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Posted: Friday, Apr. 27, 2012

Keith Larson's in limbo but still zinging away

By Mark Washburn
Published in: Entertainment

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Keith Larson made his own news this week, announcing at the top of his Wednesday show that WBT-AM (1110) wasn’t renewing his contract.

For a decade, Larson has reigned as one of Charlotte’s most scathing wits on talk radio. His three-hour program was often locally focused and he could be profoundly caustic.

Wednesday, he explained that his relationship with his audience was such that he felt he had to shoot straight in all things. So he shared the news of his contract not being extended.

What made the episode so unusual was that his fate at the news-talk station had not been sealed. He’d been told the day before that his contract wouldn’t be renewed, but the station was open to keeping him on for the near-term on a day-to-day basis. In broadcasting, where talent is accustomed to binding contracts, that’s not a sterling endorsement.

His eventual fate at WBT appears to be unsettled at this point. His present contract runs through May 24. Rick Feinblatt, WBT’s general manager, was out of town this week and said he will talk to Larson next week.

“I was not given a specific reason for this nor did I ask for one,” he told listeners. “Radio station management does not need a reason. They can always find a reason or spin one up when they let someone go.”

Larson’s position on the philosophical spectrum has always been tough to calculate. He doesn’t necessarily follow the right-leaning path of others. He’s often pegged as Libertarian, until he savages some Libertarian personality.

“I use the term ‘actually’ conservative, some would say ‘small-L Libertarian,’ ” he says. “I’m ‘actually’ constitutional. Liberty means liberty to the greatest extent possible. And sometimes true liberty is challenging the people on the left and sometimes the people on the right. That’s where I come down.”

Larson, 55, said after the show that he’d hoped to spend the rest of his career broadcasting in Charlotte. He’d already lasted a long time by radio standards, where hosts come and go with regularity.

Late in Wednesday’s show, he sounded choked up as fans called in to wish him well. He said it wasn’t an act – he was thinking about a sponsor who had called in with a $10,000 donation to his charity ride on Saturday in Waxhaw.

He raises money every year with a motorcycle ride. Money goes to help families of children with serious illnesses through the March Forth with Hope Foundation and the Zach Ramsey Children’s Cancer Fund.

“I was fine talking about the business decision and me … When people called up and started talking about the kids they met through the show, that kind of thing, I got blown away with that.”

Media Movers

Joining P.J. “Drex” Rener and Steve Maney on the WNKS-FM (“Kiss 95.1) “Drex & Maney” morning show will be Cassidy Proctor. She arrives from an Austin, Texas station and starts May 7. … Harold Johnson, who retired as sports anchor at WSOC (Channel 9) in 2006, is back at work, doing a morning sports-talk show at WSIC-AM (1400) in his hometown of Statesville. …

La Noticia, marking its 15th anniversary serving Charlotte’s Hispanic community, is launching an edition this week serving Raleigh and the Triangle area, says publisher Hilda Gurdian. … Among the celebrities appearing at the Charlotte Convention Center on Saturday for the “For Sisters Only” event sponsored by WBAV-FM (“V” 101.9) and WPEG-FM (“Power 98” 97.9) will be syndicated talk show host Wendy Williams and Michael Baisden, syndicated radio host. …

Washburn: 704-358-5007; mwashburn@charlotteobserver.com

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