he is up to his old antics.
I am not writing as a disgruntled former employee of Mr. Agnew. Had he simply stated that our show didn’t fit his new format, like an athlete not fitting a new coach’s scheme, we’d have no quarrel. Mr. Agnew unfortunately declined to be civil.
I can tell you with absolute certainty that I have never crossed paths with a more unprofessional person in this industry.
Furthermore, I’m at a loss for the cause of his hatred.
My biggest problem with Mr. Agnew’s public war of words is not the personal insults, but rather the blatant lies he’s been telling.
Mr. Agnew has not increased KXNT’s news presence as he’s proclaimed, he’s decreased it. There is now a smaller news staff, and the partnership we had with a local news station was ended by Mr. Agnew. It is also cute that he takes credit for things KXNT was doing long before he got there.
When Mr. Agnew was first brought aboard, KXNT was ranked 15th overall in the 6+ numbers. He said that was unacceptable, and I agreed. Now, according to the latest numbers, KXNT is 22nd overall with the AM signal, and 30th overall with the FM signal. Even if you added the AM and FM together the station would only be 19th. Station cume has also steadily declined.
Is this not also unacceptable to Mr. Agnew? Based on Agnew singing his own praises, I guess not.
Under the tenure of Bob Agnew, KXNT has consistently lost ratings and relevance in the Las Vegas community. In the five years I was there, never was there a point where KXNT’s competition was only two ratings slots away from overtaking them as they are now.
KXNT was even briefly banned from the GOP victory party in Las Vegas this last election specifically because of the conduct of Mr. Agnew.
He expressed surprise in your article that Las Vegas didn’t have a station like he was implementing. Mr. Agnew was told on several occasions that what he wanted to do had been done a dozen times before him, and had always failed. As it is failing now.
Bob Agnew is an archaic throwback in the radio industry. He’s simply a dinosaur who has failed to adapt to radio’s changed landscape.
There are a lot of stereotypes about the good people of Las Vegas, and Mr. Agnew appears to give credence to all of them.
Las Vegans can spot a tourist miles away. Like the now fired general manager who hired him, Bob Agnew is nothing more than a tourist.
It’s been hard keeping most of this a secret, but we wanted to conduct ourselves as professionals. There’s also a soft spot for KXNT in my heart. I have many friends who still work there, they gave me my first shot at radio, and I was a part of it when it was the top station in town.
As hard as it was keeping his conduct towards us quiet, it was harder to hear how he was treating others after we left. It’s not my place to address that here, but I hope the great people at KXNT get an opportunity to succeed now that Agnew is gone.
Posted on April 25, 2011, in Dumbassery, My Life and tagged Bob Agnew, Casey Hendrickson, CBS Radio, Heather Kydd, Heidi Harris, KXNT, Las Vegas, Las Vegas Nevada, talk radio, Talkers Magazine. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.