RADIO SILENCE: Megaphone Of The ‘Hood Muzzled

marymason.jpgDAN GROSS REPORTS: THE “VOICE of the African-American Community” was silenced yesterday when all employees of WHAT (1340-AM) were fired from the talk-radio station.

Inner City Broadcasting did the firing.

The company had sold the longtime staple of black issues in Philadelphia to Havertown’s Marconi Broadcasting Co. for $5 million in November, as the People Paper’s Jonathan Takiff reported at the time of the sale.

Marconi has not disclosed its programming plans for the station, which has been the home for decades to popular morning personality Mary Mason, who could not be reached for comment.

Mason was on air yesterday morning, as was midday host Al Butler, but at 1 p.m., as Daily News columnist Elmer Smith’s show was to begin, a staff meeting was held and management informed the on-air hosts, office staff and salespeople that they were no longer needed, Smith said.

General manager Christopher Squire told employees that they could return to work today to receive their severance checks and that they were welcome to apply for jobs with Marconi for the new station, which may take over as early as today, Squire said.

Marconi CEO Tom Kelly last night said he couldn’t comment on whether the format would be talk or music.

“We do plan to keep it very local,” said Kelly, who also owns Kelly Music Research, which helps stations decide what to play by surveying listeners. “We’re going to serve Philadelphia, not use satellite feeds from other markets.

“I wish I could tell you more but I really can’t,” Kelly said, declining to say whether Mason or any of the other WHAT hosts would serve a role with his new station.

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