Brad Wheeler, the iconic on-air host of Little Bit Louder at KRCL community radio, triggered a social-media controversy when he announced last Friday that he has resigned and would be leaving the station in a week.
Wheeler gave no explanation and social media began humming immediately. By Saturday a petition was being circulated urging KRCL mangement to do what it would take to keep him at the station. Some Facebook posters threatened to stop their financial-support pledges or volunteer commitments.
Wheeler has yet to respond to phone calls, texts or other requests for comment.
But on Monday, Wheeler messaged SLmag that he is engaging a lawyer and couldn’t talk until after the consultation, if then.
Online comments and the petition begun by Steven L. Sheffield of Holladay hint that Bad Brad had been fired or somehow forced to resign. In a related letter, Sheffield said KRCL was on a “misguided quest for consistency.” Other posters said Wheeler’s on-air language was part of the problem.
When asked about it Monday, Station Manager Vicki Mann reiterated: “I don’t know the answer to why Brad has an issue with the station. No policies related to programming have changed since my arrival.”
Mann, whose statements Wheeler supporters find questionable at best, says Wheeler came to her a week ago (he resigned in writing May 27) and said that, after long consideration and meditation, he had decided to resign. “I’m at a loss to why he resigned,” Mann says. “He gave no reason for his decision, so I accepted his resignation.” One KRCL’s FB, Mann said, “Our conversations about his decision have been heartfelt and amiable. His decision is deeply personal.”
Mann wrote in an email Monday: “[Brad] was not asked to adhere to a playlist and he wasn’t asked to watch his language.”
As for the speculation on social-media, Mann says: “There is no shakeup going on at the station No big changes in the works. People on social media were unhappy and they made assumptions.”
Mann, who heard Wheeler’s announcement over her car radio when listeners did and as of Sunday had not heard from Wheeler. “It’s his decision. No one said it’s time [to leave],” she says. “He’s a pro on the air and we are going to miss him.”