Sadly, Bob Haynie departs WNST after 10 years

June 07, 2010 | Nestor Aparicio

It is with great sadness that WNST announces a mutual professional parting of the ways with longtime midday host Bob Haynie.

The past two years of economic downturn have created a lack of funding and specific sponsorship for Bob Haynie’s radio show here at WNST-AM 1570. It’s a financial reality that we need sponsorship dollars to make any programming or content viable here at WNST. And our listeners – and now our readers and our community at WNST.net – are the people who are the ultimate arbiters of our success by supporting our local sponsors who count on the business to support their families.

The bottom line: despite our love of Bob and his excellent radio show, sponsorship to Bob Haynie’s radio show on WNST was down significantly and despite our best efforts to change that in partnership with Bob, we couldn’t reach terms on an arrangement moving forward.

When you, as the reader of this blog or this site, actually financially support the local businesses you see here, the employees of WNST get to keep their jobs and feed their families doing sports media with us. We don’t talk about it much – actually we probably don’t say it nearly enough – but this is the reality of our media world in 2010 and our local sponsors are the reason we’re here. Period!

As much as this might come as a shock to some it’s also an opportunity to educate our WNST.net community as to how our new media sports business works circa 2010 — and it’s evolved far beyond a “ traditional radio” model:

Local sponsors spend money with WNST to promote their businesses and events. When they spend that money, I keep our lights on, our bills paid and our website up, running and improving. We then redistribute the money to employees like Bob Haynie, who feed their families and keep you constantly entertained and informed about Baltimore sports on the radio and on the web.

It’s true – we NEVER stop talking Baltimore sports…

And unlike some who charge for their content – and unlike Angelos and MASN, who steal $3 a month from you when you don’t even realize it and pocket millions of dollars – our WNST.net sphere is absolutely free to the public from anywhere in the world and we have to bust our asses to find local businesses to partner with us for their marketing money.

It is our very lifeblood – everyone at WNST derives income this way. Everyone in our company is ultimately responsible for revenue that determines their salary. Not every business model is structured this way but it’s more prevalent every day.

We get paid when you support our sponsors. And that’s only after we can get sponsors to believe in our content and feel results to their own bottom line in a tough economy and while Arbitron continues to pollinate the lie that we have no listeners. (Although somehow we have about 40,000 people we touch every day in Baltimore and can prove it now on the web where more of our revenue comes every day because there really ARE a lot of you who are WNST followers!)

Those of you who own businesses or make payrolls every two weeks will understand this unfortunate circumstance. Those of you who don’t or who just love Bob Haynie might be prone to leaving a nasty comment below or will send me nasty emails that are unwarranted.

So before you read internet rumors & the opinion of folks who could not possibly have any idea of what they’re talking about in regard to WNST’s business model, I’m writing this blog to be accountable and to give you the truth and hopefully educate you about how our business works in 2010.

WNST.net is poised to continue to maintain the quality of our programming on the radio, but more importantly here on the internet and in social media where our future revenue and growth will all be derived forevermore. All of our revenue growth over the past two years has been directly linked to this website where we can prove the sheer volume of hits and readership to our blogs and multimedia content. And all of our hosts have been asked to contribute, evolve and grow their personal brands so that we can help them make more money to support their families.

WNST.net has quietly become the No. 4-most trafficked media website in the marketplace according to www.alexa.com. You can go look it up yourself and compare and contrast any media measurement. We are ahead of EVERY radio station in the market. We’re ahead of two of the four TV stations in the market. We are by-far the No. 1 sports-only resource on the web in Baltimore.

Ask anyone at The Sun or any other company that is taking the web and new media seriously and they’ll tell you EXACTLY how many readers and hits they have on their blogs is what’s keeping their jobs these days. It’s an indisputable scoreboard in media these days, not the fiction of Arbitron that will determine the future. The internet is the future of our business and any future “star” of Baltimore media will create their future in a multimedia web platform like WNST.net. That’s just a fact!

Despite the public nature of what we do and the fact that I’m a walking bullseye in these matters on the internet, I’ve never discussed employment departures publicly. There’s really no reason to tell you why I’ve fired employees in the past. It’s unlawful, tacky and there are no winners. Needless to say, most businesses don’t have employee departures that are so public and abrupt in most cases. And most businesses don’t have a figurehead like me to shoot bullets at when a beloved talent leaves a media company.

That said, it’s easy to peruse the current Baltimore sports radio marketplace and realize that a healthy dose of our competitors’ programming is rooted in former WNST personnel. I’ve always taken great pride in providing a golden opportunity to lot of people in the land of pleasant living to begin a career. Over the years, it’s evolved from radio to the internet business model and some have decided to evolve and come with me and participate in new media, and others have gone elsewhere.

But, many of them have also spent inordinately long stretches of time with my company. Paul Kopelke has been with me since 1992. My former V.P. of Sales Steve Hennessey spent 13 years with my company. Ray Bachman has been with me since 1996 and has evolved greatly with our brand. Bob Haynie started as my intern in 1993 and has been a daily host here at WNST since 2000.

