Following iHeartMedia’s dismissal of several well-known WBZ-AM radio broadcasters earlier in the week, an online petition to the station’s owners calling for the “reinstatement of local programming and voices” has circulated, garnering more than 800 signatures by late Friday night.
“IHeartMedia is trying to save money by cutting local voices and programming across the board - and we won’t stand for it,” the online petition reads.
Earlier in the week, the station cut ties with overnight host Bradley Jay, A.M. drive news anchor; Deb Lawler, who worked at WBZ for 35 years; sports anchor Tom Cuddy; and Jon Keller, a political commentator who had done work at the radio station for three decades.
“With this action, WBZ is no longer the station we have come to rely on and trust,” read the petition. “We understand that more elimination of local programming is imminent; unless iHeartMedia quickly reverses course and reinstates local programming and voices, we will seek other sources for news and programming.”
The petition also threatens to “seek alternatives to products and services advertised on WBZ” unless things change, and urges advertisers to “ensure management know where you stand” by contacting station brass.
Ben Goodman, one of the people spearheading the petition campaign, said in a statement that “New Englanders can live without Necco Wafters, Crown Pilot Crackers, and maybe even Tom Brady - but they can’t live live without trusted local programming on WBZ.”
Goodman, a 30-year-old who works in nonprofit advocacy in Washington, D.C., said he grew up listening to WBZ as a youth in Kennebunk, Maine.
“To me, 'BZ is a New England institution,” he said. “It’s kind of the thing that’s always on in the background.”
Of the petition, Goodman said, “New England is probably the only place where this sort of thing works. It’s a hail mary, but it’s worthwhile.”
A message left with iHeartMedia was not returned Friday night. Earlier in the week, Angel Aristone, a spokeswoman for the company, declined to answer questions about the people who were laid off.
She did say in an earlier statement to the Globe that iHeartMedia is “modernizing our company to take advantage of the significant investments we have made in new technology and aligning our operating structure to match the technology-powered businesses we are now in. This is another step in the company’s successful transformation as a multiple platform 21st century media company, and we believe it is essential to our future – it continues our momentum and adds to our competitiveness, our effectiveness and our efficiency with all our major constituencies.”
The statement continued, “During a transition like this it’s reasonable to expect that there will be some shifts in jobs – some by location and some by function – but the number is relatively small given our overall employee base of 12,500. That said, we recognize that the loss of any job is significant; we take that responsibility seriously and have been thoughtful in the process.”
Keller, the political pundit, announced on Twitter earlier this week that he had done his last commentary on WBZ Newsradio 1030 after working for the station for 30 years. He said he hoped people would continue to follow his work on WBZ-TV.