Another familiar voice has been stricken from the local airwaves, as KVI AM 570 let go morning talk show host Kirby Wilbur last week. Fisher Communications, owners of KVI (and KOMO AM-FM-TV, KPLZ, and other local stations), posted a statement on the KVI website acknowledging Wilbur'ês 16 years with the station and announcing that the nationally syndicated Laura Ingraham Show would now be heard in the 6-9 a.m. weekday slot. The station also set up a voicemail box for listeners to leave their comments about the move, complete with ominously laudatory outgoing announcement.
It looked at first as if this was yet another example of a disturbing trend in radio: A local program bites the ether and is replaced with syndicated material from Somewhere Else. However, Fisher General Manager Jim Clayton told the Seattle Times on Friday that KVI plans to replace Wilbur'ês show with another local program.
It'ês unclear why Fisher chose to eliminate Wilbur before finding his replacement — though Wilbur'ês contract apparently was set to expire in a month, and KVI'ês ratings in September (via the new Portable People Meter system) had the station in 25th place overall. Clayton did not return Crosscut'ês calls seeking comment, and Wilbur did not respond to a request sent via Facebook.
If Fisher ultimately does replace Wilbur with a local host, then this will have simply been another chapter in the Oldest Story in the History of Radio: Station gets bad ratings, contract of show'ês host expires, contract is not renewed, new host takes over the microphone, repeat as necessary.