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Another bloodbath as Toronto’s Proud FM fires four hosts

Station's programming director refuses to comment on firings, says it's a 'private' matter

Shaun Proulx Credit: photo by Scott Dagostino

Proud FM, the world’s first commercial gay and lesbian radio station, has fired most of its major on-air talent. The morning show team of Deb Pearce and Patrick Marano and the afternoon team of Shaun Proulx and Mark Wigmore have all been let go following, Proulx says, the foursome’s insistence on a joint meeting with station manager Bruce Campbell.

“We all wanted a meeting and we wanted it together,” says Proulx, who says the group demanded “clarification” of “these different stories being told to us” but their power play ended in terminations.

This has happened before, of course — in November 2007, the station fired popular hosts Maggie Cassella, Richard Ryder and a number of staffers. In a June 2008 interview with Xtra, Cassella’s then-producer Mark Wigmore recalled, “It happened really fast, there was no warning,” while his new partner Proulx said, “It’s a cutthroat business.”

Bob Willette, programming director at Proud FM, would not comment on the firings, except to say that, “what happened is a private affair between Proud FM and the affected individuals. The differences are private in nature and won’t be revealed by the company to the media at this or any other point.”

That seems unlikely, as Proulx says he and the others plan a sit-down interview with Xtra in the coming days to discuss “the level of sleaze that has been a part of the station since we’ve all worked there.”

“They have every right to talk,” says Willette. “They can do whatever they like. Our stance is that this is a situation of a private nature, and we’re not going to have any comment on it except that Proud FM remains dedicated to the LGBT community, and these changes to the on-air personnel aren’t going to alter the orientation of the station.”

“They wouldn’t,” says Proulx, as he plots a group response.