Ask around, I’m a pretty loyal guy to those who are doing what we need as a team to make WNST.net successful and I’m ultimately as responsible for WNST as Peter Angelos is for the Orioles.

It’s my company and I’m accountable, as this blog should tell you.

And I’ve been known to put my back into my company in terms of development, marketing, sales and the content that you read here on the internet at WNST.net. Not to mention the sweat equity of an entrepreneur who works around the clock to make my company and my life better every minute of every day. And my wife and son and family are all incredibly supportive of my aspirations and contribute their blood and sweat and patience to keep WNST great like they did Sunday handing out heavy signs in the heat of Ocean City with Brian Billick and 10,000 Ravens Roost folks.

Quite frankly, like in any business, there are other people who I’ve fired — for a variety of private reasons and I have no regrets. Just like sports, some people thrive in a different environment or a different business model. At some point, someone might actually point out that I have a pretty good eye for talent, but I’ll probably have to die before that becomes a part of my legacy.

But make no mistake about it — this situation is entirely different.

WNST did not “fire” Bob Haynie.

We want Bob Haynie on the radio at WNST from 10 til 2 every day today and every day moving forward. And we want Bob to participate in all of our social media and web content. And we want Bob to have Baltimore’s best blog (which we can measure and sell) to go with the best radio show (which we can’t measure). And we’ve told Bob that repeatedly. And we want to compensate Bob as fairly as possible for all of his contributions.

But we can only compensate Bob based on the actual revenue that is reflected in his radio show and web content. That’s an accountability that should be obvious to anyone who has a checkbook. You can only pay people based on the revenue generated — anything else would be suicide for WNST or any other small business. And at this point, the current revenue doesn’t mesh with Bob’s expectations and the reality of his past compensation.

Bob has declined to continue under the current financial situation and we’ve offered a variety of remedies and options but they all end with this reality: we can only pay Bob money that is generated by local sponsorship in his radio show and web contributions.

And we need more of it to make “The Bob Haynie Show” on WNST a reality for Bob and his family and his needs. And we respect his decision because we truly like Bob.

We have a different business model at WNST than many of our competitors. At our other “radio” stations, they use Arbitron numbers (perhaps the most archaic and arbitrary system of measurement still left in the media world) and major corporate clients still spend zillions of dollars on the mystery of these diaries. I’ve always compared it to “measuring clouds” — it’s impossible to know how many people are listening to a radio station at any time. It’s a guess and if you research Arbitron’s techniques, they’re laughable circa 2010.

That traditional world of radio ratings has never worked for WNST because we’ve never been measured fairly. If any of the hosts at WNST were paid directly based on the Arbitron ratings we’d have all been gone a long time ago and you never would’ve heard of me or Bob Haynie.

Instead, we get paid in direct results for the advertisers your hear on WNST-AM 1570. And that model has worked fabulously for 12 years and with our web reach it has never been more successful in terms of actual measurement and return on investment for our local business partners who need for their advertising dollars to be heavily scrutinized and then well-spent.

And as I’ve shared many times over the past three years, the future of WNST.net is here on the internet where you’re reading this blog and are unencumbered by FCC regulations and the limitation of the radio signal. And, you’re also being measured in every imaginable way while you’re reading this blog and that helps us justify the expenditure of our sponsors.

And realize this: I have a sales staff on the street every day trying to get sponsors for Bob’s radio show and all of our programming, blogs, videos & content at WNST.net. We are committed to it around the clock. Other day parts have various sponsorship commitments and all of our WNST staff is compensated fairly based on revenue generated.

WNST is growing and thriving every day with new web products that are all being used and generating revenue and interest. You’re here on this website now — so go ahead and click around and tell us what you think!

But, sadly, without enough sponsorship money tied directly to Bob Haynie from 10 til 2, his participation on WNST-AM 1570 isn’t possible at this time and we have mutually decided to part ways. If sponsors were to step up and financially support the radio show – and Bob were agreeable — we would gladly have Bob back on the radio tomorrow.

My email address for any potential sponsor is always the same: nasty@wnst.net

Obviously, we all love Bob, too, and hope we can find appropriate sponsorship. And, if not, we will wish him well in any future endeavor.

In the meantime, we’ll be moving forward with alternate programming and giving another new person or two or three a chance to be “next man up” and be a WNST daily radio host and web contributor from 10 til 2. This week, our longtime staffers Thyrl Nelson, Luke Jones and Ray Bachman will be sharing some hosting duties in preparation of this week’s World Cup and our Saturday Towson World Soccer Festival.

Thank you for your caring and your understanding in this matter.

But I wanted to address everything candidly and with the accountability you deserve.

We appreciate that you care about all of us at WNST and we’ll continue to move forward making WNST.net Baltimore’s preferred place for Baltimore sports.

And, as always, we really appreciate your support of our sponsors because they are the reason WNST.net exists and will continue to thrive into the next decade of new media growth.

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